6 Ways to Experience the Visual Art Scene
Shop for Local Art
These mountains are full of talented artists and craftspeople and you can find the results of their work at many of the galleries and stores in the area. From businesses that offer spaces for local artists, to the college bookstore, to a general store, merchants in the county love to showcase the wonderful work of local people. So, take a few hours and wander through a few of them and take home a piece of Madison County culture in an art form.
Visit a Working Artist’s Studio
If you want to see what it takes to create the amazing works of art that you see throughout the county, make it a point to check out one of the studios that is open to the public. You might be able to catch a potter shaping the latest creation or a painter putting on finishing touches to the latest oil or watercolor or a fiber artist making a unique product. It’s always a treat to see how something starts as an idea, grows, changes before the final result is ready for the public. Be sure to check before dropping in.
Wander through the Arts Council Gallery’s Latest Exhibit
Each month the Madison County Arts Council features a themed exhibit. The Arts Center is conveniently located in downtown historic Marshall. Just stop by and see what the latest exhibit might feature. You are sure to find something to interest you as the ideas range from the eclectic to the customary. The Arts Center was the place where Rob Amberg celebrated the kickoff of his book,The New Road with an exhibition of his photographs from the book. But, also, picture a show that features 33 trees made out of cellophane. There are plenty of talented artists throughout the county and the area who might just suit your tastes.
Visit Marshall High Studios
A dream of local residents was realized when the former Marshall High School on Blannahassett Island was saved AND converted into rental studios for artists. The types of art are varied — from jewelry to a clothing design and a weaving; from ceramics to paint. There is even a Movement Studio and a Massage Therapist who makes body products. In November each year, the large former auditorium is transformed int Marshall Handmade Market just in time to shop for holiday gifts. Working artists don’t keep regular hours, but you might be lucky enough to find one at work when you stop by. But, whatever your luck, it’s still a nostalgic walk for those who went to school in this type of a building.
View the Exhibits at Weizenblatt Gallery
On the Mars Hill University Campus, Madison County residents and tourists to the area are lucky to have a gallery open for a quick stop or a long study. Weizenblatt Gallery is a wonderful space in the Moore Auditorium. Shows vary from local to regional to national when the Gallery was fortunate enough to be part of the Smithsonian traveling exhibition New Harmonies in 2010. The primary mission is to educate through art and judging by the exhibitions, they have succeeded. Student majors in the Art Department annually have a chance to have their work displayed.
Stroll Through a Festival
There are festivals throughout the year which booths featuring artists and craftspeople from the county and the region. Beginning in April and continuing until the end of the year and scattered in different areas of the county. Trailfest in April in Hot Springs fills the street in downtown Hot Springs as does Art on the Island in September for Blannahassett Island across the bridge from downtown Marshall. Mars Hill is transformed in October with the Heritage Festival which spreads onto the Mars Hill University Quad. And, Bluff Mountain Festival which is held on the Hot Springs Resort and Spa Grounds each June features a silent auction which can rival any in the area. In addition to the artists’ booths, each of these festivals offers our traditional music and more as well as plenty of food.