Art

The Reach of Art: A Visit to the Bascom

Cross the covered wooden bridge just off Franklin Road in Highlands, and you will find yourself on the magical campus that is The Bascom. Set on six lush acres of what was once Cranes Horse Farm, this extraordinary center for the visual arts is a sensory treat for anyone who loves art. You know you are somewhere special long before you walk through the door. To ones right is the original horse barn which has been transformed into a ceramics center. The main building, designed by the Atlanta architectural firm of Lord Aeck Sargent, is composed of wood, glass, and stone to pay homage to the natural materials that are native to our part of the world. A walking nature trail surrounds the campus, containing a variety of site-specific sculptures comfortably positioned among indigenous plants and flowers. An outdoor amphitheater, tiers defined by stone seating, is the perfect setting for weddings, classes, and guest lectures. Like the warm hostess that she is, Teresa Osborn, meets me at the Centers front door. As executive director, she quickly explains how she sees the Centers three important missions: exhibition, education, and outreach. This is no hushed gallery of hands-off, important artnor is it intended to be. The exhibition aspect of the Centers mission is everywhere you look, as the 30,000 square feet of space abound with remarkable pieces created by artists from the Southeast, many of whom call the Blue Ridge Mountains home. Oil paintings mix comfortably with photography and pottery, the occasional piece of primitive furniture and whimsical pieces like a room-size tree composed of discarded clothing. One can also find jewelry, basketry, and wood-turned vessels here. The collections are fluid so visitors can enjoy a totally unique experience each time they come. A fun aspect of this art center is the opportunity for hands-on creativity. Check out the smARTspace loft on the third floor, and try any of many self-directed art activities. A wishing tree downstairs invites visitors to write their deepest desires on papers to hang from a tree. The wishes are as random as you would expect, from I wish I was a horse to I wish I could destroy my computer and phone. These two areas speak to Teresas deepest passion: that art be a unifier, accessible to all, regardless of income, ability, or anything else. Education is unquestionably a big part of The Bascoms mission as well. The Center offers artist residencies, fellowships and internships in ceramics, photography, sculpture and community, which is a teaching position involving outreach to all ages. Residencies range from two weeks to one year and afford artists housing, teaching opportunities, unlimited studio access, and the opportunity to sell their art. The community at large is a huge focal part of the educational component, and an adult education calendar offers a palate-pleasing menu of everything from Playing in the Clay to Highlands Landscape Photography. In addition to after-school classes during the school year, area children (and visiting grandchildren) are invited to eight different art day camps in the summertime. Private lessons, too, are available for all ages through Art by Appointment. Outreach, says Teresa, warming to a subject dear to her heart, is a yearlong activity, diverse and widespread. Area youth are served through school programs: the Boys and Girls Clubs, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and the Gordon Center for Children, to name just a few. The needs of our adult community are addressed through programs like those at Cashiers and Jackson County Senior Centers, the Center for Life Enrichment, the Chestnut Hill retirement community, and the Eckerd Living Center. It is no small feat that admission to this visual feast is free. Thanks to year-long sponsors, such as Delta and The Chaparral Foundation, The Bascom is accessible to everyone. A robust membership lends further support, as do various sponsors of individual exhibits. The vision for this Center began in the 1980s, when Watson Barratts estate made possible an exhibition space in the Hudson Library. Proceeds from the sale of his family home on Satulah Mountain founded The Bascom, which honors the maiden name of his wife, Louise Bascom Barratt. Although he died in 1962 when Highlands was still a village, his belief in the need for a permanent gallery was prescient. Today, more than 20,000 individuals visit The Bascom each year, and that does not include all those who learn and create at the Center, or the thousands of people who are enriched through the outreach programs. A centerpiece of Teresas delightful, art-cluttered office, is a charming piece of decoupage, teeming with buttons and ribbons and miniatures, created by a gentleman who struggled with developmental challenges. His family, she says, was stunned and thrilled to see how much joy he gleaned from the compilation of this masterpiece, and she keeps it in a place of honor to remind her always, of the life-changing possibilities of art. The Bascoms ever-growing impact in the community is a living testament to Watson Barratts foresight and a gift to all of us who call these mountains home.

The Reach of Art: A Visit to the Bascom

Cross the covered wooden bridge just off Franklin Road in Highlands, and you will find yourself on the magical campus that is The Bascom.
Set on six lush acres of what was once Crane’s Horse Farm, this extraordinary center for the visual arts is a sensory treat for anyone who loves art.
You know you are somewhere special long before you walk through the door. To one’s right is the original horse barn which has been transformed into a ceramics center. The main building, designed by the Atlanta architectural firm of Lord Aeck Sargent, is composed of wood, glass, and stone to pay homage to the natural materials that are native to our part of the world.
A walking nature trail surrounds the campus, containing a variety of site-specific sculptures comfortably positioned among indigenous plants and flowers. An outdoor amphitheater, tiers defined by stone seating, is the perfect setting for weddings, classes, and guest lectures.
Like the warm hostess that she is, Teresa Osborn, meets me at the Center’s front door. As executive director, she quickly explains how she sees the Center’s three important missions: exhibition, education, and outreach. This is no hushed gallery of hands-off, “important” art—nor is it intended to be.
The exhibition aspect of the Center’s mission is everywhere you look, as the 30,000 square feet of space abound with remarkable pieces created by artists from the Southeast, many of whom call the Blue Ridge Mountains home. Oil paintings mix comfortably with photography and pottery, the occasional piece of primitive furniture and whimsical pieces like a room-size “tree” composed of discarded clothing. One can also find jewelry, basketry, and wood-turned vessels here. The collections are fluid so visitors can enjoy a totally unique experience each time they come.
A fun aspect of this art center is the opportunity for hands-on creativity. Check out the “smARTspace” loft on the third floor, and try any of many self-directed art activities. A “wishing tree” downstairs invites visitors to write their deepest desires on papers to hang from a tree. The wishes are as random as you would expect, from “I wish I was a horse” to “I wish I could destroy my computer and phone.” These two areas speak to Teresa’s deepest passion: that art be a unifier, accessible to all, regardless of income, ability, or anything else.
Education is unquestionably a big part of The Bascom’s mission as well. The Center offers artist residencies, fellowships and internships in ceramics, photography, sculpture and community, which is a teaching position involving outreach to all ages. Residencies range from two weeks to one year and afford artists housing, teaching opportunities, unlimited studio access, and the opportunity to sell their art.
The community at large is a huge focal part of the educational component, and an adult education calendar offers a palate-pleasing menu of everything from “Playing in the Clay” to “Highlands Landscape Photography.” In addition to after-school classes during the school year, area children (and visiting grandchildren) are invited to eight different art day camps in the summertime. Private lessons, too, are available for all ages through Art by Appointment.
“Outreach,” says Teresa, warming to a subject dear to her heart, “is a yearlong activity, diverse and widespread.” Area youth are served through school programs: the Boys and Girls Clubs, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and the Gordon Center for Children, to name just a few. The needs of our adult community are addressed through programs like those at Cashiers and Jackson County Senior Centers, the Center for Life Enrichment, the Chestnut Hill retirement community, and the Eckerd Living Center.
It is no small feat that admission to this visual feast is free. Thanks to year-long sponsors, such as Delta and The Chaparral Foundation, The Bascom is accessible to everyone. A robust membership lends further support, as do various sponsors of individual exhibits.
The vision for this Center began in the 1980s, when Watson Barratt’s estate made possible an exhibition space in the Hudson Library. Proceeds from the sale of his family home on Satulah Mountain founded The Bascom, which honors the maiden name of his wife, Louise Bascom Barratt. Although he died in 1962 when Highlands was still a village, his belief in the need for a permanent gallery was prescient. Today, more than 20,000 individuals visit The Bascom each year, and that does not include all those who learn and create at the Center, or the thousands of people who are enriched through the outreach programs.
A centerpiece of Teresa’s delightful, art-cluttered office, is a charming piece of decoupage, teeming with buttons and ribbons and miniatures, created by a gentleman who struggled with developmental challenges. His family, she says, was stunned and thrilled to see how much joy he gleaned from the compilation of this masterpiece, and she keeps it in a place of honor to remind her always, of the life-changing possibilities of art.
The Bascom’s ever-growing impact in the community is a living testament to Watson Barratt’s foresight and a gift to all of us who call these mountains home.

Whimsical Journey: Painting the Paint with Colorist Karen Weihs

When in the mountains, it’s easy to find yourself staring into the majestic vistas that surround you. You will feel something similar when viewing the abstract, contemporary oil paintings of Karen Weihs. 
Picasso once said, “Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.” For Karen, art is about creating imagery that allows the onlooker to formulate their own story, their own connection. Alluding to the familiar without giving the pieces away, she captures the essence of personal experience and reality to shape what the eyes see. 
In a magical blend of technique and tool, she paints a million stories of human experience on one canvas. Her skill is honed by palette knives and a selection of brushes that produce the glimmer of day by evening light. 
Weihs’ canvases are illuminated by intuition. Her mind may visualize a deer prancing deep within the forest while sun rays gently kiss the morning dew, yet it is the dance of her hand anticipating the next jab, carve, or smoothing technique that brings the deer to life. The impromptu maneuvers are the platform for the viewer to continue the journey of the story they see, perhaps recalling a past memory or looking toward a dream. 
“The magic happens and draws me in, and I find myself driven to capture and paint those responses over and over again,” says Karen. “It’s deeply gratifying. This erudition has earned me a confidence in looking for the cutting edge of paint technique, ever evolving to a higher standard. Usually the viewer can find something of the subject matter to relate to. This process allows me to tackle a subject that may or may not appear as my eyes see, painting the paint.” 
Her works radiate from the inside out, without attachment, separating her visualization from the journey another will take at its sight. Masterpieces meant to inspire, encourage, stimulate, or spark something from within another, whether that be dew on the earth, floating clouds, sunlight, leaves swaying in the treetops, or the piercing blank stare of a deer.
Karen and her husband moved to Cashiers from Charleston, South Carolina, where she was born and raised. Her private mountain home studio, Sunny Point Cottage, is both a working and teaching studio, offering half and full day retreats (private critiques and workshops) to encourage confidence and craft. The artist desires to help others find the best from within themselves, advising others to trust the process and their instincts.

Where can you view the art of Karen Weihs?

ALLISON SPROCK FINE ART
600 Queens Road
Charlotte, NC 
704-705-2000

B GALLERY AT THE BASCOM
Franklin Road
Highlands, NC 28778
828-526-4949

ELLA RICHARDSON FINE ART
58 Broad Street
Charleston, SC 29401
843-722-3660

GRAND BOHEMIAN HOTEL GALLERY
11 Boston Way, The Village at Biltmore
Asheville, NC 28805
828-398-5555

SUNNY POINT STUDIO, KAREN’S HOME, BY APPOINTMENT
889 Laurel Knob Road
Cashiers, NC 28717
828-226-4024