Big Brothers Big Sisters

The Reach of Art: A Visit to the Bascom

The Bascom in Highlands NC

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.

Feel Good Giving

Volunteering in Western NC

At the end of every year, we turn the page to move ahead into the next year. Like the old saying goes, “out with the old, in with the new,” we reflect on our past and plan for our future. With good intentions, we look ahead with a positive forecast bound by our goals and resolutions. Personal growth in the form of fitness, money, self-help, or education is usually at the top of the list. Whatever our past struggles, we step forward armed with new ways to better ourselves in the new year. According to studies done by the Mayo Clinic, giving of our time through volunteerism has an immeasurable effect on our wellbeing. 
Volunteerism is on the rise as individuals look for ways to enrich their lives and progress forward on their path. There are endless opportunities to volunteer, so it is important to find a non-profit organization that speaks to you and aligns with your interests. Whether you want to be hands-on as part of an emergency response team, love on animals up for adoption, or work behind the scenes stuffing envelopes, charitable organizations have a role for anyone willing to help positively impact the lives of others.
In helping others, we help ourselves. Results from a study called Doing Good is Good for You in partnership with United Healthcare and VolunteerMatch show many “feel good” reasons we should volunteer. 
“The results of this study affirm that volunteering is a relationship that brings people together and can profoundly change the way we think about ourselves and others,” said Greg Baldwin, president of VolunteerMatch, the largest online volunteer engagement network which serves over 113,000 participating nonprofits, 150 network partners and 13 million annual visitors.
The Highlands-Cashiers Plateau in Western North Carolina is no exception when it comes to an abundance of non-profit organizations looking for volunteers. The list is too long to name them all, but NC Living has compiled a select list of local organizations that welcome volunteers. Others can be found online by searching “non-profit organizations in your area” or by visiting volunteermatch.org or greatnonprofits.org. Giving just an hour, a week, or a few hours a month can make a tremendous difference in others’ lives, and yours too. As the Universal Law of Gratitude says, the more you give, the more you will receive.

 

/ Food Pantry of Highlands and Cashiers: These two non-profits provide nutritious foods to hundreds of individuals and families living at or below the national poverty level. Since both towns are seasonal communities, work becomes scarce in the winter months and families face the difficult challenge of putting food on their tables. These pantries are busy stores where community members go weekly to receive fresh foods, staples, and canned goods. Volunteers are needed for as little as one day a month to operate the pantries. Learn more at highlandsmethodist.org and fishesandloavescashiers.org.

/ Literacy Council of Cashiers and the Highlands Literacy Council: Both non-profit organizations share the goal of helping people to read and become educated. Some 30% of county residents cannot read. Teaching children, adults, and families to become literate will help them find employment (or a better job), gain confidence, vote, learn, and feel more connected to their community. Anyone who loves to read or teach will make a great volunteer. Learn more at cashiersliteracycouncil.org or highlandsliteracy.com.

/ Big Brothers Big Sisters of Western NC: This organization aims to enrich children’s lives through one-on-one mentoring programs. With inspiration and encouragement, children are led to find positive and productive paths. Volunteers become “Bigs” for “Littles,” creating relationships that spur growth. Learn more at bbbswnc.org.

/ Team Rubicon: Dedicated to disaster response and relief, this Los Angeles-based nonprofit’s mission is to coordinate teams of military veterans and first responders to work in service together helping communities affected by natural disasters. Chapters are created in locations around the world that can be in close proximity to the areas served. A local Highlands chapter is currently on task to help those devastated by Hurricane Michael in Mexico Beach, Florida by removing debris and rebuilding homes.

/ Highlands-Cashiers Land Trust: Protectors of nature since 1883, HCLT essentially guards our natural resources, the air we breathe, our lakes, streams, mountains, flora and fauna. If you enjoy nature and want to preserve it for generations to come, this might be the right place for you. Learn more at hicashlt.org.

/ The Cashiers-Highlands Humane Society: This no-kill not-for-profit shelter does so much to help care for our furry friends. Volunteers walk, socialize and play with these sheltered animals making them better future pets and more adoptable. Fostering in your own home is another way to serve the shelter. For animal lovers, this is a heart-warming volunteer experience. Learn more at chhumanesociety.org.

/ Rotary Club: A civically minded organization where driven citizens and local leaders come together to do good for their community. Advocating “service above self,” Rotarians meet weekly to share ideas, enjoy fellowship, and develop projects that serve their area. Learn more at highlandsrotary.org and cashiersrotary.org.

/ REACH: With a mission to eradicate domestic violence, human trafficking, and sexual assault crimes in both Macon and Jackson Counties, this bilingual nonprofit works to support their mission through prevention, intervention, counseling, and education. There are many volunteer opportunities at REACH, from working directly with the abused or in the roles of fundraising, fielding Hotline calls, court advocacy, event marketing, and shelter assistance. Learn more at reachofmaconcounty.org.