The Spruce Pine Potters Market Invitational is a weekend sale featuring 30 ceramic artists from Mitchell and Yancey Counties in NC and attracts several thousand people to the region each year. “Visitors enjoy seeing an artist’s studio, but at this special gathering you can meet many more artists in one afternoon than you otherwise are able during a studio tour,” says Toe River Arts Council Executive Director Denise Cook.
One participant most definitely worth meeting is Cynthia Bringle, who is as much a fixture in Western North Carolina’s mountains as the tucked away hollers themselves. “I make work because I love doing it and because of the pleasure I get from people telling me they use my work every day,” says Bringle, a North Carolina Living Treasure. Regarded as one of the most influential artists in her field, Bringle has kept a studio and home in Penland since 1970, where she works on her signature goblets, turtle vases, vessel sinks, platters, mugs, and more. Although her work has been collected around the world, Bringle says she is happiest when it’s found on someone’s kitchen table or in the cabinet, because “most of all, a pot is to use.”
Western North Carolina is home to several other Living Treasures, including Norm Schulman, an exhibitor at last year’s SPPM. “Meeting your neighbors who have reached this phenomenal status in the world of arts and crafts creates pride for this sense of place,” says Cook. “It also gives young people inspiration and a sense of possibility for creating a living through their life-long passions.” Additional exhibitors at this year’s invitational include Melisa Cadell, Shane Mickey, Liz Summerfield, Tzadi Turrou, Nick Joerling, and more.
Ceramicist Jeannine Marchand is the 2012 SPPM Emerging Artist, selected for her unique framed fold wall pieces made with white earthenware. Once the clay is dry, Marchand finely sands and fires the work, resulting in an uninterrupted surface that lets light travel to create natural areas of brightness and shadow. It’s an uncommon technique in the region, and the effect is breathtaking.
“I have been living in this area on and off since 2000, but I left for two years in 2006 to continue my ceramics graduate studies in Michigan, and again 2010 for a residency in Colorado,” says Marchand. “During that time, I got married, and we decided to make Spruce Pine our permanent home. It’s been a wonderful experience reintegrating into this community as a family and as a local artist.” In addition to wall pieces, Marchand will be showing small-scale sculptures, functional work, and—with any luck—her newborn baby.
Check out this year’s much anticipated show, Oct. 13-14, 2012, from 10am-5pm at the historic Cross Street Building in downtown Spruce Pine. Admission is free and light breakfast and lunch options will be available on site. SPPM is an affiliate organization of Toe River Arts Council.
For more information, visit (www.sprucepinepottersmarket.com) or call 828/765-0520.