In one gallery in Waynesville this month, the nations of the world will gather. While the international dance and song of Folkmoot will take their traditional place in Haywood County’s summer calendar, this year international art will also make an appearance at “The World Around Us,” a show put on by the Haywood Arts Council in Gallery 86 on Main Street in Waynesville.

The show runs through July 30 and features works from seven artists from across Europe and Central America. Their works range in scope, including painters, weavers, photographers and mixed-media artists.


Sylvia Williams

Silvia Williams is a native of Cuba, and the warm Spanish lilt remains in her voice and laugh, though she hasn’t lived there in more than 50 years. Williams spent much of her career as a foreign language teacher, at universities and in public and private schools. But her dream, and now her career, was in abstract art.

“I had a sort-of drawing talent and little by little, I just kept on painting and just recently I feel like I became what I wanted to be and that is an abstract painter,” said Williams. She’s not always been a North Carolinian — she and her husband moved here from Florida around 10 years ago — but the state has been intertwined through her life.

“I feel kind of fated to North Carolina from the beginning,” said Williams. “I came here to school in my early teens and then I married this North Carolinian, I went to the University of North Carolina. North Carolinians, especially westerns, remind me a lot of Cubans.”

Though she said her Cuban heritage doesn’t have a direct effect on the watermedia pieces she produces today, at least one piece of her Caribbean culture still shines through.

“I imagine that the thing that perhaps that could have influenced that is that I love color so much and my painting is a lot about color,” said Williams.

She’s learned her craft over the years through classes, workshops, books and the unrivalled teacher that is hands-on experience.

Today, her process isn’t mapped out in steps, but intuited along the way.

“I never have a definite plan, it just evolves from there,” said Williams. “If I plan something … that’s when it dies.”

Her best pieces, she said, have evolved in that way. And those are the ones she chooses when deciding what to put in shows. If she likes it, it goes.

And for Williams, it’s a good system. The ones she sells are usually the ones she loves.

Williams’ work can be seen at Gallery 86 and also at Gallery 262 in Frog Level.


Yvonne Van der Meer Lappas

Yvonne Van der Meer Lappas has lived an international life. That’s how she describes her journey from Amsterdam to Clyde, with many global stops in between.

Lappas has been an artist her whole life, studying at Paris’ L’Ecole des Beaus Arts at the Sorbonne after finishing school in the Netherlands.

Then, however, she turned her artistry to industry, working in fashion design for 16 years.

Her career took her to all of the usual hot spots for haute couture — New York, Paris, Rome — but didn’t quite fulfill her need for artistic expression.

“That was just making a living and fashion is very demanding,” said Lappas. But she squeezed the painting in at night, taking workshops and classes at the Art Student’s League in New York and studying the techniques of Rudolph Steiner and his watercolor veil paintings.

Then she and her husband moved to Clyde around 20 years ago, and she leapt into not only her own artistry, but the area’s vibrant artistic community.

“It is totally different from New York City, where everything is high dollar and big art shows and big money,” said Lappas, mentioning craft schools like Penland that feature traditional artistry that isn’t often seen in larger urban areas. “It is very charming to see how much interest there is in art here. It really is no wonder that people like to come here.”

When asked what has kept Lappas involved in her own creations and the artistic scene throughout the years, she replies as though that is, of course, a foregone conclusion.

“It’s a lifeline for me, it’s a voice that I have to follow. Any artist could tell you that. It’s a must. You have to get it out of you.”

On International Festival Day, Main Street in Waynesville will transform into a world bazaar where more than one hundred artists, craftsmen and international guests sell all forms of arts and crafts.

The day offers the ultimate cultural exchange for all ages, whether you’re an art lover coming to browse booths of jewelry, paintings, photography and woodwork; a child traveling the world at Passport to the Arts; or a family seeking a glimpse of international dancers and old time mountain music.

The 25th Annual International Festival Day takes place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, July 31, in downtown Waynesville. North Carolina’s Official International Festival runs from July 22 to Aug. 1. (See special Folkmoot section inside this week’s edition)

Festival-goers can browse booths filled with handcrafted items and even catch a demonstration or two by artisans including flame workers, potters and woodworkers.

Modern metal artist Bob Gwynn creates one-of-a-kind artwork that brings a vibrant feeling to any room. After returning from a tour in Vietnam in 1972, Gwynn took a welding course to learn a skill before deciding to go back to college.

One day on a power plant job, he cut a butterfly out of a plate of steel. Thirty-eight years and more than 800 major art shows later, he has produced hundreds of metal designs ranging from nature designs, water fountains, and furniture all from his studio located just outside of Greenville. Gwynn’s work has evolved from simple wall pieces to multimedia pieces that bring in vibrant colors and textures.

Metalsmith and jeweler Maggie Joynt has an eye for beauty in unexpected places such as the surface of the rocks outside her studio or the frayed wings of a well-traveled butterfly. Using various materials including leaves, paper, insect wings and fabrics, she presses patterns and textures directly onto sterling and copper. This process preserves the delicate texture directly onto the metal. These abstract, organic and textural elements are evident in all her work. Joynt’s open studio and gallery is located at the Riverwood Shops in historic Dillsboro.

Ceramicist Courtney Tomchik employs the raku firing technique where smoke penetrates the clay and glaze to enhance the range of colors and finishes she uses. After cooling for a short time, the pieces are placed in a bucket of water.

“The water phase stops the color process and sometimes creates flashes that are not visible until it is cooled completely,” Tomchik said.

Once cooled, the piece is cleaned with an abrasive cleaning agent ash deposits. After a 24-hour drying period, Tomchik assembles her pieces and adds additions like glass beads from local shops or her travels and small bits created from clay with gold leaf to create more drama. Each piece is truly one-of-a-kind.

Nadine Fidelman chooses semi-precious gemstones, pearls, fossils and dichroic glass that have character, then “wraps” each one, surrounding it with a minimal amount of wire, to enhance its beauty. Fidelman uses her fingertips, fingernails and various pliers to surround each one and often adds gemstone beads or pearls to create a unique piece of art jewelry. No casting or solder is ever used. She also creates unique jewelry with fine silver, bronze and copper, sometimes combining them with wire wrapping.

The international theme continues at opposite ends of Main Street where food courts feature a wide variety of choices including gyros, Asian spring rolls, crepes, beignets, Caribbean shawarmas, fajitas and — a North Carolina staple — pulled pork barbeque.

The Passport to the Arts children’s area is where children are issued a “passport” and “travel” to countries like Russia, India, Latvia, United Kingdom, France, Switzerland, Jordan, Portugal and Poland, and create Indian twirling palm puppets, Kufi hats and other one-of-a-kind crafts to take home.

Festival entertainment will be provided by Folkmoot USA’s international dancers and musicians; Voices in the Laurel Children’s Chorus; and students from the Haywood County Arts Council’s Junior Appalachian Musicians program. The cultural exchange takes place on stages at each end of Main Street beginning at 10:15 a.m. at Town Hall in downtown Waynesville.

For more information, or call the Haywood County Arts Council at 828.452.0593. For ticket information about Folkmoot USA performances during July, visit, 828.452.2997 or 1.877.FOLK-USA.

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