Crafting the future — Dillsboro
Amid the numerous businesses in Dillsboro, its cultural and economic heart lies in the plentiful art galleries and studios. From decades old locations to brand new operations, the town is an ever-evolving community, one with the drive and commitment to bring a beloved art haven into the 21st century.
Perched atop a small hill overlooking downtown Dillsboro, the Oaks Gallery features the works of over 125 artists from within a 100-mile radius. Owned by Bob and Susan Leveille, the shop, like the 400-year-old oak tree it’s positioned under, has stood tall in its mission of bringing quality art to consumers from near and far.
“We’ve always tried to offer professional craftspeople an opportunity here in this area to show their work in an environment that honors their work,” Susan said. “We want this place to be more like a gallery, and not like a grocery story — the artist’s work is valued here.”
Susan herself is no stranger to quality work. A renowned weaver, she was recently awarded the North Carolina Heritage Award for her unique and intricate talents. And it’s that personal connection to the arts that also radiates into her business.
“We see all of our artists on a regular basis, we know what’s happening in their lives,” she said. “Dillsboro keeps changing, and it’s a great place to live.”
In its 39th year of operating, Dogwood Crafters on Webster Street is running strong. Crafting is a labor of love, one that can be seen on the numerous shelves in the store. Through the hard work and dedication of an all-volunteer workforce of members, the nonprofit co-op and its 90 members has held true to its original vision – a beacon of light shining at the center of Dillsboro.
“This place gives everyone a chance to sell their crafts, to supplement their income if need be,” said Brenda Anders, a mixed media artist and president of the co-op. “It’s important because if the crafters are able to sell their works here, then it brings in more people, which helps the local economy, making this community a better place for us all.”
And through the decades, the organization has remained steadfast, always knowing that people would walk through the door in search of Appalachian artisan crafts.
“It’s so refreshing when the door opens and someone tells you how happy they are that Dogwood is still here,” Anders said. “We had someone recently who was brought here as a kid and now they’re bringing their children to come an explore the crafts.”