Archived Arts & Entertainment

Finding the will to go on: New Canton gallery reopens after flood

The Cold Mountain Art Collective in downtown Canton. The Cold Mountain Art Collective in downtown Canton.

On Aug. 13, Hannah Burnisky’s longtime dream of owning a pottery studio and art gallery came to fruition when the Cold Mountain Art Collective opened its doors. But, just four days later, on Aug. 17, the downtown Canton business closed — its future uncertain and in limbo. 

Not because of a lack of sales or interest by the general public. On the contrary, the opening proved a success, a litmus test of the genuine need for a place like the collective in the blue-collar mountain town. No, the business shutdown because of the ravaging floodwaters that overtook the community as a result of Tropical Storm Fred.

“The water that flooded our building was over two and a half feet high. When I walked in the next day, everything was knocked over and there was mud everywhere,” Burnisky reminisced in a humbled tone. “When I arrived, a nice family helped me move the artwork to our shed so we could tear the walls down to the studs before the mold set in — it was heartbreaking, everything covered in mud.” 

Luckily, Burnisky had flood insurance. That, and she was able to safely salvage the building and renovate the structure back to its original form that was presented on its opening day. 

“It was a difficult couple of months waiting for the insurance to go through and seeing all of this hard work just gone,” Burnisky said. “But, this is where my vision was, and I was going to see it through. I worked so hard to get this building — I wasn’t going to let it slip away.”

The grand reopening took place Oct. 30 to a slew of community support and renewed optimism within Burnisky that her dream was not only justified, but real and tangible. 

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The Cold Mountain Art Collective in downtown Canton.

 

“It’s so wild, I keep thinking that this isn’t real, but it is,” Burnisky smiled. “I get to walk through the gallery every day, I get to work on my personal ceramics in the studio — this is a space to come together and create.” 

The road to the here and now for the Burnisky and the CMAC started several years ago. Originally from Asheville, Burnisky initially pursued a career as an English teacher, but it was a spur of the moment decision to take a beginner’s ceramic class at AB-Tech that forever shifted the trajectory of her life. 

“It was just a very basic wheel class, but it was so hands on, and I’m a very hands-on texture-oriented kind of person,” Burnisky said. “That’s the kind of art I love, and it always upset me that we didn’t have a ceramics class in high school. The second I got into ceramics, I knew ‘this is it.’” 

From there, Burnisky rented kilns in Asheville’s famed River Arts District. Eventually, she wanted a place of her own, and in her own style and theme. Once Burnisky became a stay-at-home mother, she knew it was her chance to become a full-time artist. In 2017, the young family relocated to Canton. 

 

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Hannah Burnisky, owner of the CMAC.

 

“I was looking for a place in downtown Canton and as soon as I walked through this building, I knew it was perfect for a studio and a gallery,” Burnisky said. “With over 20 local artists represented here, this place has become a community endeavor to really to bring our local artists to life. There are so many talented people in this area that hadn’t had anywhere to show their work — we value our artisans here.”

And it’s that idea of coming together, whether you’re a neighbor or passerby, at the CMAC which resides at the core of Burnisky’s vision and passion. It’s about sharing the ancient, sacred spark of creativity with others — ultimately inspiring the person next to you to dive deep within themselves through artistic expression. 

“I feel like art is such a soulful action. To create something and bear your soul, and then present it to the community, only to have it supported and also bringing the community together? It’s a beautiful thing,” Burnisky said. “This collective and the workshops we host are meant to facilitate community engagement. And I think anytime you’re able to work on that together and problem solve, then it brings all of us closer.”

 

Want to go?

The Cold Mountain Art Collective is located at 33 Adams Street in downtown Canton. Hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Aside from a gallery showroom of local artists, the CMAC also offers art classes onsite in its studio. 

For more information on the CMAC, click on coldmountainartcollective.com or call 828.492.1333. You can also follow them on Facebook and Instagram. 

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