Opening the doors of creativity: Haywood Arts Studio Tour to be held Sept. 24-25

The Haywood County Arts Council’s annual Haywood County Studio Tour will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 24, and from noon to 4 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 25.

‘Living with Pride’

For the first time in its 45-year history, the Haywood County Arts Council is celebrating Pride month with its ‘Living with Pride’ exhibit, a collaboration with Waynesville’s own Curatory Gallery. 

Mental Health in Motion

The Haywood County Arts Council (HCAC) is honored to announce they are sponsoring three performances at their downtown Waynesville gallery by Mental Health in Motion starting Thursday, Nov. 4, through Saturday, Nov. 6, from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.

New HCAC director fosters creative community

In June, Morgan Beryl took over as executive director of the Haywood County Arts Council. She has lived all over the United States and studied an array of subjects, but her love for the arts and the outdoors brought her to Haywood County. 

Haywood Arts Council to request COVID relief funds

By Boyd Allsbrook • Contributing writer | During the Haywood County Arts Council’s annual meeting, Executive Director Leigh Forrester recently outlined the extensive losses the art community has suffered due to COVID-19. 

Nurturing the creative flame: Haywood County Arts Council holds steady during pandemic

Back in January, the Haywood County Arts Council was setting itself up for another year of growth, creatively and financially. With artisan membership numbers on the rise, the nonprofit organization had high hopes for its May 24 Americana concert featuring Balsam Range & The Atlanta Pops Orchestra. 

Creating a community: Haywood Arts celebrates 40 years

In her short tenure, Executive Director Lindsey Solomon has righted the unknown direction of the ship that is the Haywood County Arts Council. But, Solomon — who came into the fold a year and half ago — will be the first to point to the countless volunteers and artisan members who have made the HCAC a viable and valuable entity within the Waynesville and greater Haywood County communities.

Creating a community: Haywood Arts celebrates 40 years

In her short tenure, Executive Director Lindsey Solomon has righted the unknown direction of the ship that is the Haywood County Arts Council. But, Solomon — who came into the fold a year and half ago — will be the first to point to the countless volunteers and artisan members who have made the HCAC a viable and valuable entity within the Waynesville and greater Haywood County communities.

Event makes for good company, good birding

This past Saturday, May 7, was (I believe) the 12th-annual “Birding for the Arts” fundraiser for the Haywood County Arts Council. I can’t remember exactly how many Saturdays we’ve done it, but I do know it’s become one of my favorite Saturdays.

Joe Sam and Kate Queen are always the most gracious and enthusiastic hosts, and there is always a mix of first-timers and returnees. And I had a more visceral connection to the Arts Council and some of their wonderful community work this year because Director Kay Miller assisted Central Elementary’s PTO in securing grants to bring two cool educational performing arts programs to Central this year.

We began, as always, at the Performing Arts Center on Pigeon Street, but this time we had a little competition for space. The place was bustling, as vendors for Haywood’s Farmers Market were busy setting up and displaying their wares. Native plants, artisan breads and handmade arts and crafts were impossible to ignore as we did a quick turn around the parking area looking for birds.

We started out at the Performing Arts Center with a Mimidae trifecta. All three of our eastern mimics – northern mocking bird, gray catbird and brown thrasher – were present and loosening up their vocal chords.

Our next stop was Lake Junaluska. We began our tour of the lake at the newly enhanced wetlands behind the cafeteria. A spotted sandpiper was there enjoying the banks of Suzy’s Branch where it has been released from an underground culvert and allowed to meander across the wetlands. Two green herons were at home, on their nests, along the narrow, brushy island between the wetlands and the lake. Yellow-rumped warblers, who winter with us but are now preparing to depart for their northern nesting grounds, were common in the larger trees around the wetlands. Also present, singing loudly and persistently but somehow managing to stay hidden in the foliage, was a blackpoll warbler. We did, however, get great views of a yellow warbler at the edge of the wetlands.

After the wetlands we made a quick stop at the large parking lot on the lake near Stuart Auditorium. There we got good  (comparative) looks at tree swallows, northern rough-winged swallows, barn swallows and purple martins.

We proceeded to the cross where, after minutes and minutes of searching, a loudly singing Cape May warbler finally popped out of the deep cover of a spruce and provided great looks. We were teased again by singing blackpolls in the large oaks near the cross and a couple of people got quick glances, but we never got good looks. We also found a couple of lingering waterfowl – a ruddy duck and a female lesser scaup – to go with the dwindling population of American coots.

We headed to the Blue Ridge Parkway from the lake, which turned out, to our chagrin, to be quite windy. Despite the wind, we got great looks at chestnut-sided warblers, indigo buntings and rose-breasted grosbeaks.

It was also a great day for raptors and other soaring birds. A sharp-shinned hawk, carrying breakfast in its talons, buzzed us at one overlook and we got great looks at a red-tailed hawk that stooped at 100 mph from a gazillion feet up into the woods across the parkway from us to chase an apparent interloper out of its territory. We also saw ravens, turkey vultures and broad-winged hawks riding the bumpy thermals.

And what better way to end an all-day birding quest than standing at the edge of a wetlands in Bethel, out of the wind, and watching three Baltimore orioles within 50 feet of each other. We wound up with 74 species seen or heard for the day.

Whether you’re an arts aficionado looking for a cool and fun way to support the Haywood County Arts Council, a beginning birder looking for tips, an experienced birder willing to share tips and promote your hobby, or a community member who enjoys the outdoors and enjoys communing with like-minded souls, “Birding for the Arts” is an event you should attend. See ya next year!

Don Hendershot can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Art as spectator sport

Great art isn’t often associated with speed – the Mona Lisa wasn’t painted in an hour. Michelangelo took more than four years to perfect the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.

But for the last 10 years, a special event has laid out a challenge to local artists: create a finished piece, ready for sale, all in under an hour. It’s not a simple task, but Quick Draw has proven a popular challenge for artists, whose pieces are auctioned off at the end of the hour to support the arts education in Haywood County.

Now in its 10th year, Quick Draw is a fast-paced event that provides a new environment for people to experience art and for artists to create it, while providing funds to support the next generation of artists.

For the artists themselves, the event supplies a challenge and a chance to interact with the public that the studio just can’t provide. And with space for only around 50 artists, Jo Ridge Kelley — artist, owner of Ridge Runner Naturals in Waynesville and Quick Draw committee member — said they’ve now had to make it an invitation-only event.

“You know, it’s become so popular that we have to say that it’s by invitation only,” said Ridge Kelley. “Now we work with the ones that have been faithful to Quick Draw all these years.”

One of those artists is Ann Vasilik. Vasilik is a Western North Carolina native whose watercolor paintings can be seen in galleries and public spaces around the region. For her, the challenge, the crowd and the buzz of artistic creation make the event a unique experience every year.

“I enjoy the challenge and then just adding the time element on top of that just makes it even more exciting for me,” said Vasilik. “I certainly love doing watercolor, and this is an opportunity to show the medium at it’s best.”

Not all of the artists at Quick Draw can work against the clock, of course. Some art, by its very nature, takes a lot longer than an hour to come together. But around half will race the time limit to get their creations completed before auction time.

With a bustling and interested crowd milling around, working for an audience can be vastly different to creating solo.

While strategies for withstanding the pressure from both audience and deadline vary, Vasilik said her preferred method is blocking them out completely.

“What happens at Quick Draw is I totally block out the audience in front of me — the sounds and what they’re saying — because I’m so focused on the painting,” said Vasilik. “I have a little sign on my board that says ‘right brain at work, speech impaired.’”

For the spectators, even if the artists are too busy to chat with them about their work, just watching so much creativity burst forth in one place is an exciting experience.

Ridge Kelley said she hears art lovers singing the event’s praises all year long.

“I have people come into our gallery and say it’s their favorite event of the year, they wouldn’t miss it,” she said. “The creative energy is what I hear the most about. It’s just so amazing to see that many artists all in one place.”

While an event like this is fun for both participants and onlookers, the point, of course, goes beyond simple art appreciation.

Quick Draw raised $13,000 last year to fund art in local schools, as well as funding two scholarships for students studying the arts at a collegiate level.

This year, according to Ridge Kelley, they’re shooting for the $20,000 mark and trying to fund three scholarships.

But in addition to the funds generated by ticket sales and auction proceeds, Vasilik sees the event itself as an opportunity to turn more and more people on to arts education.

“I think the journey through the painting is the exciting part, seeing it come together,” said Vasilik. “I think you gain appreciation for what the artist puts into it, and a large part of it is entertainment, so you want to educate and entertain at the same time.”


WHEN: Saturday, April 30 • 4:30-9:30

WHERE: Laurel Ridge Country Club • 788 Eagle Nest Rd., Waynesville

HOW MUCH: $50 in advance


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