As the High Country experiences colder weather during the next few months, families have the opportunity to take advantage of resources offered by area museums to keep themselves occupied.
The Blowing Rock Art and History Museum and the Turchin Center for Visual Arts in Boone are two local free museums that people can access for family fun.
Blowing Rock Art and History Museum
Celebrating its 10 year anniversary in 2021, BRAHM was founded to serve as both an art and history museum as a public-private partnership with the town of Blowing Rock, according to Executive Director Lee Carol Giduz. The museum specifically focuses on American art as well as history of the southern Appalachian region with its three rotating galleries and two to four permanent spaces. The exception to offering art outside of the country is when the pieces have a local connection, Giduz said.
“With history, we stay very local,” Giduz said. “It’s important to tell the local story (of) the region. People come here because they’re interested in the region.”
BRAHM is welcoming visitors in person to the museum as well as has adapted some of its services for online guests. Giduz said the museum requests visitors to wear masks and remain socially distant due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but that BRAHM hasn’t had to limit the amount of people in the museum as the facility offers large gallery spaces.
The museum is offering an exhibit called the “Small and Mighty Acts Altar for Black Lives” from Nov. 7 to March 27, 2021. The exhibit features pieces offered to an altar by community members during mid-2020 and other pieces for those “Black lives lost to anti-Black racism,” according to BRAHM.
Giduz said the museum is also offering an exhibition from Nov. 14 through March 6, 2021, showcasing Qualla art and artifacts. According to BRAHM, Qualla Arts & Crafts Mutual, Inc. is the oldest Native American artists’ cooperative in the U.S. as it was founded in 1946 in Cherokee, North Carolina. The exhibition tells the story of Qualla’s founding and development through text, objects, photographs, artwork and videos featuring many of the cooperative’s artist members. Visitors will experience the innovation of Cherokee artisans, with sixty-six objects on display ranging from archeological artifacts to contemporary crafts, the museum stated.
The “Drawing from Life” exhibition featuring work from Ben Long and Tony Griffin will be shown at the museum from Nov. 21 to March 20, 2021. Giduz said this exhibit has a strong regional appeal, as the two lifelong-friends are established painters in North Carolina. Both men have lived and worked in Blowing Rock. Long is best known for his large scale fresco work, and Griffin is an established painter and illustrator of people and landscapes, according to BRAHM. This exhibition explores the duo’s ties to the Blowing Rock area, and their figurative and portrait drawings.
Honoring what a local agency has contributed to the region, the “Blue Ridge Conservancy: Place Matters” exhibition is offered from Dec. 12 through April 10, 2021. The exhibition highlights the history of land conservation in the High Country and explores Blue Ridge Conservancy’s mission of protecting the places that matter most to area communities, according to BRAHM. The museum stated that the Blue Ridge Conservancy has permanently protected 22,000 acres of land in the seven northwest counties of North Carolina.
The museum also offers its ongoing exhibit on the history of Blowing Rock and works from a permanent collection.
BRAHM isn’t able to offer on site programming as it would typically, but is offering a “robust” series of online programming via its website called BRAHM at Home, Giduz said. BRAHM at Home offers classes for children, lectures, presentations and discussions that are pre-filmed. Giduz added that the museum doesn’t have any in-person programs scheduled in the near future, but hope to reassess doing so in the coming months. The museum plans to continue offering online services even once workshops are offered in person.
BRAHM includes an attached garage and is handicap accessible. Museum hours have been reduced due to COVID-19, with BRAHM open 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday. The museum will be closed Christmas Day. For more information about BRAHM, visit www.blowingrockmuseum.org.
The Turchin Center for the Visual Arts
Associated with Appalachian State University, the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts has six galleries rotating exhibitions — offering about 12 exhibitions a year, according to the Director of Marketing Lynn Rees-Jones. The Turchin Center features the art of regional, national and international artists.
While the museum is closed to in-person visits to the public for the remainder of 2020, museum officials hope to potentially open at the beginning of 2021.
“While our physical facilities are closed, we’ve really ramped up our online offerings and we have thought a lot about how we can still make the arts accessible to everybody,” Rees-Jones said.
The Turchin Center has created a “learning” tab on its website where guests can find interactive PDFs called “connections: exhibit guides.” The exhibit guides take a deep dive into the exhibitions with information about the artist, exhibition, other works they’ve created as well as an educational arts activity related to the artist’s work that can be done at home. To access exhibition guides, visit tcva.org/learn/for-everyone.
“We can’t wait to reopen and see everybody. We’ve missed all of our visitors,” Giduz said. “We’ll see you again soon.”
The Turchin Center has three exhibitions that will be offered through Feb. 6, 2021. One of which is “Cantar De Ciegos/Songs of the Blind,” featuring work by Esperanza Cortes — a Colombian born contemporary multidisciplinary artist based in New York City. The museum quoted Cortes as saying, “As a multidisciplinary artist, I create sculptures, installations, reliefs, works on paper and site-specific outdoor interventions. I use my work to encourage viewers to reconsider social and historical narratives especially when dealing with Colonialism, and raises critical questions about the politics of erasure and exclusion.”
The second exhibition offered through Feb. 6 is “Rain at the River” by painter Jacklyn St. Aubyn. The museum stated St. Aubyn creates a space in which things aren’t what they appear to be, and first perceptions may be misleading. St. Aubyn stated that memories and experiences embodied in objects are the subject matter of her still lives, according to the Turchin Center.
“Afterimage Anxiety” by Joshua Rose will be showcased during the same time period — who lives with St. Aubyn, according to the Turchin Center. The work Rose has pursued for the past few years reflects two ideas: a mining and reinventing of the past forty years of his visual work, and deriving from combined images that he has made during the past 35 to 50 years.
The Turchin Center has two exhibits running from Dec. 4 to May 1.“Refugium” by paper artist Christina Laurel will be featured during that time. This exhibit will feature installations and two-dimensional art with a Japanese aesthetic. Also being offered during that time is “Longing for Amelia — The Historical and Mythological Landscape.” This exhibit by Matthew Arnold features a photographic project documenting the environs that play host to the many theories attempting to resolve the mystery of Amelia Earhart’s disappearance.
The museum’s Rosen Sculpture Competition and Exhibition showcases pieces selected from a national juried competition. The collection showcases nine outdoor sculptures through May 31.
Additionally, the museum is offering virtual tours of the exhibit spaces through the “Turchin Center for the Visual Arts” Youtube channel. For each exhibition, a video walks guests through the gallery. The museum’s Youtube channel has also offered some behind the scenes-type videos for patrons.
The Turchin Center has offered its ARTtalk series — traditionally held in person — via Zoom and other virtual platforms in fall 2020. To see the schedule for virtual ARTtalks, visit tcva.org/calendar.
The museum has also offered workshops online, which will start back up in January, Rees-Jones said. Online workshops are being offered for free. To view cataloged visual journaling prompts and Blazing Easels classes (for 7-12 year olds), visit the Turchin’s Center’s #tcbaathome webpage at tcva.org/learn/tcvaathome.