On Saturday, April 1, and for the 11th year, the Toe River Arts Council opens its exhibition of blacksmith and metal work from around the country.  Held in conjunction with Fire On The Mountain Festival, the exhibition will give visitors an opportunity to view these metal arts and crafts in a gallery setting and to learn more about the nationally acclaimed smiths.  With seemingly unmovable floor pieces to hold-in-your hand pedestal work to 3-dimensional “how did they hang that” wall pieces, the gallery will be filled with forged, welded, pounded, and pinged copper, iron, steel, bronze. An always-fun free pizza and beer reception will be held at the gallery on the eve of the Festival on Friday,  April 28, from 5 to 7pm. The public is invited to share in the evening and meet these talented artists.

TRAC has been displaying blacksmith work for over a decade and recognizing one master blacksmith each year. This year’s Master Blacksmith is Lee Sauder from Lexington, VA. In his words: “Here’s what I do for a living: I dig up iron ore, and transform it into metal by the ancient and long-forgotten art of bloomery smelting. Then I try to forge something beautiful out of the iron I’ve made.” One could say that Sauder grew up with a lead foot. He began forging when he was 12, back in 1973, with an apprenticeship with Larry Mann. He moved around the world working with well known blacksmiths, finally planting those feet in Lexington, VA, where he operates Germinal Ironworks.

The pieces showcased during the Blacksmith exhibition are of the highest aesthetic caliber, inviting profound artistic contemplation from viewers. Other works bring back to life the hand-made uniqueness of the utilitarian items of past centuries: candlesticks, andirons, tongs, skewers. All the smiths have taken a concept and brought it to completion with unparalled artistry.

Another favorite, Seth Gould, resident at Penland School of Crafts and first place winner of last year’s Blacksmith Exhibition, will be demonstrating and exhibiting some of his newer pieces.

The Annual Blacksmith Exhibition will run from April 1 through the 29th, ending the evening of the Fire on the Mountain Festival. For more information about the Toe River Arts Council exhibition, please call 828.765.0520, or visit the www.toeriverarts.org. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday, from 10:30am to 5pm. The Fire on the Mountain Festival takes place on that last Saturday,  April 29, from 10am to 4pm in downtown Spruce Pine. Please visit www.downtownsprucepine.com for information.

The Toe River Arts Council is a not for profit organization promoting the arts in Mitchell and Yancey Counties, and supported by donations, memberships, local government, grants (including the North Carolina Arts Council, a division of the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, a state agency), and supporters who understand the benefit of art in our community.