Toe River Arts Studio Tour

Mortar and pestle by Paul Eisenhauer

Clean and simple is more beautiful and more difficult than complex,” says Celo woodworker Paul Eisenhauer. The maker developed this credo in 2005 when he left his job as a sociology professor to work at the Wharton Esherick Museum in Pennsylvania. It was there that Eisenhauer learned more about Wharton Esherick (1887-1970), a woodworker who was deeply influenced by nature and often drew inspiration from the natural world in his designs. Spending time in Eshericks space gave me an appreciation of the transformative power of beauty and made me want to create,” says Eisenhauer. After retiring from the museum in 2015 and moving to the Toe River Valley in 2016, Eisenhauer applied what he had learned and began carving organic forms. I try to respect the nature and character of each log or branch as I sculpt the bowl or spoon,” says Eisenhauer. My recent designs reflect my experimentation with natural elements of the wood — burls, weathering, occlusions, bark, live edges.” This month, the woodworker will open his workshop to visitors during the Toe River Arts Studio Tour. About 100 other artists in Yancey and Mitchell counties will also participate in the self-guided rural driving tour, affording visitors a taste of what Eisenhauer describes as a welcoming and collaborative artistic community” in Western North Carolina’s beautiful High Country region.

Toe River Arts Studio Tour: May 31-June 2

Spring Studio Tour Preview Exhibition: May 11-June 8; Opening Reception: Friday, May 31, 5:30-7:30pm

Kokol Gallery269 Oak Ave., Spruce Pine

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