The Reach of Art: A Visit to the Bascom

Posted by Admin | Posted in Living in WNC, Things to Do | Posted on Monday, January 8, 2018

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Cross the covered wooden bridge just off Franklin Road in Highlands, and you will find yourself on the magical campus that is The Bascom.
Set on six lush acres of what was once Crane’s Horse Farm, this extraordinary center for the visual arts is a sensory treat for anyone who loves art.
You know you are somewhere special long before you walk through the door. To one’s right is the original horse barn which has been transformed into a ceramics center. The main building, designed by the Atlanta architectural firm of Lord Aeck Sargent, is composed of wood, glass, and stone to pay homage to the natural materials that are native to our part of the world.
A walking nature trail surrounds the campus, containing a variety of site-specific sculptures comfortably positioned among indigenous plants and flowers. An outdoor amphitheater, tiers defined by stone seating, is the perfect setting for weddings, classes, and guest lectures.
Like the warm hostess that she is, Teresa Osborn, meets me at the Center’s front door. As executive director, she quickly explains how she sees the Center’s three important missions: exhibition, education, and outreach. This is no hushed gallery of hands-off, “important” art—nor is it intended to be.
The exhibition aspect of the Center’s mission is everywhere you look, as the 30,000 square feet of space abound with remarkable pieces created by artists from the Southeast, many of whom call the Blue Ridge Mountains home. Oil paintings mix comfortably with photography and pottery, the occasional piece of primitive furniture and whimsical pieces like a room-size “tree” composed of discarded clothing. One can also find jewelry, basketry, and wood-turned vessels here. The collections are fluid so visitors can enjoy a totally unique experience each time they come.
A fun aspect of this art center is the opportunity for hands-on creativity. Check out the “smARTspace” loft on the third floor, and try any of many self-directed art activities. A “wishing tree” downstairs invites visitors to write their deepest desires on papers to hang from a tree. The wishes are as random as you would expect, from “I wish I was a horse” to “I wish I could destroy my computer and phone.” These two areas speak to Teresa’s deepest passion: that art be a unifier, accessible to all, regardless of income, ability, or anything else.
Education is unquestionably a big part of The Bascom’s mission as well. The Center offers artist residencies, fellowships and internships in ceramics, photography, sculpture and community, which is a teaching position involving outreach to all ages. Residencies range from two weeks to one year and afford artists housing, teaching opportunities, unlimited studio access, and the opportunity to sell their art.
The community at large is a huge focal part of the educational component, and an adult education calendar offers a palate-pleasing menu of everything from “Playing in the Clay” to “Highlands Landscape Photography.” In addition to after-school classes during the school year, area children (and visiting grandchildren) are invited to eight different art day camps in the summertime. Private lessons, too, are available for all ages through Art by Appointment.
“Outreach,” says Teresa, warming to a subject dear to her heart, “is a yearlong activity, diverse and widespread.” Area youth are served through school programs: the Boys and Girls Clubs, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and the Gordon Center for Children, to name just a few. The needs of our adult community are addressed through programs like those at Cashiers and Jackson County Senior Centers, the Center for Life Enrichment, the Chestnut Hill retirement community, and the Eckerd Living Center.
It is no small feat that admission to this visual feast is free. Thanks to year-long sponsors, such as Delta and The Chaparral Foundation, The Bascom is accessible to everyone. A robust membership lends further support, as do various sponsors of individual exhibits.
The vision for this Center began in the 1980s, when Watson Barratt’s estate made possible an exhibition space in the Hudson Library. Proceeds from the sale of his family home on Satulah Mountain founded The Bascom, which honors the maiden name of his wife, Louise Bascom Barratt. Although he died in 1962 when Highlands was still a village, his belief in the need for a permanent gallery was prescient. Today, more than 20,000 individuals visit The Bascom each year, and that does not include all those who learn and create at the Center, or the thousands of people who are enriched through the outreach programs.
A centerpiece of Teresa’s delightful, art-cluttered office, is a charming piece of decoupage, teeming with buttons and ribbons and miniatures, created by a gentleman who struggled with developmental challenges. His family, she says, was stunned and thrilled to see how much joy he gleaned from the compilation of this masterpiece, and she keeps it in a place of honor to remind her always, of the life-changing possibilities of art.
The Bascom’s ever-growing impact in the community is a living testament to Watson Barratt’s foresight and a gift to all of us who call these mountains home.


Highlands-Cashiers Land Trust Celebrates 100 Years of “Saving Special Places”

Posted by Jochen | Posted in Living in WNC, Things to Do | Posted on Wednesday, May 27, 2009

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An exciting series of centennial events will take place in 2009 to pay homage to Highlands-Cashiers Land Trust’s (HCLT) rich history and illuminate the community to its very bright future. HCLT is the oldest land trust in all of North Carolina and among the first 20 in the United States. Like most things, HCLT began very simply – the concept of a handful of concerned citizens who didn’t wish to see the face of a mountain transformed by another hilltop hotel. The group, created in 1883 under the name of The Highlands Improvement Society, set out to “protect, preserve and promote the natural beauty of Highlands.” They slowly realized their vision by building trails and planting trees, and in 1909 had raised $500 to purchase 56 acres at the summit of Satulah Mountain. From these humble beginnings, Highlands Improvement Society has grown into the Highlands-Cashiers Land Trust, a 501(c)3 organization that currently protects 1,160 acres along the Highlands-Cashiers Plateau.

The June schedule of events includes a presentation from the 2009 Village Series titled “100 Years of Conservation” at Jennings Barn at Lonesome Valley on June 24 at 6:30 p.m. Ran Shaffner, Dr. Gary Wein and Rosemary Stiefel will be on hand to discuss the past and the future of HCLT, and the new logo for the organization will be unveiled. Other centennial events in June include:

June 6 “Celebrate Land Trust Day!” – Show your support for the Highlands-Cashiers Land Trust by shopping and dining at some of your favorite local merchants. A portion of the proceeds benefits HCLT.

June 6 Highlands Improvement Society Social hosted by the Highlands-Cashiers Land Trust – Take a step back in time to learn what life was like on the Plateau in 1909 during this very special Centennial Event. Enjoy a picnic dinner, take part in a cakewalk, toss some horseshoes and dance to live music set against the backdrop of scenic Whiteside Cove Road. Terrific opportunity to learn more about the history of the land trust, its founding members and its first purchase of land – the summit of Satulah Mountain. Period costumes are optional, but encouraged. Festivities begin at 6 p.m.

June 7 “Where It All Began” hosted by the Highlands-Cashiers Land Trust – Enjoy high tea on the summit of Satulah Mountain – the site of the Highlands Improvement Society’s first land purchase one hundred years ago. Afternoon includes a skit by Highlands Historical Society president, Elaine Whitehurst and the music of bag piper, David Landis. Period costumes and kilts are optional, but encouraged. Event begins at 4:00 p.m.

June 26-28 “Walk in the Park” with the Highlands Historical Society – Features portrayals of past Highlands leaders, the formation of the Highlands Improvement Society and the founding of the Highlands-Cashiers Land Trust. Tickets are $15 – students admitted free. June 26 and 27 – 6-7:30 p.m. – Highlands Memorial Cemetery (shuttle from Recreation Park); June 28 – 4 p.m. – Performing Arts Center on Chestnut Street.

The Highlands-Cashiers Land Trust has always relied upon the generosity of its community to thrive. We hope you will consider showing your support by attending these events with your friends and family, or by donating your time, land or monetary gifts to this wonderful cause. Together, we can help preserve the natural beauty of our home on the Plateau!

For more information about HCLT and ways you can help, visit or call 828.526.1111.