Glass in the Mountains

Glass in the Mountains celebrates the 50th anniversary of the studio glass movement September 20 – 23 throughout the Toe River Valley

Burnsville, NC – Close to 60 Toe River Valley glass artists have joined forces to create Glass in the Mountains, an activity-rich, four day celebration that commemorates the 50th anniversary of the birth of the studio glass movement. A dozen galleries as well as studios throughout Burnsville, Bakersville, Penland, and Spruce Pine will be hosting tours, unique glass exhibits, demonstrations, a book signing and even a special “goblets and glasses” wine tasting where locally made, handcrafted wine glasses will be available for sale. The September 20 – 23 events kick off Thursday night, September 20 with glass blowing demonstrations and guided stargazing at the Energy Xchange, a one-time landfill converted into a one-of-a-kind incubator for glass and ceramic artists. On Friday evening, September 21, visitors can look forward to a special “History of Glass in the Toe River Valley” reception at the Toe River Arts Council’s new art center in Spruce Pine.

“Few places in the country have as rich a history in glass art as we do in the rural Toe River Valley,” says Glass in the Mountains Coordinator Kate Vogel. “Harvey Littleton, recognized worldwide for his remarkable contribution to the studio glass movement in addition to being designated a “North Carolina Treasure,” was instrumental in making this region a hot-bed for glass artists. Our current roster of residents working in glass reads like a ‘Who’s Who in Glass’ directory, with renowned artists such as Mark Peiser, John Littleton, Richard Ritter, Rob Levin, the Bernstein family, Shane Fero, and Rick Beck. One of the things I think visitors will appreciate most is the opportunity to see an incredibly diverse body of work that ranges from functional to sculptural.”

While many of the weekend long activities are free, a limited number of special VIP tickets are also available. “The Littleton family has agreed to open Harvey’s studio, which has been closed to the public for years. The studio not only houses a large selection of his work from the 40s through the 90s, but work from his students as well,” Vogel says.

On Saturday evening, VIPs will be treated to a gala event held at the Burnsville Town Center. Guests will have to opportunity to mingle with the glass artists before settling in to locally crafted appetizers prepared by Chef Nate Allen of the Spruce Pine based Knife and Fork restaurant. Appetizers and wine will be followed by a lecture and book signing by Joan Falconer Byrd, who discusses her book, Harvey K. Littleton: A Life in Glass. The evening also includes a slide show of local artists’ work and a video that tells the fascinating story of the studio glass movement. (A limited number of non-VIP lecture passes will be made available for a nominal fee.)

The VIP program also includes a private glassblowing demonstration at The Penland School of Craft as well as a personalized tour of Mark Peiser’s studio. The cost of a VIP ticket is $250.

“We’re expecting collectors and curators from across the country,” Vogel adds. “I have no doubt it’s going to be a memorable weekend for both visitors and artists alike.”

To view the four day schedule as well as purchase VIP tickets, visit