Showcasing the arts

Townsend Artisan Guild works to build appreciation

There is strength in numbers, and the artists of Townsend knew this when they formed the Townsend Artisan Guild.

Dave Neamand, president of the Townsend Artisan Guild, said there are now 45 Townsend area artists who have joined the organization.

“We’ve come a long way in a short amount of time,” Neamand says. “Our group keeps growing.”

Neamand predicts that in the future, Townsend will be recognized as a well-known art community. “Townsend is becoming more and more of an art community,” Neamand says. “And we want to build on that.”

According to Neamand, the Townsend community has been very supportive of the guild’s efforts. “The more people learn about us, the stronger our community will be.”

The Townsend Artisan Guild is a consortium of artists who are involved in art and fine crafts in Townsend, Walland and Wears Valley. The guild strives to promote the education, exploration, awareness and development of the visual arts; to promote group and community interest in and appreciate of the arts; and to sponsor and/or participate in art shows, exhibits and community projects, explains Neamand.

As a group, these artists have had showings at Nawger Nob, at Preservation Plaza during the Last Friday Artwalk and at a permanent display at the Townsend Visitors Center. The visitor center features two artists each month and rotates them on a monthly basis.

Future plans for the guild include a fall tour in October where art lovers can tour each artist’s studio or work at different Townsend locations. Neamand said he will feature artists at his store located in Nawger Nob at 7329 E. Lamar Alexander Parkway. Neamand is a metalsmith and master engraver. He hand-engraves one-of-a-kind pieces of jewelry in gold and silver.

Other guild members specialize in fine crafts such as stained glass artwork, handmade woodcarvings, needle artwork and handmade basket weaving. Fine arts such as painters and sculptors are also represented in the guild.

Townsend Mayor Pat Jenkins said he saw fairly good participation in the guild this year. “They’ve had some public events where they’ve all shown work and tried to help each other get business,” he said.

The mayor said the guild gives artists a chance to exchange ideas on how they might improve their businesses and help other. “It would be really good if the guild could come up with an artist incubator facility where artists could start their businesses for a year or two and not pay much rent so they could get their feet on the ground,” he said.

Jenkins said the art industry could be good for Townsend in the long term. “It brings in people,” he said.

The mayor said the Smoky Mountain Pottery Festival held at the Visitors’ Center this summer was an extreme success. There were local and well-known potters from outside the region. “I think the Townsend Artisans Guild is a good thing. I think they’re just beginning to figure out what they want to do.”

Neamand and other guild members will be showcasing their works during the Autumn Leaves Arts and Crafts Festival at Nawger Nob on September 27 and 28.

The guild also will sponsor an art walk throughout Townsend from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Oct. 25. Nancy Williams with the Heritage Center is heading up the event, Guild treasurer Jane Richardson said.

Richardson said other towns have done art walks. “We’re just trying to get attention in Townsend that we a very viable artisan community,” she said.

The event will start at Thunderhead Perk. It will go on to such businesses as Mountain Sage Gallery and Nawger Nob and then onto several homes and studios where guild work will be shown. There will be refreshments at each location. “At all these places artisans will be doing demonstrations of their work,” she said.

People can buy any of the work if they wish and a portion of all sales go to the Townsend Artisan’s Guild. “We have applied for a non-profit status and it looks like we’re going to get it,” Richardson said.

To find more information about the Townsend Artisan Guild, contact Dave Neamand at 448-9083 or dave@daveneamand.com.

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