Tours bridge artists and art lovers

Waynesville studios tour April 6
By Mary Koppenheffer | Mar 26, 2014

Sherry Masters knows art, and she knows artists. As general manager of the Grovewood Gallery for over 20 years, her work involved getting to know artists from this area, and around the country. Last year, she left Grovewood to start her own business — Art Connections Tours.

“I saw it as a way to be a bridge between the artists of Western North Carolina and local residents and visitors who are collectors, or who just enjoy and appreciate art,” she said.

Initially, the tours were weekend affairs — two days of visiting a variety of galleries and speaking with artists.

“I realized some people only had one day,” she said, “so now I also offer one-day options as well.”

Masters provides all the transportation from place-to-place, as well as lunch at a local restaurant. Having spent almost 30 years in the craft industry, Masters feels personal tours are another layer to the experience of craft in WNC.

“Guided small group tours can give a 'close-up' connection between the artist and the participant, and hopefully they will bring new collectors to the artists to support their continuing work,” she said.

On Sunday, April 6, Masters will lead a tour in Waynesville. According to the itinerary, Masters will be leaving Asheville at 9:30 a.m. to drive to Waynesville to visit metal sculptor Grace Cathey. The group will then have lunch in Waynesville before hearing to Canton to the showroom of Shape by Design. The tour will be completed by 4 p.m.

This one-day tour will begin with a visit to Cathey’s home studio. Tucked into a picturesque 100-acre mountain cove, attendants will find Grace’s home studio and gardens. Cathey's award-winning sculptures are created from hard, cold steel, but they emerge as flowing and almost soft finished pieces reflecting nature.

After visiting Cathey's home, the tour wil drive to her gallery in downtown Waynesville for a view of garden sculpture as well as mirrors, tables and home accessories. The gallery is housed in a spacious family owned 1928 service station, listed as ‘Best of the Road’ by Rand McNally.

Then the group will travel to Canton to visit the showroom of ‘Shape by Design,’ a new collective of contemporary wood artists, potters, and jewelers. This group of friends, mostly Haywood Community College’s Art Program alumni, recently joined together in an endeavor to reach out to interior decorators or homeowners looking for handcrafted furnishings and accessories.

Members include Fatie Atkinson, Missy Batten, Caryl Brt, LeElaine Comer, Hayley Davison, Melissa Engler, Wayne Fowler, Bob & Lucy Gibson, Susan Link, Shelby Mihalevich, Journel Thomas, Jamie Womak and Brian Wurst.

The wood studio of Wayne Fowler is adjoining the showroom and there guests will be treated to a demonstration by a member of the group. Participants are encouraged to bring photos of a room or garden location they are interested in renovating.

The one-day tour costs $125 per person or $225 per couple. A deposit of one-half is required to guarantee your reservation. If you are in Asheville, meet at the Asheville Convention and Visitors Bureau parking area at 9:30 a.m. Tour price includes lunch and transportation.

For more information, visit