By Sue Wasserman
Kari Weaver may not know what she did with her grocery list, but she knows each of the more than 180 artists whose work she represents at OOAK (One Of A Kind) Art Gallery in Micaville. That, according to Weaver, the gallery’s intrepid, inspired owner, has been one of the greatest highs she has experienced in her adventure of ten years, a milestone she will be happily celebrating this month.
“Over the years, a number of the artists, like folk painter Chris Troxell, have become like family to me,” Weaver says. “Thanks to the nearby Penland School of Craft, we’ve got such a wealth of talented artists within a 30-mile radius. I feel like part of what the gallery does is spread wealth into the artist community.”
Artists like Debbie Littledeer, well recognized for her touching and whimsical nature-inspired silkscreened prints, appreciate Weaver’s efforts on their behalf. “It makes me smile to walk into the gallery and see my work in the midst of work by so many other talented crafters,” Littledeer says. “I feel wonder and delight when I step in the door.”
Wonder and delight are key to the gallery’s success. The building itself, originally opened as the Micaville Country Store in 1922, and still boasting its original windows and hardwood floors, has great character and a warm, inviting allure. Then there’s the feel-good vibe created by the kaleidoscopic array of artwork that lines virtually every nook and cranny. From functional pottery to funky folk art, there’s something for every taste and budget.
The warmth of the space and its staff, always willing to offer suggestions, is not lost on long-time patron Gay Goodroe Rose. “When my sister comes to visit each year for the annual TRAC Studio Tour, we visit a lot of artist studios, but this is our favorite stop,” Rose says. “You can tell they like each other and like what they’re doing. Kari has made OOAK part of the community, too, with her regular music gatherings and poetry readings.”
Like Rose, Weaver is both delighted by and proud of the Micaville Music gatherings that have evolved at the gallery over the last few years. Prior to COVID-19, Weaver looked forward to Saturday mornings when local musicians got together for an impromptu jam session, often spearheaded by her husband, musician David Wiseman. On Thursday evenings, the gallery welcomed a variety of local and regional artists to the gallery’s intimate, improvised stage. “I can’t say the music has brought in new customers, but money can’t be the only motivator,” Weaver says. “There’s just so much creative energy in here. That alone is worth it.”
Although the pandemic forced Weaver to put the temporary brakes on indoor concerts, musicians still gather outside to play on warm-weather Saturdays. A backyard deck is in the works to accommodate future outdoor jams.
A brief closure last spring at the start of the pandemic forced Weaver to rethink her business. “It was incredibly stressful having to close the doors,” she says. “While I put a lot of time and energy into creating a more virtual presence, there’s no way to translate what we do onto a computer.”
Customers clearly agree. Despite the insistence that staff and visitors wear masks, Weaver experienced her best fall to date. “Depending on your perspective, we’re either on the way to or from the Blue Ridge Parkway,” Weaver says. “We clearly reaped the benefit of having so many additional visitors to the Parkway this year, especially during leaf peeper season.”
Throughout April, visitors can enter OOAK’s 10th Anniversary Giveaway for a chance to win a $100 gift certificate. “I love the idea of winning a gift certificate there,” Rose says. “What I’m most looking forward to, though, is seeing what the next ten years will bring.”
One Of A Kind Gallery is located at 573 Micaville Loop, in Micaville, near Burnsville. To learn more, to shop online or to donate to the Micaville Music deck fundraiser, visit OOAKArtGallery.com.