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Spruce Pine Hosts Annual Blacksmith Exhibition

Toe River Arts’ 15th Annual Blacksmith Exhibition is currently being held in Spruce Pine through April 30. The exhibition features the work of local blacksmiths and smiths from the Southeast and beyond.

The exhibition offers blacksmiths the opportunity to show their work in a place known for its blacksmithing history and community. Historically, the exhibition runs in conjunction with the Fire on the Mountain Blacksmithing Festival. Spruce Pine Main Street, in collaboration with Penland School of Craft and Toe River Arts, hosts the festival every year on the last weekend in April. The public can explore vendor tents for goods for sale, observe live demonstrations, or try their hand at blacksmithing at scheduled hands-on workshops.

Chair and Orchid. Jim Cooper, artist

There are 33 participating blacksmiths in this year’s exhibition. The show is not curated—so anyone can submit work. It brings together professionals, students and those working in their home workshops. It is an opportunity for the exhibit to reflect the many and varied blacksmithing techniques, skill levels, and aesthetics.

This year’s Featured Artist Blacksmith is James Cooper. A student, practitioner, and teacher of metalwork for 51 years, Cooper has worked as a jeweler, silversmith, foundryman, conservator, sculptor, and blacksmith. He has works in the collections of the Metal Museum, Memphis, TN, and at Penland School of Craft. In 2004, he received an award of achievement from the American Crafts Council. In 2020, Cooper and his wife moved to Mitchell County, the fulfillment of a lifelong dream. He will be demonstrating during the festival along with David Burnette of Canton, David Harper Clemons of Penland, Suzanne Pugh of Wendell, MA, and Adam Whitney of Penland.

There will be a reception on Friday evening April 29, 5-7 to kick off the weekend activities. Cash awards will be announced at 6:30 p.m., and Cooper will give a slide lecture upstairs in the Owen Gallery at 8 p.m. The public is invited to attend.

Toe River Arts Gallery and Gift Shop are open Tuesday through Saturday 10:30 a.m.-5 p.m. For more information, visit or call the gallery at 828-765-0520.

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