Arts & Crafts
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Creativity Abounds in the Smokies!
GREAT SMOKY ARTS & CRAFTS COMMUNITY
To say that arts and crafts are an important part of local culture would certainly be an understatement. That is due to the fact that the local artists and craftsmen in these parts are a central part of the region’s heritage. As present-day weavers, quilt makers, woodcarvers, broom makers, spinners, potters, candle makers, wood whittlers, leather crafters, painters and basket makers, they are simply carrying on in art form the tasks their ancestors did to live out their daily lives during the settlement era. And that is one of the most beautiful things about the wide variety arts and crafts in the Great Smoky Mountains area.
While Gatlinburg was developing as a tourist destination, the pioneers of the Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community worked in downtown shops, demonstrating their craft while the stores sold what was being made. With the increasing popularity of the artists and craftsmen in the shops and the increase in disruptions in the downtown area, several decided to move their work shops, studios and galleries into or near their homes in the area east of Gatlinburg along Glades and Buckhorn roads. As time went by others made their move to this center of activity and when the tourists began spreading the word, visitors to these shops also increased.
LEFT: The Cliff Dwellers as it was situated on the Parkway in downtown Gatlinburg just below the First United Methodist Church. RIGHT: The building was lifted and moved from its downtown location to sit adjacent to Jim Gray's Church Mouse Gallery on Glades Road in the Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community.
The 1982 International Energy Exposition held in Knoxville created a huge boost in area tourism which resulted in an increased awareness of this grouping of artisans. One of the area’s best kept secrets was out of the bag. The Great Smoky Arts & Crafts Community had been discovered and currently over 100 artists and craftsmen ply their trade in shops in or near their homes along an 8 - mile craft loop. It’s the largest gathering of independent artists and craftsmen in America.
Here you discover one of the Smokies greatest treasures. Venture out where parking is free and shopping is casual and timeless. You can even catch the City Trolley from many downtown stop and connect to the one that runs to and through the community for just a $1, getting on and off along the arts and crafts loop.
December 23, 2014 | Share: