Ashe County Arts Council celebrates multiple October anniversaries

Wil Petty Staff Writer

October 21, 2013

The Ashe County Arts Council celebrated its 35 years of existence on Friday, Oct. 18.

Music, food and a ceremony were all part of the celebration, which focused around the history of West Jefferson and the county.

“This October is a confluence of several happenings,” said Jane Davis, President of the Art Council’s Board of Directors.

The event celebrated 75 years since the dedication of the historic WPA building, 35 years of the Arts Council’s founding and 20 years of the Ashe Arts Center.

“It touches every aspect of the community,” Davis said. “From the visual, written and performing arts to economic development and education.”

The WPA building was leased to the Arts Council by the city of West Jefferson 20 years ago.

“The Arts Council loves having the town of West Jefferson as our landlord,” said Jane Lonon, Executive Director of the Ashe County Arts Council.

Lonon said the building continues to be a community structure, as it was before the Arts Council leased it.

“The arts (is) such a vital way to bring the community together, to affect change and make a difference, not just for the town of West Jefferson but the whole county,” she said.

A dedication was made to the stump of a tree that was struck by lightning in 2007. The “Rings of History,” shows key events that have happened in the county since the tree’s birth in 1747.

The nails within the stump represent each decade of the tree’s life.

Pete Benda, the coordinator for the “Rings of History,” said he wanted to make something out of the stump, instead of letting it remain an eyesore.

“Tonight, we’re going to dedicate a new work of public art that celebrates the rich heritage foretold,” Lonon said.

Different documented events range from 1780 when Ashe County citizen Martin Gambill told a regiment in Virginia that British forces were in Charlotte, to 1978, when the Ashe County Arts Council was founded.

A display was placed beside the stump, giving a timeline of the county’s history and the tree’s age.

The next event at the Ashe Arts Center will take place Nov. 10 where the Arts Council will welcome the Blue Ridge Chamber Players.