Highlands – I took a wrong turn and came to the right place

Highlands - North Carolina  Bascom Covered Bridge
The Bascom’s covered bridge in Highlands. Photo by Tijana.

Highlands in North Carolina was a gift of kindness from a dear friend who has an amazing lake house there. Lately, I’ve been in the midst of chaos for months while remodeling my house. My friend was kind enough to offer a lake house for us to recharge and reset. Not only did she offer a lovely home, but also gave me recommendations for hikes, canoeing, waterfalls, and cute little local spots.

I’ve spent the past year mostly in nature enjoying my surroundings. Although it still delights me, I do miss all the art and socializing that we used to do. Once I was fully vaccinated I was longing for more.

While I was searching for the waterfall I took a wrong turn. As a fortunate stroke of serendipity would have it – I have landed perfectly in the right place. By a random chance, I found exactly what my heart needed.

Highlands – The Bascom Art Center

Highlands - Will Henry Stevens Bridge
It looked so inviting, and I was very curious to find out what this charming place was. Photo by Tijana.

There it was! The Bascom’s covered bridge is a window into the wonderful world of art on the Highlands. While entering, I noticed a rustic barn and many fabulous sculptures all around the garden. I simply couldn’t believe my luck.

Highlands – The Bascom Art Center Red sculpture

Highlands – The Bascom Art Center, yellow sculpture in the garden

Highlands – The Bascom Art Center Main building and sculpture
A few of the sculptures that piqued my interest, after a sudden discovery of the Bascom. Photos by Tijana.

Stepping into the Bascom Art Center at Highlands

The Bascom creates visual art experiences that inspire and empower individuals and communities through seeing, thinking and doing

– The Bascom Art Center
Highlands – The Bascom Art Center - main galleries
The Main Building.

The Bascom is a six-building, six-acre campus in Highlands, NC. As you enter this beautiful place through an 87-foot-long covered bridge entrance and you are instantly transported into a tranquil and stimulating art world. The main building also serves as a marvelous exhibition space.

The pictures below show a 2,500 square-foot barn rebuilt for use as the ceramic studio.

In addition to exploring the buildings and art offerings, I enjoyed the sculpture trail with native flora and lovely scenic views.

Highlands – The Bascom Art Center Pottery studio
Ceramics studio.

Artworks The Bascom Art Center
Ceramic Studio and a cute little shop.

Highlands – Details of The Pottery Shop and Studio

Cups in Highlands – The Bascom Art Center

Often, life is in the details. When I enter a new place, I always love exploring the space. I dive into little details that tell intricate stories about the thought process.

Amazing craft mugs wall

Once I was walking around, I was lost in thought thinking about how lovely would be to take some art classes there. The Bascom’s programming and event calendar looked very inviting.

Art decorations at Highlands – The Bascom Art Center

Entrance to the Main Building

Entrance - Highlands – The Bascom Art Center

Amazing vase at Highlands – The Bascom Art Center

Gift shop The Bascom Art Center

Highlands – Entering the Top Floor of Bascom

Galleries Highlands – The Bascom Art Center

The building itself is a delight to explore. The Bascom owes its existence to artist Watson Barratt, who had the vision to establish a permanent gallery in Highlands, NC while displaying works created by regional artists. Creating an exhibition space and permanent collection in a village of just a few hundred residents distinguished the Highlands as a progressive community committed to nurturing its local talent while celebrating its natural assets.

Entrance Hall Highlands – The Bascom Art Center

With a new name, The Bascom opened in May 2009 on the former Crane farm property. The six-acre park-like setting welcomes visitors of all ages and backgrounds to share art experiences while enjoying the synergy of art and nature. I was enamored by how well restoration was done, such as mixing the existing structure and materials with contemporary elements.

Beautiful view  – The Bascom Art Center

Bascom Exhibition – Skate Show

Skate Show Highlands – The Bascom Art Center

The origins and motivation of the sub-culture of skateboarding have always supported individuality, creativity both through design and the physical, alternate thinking, questioning the norm with a bit of anarchy. Skate design can range from boards with layers of rough worn stickers to elegant engineering but always the potential for energy-fueled action and a bit of a revolutionary spirit.

I consider these qualities to also define an artistic practice. For this exhibit, I invited and in some cases commissioned, these artists to interpret the world of skateboarding with ingenuity, whimsy, and their unique style. Some used traditional art tools, a brush and paint, camera lens, fabric, and ceramic, while in some cases, a couple of wheels and a piece of wood. 

– Didi Dunphy, guest curator
Skate show art at Highlands NC

Skate show Highlands – The Bascom Art Center

Deborah Shannan Photography Exhibition

Deborah Shannan photography

Artist Statement about The Longest Threads by Deborah Shannan

The complexity and chaos inherent in nature make us all pattern seekers while our brains attempt to create order and understanding of the natural world. Upon closer inspection, we see individual threads of patterns repeated at different scales throughout nature. Rivers flow down from mountains in branching formations.

Highlands – The Bascom Art Center Deborah Shannan

Turbulent water broils in repetition, forever shifting and disintegrating. Branching patterns extend from tree roots up through the trunk to the veining tapestry of the leaves, all at once becoming chaotic as growth is influenced by weather patterns and competition for light. Spiral patterns are woven within the arrangement of petals and leaves on a stem, as well as the scales on a pine cone. Tiling and cracking are visible in tree bark. As the tree ages, growing wider, its’ protective outer layers crack, forming distinctive patterns.

Gallery space – The Bascom Art Center
What a beautiful space, a mix of an old barn and modern architecture. And a marvelous photography exhibition. Photos by Tijana.

Spots and stripes in plants result from pigmentation changes while offering improved visibility for insects, increasing the likelihood of pollination. Symbiotic relationships among plants create diversified patterns from the spherical mistletoe growing amongst the branching tree limbs to the fractal patterns of lichen growth on trunks. Each thread of nature’s tapestry serves to create a pattern that also expresses the rich interconnectedness surrounding us in the natural world. The observation of which brings me raw delight.

Highlands – Exit Through the Gift Shop

Bascom Highlands NC gift shop

The Bascom Shop showcases a wealth of local and regional artistic talent and community. The shop was lovely and interesting on its own to see the original artists’ works for daily use.

Exploring the Outdoors Space and Saying Goodbye – Until the Next Time

Highlands – The Bascom Art Center Outdoors

Highlands – The Bascom Art Center Building

Rustic  – The Bascom Art Center
Would love to come back to Highlands. All photos by Tijana.