The Train Stops Here: Art and Inspiration in Bryson City and Cherokee 

By Louise Glickman

My heart quickens and my mind relaxes when I hear the train whistle blow in Bryson City. Each fall, Daryl and I seek refuge and hike trails in the Great Smoky Mountain State Park. This year we took my daughter and our nine year old grandson Leo to discover Cherokee and Appalachian culture. The grandeur of fall color at peak displayed what has become my color palette, mostly inspiring my nature-inspired work. Oranges, golds and the green-grey of lichen and moss in all varieties have become my go-to’s for mixed media. Clearly these annual trips have inspired me.

At the top of our list was the Museum of the Cherokee Indian, a “must” for understanding the Cherokee experience, and further magnified by a trip to Oconoluftee Village. There, craftsmen revealed ancient techniques handed down since 500 AD:  clay, basket weaving, spears, leather and beading, all skills still relevant today. A trip to the Qualla Arts and Crafts Mutual, representing the work of over 350 juried Native American artists, emphasizes the beauty and importance of heritage traditions. Qualla is the oldest Native American cooperative in the country and the Great Smoky Mountains State Park is the most visited in America. 

Discover history and culture at the Museum of the Cherokee Indian

From the perspective of the Appalachian farmer, the park’s Visitor Center interprets 18th century rural living with authentic structures and farm implements. Elk still graze nearby. Hard work, hand-hewn and home were essential ingredients to using nature’s bounty with ingenuity to carve a life for families. The Mingus Mill, a short walk from the Visitor Center, stands on the creek that provided power for grinding wheat and corn. It was replaced by a small steel turbine by 1886.

The Oconoluftee Visitor Center is a gold mind to find maps for trials, waterfalls and cultural attractions complemented by a gift shop of books and mementos, homemade preserves, biscuit mix and even herbal soaps from the surrounding area.

Mingus Mill, circa 1886, ground wheat and corn for nearby communities, minutes from the Oconoluftee Visitor Center

Beautiful trails are everywhere but our favorite hike this trip was to Juney Whank Falls with three trails to choose from.

You can also explore Cherokee art and crafts this season in Asheville:

A Living Language: Cherokee Syllabary and Contemporary Art features over 50 works of art in a variety of media by 30+ Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) and Cherokee Nation artists. Thru March 14 at the Asheville Art Museum

African American Experience Project – Great Smoky Mountains National Park (U.S. National Park Service)

SHAC gives a shout out to our friend and artist Joseph Pearson. His figure drawings flow from hand to paper with gentle gestures and clarity. His ease with pencil and pen is masterful. Learn with Joseph.

Joseph Pearson Workshop

ARTSVILLE COLLECTIVE: SHAC provides exhibit space in the RAD to featured artists quarterly. Our gallery at Marquee opens soon.

SHAC CONNECTION: SHAC’s blog expands with more stories and news about art, cultural travel and personal commentary from creative artists, writers, professionals and community leaders.

ARTSVILLE: Our new podcast series is in production to release in early 2022 with interviews from Asheville and beyond to reach national audiences.