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The Bascom: A Center for Visual Arts
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The Bascom campus near Highlands

Center salvaged from historic barns shares the snyergy of art and nature

Set on a mountain plateau near the charming city of Highlands, visitors can stop at The Bascom for an afternoon or an all-day art adventure.

The Bascom: A Center for Visual Arts owes its beginnings to artists Watson and Louise Bascom, who had a vision to establish a permanent gallery in Highlands in 1983. In 1999, after several changes to the founding organization, the Bascom received its own not-for-profit status and began a growth spurt. Its exhibition schedule quadrupled over a six-year period. In 2009, The Bascom completed construction of its current campus on a former horse farm. Here, in a park-like setting, audiences of all ages and backgrounds share art experiences and enjoy the synergy of art and nature.  

One arrives on campus over a rough-hewn, 87-foot covered bridge that serves as the welcoming entrance to the dynamic three-building, six-acre site. Dating from the early 1800s, the handcrafted wood structure began its existence as a covered bridge in New Hampshire, where it spanned a small river. The bridge was moved to Highlands in 2008.  

The Bascom’s flagship  is a 30,000 square foot building made from reclaimed hand-hewn barn wood. Wood for its floors was salvaged from several historic barns, with some boards making up the original “threshing floor.” This would have been the area of a barn where the wheat, after drying, was scattered and struck with a stick or leather beater. That long ago process gave the art center’s wood its irregular nicks and warm patina.

The Bunzl Gallery shares the main floor with a gift shop. This exhibition space is used to display seasonal exhibitions of exceptional two- and three-dimensional work from all over the Southeast. The Joel Gallery and Loft Gallery make up the second floor. An Education Gallery and classrooms fill the lower level. 

The Dave Drake Studio Barn houses a popular ceramic program.  Visitors can stop in to see potters at work and creations in progress. Residents and visitors can enjoy art and nature throughout the campus on a walk through the Horst Winkler Nature and Sculpture Trail with its bubbling stream. The trailhead is marked by a large abstract steel piece by sculptor John Henry. The Bascom offers workshops and classes for adults and children. An immersive artist residency complements its educational offerings. Each studio resident engages with the general public on a daily basis. The seasonal rotation of residents guarantees that its educational offerings remain diverse and new. 

Believing that creative expression transforms our lives, The Bascom is committed to providing life-enriching experiences through diverse exhibitions, comprehensive arts education and public programs, support for regional artists and strategic partnerships facilitating cultural and economic development in the Highlands-Cashiers communities. Admission to all exhibits and the facility is free thanks to generous donations from  members.  

For hours, events and other news, click on their website.

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