The Ozark Mountains bring out the best in Arkansas artists. Mountain View and its surrounding communities offer the art lover a thriving artistic community across many mediums.By Dwain Hebda
SEE & DO
No artsy trip to the region is complete without a visit to the Ozark Folk Center State Park (1032 Park Ave.). One of the leading attractions that work to perpetuate the Ozark heritage of music and craftsmanship, the park offers visitors a look at the lifestyle, music, crafts and handiworks of a people as unique as their mountain home.
The Folk Center displays local master craftsmen in their natural element producing works in areas as diverse as candle making, jewelry casting, broom making, basket weaving and textiles. The Center displays even more unique artisans, including blacksmithing, a cooperage and serves as one of the few places in the world that makes black powder guns by hand.
The artisans at Ozark Folk Center State Park are working artists who not only demonstrate their craft, they live off of what they make and sell. Each item is handmade one at a time and can take up to a year to create.
Visitors can do more than simply observe the artisans at work; by special arrangement, you can schedule a personalized workshop in the craft or your choice and learn the art and technique of a chosen craft from a master artisan.
Another must-see in Mountain View is the Arkansas Craft Gallery (104 E. Main St.). This facility provides a year-round retail showroom for members of the Arkansas Crafts Guild, a craft-making cooperative established in Stone County in 1962. The Guild sponsors a number of art events throughout the year, headlined by the Artisans Market on the Square every autumn.
Also in the fall is the Off The Beaten Path Studio Tour, an annual event, which takes art pilgrims on a journey to studios within a 45-mile radius of Mountain View. Visitors meet the artists, see where they work and discuss their inspiration and methods right in the heart of their creative spaces.
CHECK IT OUT!
The Mountain View area is a collection of art-friendly communities and out of the way galleries, just waiting to be discovered. These include:
3512 U.S. 62
Blue Mountain Woodworks
2547 Blue Mountain Road
17467 Highway 66
MEET THE MAKER
Every skilled artist knows the time and discipline it takes to elevate one’s interest into an art form. So it was with Skip and Racheal Mathews, whose beautiful copperworks bear striking designs that go beyond texturing or painting. In fact, they are coaxed from the surface itself by intentional and meticulous heating that produces color.
Though they never met there, Skip and Racheal both studied art at the University of Arizona in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Each followed their own muse and medium into the professional art world after graduation—she as a painter and teacher, he as coppersmith.
It was during 15 years working with the metal that Skip noticed the colors that would appear around welds and he began to imagine how to harness this chemical reaction in a controlled and deliberate fashion to create decorative patterns. He decided to experiment and practice on decorative copper butterflies, and after producing 15,000 in a row, he’d cracked the code on extracting 15 distinct colors from the metal into dazzling and intricate patterns.
Skip and Racheal married in 1996 and settled into their artistic work in Branson. During this period, Skip taught Racheal the techniques he had developed and the couple began flame painting as a medium of choice, producing pins, bowls, vases and other items. In 2012, they relocated to Mountain View and today operate out of the Ozark Folk Center State Park’s Craft Village. They also teach their art there, at the Center as well as leading classes at the Arkansas Craft School in Mountain View.