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Pilot Mountain studio marks anniversary

Local artists and a steady stream of those who appreciate their work were on hand throughout the day on Saturday as West End Arts hosted a celebration of its first anniversary.

A large array of items in a variety of forms was on display outside the facility, located at 701 West Main Street in Pilot Mountain. Other pieces filled the inside shelves and tables.

Longtime local potter and pottery teacher Sylvia Lawson was set up in front of the building and, with the help of students, offered a pottery demonstration throughout the day.

The facility is owned by Kathy George, a Pilot Mountain potter who had trained under Lawson. The pair was initially joined in the venture by a third local potter, Joel Jessup.

“The three of us started this, and we had eight artists taking part at the beginning.” recalled George. “Now that number has grown to 34 artists.”

While the initial focus was on displaying and selling pottery, along with training and sharing interest and information with other potters, the types of artwork have continued to expand throughout the year. Now, all kinds of creations can be found filling the shelves of the arts studio, limited only by artistic imagination.

As the venture has grown, George has expanded into a portion of her adjacent hair salon, The Head Shoppe Plus.

“This area had always been a place for community to socialize. This transition happened because of COVID. This is something good that came out of it,” she said.

George paid particular homage to Lawson, who George noted, “has taught so many local potters over the years.” Since 2011 Lawson has operated Waterfall Studio in Pilot Mountain, creating her own pieces while also training others. She began a new pottery class last week.

“We’re out here today to share what we do and entertain our community.” Lawson said Saturday as she began to shape a new piece.

King photographer Amanda Marshall has been displaying her work at the studio for about two months. Specializing in landscape and lifestyle photography, she now has multiple framed pieces on display.

“This is a great opportunity for an artist to get their work out in a small town,” she said. “It helps to get your name out there.”

“This brings in a variety of creativity. All types of different things. There’s such a mixture here and that’s pretty cool,” Marshall said.

“We have a lot of people stop by, and I’ve been able to meet a lot of new people. This is a place for people to come in and enjoy the atmosphere. It’s been a breath of fresh air, so much fun,” George said. “I’ve been surprised and amazed by the support we’ve gotten throughout, and I’ve been able to get to know so many interesting people. That’s been a good thing.”

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