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Weekend on the River--Turchin Center for the Visual Arts Takes Art to the Banks of the New River

The art exhibitions at the Turchin Center are typically situated inside the walls of the visual arts center on King Street, or around the campus of Appalachian State University.  Inspired by the New River and the “Collective Vigilance: Speaking for the New River” exhibition, currently on display at the Turchin Center, friends of the river and the arts are invited outdoors to the New River State Park, 221 Access, in Ashe County, to celebrate the river, experience the park and relax with friends. Entrance to the park and access to the Saturday programs are free and open to the public.


May 5 – May 7, 2017, New River State Park, 221 Access

This weekend event begins on Friday evening and continues through Sunday morning. Visitors are welcome to come for a few hours, a day, or for the weekend.  The park provides river access by foot, tube, canoe or kayak, picnic areas, walking trails, a visitor’s center, and camp sites. Participants are encouraged to pack a picnic or reserve a campsite and come meet friends old and new while enjoying the New River. There are several scheduled events on Saturday, including a water analysis with staff of the New River Conservancy, a hands-on aquatic sampling led by park rangers and an artist’s talk about the temporary site-specific art installation in the New River.

“Site-Specific Installation by Keith Bryant”

Available for viewing: Friday May 5 at 5 p.m. to Sunday May 7 at 10:00 a.m.

Artist Presentation: Saturday May 6 at 4:30 p.m.

The banks of the New River are typically lined with natural stones, boulders, and vegetation. The river will be transformed when Charlotte sculptor, Keith Bryant installs 365 colorful ceramic globes along the banks of the river during this temporary site-specific art installation. There is a sphere for

each day of the year and each globe is unique. According to Bryant, “The ceramic spheres that I call peas, are about abundance, a meditation on the gift of each day.”

About Keith Bryant

As an educator in the arts for over two decades Bryant currently teaches at UNC Charlotte in the Department of Art & Art History with an instructional focus on ceramics, sculpture and three-dimensional design. His work has been exhibited nationally and is held in corporate collections throughout the southeast and mountain states. This river installation is particularly relevant to Bryant, who grew up in semi-arid Colorado where his family was always aware of water, how much they used, how long showers were and if there was enough water in the well to water the garden.

New River Water Analysis

Saturday May 6, 10:30 a.m.

Alex McMahon, Water Quality Coordinator from the New River Conservancy, will conduct a water analysis. This program will begin at the Group Camp Canoe Access.

New River Aquatic Sampling

Saturday May 6, 1:30 p.m.

A park ranger will lead a hands-on search for aquatic insects in the New River. The rangers will introduce “citizen science” to calculate the health the river based on how many insects are found.  Participants should wear sturdy shoes and come prepared to get wet.  This program will begin at the Group Camp Canoe Access.

Visit for detailed information on the weekend.



Camp Sites

Friday and Saturday nights, May 5 and 6. Reservations are recommended.

The park has walk-in tent camping sites near the river. To check on availability of sites reserved by the Turchin Center, contact Mary Anne Redding at  To reserve other campsites or RV sites, visit For questions about the park call (336)982-2587.

All picnickers and campers are responsible for bringing their own camping gear and food. There are several large grocery stores in nearby Jefferson and West Jefferson including Food Lion, Ingles and Walmart as well as limited supplies at New River General Store less than mile from the park entrance.

About the New River State Park, 221 Access

The 320-mile New River is the oldest river in the United States; and the headwaters originate in Watauga and Ashe Counties, in the mountains of northwestern North Carolina. The New River State Park, in its entirety, covers more than 2,000 acres.  The 221 Access Park includes access to the river, canoe and kayak access ramps, walking trails, primitive walk-in campsites, RV sites, a visitor center with exhibits, and picnicking. For questions about the park or outfitters of tubes, canoes or kayaks call (336)982-2587.

This weekend event correlates with the exhibition: “Collective Vigilance: Speaking for the New River” on display in the Mayer Gallery at the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts through July 29, 2017. It is a collaboration with the Center for Appalachian Studies, Tom Hansell’s graduate seminar, Sustainability and the Arts in Appalachia and the New River Conservancy and the Turchin Center for the Visual Arts.  Regional artists were invited to participate in an exhibition to showcase the New River. A river of trash, photography, a mural, and educational information on i-pads in the gallery provide supplemental information on the exhibition and river.