When Charles and Margaret Barnhardt opened Treasure Potts II a couple of years ago, they hired Brad Smith to oversee its operations and recruit regional artists to showcase their wares. Smith eventually bought the business from the Barnhardts — who still own the building — and features around 75 artists, craftsmen and musicians who all specialize in their own unique piece of Appalachia.
Smith said plenty of local artists are featured, as well as artisans from Tennessee, the Carolinas and Arkansas.
“We have pretty much all the local artists and craftsmen that want to be here,” Smith said. “There’s no way to have an art gallery with just local craftsmen and artists. There aren’t enough people that do it professionally and full-time to support a gallery of this size.”
Smith said art from Willard Gayheart, Jane Blevins, George Brooks, Hoffman Pottery, Todd Price, Morris Schlesinger, Ralph Ripkey, John Alexander, Mary Ann Inman and more are featured on the gallery’s walls and shelves. CDs featuring Wayne Henderson, the Lonesome River Band, Whitetop, the Wolfe Brothers and the Slate Mountain Ramblers are among the musical selections available.
Also, Smith and his wife, Bonnie, have their art on display as well. Bonnie works with polymer clay and jewelry, while he carves roosters and does pencil drawings.
Smith said there’s something for just about everybody.
“People can come in and find things that are handcarved, paintings, painted windows, handmade furniture, pottery, boxes, jewelry, felt art, white oak baskets,” he said.
In addition to featuring the artisans’ finished work, Smith said many of them come to the gallery to demonstrate. Treasure Potts II also features jazz musicians during warm weather months.
“We had Jazz on the Mountain last year. We will be having that next year through the spring, summer and fall,” Smith said. “We will have demonstrators come during the spring, summer and fall. Last year we had Morris Schlesinger turning bowls, Danny Wingate did leatherwork. There are so many people we have in here.”
And in the warmer months, Smith said the gallery does its best business.
“There is no better time than July, that’s when vacations are in full force,” Smith said.
”Most of our business throughout the year is transient. We get a tremendous amount of customers from Ohio and the Raleigh area and Florida. We get a lot of folks from England in the summertime. They’re really attracted to the music of our area.”
He said the location, at 8065 Fancy Gap Highway, just off the Parkway, is ideal.
“The Parkway opens the door to anybody,” he said. “You never know what part of the country someone will have come from when they pull up for the first time.”
But while many from out of the area come in and buy the regional art, the local community has proven supportive as well.
“Locals provide a certain amount of business,” Smith said. “Now, in the winter and before Christmas, I expect that to be more of who we do business with.”