HandcraftedBlock Number: 8
By Nora Worthen
The "Handcrafted" quilt block can be found above the entrance of the McDowell Arts Council (MACA) at 50 South Main Street in Marion. Internationally known wildlife artist and McDowell County resident Don Balke created MACA’s logo shortly after moving to the area in 1979. The logo design depicts a dancer whose form flows like the gentleness of the Appalachian Mountains. The figure is painted in the restful colors of the mountains and the sky in shades of blue, purple, and magenta. This figure wraps itself around a magenta sun, Balke’s favorite color to incorporate into his paintings. This beautiful logo has become a recognized symbol of the arts in McDowell County, and the colors for “Handcrafted” were drawn from the original image of the Balke logo and incorporated into the quilt block.
In February 1972, a small group of interested McDowell County citizens met at the McDowell Public Library and formed what was then known as McDowell Arts and Crafts Association, commonly called MACA, a non-profit organization, located in the Old Cross Mill Elementary School. MACA has evolved over time and has had a rich history of promoting traditional handcrafted arts, such as pottery, baskets, quilts, turned, and carved wood items in McDowell County. Other departments within this organization are theater, visual, manual, written, and performing arts. Within the first six months of its existence, a total of 166 members were enrolled. A grant of $2,500.00, donated by the North Carolina Arts Council, helped fund a weeklong Festival of Arts event. This was the first of many grants for this fledgling organization.
In 1979, MACA relocated to 101 S. Logan Street and remained there until 1983. Through a three-year assistance grant from NC Arts Council, Sandra Epperson was hired as MACA’s first executive director and remained in that position until 1999. Under Ms. Epperson’s leadership that year, the first Jail & Bail fundraiser was held, raising $17,000.00.