The Arkansas Craft School was awarded more than $140,000 in funding from the Windgate Foundation to purchase and renovate the property formerly known as Heritage Springs Blacksmith Shop on Highway 87 in Mountain View.
The award will allow ACS the opportunity to renovate the existing building and to purchase additional equipment to expand its capacity for workshops in metalworking. ACS’s second campus will facilitate programming for its Rural Youth and Veterans Healing Arts Initiatives, as well.
The Windgate Foundation has supported contemporary craft and visual arts since 1993. Since then, the organization has provided more than $890 million in grants. The Arkansas Craft School is honored to be chosen by the Windgate Foundation as a recipient of this grant in addition to previous support through its matching grant program, and with special assistance during the pandemic.
The blacksmith shop was formerly owned by Patrick Thompson, a retired blacksmith who was on the original board for Arkansas Craft School. He will continue as an instructor. The ACS board expressed thanks to Thompson for his support as a dedicated member of the ACS community and an integral part of its family of artisans.
An art project that is the collective work of three Arkansas-based artisans is being built outside the new annex. The piece will be a handcrafted sign that incorporates stonework by local stonemason Brad McSpadden, forged decorative iron pieces by blacksmith Patrick Thompson, and the hand-painted sign by second-generation sign painter and muralist Olivia Trimble.
“We feel that the sign represents the mission and ethos of the Arkansas Craft School. An appreciation for the work and craft of artisans is at the heart of what we want to sustain and celebrate at ACS. This piece celebrates traditional and contemporary craft, the materials that are central to our local traditions, and the skills of our local and regional artisans. The sign is intended to serve as a reminder of the beauty and utility of craft every time we see it,” said ACS Executive Director Rachel Reynolds.
A grand opening event will be held later this summer, and the first workshop is scheduled in the new Windgate Craft Annex of the Arkansas Craft School on July 31 as part of the Summer Youth Series “Crafting Reality.” More information can be found at www.arkansascraftschool.org.
The ACS school team expressed thanks to Mountain View Mayor Roger Gardner and Stone County Judge Stacey Avey for their assistance as the property was cleaned. Also to Joe Doster of Doster Woodworks, who has been instrumental in helping ACS to plan equipment needs and layout of the new metal shop. Ozark Gutters and McSpadden Masonry donated integral materials towards the first part of the building’s renovation and Don Smith Sewer and Drain donated time and equipment towards the renovation, as well.