Located in rural Tazewell County, Virginia, Appalachian Arts Center was established with the idea of creating a space where the unique mountain culture of the region, as manifested in it's arts: (craft, fine art, music, dance, storytelling & writing) is celebrated, preserved and promoted. The Center, a part of Southwest Virginia Community College, provides a cultural hub where members of the community can routinely gather for rotating exhibitions, presentations, workshops and performances- and in so doing- gain insight into the creative process, connect with one another, share and carry forward traditions, and discover opportunity through education. The retail gallery provides handcrafted, locally made goods for those seeking a shopping experience with soul, and those wanting to contribute to the local economy.
HISTORY: Appalachian Arts Center is housed in what is known by locals as "the old Archie Helton Store.' Community members have fond memories of “Archie’s place” which opened in 1948 as a general store selling everything from hams, to razor blades, to piece goods, to seeds, to work clothes for farmers and coal miners. According to Clyde Helton, Archie’s son (who grew up helping out at the family store), the Archie Helton Store functioned as a natural community gathering place. Stories were swapped in the back room as locals sat around the pot bellied stove in winter. In summer, folks would sit on the long covered front porch and watch cars go by on Route 19 when it was just a two lane road. According to many, if Archie didn’t have it, he would find it! By the 1970’s the Archie Helton Store had become THE place to buy western wear. Towers of jeans piled atop tables rose nearly up to the ceiling, and many remember purchasing their first pair of cowboy boots at the store, or just coming in to cool off with a bottle of pop.
Archie Helton and son, Clyde