When artist Amy Marie Masters arrived at Artspace this summer to spend a month in Raleigh, she couldn’t get Gatlinburg, Tenn., off her mind.
More specifically, she couldn’t stop thinking about the importance of miniature golf courses in the tourist town.
“It’s amazing what it does for this town because it brings so many people there,” Masters said.
She created an interactive art piece, “The Gatlinburg Special,” that brings some of eastern Tennessee to Raleigh. Viewers can play a round of mini-golf while negotiating obstacles that include Dolly Parton’s rocking chair, a table of pancakes and several Santa Claus statues.
The exhibit will be on display until Sept. 6 at Artspace in downtown Raleigh.
Masters, who grew up in Kansas, spent time in Gatlinburg before coming to Raleigh for an artist residency at Artspace.
She said she has always been interested in how small towns manage to stay afloat financially. In her travels, she’s noticed many small towns depend on tourist attractions.
“Gatlinburg is just a giant roadside attraction,” said Masters, who has finished her residency at Artspace and has now moved to Pittsburgh. “It was fascinating to live there, in this tourist town.”
Gatlinburg, which has a population of about 4,000 people, is home to the Ripley’s Believe it Or Not! Odditorium, Dollywood and lots of stores that sell everything from fudge to airbrushed T-shirts, Masters said.
Annah Lee, the director of artistic programs at Artspace, said incorporating pieces of Gatlinburg’s unique culture has made the mini-golf course successful.
“People have had some nostalgic responses,” Lee said. “That experience of mini-golf or experiencing a really touristy place like Gatlinburg reminds people of things.”
Want to go?
First Friday, from 6 to 9 p.m., is a monthly art event in downtown Raleigh. Galleries stay open late, and many restaurants offer special deals. To learn more, go online to FirstFridayRaleigh.com.
More First Friday
▪ 311 Gallery, 311 W. Martin St.: “Sometimes in Time,” a sculpture exhibit by Kevin Duval
▪ Local Color Gallery, 22 Glenwood Ave.: “Prodigal Pigments” by Mary Ruth Dana and Janie Johnson
▪ City Market, 215 Wolfe St.: live music and other events
▪ The Morning Times, 10 E. Hargett St.: street market featuring local artisans and vendors
▪ Retro Modern Furnishings, 508 St. Mary’s St.: “Abstract Acrylics” by local artist Jessica Willis
▪ Unleashed, 329 Blake St.: grand-opening celebration with prizes for pets
▪ Irregardless Cafe, 901 W. Morgan St.: Blue T jazz duo
▪ N.C. Museum of Natural Sciences, 11 W. Jones St.: Enjoy beer and “The Natural Horror Picture Show”
▪ N.C. Museum of History, 5 E. Edenton St.: last chance to see the “Starring North Carolina” exhibit
▪ United Arts Council, 410 Glenwood Ave.: artwork by Martha Thorn and Emily Rubin Malpass; donations accepted for local teachers
▪ Block Gallery, 222 W. Hargett St.: “Beautiful Alchemy” wih works from Brandon Cordrey and Melinda Fine and live music by David Dyer & The Crooked Smile Band
▪ The Mahler Fine Art Gallery, 228 Fayetteville St.: works by painters Rachel Campbell & Gayle Stott Lowry