For decades Highlands has been a hub of the Arts for Western Carolina. The Art League of Highlands-Cashiers has been instrumental in making it so.

The League has its roots more than fifty years ago in a group of area women, art lovers to the core, who took turns hosting brown bag lunches for artists. It didn't take long for wine to be included in the menu.  So the group adopted the name, Pickled Painters.

Helen Sparkes had lived as a guest at the Bascom-Louise Inn, which was willed to the Hudson Library.  It became a visual arts wing to display the work of local artists.  That space evolved into The Bascom-Louise Gallery, and eventually the fine art center, The Bascom, now located on Franklin Road.

In the late 1970s many Pickled Painters along with new-to-the area artists joined what would eventually become the Art League of Highlands.  The group, which met at Helene Sparkes' barn at the top of Webbmont, was small in the beginning, but it began to grow as word spread.  Members felt there was a need for an organized art society to support fellow artists in the creation, exhibition, marketing, promotion and teaching of visual arts.

On July 24, 1980, several area artists convened for the first official League meeting.  Originally adopting the name, The Art League of Highlands, in 2014, the board voted to change the name to The Art League of Highlands-Cashiers and the Greater Plateau to reflect its expanding reach. Today the league is a thriving 501-C organization boasting over fifty artists and friends.  

The group was founded on the principle that visual artists need mutual support in order to sustain and advance artistic growth.  That, in turn, encourages cultural appreciation of the visual arts in the community.  Not only does the League emphasize originality among its members, it also nurtures artistic expression in upcoming generations living on the Highlands Plateau. To that end, the League offers monthly presentations during the season, and annually sponsors two fine art shows in the area.

The Art League is proud of its past association with the local community and The Bascom-Louise Gallery.  It will continue its collaborative with The Bascom and The Macon County Art Association to support the visual arts in the region. 

To learn more about the League, visit www.artleagueofhighlands-cashiers.com .