Who We Are

connecting our community with art

We elevate local artists and enrich the community in Cherokee Co, NC

through the promotion of visual arts, performing arts, and arts education
by providing a local platform and financial support.

our mission

To provide our community with a variety of art and cultural experiences,
to enhance the art education of both students and adults,
and to demonstrate the impact of The Arts on the residents of Cherokee County,
knowing that both thought provoking and delight making are important elements
of how both visual and performing arts provide positive influence
on the lives of all those audiences we can reach.


We are a 501c3 non-profit organization.

All donations are tax deductible.


David Vowell

Director of Visual Arts & Education Programs

David took the reins of the Art Council in 2015. He was formerly a Business Manager at the University of Florida, where much of his time was spent in grants management. He has been deeply involved in the ARTS since moving to Murphy in 2005. Whether organizing exhibits, or teaching art to school students and adults, or pursuing his own art expressions, he has constantly found ways to promote and participate in the art community.

David loves both visual and performing arts and demonstrates those interests as a water colorist, a folk musician, and a theater performer.

Geraud Barralon

Director of Performing Arts Programs

Geraud Barralon comes from Ardèche in the Rhône-Alpes region of France. Now married to a Brasstown native, he makes his home outside of Murphy, NC since 2012.

As a performer musician, Geraud has a background in Django Reinhardt style, rhythmic swing guitar and play for many swing dances with the ensemble Djoukil. He sings original and traditional French song accompanying himself on guitar, fiddle or mandolin.

Also a music event organizer, Geraud was a founder of the Festival “Musique aux Sources” and “Le Bal Itinerant,” and organizer the Djoukil US Tour.

board of directors

Nathan Baerreis

CCAC Board President

Nathan is a second generation artist from a family of professional artists. He grew up going to art shows but never grew out of art – these days he’s working on a collection of poetry and creating art with lasers, wood, and paint. He’s also an accomplished photographer and a good listener. He believes art is a lifestyle and a calling, but that it should never be taken too seriously.

Nathan has lived in the southern Appalachian region for the last 23 years, and shows his work in Gallery 26 in Murphy, as well as in select other galleries around the southeast.

Rachel Watson

CCAC Board Vice President

Rachel Watson is a contemporary artist working in installation, alternative photography, printmaking, woodworking, jewelry, book arts, and textiles. Watson received her Master of Fine Art from the University of Georgia in 2020. After her masters, she digitized the 7,000-piece collection at Newcomb Art Museum in New Orleans.

Originally from Georgia, Watson currently resides in North Carolina where she works as the 2D Coordinator for John C. Campbell Folk School and is in the process of renovating an elementary school into an artist residency and concert venue.

Paula Davis

Paula Davis began her art career at Crealdé School of Art in 1980 as a professional photographer, but soon discovered a passion for working with clay. There, she taught ceramics and photography for many years.

In 2018, she and her husband moved to the mountains of north Georgia. Paula’s pottery is featured at Sundance Gallery in Blairsville, GA and at the Silva Gallery in Brasstown and the CCAC in Murphy, NC. For the past 4 years, she has also been a board member of the Mountain Potters Network.

Paula’s work is infused with whimsy, charm, and joy. She feels that art enriches our lives.

Ryan Gaither

Ryan “Gater” Gaither is a lifelong resident of Murphy, NC. He has always been a strong supporter of the local art and music scene and is a performing artist, using his talents as a festival MC and open mic and trivia night host. His voice has been used for many commercials on radio stations in the Tri-State area.

Gater has a degree in education and is an employee of Cherokee Co Schools; he has created many opportunities for students by starting garden clubs and a chorus group that performs holiday shows and at a nursing home. Gater’s mission is to broaden middle school students’ access to the world of art.

Mike Lalone

Mike has been working in clay for over 20 years. Returning to Dr. Phillips High in Orlando, FL, he proceeded to build one of the nation’s top ceramic programs, where he built wood and salt kilns, a raku area and the traditional electric firing that is the mainstay of the program. He spent 15 years as the resident potter of the John C. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, NC where he built up the program and brought in top talent.

Teaching for 30+ years has allowed him to fulfill his dream of giving back to others. Mike is currently an adjunct professor at Young Harris College in YH, GA.

Cynthia Jewell Pollett

A native of Aiken, SC, Cynthia graduated from Atl. College of Art with a BFA in 1978. Her career has included being an art director, a muralist, and owning a graphic design business for 20 years. Since 2006, Cynthia has returned to painting with oils full time.

As a contemporary impressionistic oil painter, “I work hard at capturing a quality of light and color that supports the overall impression or mood. I enjoy pushing my color to an extreme to convey a message. If my viewer has been immersed into an environment that I have created on canvas and caused my viewer to see the extraordinary that is in the ordinary, then I have accomplished my task.”

Lisa Proper

Before becoming actively involved in the Arts, Lisa was a diagnostic Speech Pathologist. Despite an extensive and accomplished medical career, Lisa grew up in a very artsy family. All her life she has been engaged in both the visual and musical arts. Early retirement allowed Lisa to pursue what had always wanted to try: wheel-thrown pottery, which has become her artistic passion. 

Since moving to Western NC, she co-founded the Mountain Potters Network and has been engaged with many local pottery events. Lisa is grateful to be a part of the CCAC, which allows her to be engaged in the arts and give back to the community.

in partnership with

We value our relationships with these organizations that empower us
to direct statewide and regional art resources to the benefit of our own community.

Founded in 1967 with the democratic vision of “arts for all citizens,” the North Carolina Arts Council sustains and grows the arts for the benefit of North Carolinians and their communities. The North Carolina Arts Council strives to deliver resources for arts development to all 100 counties of the state through programs that are fair, transparent and accountable.

The Blue Ridge National Heritage Area is the regional steward of living Appalachian traditions in North Carolina. We honor our elders and invite new generations to explore music, craft, foodways, the outdoors, and the native wisdom that all have their home in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.

Uniting people and communities to strengthen and celebrate a creative North Carolina. Directors of Art Councils, museums, and theaters around the state join these efforts to urge continuing and expanded support for the arts from the North Carolina General Assembly.

The mission of the Western Arts Agencies of North Carolina (WNC Arts) is to strengthen the arts community in Western North Carolina through advocacy, peer support, shared resources, and collaborative programming.

The John C. Campbell Folk School is a non-competitive non-profit school that offers year-round weeklong and weekend classes for adults in craft, art, music, dance, and more. They provide regular collaborations to create music and dance events, and to facilitate field trip activities for Cherokee County school students.

The Murphy Business Association is a nonprofit that promotes our vibrant downtown through strategic planning, marketing, networking, and special events. They work with local businesses to cultivate the business community by providing opportunities for economic growth and prosperity through collaboration.

make connections

Join a network of local artists
that are excited about perpetuating art culture
and arts education in out region.

While we are a community of folks
made up of all ages and stages of life,
we know that the arts can bring us together
as it enhances our quality of life and
provides us with shared delight.