Discovering Kentucky Craftsmen At The Artisan Center of Berea

Tucked away on Berea Exit 77 off the Interstate Highway 75 is a gem of a travel center, a place of respite and art. Perfect for Christmas gift shopping when looking for the unique.

Art Is A Lifestyle

Washroom Flowers
Washroom flowers show off artisan pottery

Washroom flowers show off artisan pottery

Rest Stop Or Gallery Hop?

When I first stopped at the Kentucky Artisan Center I was on my way to Cleveland, Tennessee, where my daughter was attending Lee College. I was delighted by the well landscaped building, and generous parking spaces with the air of an art gallery that is geared towards giving a sense of Kentucky’s hospitality.

Everything about the place shows the attention to excellence that craftsmen give to their creations, and it makes a welcoming stop for travelers. Everything has a handcrafted feel, including the stone walkways and outdoor patio. The story of Berea’s famed handcrafts and the early native inhabitants are displayed through the entry, starting in the parking lot.

Within the spacious building are two parts, one dedicated to a gallery hop of Kentucky artisan offerings, while the other holds a cafe with plenty of seating, and the best, cleanest restrooms in the nation. They even have seasonal flower arrangements that give the atmosphere of a hospitable inn.

Homespun Crafts Make Great Gifts

homespun crafts and fabric goods
There are all sorts of baskets, fabric arts, wooden wares that make unique gifts.

There are all sorts of baskets, fabric arts, wooden wares that make unique gifts.

Arts And Crafts Displays

Handmade pottery
Shelves of pottery are just one of the attractions

The Gallery of Arts And Crafts

My favorite part of the stop is to stretch my legs walking through the gallery of art, and looking at tastefully displayed crafts on shelves within the shopping part of the Artisan Center. I have purchased unique gifts for the family on my trips to Atlanta, and treasures for myself. From beautifully crafted wood items to oil paintings, finely carved and painted gourd art, horsehair pottery, handthrown pottery, prints, photography, glass art, there is a well curated array of the types of crafts that the artists of Berea can produce.

From inexpensive to fine art that is worth every penny,with each trip I attempt to buy something that catches my eye. I have some fine handmade baskets, pottery mugs, and several paintings that adorn my own home, all thanks to my stops at this place. I love it, and it is actually one of the highlights of my trips. In fact, one of these days I wish to travel just to Berea to further explore their art community, but in the meantime, this stop by the side of the road has provided a peek into a rich and varied legacy of the Appalachian culture.

Things to know

cafe
gallery
restrooms
open 9:30am – 3:30 pm
open 9am – 6pm
open only during center hours
serves Kentucky cuisine
showcases Kentucky products
clean and modern
lunch specials
special exhibits
handicap access

Open during the hours shown, daily | closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day

Have You Been There?

Have you visited this Artisan Center?

  • There are some walkways and trails, although I haven’t had opportunity¬†to follow them.
  • There are selections of music CDs available, books, food items, all Kentucky based in flavor and inspiration.
  • A friendly information desk attendant greets you as you enter the main door.

Christmas Time Trips

Holiday tree ornaments
Christmas Goodies -along the way

Christmas Goodies -along the way

Berea Has An Artful History

Berea,Kentucky began its existence as an Abolitionist town from rural beginnings. As time progressed and laws in Kentucky dashed the original hopes of an integrated society, the town became known mainly for its college and its lumber industry. Then began an interest, in the wake of the Arts and Crafts Movement, in reviving the culture and traditions of Appalachia. Although some of the highest ambitions of the visionaries of Berea were not realized, it did become a hub of the American Crafts Revival.

Applecreek ACD100 Dulcimer

 

 

As An Artist

A collage of The Artisan Center displays.
A collage of The Artisan Center displays. Sampling the many remarkable gifts available for sale.

I not only enjoy viewing and buying art by other artists, I learn by seeing the wares that are displayed. What kinds of frames are the best for a painting? What do gourd art methods look like up close? What interesting ways do artists combine materials to produce something useful?

Whenever we visit gallery exhibits it tells us something, and this gem of a display refreshes my spirit . It tells me that art is alive and present in our daily lives. The surprise of fresh flower arrangements that adorn a clean bathroom is as much art as the big oil painting on the wall with spotlights. That teaches me something, and speaks volumes to the way our lives are enriched.

 

When roadwork was done in the area, the name of the address changed, but the center is still located in the same place it always was. Once listed as a location on Walnut Meadow Road, its road is now known as Artisan Way.

Useful Information

Look For Exit 77, off of Route 75

Gallery of arts and crafts, including handmade jewelry, with a cafe and well kept restrooms. Be sure to have some money and space set aside for gifts

Road Name Has Changed

A selfie of the author

I love the clean restrooms, don’t you?
© 2016 Ilona Erwin