MATTIE Arts Center draws local artisans

Published 8:24 pm Wednesday, March 5, 2014

EN PLEIN AIR: On April 6, 2012, several aspiring artists paint outside at a MATTIE Arts Center workshop held by Mark Hierholzer. MATTIE ARTS CENTER | CONTRIBUTED

EN PLEIN AIR: On April 6, 2012, several aspiring artists paint outside at a MATTIE Arts Center workshop held by Mark Hierholzer.




SWAN QUARTER — Eastern North Carolina’s newest teaching art center, Mattamuskeet Artisans — Teaching, Training, Instructing and Educating (MATTIE), has not only proved to be a crossroads of the area’s most passionate artisans, but has become an avid tourist destination.

According to Judy McLawhorn, Friends of Hyde County’s Historic Courthouse board member, the arts center was a result of a group of concerned citizens wishing to save the historic building, which had been abandoned by the Hyde County government due to the flooding aftermath of Hurricane Isabel in 2003.

“We charged ourselves with coming up with something to utilize and sustain the old building,” McLawhorn said.

According to McLawhorn, the proposal of the arts center was also part of the economic development of Hyde County. The board envisioned the arts center would expand throughout and beyond the village of Swan Quarter with resident art studios and additional teaching studios as other artists relocate, temporarily or permanently, to teach, learn and work.

According to McLawhorn, the proposal received positive feedback through an eight-month feasibility study in 2012, assisted by a core group of artists, as well as a polling of mainland county residents to determine community support and interest. The Friends secured a one-year lease for the space in fall 2012 and on Oct. 27, in the semblance of a grand opening, MATTIE opened its doors to the public for the first time. A surprising turnout of 300 people caused sales to flourish and led the excited group to believe the idea would actually work.

How right they were: since, McLawhorn said, MATTIE has arranged and facilitated more than 40 art classes and workshops in 12 different media, yielding a total of 240 student enrollments. This has translated into more than $10,000 in income for local and area art instructors, and through the MATTIE Art Gallery, which provides a centralized location for local artists to offer their work for sale, art sales payable to artists in excess of $2,000. The Hyde County Chamber of Commerce also selected the organization for their 2013 Tourist Award.

In the upcoming year, MATTIE will benefit from the support of the North Carolina Arts Council through grants administered by the Beaufort County Arts Council, according to McLawhorn. Numerous citizens and businesses throughout Hyde County have offered financial assistance to help sustain the program, assist with special projects and start a student financial aid fund. Currently, plans are in motion to expand the media offerings of classes and workshops and to gear some of those classes to the younger set. MATTIE continues to offer painting classes in oil, acrylic and watercolor, in wood burning and faux stain glass, in clay hand building, drawing and pen and ink and jewelry making. The center has potential plans to add gourd art, dremel wood crafting, glass etching, origami, textiles, basket weaving and a repeat of the popular ornamental-concrete design workshop.

McLawhorn added that, without a doubt, the first year has been a success and the one-year track record is a beginning toward engaging the private sector to assist with some major funding — one of the main objectives for 2014.

Want to help or enroll in a class? Contact Judy McLawhorn, director of MATTIE at 252-943-8991 or For more information, visit at or facebook/Mattieartscenter.