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Friends of Toe River Arts

Toe River Arts supports the arts by imagining a brighter future where arts and community unite to thrive. For over four decades, Toe River Arts has worked to offer programs and activities that engage and enlighten members of our community. Friends of Toe River Arts donors believe in our mission and the necessity to create a sustainable future for our organization.
Your Friends of Toe River Arts charitable gift supports Toe River Arts operational expenses; our two artist retail spaces; rotating exhibitions in Burnsville and Spruce Pine; our bi-annual Studio Tour; our annual Music in the Mountains Folk Festival; children and adult workshops; free heritage musical lessons in the middle schools of Mitchell and Yancey Counties; the Toe River Chamber Ensemble; and annual art scholarships.

Friends of Toe River Arts – Donor $500
Friends of Toe River Arts Donors receive discounts on Toe River Arts retail and exhibition purchases, and special recognition in Toe River Arts promotional materials.

Patron $1,000
In addition to the above benefits, Friends of Toe River Arts Patrons enjoy special invitations to Friends-only events, exclusive access to exhibitions and events, and discounted Owen Gallery rental rates.

Sustaining Patron $1,000 with 5-year minimum commitment

Friends of Toe River Arts wishing to take a long-term approach to their charitable gift may make Toe River Arts a beneficiary in their will. By making a bequest, you show your commitment to the mission of Toe River Arts and believe it will continue in perpetuity.

Corporate $1,500
In addition to Friends of Toe River Arts Patron benefits, Corporate members receive increased visibility through the Toe River Arts website, social media, hard copy press publications, and radio promotion.

Kokol Gallery named in memory of Ida Lee Burley

On February 17, 2022 the Kokol Gallery was named in honor of Beth Kokol’s mother, Ida Lee Burley. 

From Beth Kokol, Beth Kokol Studios and Toe River Arts Board of Directors:

At the tender age of 4, my mom and dad packed up the four kids of my family for a wonderful vacation in Brevard, NC. Some of my most vivid memories of my childhood come from this state. I remember catching trout on a bamboo pole, running back to the cabin, only to watch my mom clean and cook it for me in a cast-iron skillet. So began my deep love for North Carolina.

My mom, Ida Lee, was always up for whatever came her way. Whether it was advising a young doctor during her emergency room visits as a patient or fixing the sprinklers in our yard on many occasions, I don’t think there was ever a moment where I saw my mom not willing or unable to do whatever came her way. The youngest of eight children, Ida Lee was born in Miami in 1926. She spent much of her younger years hunting and fishing with her father, brothers, and nephews. Ida Lee was very involved in student government, held record-setting titles in track and field, and was an accomplished singles tennis player. Ida Lee attended Florida State College for Women, which later became FSU where she received her degree in Zoology. She was also the freshman class President, Eastern Mortar Board, and named in Who’s Who among Students in American Universities and Colleges 1947-48 just to name a few.

After graduating from FSU, Ida Lee became a medical technologist just before attending Temple Medical School. There she met the love of her life, Dwight, and was married in 1951. Idee helped run my dad, Dwight’s, medical office and settled down to raise a family of 4 very different children. Idee and Dwight spent their next 54 years together playing tennis, dancing, fishing, traveling, cooking, gardening, entertaining, and watching their family grow.

Ida Lee had a deep love for the arts: music, dance, writing, and the visual arts. In her younger years, she played the harp and piano and is famous for her lively singing and dancing.

I certainly got my hands and artistic skill from my dad who was also a painter and a wonderful family doctor. But watching my mother helped develop my love of life and service to the community. Both of my parents were very supportive of me as I pursued my career as an artist. There wasn’t a gallery event or a showing that I held at various studios that Ida wasn’t in attendance. There was always a crowd around her as she was always given a seat of honor at every event.

Never having a bad day, Ida Lee always brought her positive attitude and deeply kind heart with her as she truly enriched the lives of those she touched. Ida Lee has never knew a stranger and lit up the room with her big, wonderful laugh and voice. She was never hard to locate in a large gathering. I have tried my very best to model my life after my precious mother, never leaving her short on a dance partner on the dance floor. My husband Bob had a deep love and tremendous amount of respect from our mother. Naming this gallery in Ida Lee’s memory was Bob’s wish as he has seen the profound support my mother has given to me and all who come into her life. Through the hard work of Nealy Andrews, our wonderful Executive Director, the staff at Toe River Arts, the hardworking Board of Directors, and of course the laser focus of my husband Bob, the Kokol family is proud to have the opportunity to both honor my mother and to support this wonderful community of artists that I love so deeply.

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