Immersed in nature.
That was the feeling I had as I stood on the porch of Mayna Treanor Avent’s Studio in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
The green of the trees was so vivid. I could hear the stream that was down the hillside. Occasionally a bird would sing. Beams of sun shone through the branches.
Avent, a noted Tennessee artist, used the cabin as her summer studio during the 1920s to the 1940s. I could see why she found the studio such an inspiring location.
Large windows in the main room of the log cabin provided a wonderful natural painting as the studio’s decor.
The “Thinking Rock,” located behind the cabin, provided a scenic location for thinking — or playing a flute or kantele. The music would blend with the sounds of nature.
When Avent and her family first lived in the cabin, the Great Smoky Mountains National Park had not been established. The area, called Elkmont, was first used by the railroads to log the area and then became a favorite summer retreat for those who could afford to build cottages.
Even though the cabin was part of the Elkmont community, the area was remote. Getting to the studio required about a quarter-mile hike from what was the road at the time — including crossing a stream on a log bridge and walking uphill for the last part of the walk. The studio had no electricity or running water.
I wondered about the inspiration of nature’s beauty as compared with some of the fear factors of living in such a remote setting. A bear destroyed the cabin’s first detached kitchen. A tree in front of the cabin (now fallen) was noted as the tree the bears liked to sharpen their claws.
No surfing the Web or watching TV during the time Avent spent summers in the studio. The music playlist would be whatever music they could make themselves.
I enjoyed the surprise of discovery in hiking to the Avent Studio.
The studio, which was added to the Historic Register of Historic Places in 1994, has a sign in front of the cabin but the footpath to the cabin isn’t marked on the main trail. Most hikers pass right by the footpath without even noticing it. And many of those who get those vague “just up the trail, then go downhill to the right” directions never find the path…and never get to visit the studio.