May 11th, 8:40pm

Away from the downtown attractions of Gatlinburg, you’ll find the Gatlinburg Arts & Crafts Community, an 8-mile loop where artists and craftsmen welcome visitors into their homes and studios,

Here we met Grace Dyer, a painter who and former park ranger, at her home studio, where she displays her highly detailed paintings of bears, birds, horses, and squirrels, along with other craftspeople’s work. Grace served as a park ranger in the Smoky Mountains, working as law enforcement, while also assisting with rescue missions. “People find creative ways to get injured,” she recalled.

Standing next to her bear-sized dog Diesel, she shared the story behind her painting of a bear and a blackberry bush. “Sometimes on a rescue, time is of the essence. So I took this shortcut off the path, that would save me 2 hours. Well, I grabbed hold off this tree, and whipped around, and was face to face with a bear, eating blackberries off of a bush. The berries just rolled out the side of his mouth. I’m not sure who was more surprised, me or the bear.”

Using acrylic paints to building color and texture with a series of under paintings, Grace gives life to each of the animals that she’s met in the woods of the Great Smokies—the squirrels, birds, horses, and black bears.