Monday, August 24, 2009

Advice from the Art

Gabriel Shaffer

I've been curious about how artists actually make a living in Asheville, NC. Most artists I know collect their income via a hodgepodge of activities and freelance work. I decided to interview Gabriel Shaffer for the Mountain Xpress because I see his paintings everywhere, and he's an outspoken person with a lot of things to say about a lot of things.

In the end I found his outlook quite refreshing. I know not every artist feels the same way he does, but we all approach what we do with different intentions. For Shaffer, making a living via his artwork is his goal, and it seems to me that his work has never been compromised in order to do so.

And anyway, I'm starting to think there's no such thing as a sell out artist anyway. Who am I or anyone to be a judge of such things? We all have to make compromises and shmooze it a little here and there no matter if we're homeless or billionaires.

Read the
full interview here.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

RIP Cali: a site specific installation

Don't worry, the cat is not dead in this picture

After my beloved cat Cali heaved her last dignified breaths in the privacy of my apartment, I had to figure out where to bury her. Unsure about the laws regarding such matters, I enlisted my friend Courtney to help me dig a hole somewhere remote.

Our first attempt at this failed as the ground was too rooted and rocky to get deeper than one inch. Desperate, we decided to hit a public patch of land where we knew the soil would be softer and easier to get a shovel in.

As we were digging the hole I spotted one of those do gooder neighborhood-watch type ladies circling the property with her dog. They both had their eyes on us.

"I swear to god if she comes over here tell her we're doing an art project or something," I whispered to Courtney.

I put the shovel down and started walking to the car to retrieve my little corpse announcing loudly over my shoulder "I'm just gonna go grab the camera okay??"

From the backseat of the car I watched the woman approach Courtney. They exchanged some words and then the woman walked away.

According to Courtney the conversation went something like this:

Neighborhood Watch Lady: I see you're digging a hole.

Courtney: yup.

NWL: Whatcha gonna put in it?

Courtney: It's an art project for school

NWL: Oh! Like Andy Goldsworthy!

Courtney: yes. exactly.

The lesson of the story is: If you're in a sticky situation and don't know how to get out of it, just tell them it's art.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Soundclash: It's electric


I'm not sure how many people in Asheville are aware that there is actually a thriving scene of musicians (nerds?) who compose really amazing music on their laptops and loop machines. This Saturday night several of the finest electronic musicians our humble town has to offer will be appearing at the Orangepeel. Some of these musicians (Auracene, J.R.R. Fool Killer, Kimathir) have composed soundtracks for movies or have appeared on national bestselling cds (Auracene.) Others have toured internationally (DoomRibbons) or received worldwide notoriety for their musical accomplishments (sys-hex, pomme de terre, IO)

Purists out there often scoff at the idea of making music on computers, but like any instrument, it takes time and inspiration to produce complex soundscapes via digital software. I've heard arguments that electronic musicians are simply allowing the software to make the music, but thats like saying that filmmakers allow the camera to dictate their cinematography or editing. The computer or electronic device is simply another instrument and how the musician handles it is where the artistry lies. 

Not only does this show promise to be a diverse sonic experience, but visuals will be provided by infamous VJ
The Moon Foetus Proceeds from the show will go towards the brand-spanking new local radio station Asheville FM.

Here's some links to quell your anticipation:


Music to Chaos in Berlin trailer by pomme de terre



Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Do it Yourself Art Show

Painting by Courtney Chappell

Asheville, NC is a relatively small city with a large percentage of the population living and working as visual artists, performers, and musicians. The number of decent contemporary galleries to talented artists is really low so artists look for other creative ways to exhibit and celebrate their art locally.
One such method is the private home show or studio sale. This Thursday evening the apartment of Erin Fussell will be temporarily transformed into a gallery where she will exhibit work by local talents that don't often show work in Asheville. 
The line up includes:
Erin Fussell, Emily Baker, Jana Busbin, Courtney Chappell, Emily Crabtree, Michael Iauch, Justin Rabuck, Melita Kyriakou, Andy Herod, Sarah Cavalieri, Katie Johnson, Ian Dennis, Shawn Peters, and  Christine Maiello 
Meghan Mulhearn will play some beautiful music around 9pm. 

Thursday, August 13, 2009
7:00pm - 11:30pm
Corner of Chestnut St. and Merrimon Ave.
116 E Chestnut Apt. 25, Jefferson Building
Asheville, NC

I heartily support these forms of alternative exhibition in Asheville. Now I just wish we could get our hands on some of those empty storefronts...

Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Phil Mechanic Building this friday night!

Chaos Detail Beatriz Mendoza graphite on paper

fings break, colonel Brent Fleury

Friday August 7th FLOOD Gallery presents Oh Kaos a group show involving an array of interpretations on the theme of chaos. There will be live performance art, video, interactive sound sculptures and a variety of other visual art forms produced by local and national artists. Be sure to come to the opening to see the performance art but the show will run until September 5th.
Visit for more information about the artists involved.

Comics and Stories Part 1
2006 Merlin Strivelli,
mixed media

PUMP Gallery is also exhibiting the fantastical paintings of Merlin Strivelli.
The work is super inspired and sure to engage viewers with its off beat and charged imagery.

The openings are happening simultaneously from 7-10pm in the Phil Mechanic Building located at 109 Roberts St. in the River Arts District.
Performances start around 9:00.

Click here to see a video by one of the performers, Vitiatra

Monday, August 3, 2009

Is it cheating to use photographs?

Queen of the Wasps oil on canvas 40"x 30" 2007

Many artists these days paint from photographs or trace projected images onto their substrate - techniques which are frequently dismissed as "cheating." As an artist who garners source material from the Internet and personal photographs, I have often been asked my opinion in this matter. Here it is:

I have seen portraits/still lifes/landscapes etc painted from live subject matter that are derivative and staid, and I've seen paintings that were obviously traced from projections that are vital and imaginative. And vice versa. Ultimately, it doesn't matter to me what technique the artist uses, as long as the final painting is successful.

Furthermore, devices like Photoshop, projectors, photographs, and The Internet are reflections of the times we are living in. To expect that these methods not enter contemporary artwork is completely regressive.

To read an in depth critique on this subject visit this ARTnews link