Dustin Spagnola as photographed by Zen Sutherland.
Everyone always talks about what an arts Mecca Asheville is, but today when I consulted the Wikipedia on Asheville there was not one single mention of a visual art scene or even a craft scene going on here. According to Wiki, Asheville has no galleries or art museums though it does have a hot busking scene, weekly drum circle and The Smashing Pumpkins played at the Orange Peel in 2007. Even the performing arts were given a nod, (but just barely.)
The commercial tourist sites tell a different story, and rightfully so since the arts attract so many visitors to the area: Exploreasheville.com gives links to all the hot and happening art spots downtown, the monthly gallery walks, the festivals and The River Arts District. The homepage of the Asheville Chamber of Commerce reads: "Come for the abundant natural beauty, friendly atmosphere, wealth of year-round outdoor activities, rich history, and lively local arts and music scene etc.."
The visual arts are commonly overlooked for music events, but I'm still really surprised that whoever wrote the Wiki entry failed to mention any visual art or craft scene in Asheville. Perhaps there weren’t any city records of grants or awards or state funded studios or contributions to non-profit visual art organizations to draw statistics from...? One can only guess.
In any case, yesterday visual artists made their presence known by setting up their easels around downtown for a day of painting and networking. As artists we tend to hole up in our caves to produce our work and there can be a sense of isolation. Yesterday's event affirmed our shared experience and really was a celebration of the visual arts.
The City of 1,000 Easels is the first public project from Graham Hackett, newly appointed program director at The Asheville Area Arts Council. I’m hoping this is an indication of better things to come from the AAAC and a louder voice for the visual arts community of Asheville.
Here's some great photos by Zen Sutherland of the event: http://www.flickr.com/photos/zen/sets/72157624945187142/show/
Ashvegas: Asheville transformed into city of 1,000 easels
ursulagullow.blogspot.com to see the painting I made during the event