Friday, May 28, 2010

History Lesson

our favorite intern here! We just got finished listening to our Adult Programs Manager, Nancy Sokolove, talk about the history of the building in which the Asheville Art Museum currently resides. I am always a bit fanatical when it comes to history, and this city certainly has a rich past. I thought I would pass the knowledge along….

This building, originally a library, was built in 1922 by architect Edward Lippincott Tilton. It was called the Pack Memorial Library. He is known for having built more than one hundred libraries in the U.S. and Canada, many of which were Carnegie libraries, which were public libraries funded by Andrew Carnegie. It is questionable whether or not this building was meant to be a Carnegie library. Although it seems to have met many of the strict requirements, we cannot find the documents proving this.

Tilton was heavily influenced by the Neo-classical style of architecture, which is extremely evident when you take a look at the outside of our building. We have several arched windows as well as large lamps attached to the walls. Nancy said these lights were meant to represent the “lamp of learning.”

When you enter our atrium the style continues. There are very large arched windows on all four walls just below the ceiling, closely resembling the architecture of Greek temples. There is also an impressive frieze. (A frieze is a horizontal band that runs along a wall or doorway). The frieze was designed by a famous Danish sculptor of Icelandic descent and was cast specifically for the use in this building. The sculpture tells a narrative that begins just above the door and moves clock-wise.

This beautiful building was a rich addition to the city and the likes of Carl Sandberg lectured here! (that's him above) Very cool.

As far as the history of the museum itself…The Asheville Art Museum had humble beginnings in 1948 and was housed on Charlotte St. A group of local artists decided there needed to be an art museum. Over time, it moved to houses in Montford, the basement of the Civic Center and what is now the BB&T building. Pack Place was built in 1992 and the museum moved into the site of the old library.

We are currently working on expansion plans and hope to renovate the museum and expand the library to connect to a lending library system.

My how exciting History Preservation Month is!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Inside Scoop - An Intern's Perspective

Hello there! It’s your Asheville Art Museum summer intern, DeeAnna. I specialize in all things social media – and lots more in between. I’m checking up on events and quietly eavesdropping on the happenings inside the museum and will be giving you the insider’s scoop all summer long – from an intern’s perspective

When I started last week, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Stuffy office and pants suits? Or wildly enthusiastic and out-of-touch art lovers? My preconceptions were highly misguided by my thoughts that workers and guests at an art museum would be snobby or pretentious. Now I chuckle at the thought. HELLO! This is the Asheville Art Museum – a collection of unique people and art tucked away in only one of the coolest cities in the nation!

So here I am, happily getting to know the museum staff as they buzz around working endlessly to make this place a beautiful success! There was even deliciously rich chocolate cake at my first staff meeting, which is a fabulous way to begin any relationship. :)

Not to mention we have some awesome events going on all summer! Just check out the event calendar on our Web site! (And if you miss them, you will hear about them ad nauseum on this blog or see so many fun pictures that you are forced to join in!)

I will keep you updated as we go along and hope you are as excited for summer as we are!

Next event is Friday May 28: Art Break: Historic Preservation Month. I can’t wait to learn more about the museum history and the importance of preserving things from the past!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Giving Back

The Asheville Art Museum is participating in a program called Blue Stars Museums this summer, a partnership with Blue Stars Families, The National Endowment for the Arts. In an effort to give a BIG THANK YOU to all military personnel and their families, we are offering free admission to all active duty military members and their families from May 31, 2010 to September 6, 2010.

Our museum is only one among approximately 600 others participating during this time, and we are excited to give back to those who give to us every day! We hope you all can come out and take advantage of this opportunity and explore all our museum has to offer!

Click here for more info and faqs about the program

Friday, May 21, 2010

Hot Glass + Cold Beer = A New Appreciation

To watch a glass blower at work is to see nothing less than definite precision and impressive skill. Working under a searing and intense flame, these artists create beautiful jewelry, vases, trinkets, etc. using one of the most ubiquitous materials we use everyday.

Last night, ARTmob took over the Phil Mechanic Studios in the River Arts District to see premiere glass blowing artists Alex Greenwood, Logan MacSporran and Shane Smith and how they create their masterpieces.

Glass blowing is a skill that is not acquired overnight. Many artists, like Greenwood, have spent eight years or more perfecting the process. They also have to complete full training and often apprenticeships before they have the ability to step out on their own.

With beers in hand (the event was called “Hot Glass + Cold Beer,” after all) we passed around goofy glasses to protect our eyes from the bright blue flames. The artists got right to work, starting with a skinny stick of glass and molding it under the fire like putty. They used a pipe to blow air into the glass which helped create the bubbled shapes. Then, they used different tools to form the shape they wanted.

The complex nature of glass forces the artist, sometimes called a gaffer, to exercise great care while under the torch. Working with temperatures around 2,200 degrees Fahrenheit, they must take care to not allow the glass to explode or to burn themselves on the flames.

But the artists last night were good at making the process look easy. With their rhythmic movements they quickly created goblets and designs from what we originally saw as a regular piece of transparent glass.

Guests left in awe of the amazing skill and courage it takes to be a glass blower. Most importantly, we gained a new appreciation for a different kind of art. Next time we will think twice when we buy our intricately designed glass jewelry.

click here to learn more about Phil Mechanic Studios

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Hands In Harmony: Tradtional Crafts and Music in Appalachia

Hands In Harmony: Tradtional Crafts and Music in Appalachia

Posted using ShareThis

6th part of an Interview with Tim Barnwell talking about his photograph of Cherokee basket maker Rowena Bradley. His exhibition of photographs of traditional Appalachian musicians and craft artists opens May 14 at the Asheville Art Museum.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Photographs and Memories

The exhibition on Tim Barnwell at the Museum opens tonight! Hands in Harmony: Traditional Crafts and Music in Appalachia, Photographs by Tim Barnwell. It is a special one, classy black and white photographs with oral histories next to each image. Tim spent years photographing some of the icons of this rich region- both in music and craft culture- while also compiling interviews and oral histories on each one. The Museum brings you these in its newest exhibition. OPENING RECEPTION is tonight at 5pm- and it is Free! Come see the show and meet Mr. Tim Barnwell.

To get you excited about it- here is a sneak preview. Tim Barnwell's photograph of Minnie Adkins, folk artist, and family, is in the show- and here is her wall text. The Museum also has a piece of Minnie's in their collection- a new acquisition purchased by the Art Nouveax. I have included it also! Enjoy!

Minnie Adkins and family with folk art creations, 2005

Isonville, Elliott County, KY

“As far back as I can remember, I’ve whittled and made stuff. I started out making popguns, whistles, slingshots, stuff like that, to play with when I was little. Back in the early ’70s, I would sell little roosters for fifty cents and a dollar at flea markets. I started making them out of forked sticks, like my slingshots, but I never got to sell ’em, or got recognized, till in the early ’80s. They wasn't no folk art in Morehead at the time. Adrian Swain had a little pottery shop in town. He was a-doing pottery and a-selling people's stuff on consignment. He started selling my work. Now he’s curator at the Kentucky Folk Art Center at the university.

When me and Garland first got in it, there wasn't no market for it. Then we begin to make good at it. Some folks made fun of us, said, "Why, Garland quit working and started whittling." I just laughed all the way to the bank. Garland bought a new truck and people seen us supporting ourself. They begin wondering what was going on, come to me asking, "If I make something, where could I sell it?" I bought stuff from everybody and encouraged 'em in doing it and, at one time, we had fifteen real good artists around here.

I make all different kinds of little animals, roosters, alligators, foxes, giraffe, cow, sheep and four or five Noah's arks. The little animals are made from two-by-fours. We saw off a square block, and I'll sketch out what I’m a-going to make, and saw it out on the band saw. We may use some power tools or a Dremel tool sometimes, but usually we just use pocketknives, drawing knives, and chainsaws. All of it we make out of linnwood. It's very soft and easy to whittle, and don't crack much.

When Herman, my second husband, come on the scene, he was a-helping me whittle and said, “Why, anything you can make out of wood, I can make out of iron.” That little iron blue rooster up there is the first one he ever made. When he brought it down, I knowed he was onto something. He’s added an awful lot to what I’m a-doing. When my first husband passed away, I just couldn’t get with it, didn’t think I’d ever do any more. Greg, my grandson, said, “Mamaw, you can’t give it up. Papaw wouldn’t want you to.” He’d encourage me to go on and I appreciate so much the fact that he seen the need to help me keep working. Greg loves doing this. He’s been making stuff about six year, and he’s the one that helps me with the big animals and he's branched out on his own now till he’s a-doing paintings and stuff, so I’m real proud. It’s more or less become a family project. I’m involving my family because at seventy years old, I know I ain’t gonna always be here, and when I’m gone, I’m hopeful that they will carry on what I started.”

-Minnie Adkins

Images: Tim Barwell exhibition setup; Tim Barnwell, Minnie Adkins and Family, Folk Artist, 2005, black and white silver gelatin print, 14 x 11 inches. Courtesy of the Artist; Minnie Adkins, Possum and Babies, 2005, carved and painted wood, 9.5 x 40 x 4.6 inches. 2009 Art Nouveaux Purchase. Asheville Art Museum Collection. 2010.01.04.32; Detail of Minnie Adkins, Possum and Babies.

Monday, May 10, 2010


Had to share this one with you!

Last week was Rowena Bradley's basket. This week is Tim Barnwell's photograph of Rowena Bradley (with baskets). Look down at her feet...

Exploring the Permanent Collection with a Work of the Week

THIS WEEK: May 10 - 16, 2010


Tim Barnwell, Rowena Bradley Making Double Weave Rivercane Baskets,

1991, black and white silver gelatin print, 14 x 11 inches. 2009 Art Nouveaux Purchase. Asheville Art Museum Collection. 2010.01.02.91.

Tim Barnwell is well-known in the region for his photographs of Western North Carolina's rich and unique cultural heritage. Through his professional and striking photographs, he has documented some of this area's strong characters, fascinating crafts and unprecedented artistic and musical history. His work both reflects great artistic talent and documents the talent of others. It is greatly understood that the Western North Carolina area has a cultural heritage uniquely it's own, and Tim Barnwell effectively showcases this heritage to the world through his incredible talent as a photographer.

In the Holden Community Gallery, the Museum has organized a new exhibition on Tim Barnwell, Hands in Harmony: Traditional Crafts and Music in Appalachia, Photographs by Tim Barnwell; it is a photographic exploration of the makers of Appalachian folk music and traditional handcrafts. This photo, Rowena Bradley Making Double Weave Rivercane Baskets, is part of the show. It was purchased last year by the Museum's collecting group, Art Nouveaux, in preparation for this show. Rowena Bradley was a Cherokee basket weaver; at one point she was one of only a handful of double weave rivercane weavers, and during her lifetime, she helped to revive interest in Cherokee basketry, effectively insuring that knowledge of this craft would live on in future generations. Reflective of many of the Museum's goals in collecting Cherokee art and contemporary photographs and cataloging regional heritage, the Museum's Permanent Collection contains three Barnwell photographs and two Rowena Bradley baskets. Last week's Work of the Week discussed Bradley's Double Weave Lidded Basket in the collection.

THIS FRIDAY, MAY 14th is the opening for the exhibition of Tim Barnwell's photographs at the Museum. Come discuss the work with him!

For more information on Tim Barnwell and his photograph Rowena Bradley Making Double Weave Rivercane Baskets, visit it in our Permanent Collection online!

For more information on Rowena Bradley and her basket Double Weave Lidded Basket, visit it here in our Permanent Collection online!

Wednesday, May 5, 2010


This next month of works is going to be so cool that I thought I would post it to the blog.

Here is the first week:

May 3 - 9, 2010

Rowena Bradley, Double Weave Lidded Basket,

No date, double woven river cane with walnut and blood root dyes, 6.75 x 6 x 6 inches. 2004 Collectors' Circle Acquisition. Asheville Art Museum Collection. 2005.03.09.58.

At one point, Rowena Bradley was one of only a handful of double weave rivercane weavers. She learned by watching her mother weave, a third generation Cherokee basket weaver. Eventually, she became part of the Cherokee craft revitalization which helped boost Cherokee economy and also kept the traditions of Cherokee craft alive for future generations. Bradley's father was Henry Bradley, Principal Chief of the Eastern Band, and she grew up on lands owned by the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indian.

Double weave baskets were good storage containers because they were strong and often water repellant. A double weave basket is really two baskets, one inside the other, woven together at the rim. Beginning at the base of the inside basket, the weaver works upward to the rim and then down along the outside towards the base, often using two designs on the inside and the outside. Bradley learned patterns and designs from her mother, but she also came up with some of her own. To make the baskets, the rivercane is collected, split into quarters, peeled, soaked in water and then dyed before beginning to weave. Bradley used materials common to traditional Cherokee rivercane basketry, including naturally found dyes from native roots and bark, including those from butternut, black walnut, bloodroot and yellow root.

This basket was purchased for the Museum by the Collectors' Circle after it was in the Museum's exhibition Transformations: Cherokee Baskets in the Twentieth Century, which examined Cherokee basket making over the past century, and how the materials and styles have evolved during this time period. A photograph of Rowena Bradley taken by photographer Tim Barnwell will be on display starting May 14th in the Museum's new exhibition Hands in Harmony: Traditional Crafts and Music in Appalachia, Photographs by Tim Barnwell. Look for it next week, here at Work of the Week!

For more information on this work and artist, visit our Permanent Collection online!