Friday, June 25, 2010

Inside Scoop: Summer Happenings

I’m here to update you on all the crazy happenings around the museum! Our biggest fundraiser in three years, the Seventh Asheville Wine Auction and Dinner Gala was a huge success! The venue was gorgeous and we had a great turn out making for an awesome, fun-filled night. We are still in the midst of crunching the numbers to find out the final word, but we are thankful for all the people who came out and supported us as well as for the staff at Togar Rugs for hosting us! It was definitely an enchanting evening!

the museum staff!

The interns representin!

But the summer is just beginning! We have a packed calendar for the month of July, starting with an ARTmob event called Summer Soiree. On July 2 we will be taking over the top level of the parking deck to party the evening away. I hear there will be some delicious food, (a taco buffet?), beer, lots of RC Cola, sidewalk chalk murals, crazy awesome entertainment AND a great view of the fireworks! I think we’ve covered everything to make for some extreme fun. EVERYONE invited!

And don’t forget about the Big Crafty and Family Art pARTy on July 11. Featuring over 100 artists and crafters, the Big Crafty is voted Asheville’s favorite indie craft fair and is hosted in Pack Place. This is a really great event and opportunity for us to support local hand-made commerce and also snag some really unique and fun gifts. There will be local fare, beer and entertainment to go along with it. And on the same day you can enjoy making some hands-on crafts with the whole family.

We’ve also got a film screening of Chuck Close, more Art Camps, Yoga @ the Museum and a Pianoforte Concert with Douglas Weeks! Whew. Now, we have enough events to fill an entire month and I’m sure you’ll make it to all of them, right? :)

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Tim Barnwell Speaks of Exhibition

Photographer Tim Barnwell joined us last week for our Art Break to talk about his exhibition Hands in Harmony: Traditional Crafts and Music in Appalachia. This awesome display of black and white photos is an exploration of folk crafts and music. Barnwell took the time to give us a behind-the-camera look at his collection.

Barnwell said when the project culminated he knew he wanted to capture the functional crafts that people of Appalachia created – the types of hand made crafts that stretch far back in time and are considered by some a dying art. He said he always seeks subjects to photograph that have weight and substance and that will develop layers of meaning for different viewers.

Barnwell sought subjects in varying crafts and music and traveled from East Raleigh, North Carolina to Nashville, Tennessee and Lexington, Kentucky. Some of the photos in the exhibition include Doc Watson, John Hartford, Etta Baker, Jerry Douglas and Ralph Stanley Sr. Portrayed are other craftsmen creating pottery, woven baskets and blacksmithing.

The captivating photographs were not always easy to come by, though. Barnwell said the biggest challenge was figuring out how create a portrait that would honestly speak of that person. He decided the best way to accomplish that was to capture them in their own workspace and environment, allowing them to feel comfortable. He would often make multiple trips to visit some of the subjects in order to develop trust and understanding before he photographed them.

One of my favorite photos is of Ralph Stanley Sr. and his grandson. Although it looks like a simple portrait of a man and his grandson, the story is much deeper. Barnwell said Stanley is quite a serious man and it was very difficult to capture captivating pictures of him that Barnwell felt showed the essence of who Stanley was. It wasn't until Stanley's grandson came to visit that a smile crossed his face and he lit up for the camera. Barnwell was pleased to capture a touching moment between a famous musician and his family.

One of Barnwell’s goals is to strip away society’s expectations of portraiture exemplified by contemporary photos of celebrities. He said people are so used to seeing pictures of celebrities, but not knowing any information about the person in the picture. In Barnwell’s photos, viewers already know the backgrounds of the subjects while the photograph weaves a story.

Understanding an artist is the key to understanding an artist's work. Just as Barnwell had to understand his subjects, we also learned more about him! At the Art Break, we learned there is more to his photos than people creating crafts and music - it is a celebration of traditional art that is slipping away before us.

Here is the link to a podcast series of Barnwell’s Art Break talk