Center for Craft, Creativity and Design prepares to open its new Asheville gallery/workshop


The Center for Craft, Creativity and Design is preparing to open its new gallery and workshop space in downtown Asheville, a move that will give the nationally known organization a much higher local profile.

The gallery/workshop, called Benchspace, and the center’s offices are located at 67 Broadway. The center bought the building last August and has been remodeling and moving from its location in rural Henderson County. The building is home to Lark Books, which will remain there (on the second floor.)

The goal with the center’s downtown Asheville location, and its Benchspace gallery, is to spotlight the organization and cement Asheville’s reputation as a hub of craft. The center has a national and international reputation for handing out millions in grants to artists and for its top-notch crafts research, exhibitions, conferences and publications (Journal of Modern Craft), but the organization is relatively unknown in Western North Carolina.

Marilyn Zapf, the center’s assistant director, gave me a tour of Benchspace a few weeks ago. It is designed to be as much an art gallery and exhibition space as it is a workshop, she said. The goal is to “poke the boundaries between art, craft and design,” Zapf said.

Here’s how center describes the space in its press material:

The first exhibition, scheduled to run Jan. 24 through May 4, is titled “Taking Shape: Celebrating the Windgate Fellowship.” It will feature works by recipients of the first five years of the center’s Windgate Fellowships. The center and Windgate have teamed up since 2006 to hand out the annual awards of $15,000, which are given to graduating college seniors in the field of craft.