AnyWayYouLikeIt

Via loyal reader Clark Mackey, a heads-up about a series of Craiglist posts about Asheville’s art scene.

Artists of Asheville, do you agree with the comments by and in support of the anonymous poster behind “Are you in on the joke?”?

Here’s the post, followed by select responses:

Did you hear that Asheville is a great arts & artist destination?

HA!

The joke is on you.

Not only is there no real performance art center (the Civic Center – I mean the U.S. Cellular Center is a travesty & an eyesore – totally mismanaged by the City); nor is there any sort reasonable cultural museum (the Asheville Art Museum? Black Mountain College? are you kidding me??); nor is there hardly a non-profit worth shaking a stick at – does anyone even understand what being on a non-profit board actually means??

And you call this an Arts Council? Please. Get serious. (they aren’t even sanctioned as one by the state arts council by what I’ve heard). They serve themselves & their burner agendas, not the arts community.

The best local gallery isn’t even a real gallery – word on the street is it’s a front. The second best gallery is the back of a skate-shop. Seriously. This is all you have to offer? Oh but wait, I forgot, very few people actually collect art in this town, and if they do decide to purchase something they expect it for >$100.

Whoopdey-dooo, the same 6-8 local artists get displayed over and over again. No real outsider artists get shows here.

Very few real artists make a living here – the ones that do make a living do so outside of this piddly town that dares to call itself a city.

Not a single non-profit organizations here even know how to even manage themselves… well maybe Handmade in America & NC Stage Co… but the rest of them seem to be a complete joke.

Don’t expect a real critique or review on anything, because all you’ll get is fluff from your local independent news sources.

And don’t even get me started on gentrification & crazy studio owners.

Seriously Asheville.

Either play the fool in name and in action and let’s just trade in the artists for beer drinkers and bicyclist hipsters and call it a day.

Or else get wise, get serious and step up your f-cking game.

This shit is getting ridiculous and I can assure you that a decade from now there won’t even be an arts scene worth a bean in this town unless some tides start to change and soon.

Select responses, also from Asheville Craigslist:

Are you in on the Joke is right on (RAD)

That post was dead on. This town has a ‘Good Ol’ Boys Artists’ clique and if you can’t break into it, you won’t get anywhere no matter how good you are. We are just two of many dedicated artists who moved here several years ago, to keep our art going and growing, only to be dead-ended time after time by people in the RADA who don’t want any competition. If you weren’t here ten years ago, you don’t count and you aren’t allowed in – pay your dues and shut the hell up. We volunteered time and time again, tried to arrange forward-thinking, inclusive projects only to be ignored by those who control the arts here.

So don’t say that ‘if you can’t make it, you aren’t trying hard enough’. There’s a shitload of us – with decades of experience between us – who have tried, and after trying for years, we’re going back to a town where there is a real arts scene. You know, where new and old artists don’t have to fight their way past one elite clique who think they own the entire arts agenda. Bye, good luck to those who still think they can break the glass ceiling here. We know better. The RADA leaders need to reconsider their exclusivity of anyone but themselves, or this place will become even more stale, boring and slow than it is now.

Sorry to bust your bubble but it is a joke

Honey, we didn’t write the first Joke post, but it’s what a large group of us have been saying for a while now. We did add our voices to it and we’d love to hear from the rest – post what you think anonymously if you don’t want hate mail. If you’ve resorted to slurs, rather than addressing the issue, my thought is that you must be one of the ‘elite’ who don’t want to fall from their lofty perch, up there in the high clouds on top of the world – and you’ve already lost the argument. But please, keep on thinking that this is just one disgruntled person. You’d be amazed at the amount of people who feel the way we do, but are afraid of the Arts Hierarchy.

When it all falls to shit here, remember our words. When – not if – because for a lot of us, after being in this town for years and struggling to break that glass ceiling after having no problem in any other city, it’s ‘when’. We’ll be elsewhere, in places where artists are appreciated for what they do, not who they are sleeping with, or who their friends may be. Until the Art Clique is broken so that new artists are allowed to compete on an even field, this town’s art will be stale, boring, and pedestrian with nobody making money, period. All the cute, carefully worded blurbs in all the visitors pamphlets in all the world won’t change that.

Let’s Be Honest – Art Here is a Souvenir

I have been following the discussion in this catagory about the validity of our art community here in Asheville, and as a former gallery owner with a studio in the River District I can confirm people are being misled about the art opportunities here.

Most of the thriving artisans in our city are ‘crafts oriented’ or people who have compromised their artistic expression by catering to the tourist market with low end artistic ‘trinkets’ or assembly line artwork.

The last art stroll was a major disaster with large crowds but few purchases over $100.

Anyone who says differently is being dishonest concerning the norm here which prevents us from improving the situation.

Asheville is the Paris of mediocrity

I came from San Francisco to Asheville for family reasons. My fiance’s family is aging and they needed help with some properties and San Francisco was getting very expensive. I am an artist and also do ad agency work for extra money. I have sold my paintings in San Francisco, and LA in galleries and have work in the permanent collection of museums in several states and Canada. I was hoping to enjoy a thriving community here. That was not the case. The artist here do not critic or strive or aim for anything greater. There is no sense of community. This is true about food and culture and everything else. The economy is so dependent on tourists that it is sacrilegious to say anything is not good. No one loses the best of WNC they just add new categories so everything is the best. In art and culture not everything is the best. This is not a t-ball game where everyone gets a trophy. It would be great to set the bar higher than what sells to tourists. It would be great to have some real discussions and challenges. Instead of treating everything like it is fragile and precious, question, challenge and be bold. Perhaps a salon regarding the truth would be in order. If sounds like there are several disappointed people who want more.

What’s going on here? Backlash? Sour grapes?

Are there issues here unique to Asheville’s art scene that need to be addressed?

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116 Comments

  1. I don’t know anything about the art part (paintings, sculptures etc), but I do know firsthand that the civic center sucks. It’s beyond repair, and absolutely nothing can be done about the non-existent acoustics in the TW Auditorium. Backstage and the dressing room area are a travesty. Forget about the bathrooms, or lack of. We could get so many more big-name acts if we could finally build the Performing Arts Center. I saw Itzhak Perlman back in the 80’s (I was in the Strings in the Schools program so I know the backstage area well), and I saw Joshua Bell last year. I was shocked that he even came here to such a horrid venue. Yo Yo Ma came to Brevard a couple years back but that’s as close as he’s gotten I believe.

  2. As a native from a nearby town this is very upsetting to me that a city I grew up in has done this to so many artist! How dare our city be something it’s not! Has anything been done about this outrageous act towards artist? God what the hell is wrong with people can’t anyone be honest anymore or care about peoples livelihood anymore? Sheeze I am just outraged by just now reading this! I wondered about the art. But I didn’t know the city was being deceitful and making it out to be a JOKE! So has anything been done?!

  3. Thanks for letting us know this Mike. We’ll forward it on to our webinar manager.
    Brenda K. Hipsher

  4. I am a video projection artist that is used to working mostly with DJ’s and bands. What is Asheville like for people like me just getting there? Is it the same sort of vibe or is there more of a spirit of collaboration? Thank you, Kat

  5. Hmm. This whining is telling. Ultimately it sounds like a great town to make art in but not to present or sell in. I am glad I saw all this before considering opening a gallery here.
    But these rants are not unique to Asheville. I have heard other towns and cities whine, too. But you want to go where there is a welcoming and supportive audience before ponying up thousands of dollars. Sounds like Charlotte may be a better place to investigate.
    That said, I hope the artists, gallerists, curators, critics, and collectors here can be galvanized to create a better more welcoming scene. It sounds very insular. Sigh.

    • frank auerbach says:

      Actually, the best place for contemporary art in NC would be Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill and Greensboro, NC.

      • “Actually, the best place for contemporary art in NC would be Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill and Greensboro, NC.”

        reply Not any more! Charlotte Contemporary is coming to town! Many of the artists in this show have work in major museums: Metropolitan Museum of Art; Smithsonian; Mint. Charlotte will now be the center of the NC contemporary art scene!

  6. Asheville Artist says:

    Insightful remarks from Jeff Allen. He speaks of a “vetting process or standards for membership in legitimate organizations.” The Southern Highland Craft Guild offers a vetting process and might be a model. Some of the cooperative, artist-owned galleries also offer a vetting process. On the other hand, the marketplace – whose work sells – is a kind of vetting process. But mediocre work, in some eyes (like that of Thomas Kincaid, to use a well-known example) can sell very well. So the marketplace is not necessarily a reliable vetting for quality.

  7. Jeff Allen says:

    Allthough this conversation has gotten a bit old, I felt compeled to contribute. The validity or substance of the “Asheville Arts Scene” is an important and fair question to debate. I came from a professional media occupation in Florida and chose to move to Asheville over 12 years ago for reasons other than a specific job. I’ve since applied my expertise to a variety of opportunities for employment with reasonable compensation and debatable recognition in a sometimes infuriating local field.

    I don’t make as much as I was and could elsewhere, but I anticipated that when I made the move, knowing this is not a major market for much of anything. I call it infuriating because actual marketable expertise and accomplishment has little appreciation in Asheville until you reveal it through relationship building and an established local track record. I think that’s what some find others being very protective of. Talented people have a harder time in Asheville breaking through the crowd to demonstrate their genuine skillsets to employers, and would be customers. When they build a reputation based on actual skills and accomplishments, they’re not willing to let others ride their coat tails to further their own reputation without putting in the work.

    I may sound like an elitist jerk in saying this, but the problem isn’t the reception of media and arts in Asheville, it’s the enormous surplus of aspiring “artists” in this town that makes it difficult for experienced professionals to get market penetration. For every highly skilled artist, craftsman or media professional with decades of experience and a long list of accomplishments, there’s probably a hundred or more inexperienced aspiring directors, producers, artist, or legends in their own mind that purport to be something they are not.

    This negatively impacts the entire marketplace. It also tends to build a lot of hype, i.e. “Asheville is a great arts comunity” while further detracting from the marketplace because the claims ring hollow for the most part and demonstrates little legitimacy. I don’t think this is a uniquely Asheville problem, but the first step to addressing it is to acknowledge the problem and strive for any methods to truly legitimize the arts and media organizations rather than continualy using them to build hype and feed delusions of grandeur.

    A vetting process or standards for membership in legitimate organizations will probably insight or offend the egos of those who can’t demonstrate prior accomplishments, but if it’s done right, it would not be innapropriately exclusionary. That may be the case with some of the local arts organizations now, based on their track records and inability to garner financial support. If they are legitimate the organizations would have some accomplishments to show for it. If, on the other hand, they’re either an exclusive club of untalented egotists guarding their little fiefdom, or an organization that invites all comers regardless how hollow their resume, neither one has any legitimacy and they both fail. I think that’s largely the current picture of the Asheville Scene. If it’s ok to keep riding the bandwagon of indulging each others fantasies of un-earned reputations and success, nothing will change. Put up or shut up, as it were.

  8. This beautiful little city is a tough spot to work or work into. Jobs and housing minimal and low pay standards set with surplus of ‘starving artist’.
    As a published commercial shooter I was hoping for a grand home base way up here so to speak. Thus far I am not finding good talent in my field with which to pursue book building projects. Unfortunately I have found some attitude and plenty of unprofessional behavior.

    Asheville is a neat spot yet my thoughts are it is best as a vacation and not realistic home base for artist… les you have clients and a bank.

  9. Pingback: 2013 Creative Arts Sector Summit is March 6-8

  10. Jenny Bellamy says:

    Maybe all these arguments are moot?
    Maybe single stationary art is going the way of magazines?

    Has the VISUAL SPEED of the internet left the old traditional art world of stationary images behind in it’s dust???

    No doubt today’s society now has a voracious appetite for images
    due to the internet and instant access to video all over the world and mind.

    They want it hard and fast and often, maybe the old mediums need Viagra?
    or are they dead and only entertained by senior citizens who ‘remember the day’?

  11. Kevin Tibbles says:

    This thread is starting to feel like a Republican filler-buster to block exposing the myth that ‘Asheville is a great art market’.
    You can work til your butt falls off and shake everyone’s hand in Asheville but unless you bring in a few hundred art buyers it’s going to always be a tourist souvenir market.

    • Free Market Artist says:

      So, Kevin, what are YOU don’t to bring in the “art buyers”? Or, like others, do you prefer the method where others do all of the work such that you can reap the benefits?

      It’s not about how “hard” you work. It’s about how SMART you work. Big diff.

  12. I’ve been attempting to produce videos here in Asheville since pre-URTV. To say its not easy is an understatement. There are very talented video production companies in town, but I have yet found a way in. I’ve offered to volunteer my services every chance I could. In the end, the only situations that accepted my offered not only expected I provide my own gear worth $5k and up. But that I was fully willing to lend, abuse, or place my gear in risky situations. 2013 is the year I am leaving Asheville for work. For now I am being hired mostly as an actor and when I arrive to the set I get treated like royalty. I own my house in Asheville and I love coming home. For now its Atlanta for business and Asheville for pleasure. Once I save enough to bring my own productions to Asheville, there will be a handful of people I’m eager to hire, but only a handful. Many people in video production want to be paid handsomely while they essentially learn how to make videos. There are a few very talented professionals. And I’m certain there are more con artists working in video in Atlanta per capita than Asheville. That doesn’t comfort me much. There are attempts to reach another rung on not only the movie production ladder but the arts realm in general. However, all medias need exposure which is digital photos, audio recordings, web sites, and videos. We can only be as strong as our life line to the rest of the world. I won’t shy away from my goal as I am committed here. However, it’s frustrating how difficult it is to get my neighbors to show up. And it’s not like people are really busy. Many are busy because they move slow. And the slow work isn’t up to par with what the big cities are pumping out within deadlines. I love this town. I love my friends. It doesn’t mean I’ll hire them when the time comes. And I believe for me it will, because I’m hungry enough to drive 180 miles to work.

  13. The Darkhorse says:

    I saw this in the CL Artists postings, and have to say it’s the best thing written so far. Cut and paste, so y’all can read it too.

    _______________________________

    I don’t know if anyone has mentioned the fact that people are stealing ideas and applying it to their major media outlet, or organization, or brewery!

    You will destroy a creative community when the brightest among it sees clearly that they are being used and manipulated to be milked dry of any fresh ideas that keep someone else relevant.

    The media outlets would make Orwell wet his pants.

    That being said…the problem is not the “leaders” everyone is looking to blame. The problem is the dynamic itself. Nothing is properly funded here and so it should be no surprise that the people who figured out how to fund their operations are keeping tight controls over them. But I know I can come up with 20 good ideas a week to add to the scene…so where are we going to add them? You’ll find the same problems in any “organization” that tries to start from scratch. Don’t believe me, try it and see.

    This place is geared for the individual. Retired people come here with money and dump as much as possible into the local economy before they die. The politics don’t really foster any other dynamic than what we have here. Think about it, we are all independent artists… The dynamic requires outside sponsorship on a level that people are going to gripe and moan about. The Civic Center is a prime example. But what happens if you don’t bring in outside, yes, corporate sponsors…is you get stuck in a loop where the beer logo is the kegs for beer sales that’s not even covering the stage rental, all the other logos are media sponsors who are helping advertise for free in exchange for good favor with the ‘community’. You as an artist are experiencing the exact same dynamics that any other business owner is. But change is possible through innovation. Look at how Ashvegas.com’s blog or Asheville FM have filled a space that would not have been there if everyone was satisfied with what existed before they were started.

    Everyone here is starving to death for celebrity. They either want to be a celebrity or throw the next unsuspecting fool into the limelight.

    Everything can be summed up in one word: COLLABORATION

    There is none. I know that no matter what my ideas are, I will not get the help I need until I no longer need that help…unless I give the impression I have an endless supply of money. I know because I’ve been on both sides of the coin. Preferring the real, I pretend I don’t have any to see the truth. If there is one other thing that’s killing this scene it’s that people think they are so cool that they don’t respond to phone calls, emails, etc. There’s a communication problem here that’s clearly showing itself in posts like this. People need to give “NO” or “Not Interested” as answers sometimes instead of not responding at all so that people can make calculations based on absolutes. People just don’t say anything until they realize that they can benefit and then they are all Chatty Cathy….this is so widespread and common here, it’s a wonder that we get along in public as well as we do. No joke.

    I have to be careful not to say too much, but I know that there are people out here that are helping provide the missing support even if it brings them to the brink of death, homelessness, and starvation. I would have to say including some leaders as well, so be careful not to “paint them all with the broad brush”. If there was a space in town for open artist space, I would likely get in there and try to dominate it with my own ideas…so then how would I feel about the ‘new’ dynamic? We need real change that’s not able to be manipulated and screwed up because of stupid national politics or stupid local politics.

    You can’t blame people for ignoring certain aspects of a very transient community, but you can blame the dynamics and the people who are promoting them. For instance, I went to a space in the RAD with an investor who was ready to pay for the space for a year to get me started. I was denied space because there were glass blowers in the building that would possibly be disturbed if I was holding a class…or working on my computer…etc.

    Then….oh, then….I get referred to Mountian Biz Works….if I only had a dollar for every referral to Mtn Biz Wrks we wouldn’t be having this conversation at all because I would’ve bought up everything! Makes me want to puke to hear “You should call Mountain Biz Works”. Again…starving for celebrity. AVL and WNC accepts these types of things without question as long as they are marketed correctly. When asked what the best business story to come out of Mtn Biz Wrks, one of their leaders said that it was the French Broad Chocolate Factory. Now, let’s take that as another example of celebrity. No one cares how far out of reach it is for the average person to want to buy a $12 chocolate bar…but this is touted as an example of the kind of industry that is not just fostered (which I’m proud to live in a town that does such), but actually the best?? That’s what we are ALL up against. These programs were not meant to provide everything for everyone. They were designed for a different economy and served a vital function. Obviously, the whole region needs a whole lot more investment of time and energy…and money.

    Let me tell you people…this is an absolute crisis. If you were to go spend any amount of time in a place that’s got a more vibrant economy, you would think you were in a different time period. You have a system here that is designed to grow into a larger system but it doesn’t throw anything into making things really better. You can go get a loan, that’s it. Feed into the obviously destructive debt system through either Student Loans, SBA loans, or have an idea that’s packaged well enough that the sharks will take large bites out of it…but you do it so things can happen. Well…stop….collaborate….and listen.

    People need to take the red pill and stop pretending to be liberals or conservatives.

    The community here is used as the most likely population to protest something in the southeast…so even though you think that you are just being a good citizen and wanting equal rights, the real dynamic is that there are groups of bigots of all kinds. You wouldn’t believe the attitude a straight white married male gets in this town. You’d think I voted for Bush…twice!

    If you think that you are going to change anything by only wanting your art to be placed in a better spot…or even pulling everyone together for a conference to discuss these issues…you will only feed into the problem unless you begin to create alternative paradigms.

    Collaborative Paradigms are missing from Asheville. This may be by design, but it’s also because truly creative people either move away or they are pulled in every direction to the point that it would be impossible for any one person to make everybody happy.

    There is a core group of people who have been organizing to stop the growth of the underground art scene that’s made Asheville so popular probably since George Vanderbilt’s cousin moved into the village and started making George’s friends slightly uncomfortable. It happens in every culture large and small. I mean, look at the way people get a sense of ownership of the place after being here for a really short period of time. You can say “Local” all you want, but you are probably a tourist of some form.

    That doesn’t mean that everyone who is in a position to upset you or deny you entry is not trying to work against it…it just may not be obvious to someone who is not in those positions. I say that with some experience…but also with experience with those same people not being very helpful.

    I just don’t think anyone is actually stopping you or your group of friends from doing anything. They may not be helpful, but no one is stopping you from doing things over the top in a way it’s so popular that can’t be worked around or ignored.

    If the County Commissioners and the Chamber of Commerce would properly fund the Arts Council and the Arts/Music Community, there would likely be a completely different scenario. Beginning with the recognition of the tourism dollars that the music here has brought in from outside for decades.

    So, you get what we get….Republican Commissioners who won’t support bluegrass because of electronic music and Democratic Commissioners who pretend to be community heros until their pockets are lined or another agenda comes from on high to greenwash some project and makes us all think we are being good liberals. It is nothing but a sick joke being played out on all of us.

    If you are scared to organize yourselves….you are as good as dead here.

    A restaurant owner opens a place and all their friends support it as much as they can…putting up a little money…making sure everybody goes and buys lunch there…etc. Then around 2008 the numbers stop working out and they have to figure out a way to be “creative”…they bring in consultants, pay them very well, and are told that they need to appeal to a “better crowd”…or customers with more money. They explain to their family and friends that they can no longer serve them because they are trying to attract new customers…with money…

    Months later, after selling their entire soul out to the glitz and glam of the back-room secrets and high-end parties…they find that they are stripped of anything that resembles their life…they are treated like slaves…and they still have no money.

    As long as people are appealing to the worst elements of our culture and designing everything about our community to appeal to wealthy people….or really in fact just equating someone’s character to the amount of money in their pocket. This will continue to be a giant fail.

    Remember your behavior in all this is vital. If you work behind a cash register and deny someone something because their card didn’t clear…you are feeding the beast just like the person who would refuse to help until they can steal all your ideas.

    • Um, wow.

      Remember your behavior in all this is vital. If you work behind a cash register and deny someone something because their card didn’t clear…you are feeding the beast just like the person who would refuse to help until they can steal all your ideas.

      I’m sorry, I’m a bit unclear on what you are suggesting.

    • “There is a core group of people who have been organizing to stop the growth of the underground art scene that’s made Asheville so popular.”

      Can you speak more to this?

  14. Did anyone see the latest well written post on CL (see below)…
    another log on the fire.

    I don’t know if anyone has mentioned the fact that people are stealing ideas and applying it to their major media outlet, or organization, or brewery!

    You will destroy a creative community when the brightest among it sees clearly that they are being used and manipulated to be milked dry of any fresh ideas that keep someone else relevant.

    The media outlets would make Orwell wet his pants.

    That being said…the problem is not the “leaders” everyone is looking to blame. The problem is the dynamic itself. Nothing is properly funded here and so it should be no surprise that the people who figured out how to fund their operations are keeping tight controls over them. But I know I can come up with 20 good ideas a week to add to the scene…so where are we going to add them? You’ll find the same problems in any “organization” that tries to start from scratch. Don’t believe me, try it and see.

    This place is geared for the individual. Retired people come here with money and dump as much as possible into the local economy before they die. The politics don’t really foster any other dynamic than what we have here. Think about it, we are all independent artists… The dynamic requires outside sponsorship on a level that people are going to gripe and moan about. The Civic Center is a prime example. But what happens if you don’t bring in outside, yes, corporate sponsors…is you get stuck in a loop where the beer logo is the kegs for beer sales that’s not even covering the stage rental, all the other logos are media sponsors who are helping advertise for free in exchange for good favor with the ‘community’. You as an artist are experiencing the exact same dynamics that any other business owner is. But change is possible through innovation. Look at how Ashvegas.com’s blog or Asheville FM have filled a space that would not have been there if everyone was satisfied with what existed before they were started.

    Everyone here is starving to death for celebrity. They either want to be a celebrity or throw the next unsuspecting fool into the limelight.

    Everything can be summed up in one word: COLLABORATION

    There is none. I know that no matter what my ideas are, I will not get the help I need until I no longer need that help…unless I give the impression I have an endless supply of money. I know because I’ve been on both sides of the coin. Preferring the real, I pretend I don’t have any to see the truth. If there is one other thing that’s killing this scene it’s that people think they are so cool that they don’t respond to phone calls, emails, etc. There’s a communication problem here that’s clearly showing itself in posts like this. People need to give “NO” or “Not Interested” as answers sometimes instead of not responding at all so that people can make calculations based on absolutes. People just don’t say anything until they realize that they can benefit and then they are all Chatty Cathy….this is so widespread and common here, it’s a wonder that we get along in public as well as we do. No joke.

    I have to be careful not to say too much, but I know that there are people out here that are helping provide the missing support even if it brings them to the brink of death, homelessness, and starvation. I would have to say including some leaders as well, so be careful not to “paint them all with the broad brush”. If there was a space in town for open artist space, I would likely get in there and try to dominate it with my own ideas…so then how would I feel about the ‘new’ dynamic? We need real change that’s not able to be manipulated and screwed up because of stupid national politics or stupid local politics.

    You can’t blame people for ignoring certain aspects of a very transient community, but you can blame the dynamics and the people who are promoting them. For instance, I went to a space in the RAD with an investor who was ready to pay for the space for a year to get me started. I was denied space because there were glass blowers in the building that would possibly be disturbed if I was holding a class…or working on my computer…etc.

    Then….oh, then….I get referred to Mountian Biz Works….if I only had a dollar for every referral to Mtn Biz Wrks we wouldn’t be having this conversation at all because I would’ve bought up everything! Makes me want to puke to hear “You should call Mountain Biz Works”. Again…starving for celebrity. AVL and WNC accepts these types of things without question as long as they are marketed correctly. When asked what the best business story to come out of Mtn Biz Wrks, one of their leaders said that it was the French Broad Chocolate Factory. Now, let’s take that as another example of celebrity. No one cares how far out of reach it is for the average person to want to buy a $12 chocolate bar…but this is touted as an example of the kind of industry that is not just fostered (which I’m proud to live in a town that does such), but actually the best?? That’s what we are ALL up against. These programs were not meant to provide everything for everyone. They were designed for a different economy and served a vital function. Obviously, the whole region needs a whole lot more investment of time and energy…and money.

    Let me tell you people…this is an absolute crisis. If you were to go spend any amount of time in a place that’s got a more vibrant economy, you would think you were in a different time period. You have a system here that is designed to grow into a larger system but it doesn’t throw anything into making things really better. You can go get a loan, that’s it. Feed into the obviously destructive debt system through either Student Loans, SBA loans, or have an idea that’s packaged well enough that the sharks will take large bites out of it…but you do it so things can happen. Well…stop….collaborate….and listen.

    People need to take the red pill and stop pretending to be liberals or conservatives.

    The community here is used as the most likely population to protest something in the southeast…so even though you think that you are just being a good citizen and wanting equal rights, the real dynamic is that there are groups of bigots of all kinds. You wouldn’t believe the attitude a straight white married male gets in this town. You’d think I voted for Bush…twice!

    If you think that you are going to change anything by only wanting your art to be placed in a better spot…or even pulling everyone together for a conference to discuss these issues…you will only feed into the problem unless you begin to create alternative paradigms.

    Collaborative Paradigms are missing from Asheville. This may be by design, but it’s also because truly creative people either move away or they are pulled in every direction to the point that it would be impossible for any one person to make everybody happy.

    There is a core group of people who have been organizing to stop the growth of the underground art scene that’s made Asheville so popular probably since George Vanderbilt’s cousin moved into the village and started making George’s friends slightly uncomfortable. It happens in every culture large and small. I mean, look at the way people get a sense of ownership of the place after being here for a really short period of time. You can say “Local” all you want, but you are probably a tourist of some form.

    That doesn’t mean that everyone who is in a position to upset you or deny you entry is not trying to work against it…it just may not be obvious to someone who is not in those positions. I say that with some experience…but also with experience with those same people not being very helpful.

    I just don’t think anyone is actually stopping you or your group of friends from doing anything. They may not be helpful, but no one is stopping you from doing things over the top in a way it’s so popular that can’t be worked around or ignored.

    If the County Commissioners and the Chamber of Commerce would properly fund the Arts Council and the Arts/Music Community, there would likely be a completely different scenario. Beginning with the recognition of the tourism dollars that the music here has brought in from outside for decades.

    So, you get what we get….Republican Commissioners who won’t support bluegrass because of electronic music and Democratic Commissioners who pretend to be community heroes until their pockets are lined or another agenda comes from on high to green wash some project and makes us all think we are being good liberals. It is nothing but a sick joke being played out on all of us.

    If you are scared to organize yourselves….you are as good as dead here.

    A restaurant owner opens a place and all their friends support it as much as they can…putting up a little money…making sure everybody goes and buys lunch there…etc. Then around 2008 the numbers stop working out and they have to figure out a way to be “creative”…they bring in consultants, pay them very well, and are told that they need to appeal to a “better crowd”…or customers with more money. They explain to their family and friends that they can no longer serve them because they are trying to attract new customers…with money…

    Months later, after selling their entire soul out to the glitz and glam of the back-room secrets and high-end parties…they find that they are stripped of anything that resembles their life…they are treated like slaves…and they still have no money.

    As long as people are appealing to the worst elements of our culture and designing everything about our community to appeal to wealthy people….or really in fact just equating someone’s character to the amount of money in their pocket. This will continue to be a giant fail.

    Remember your behavior in all this is vital. If you work behind a cash register and deny someone something because their card didn’t clear…you are feeding the beast just like the person who would refuse to help until they can steal all your ideas.

  15. Art-in-Aville says:

    Seen a lot of people, things and ideas come and go here since the early 1970s.

    The art organizations are (as the original post stated), very cliquish.

    To the previous poster- you could have a studio open 24-7 and if the area is deserted, you cant manifest people.

    Disappointing to hear all the blame being placed on artists. It takes mutual cooperation to be successful. I am not sure all artist can pay the yearly fee to be in RAD and on top of that, pay high rent and then pay RAD 15% of their sales during the 2 studio stroll weekends, which is when most make their money for the year.

    I think the town advertises its self as an art mecca and then doesnt really support the arts !!

    The museum here has been an unfriendly place in the past and has had many shows that could bore you to the bone. Besides, they have few, if any, shows for local artists ( pitiful !!)
    This speaks loud and clear how much the museum thinks of local artists.
    The museum also seems to serve donors more than artists.

    The Arts Council seems to be supportive to those they know or hang out with, more like a club than a Arts Council.

    The art organizations in Asheville need people to run them that have a real background in art and can be appreciative of all styles, all inclusive, from cutting edge to old masters and everything in the middle. As long as it shows some mastery of that style, quality, something new to say or feel.

    This has always been a Fine Craft Town, not a Fine Art town.

    Remember the people who make the advertisements about how much art is here in Asheville and how amazing it is, know nothing, zip, nada about fine art. They are advertisers, not artists or art critics.

    Until the town, the city government, the organizations related to the arts, start to really be inclusive and support the arts, all arts, all kinds from all ages, gender, races, economic background, this town is not going to be any kind of art Mecca.

    I have seen my artist friends work their hearts out here and I have seen them get in big shows outside of Asheville, with prestigious jurors from major museums, but then they cant get in a show at the Asheville Arts Council or get in a gallery here.

    Its not a feeling that things are run by cliques in the Asheville art world, I have seen it, over and over, it is a fact.

    We need to change, change how we qualify art, change how we treat each other, change the word -support, back to its real meaning.

    I think artists do have a valid concern here and its not just whining. If the city is going to advertise Asheville as an art community and make lots of tourist dollars off of artists, then shouldnt artists have a right to have a voice here? Again, we can make it better.

    • As a person working here at our museum for the past 7 years, i would like to respond to this part of your post:

      “The museum here has been an unfriendly place in the past” – I’m not certain what you mean by this. Do you mean that perhaps you’ve tried to donate work to the museum and we were unfriendly, or do you mean that we have just been unfriendly in the past and now you don’t visit? Do you know that an artist membership costs only $40 for the year, which is pretty much a steal? and that many area colleges hold “student memberships” so that their students can go for free? and that i try to plan “friendly” programs that artists will benefit from, including films you might not see elsewhere? if you meant you tried to donate art to us – well, it doesn’t exactly work just like that. As an accredited museum, we follow “rules” and have a collections committee, etc.

      “and has had many shows that could bore you to the bone.”
      Again, while art is subjective and you might be bored by one exhibition we hope that you will find a lot of art here that is not boring. You might have noticed that we’ve been receiving a lot of great reviews for exhibitions lately – when exactly is that last time you’ve been here?

      “Besides, they have few, if any, shows for local artists ( pitiful !!)
      This speaks loud and clear how much the museum thinks of local artists.”
      By this I think you mean to say “of local artists”, not “for” local artists? But again, I take personal umbrage to this point. We are NOT a regional museum btw – which is why not everything here is “of local artists.” However, right now in our permanent collection gallery you will see many local artists on view. You might not realize that these people are local. Right now, you will see the Scholastics Art Award exhibition – pieces by 8-12 grade students in our region hanging professionally on our gallery walls. (this exhibition is free btw – come see it – you might be surprised at the talent.)We have this exhibition annually. You might have seen our inaugural new media exhibition this past year – Prime Time: New Media Juried Art Exhibition. Guess what? Local artists, ranging from current students to someone who has exhibited in international bienales. You might have seen the Mel Chin exhibition that just finished up – or noticed the piece that remains on the outside of our building. Guess what? another example of an internationally known artist who happens to be local. Oh, and our Art Playce for children boasts commissioned art, some interactive, by local artists as well. Soon we will have an exhibition of sculpture by Stoney Lamar (local), photography by Ralph Burns (local) and we’re working on a grant application for another large-scale juried exhibition like Make it New (2007) which had 70 local artists and was a phenomenal success as far as quality, programs and attendance, and jump-started the career path of quite a number of previously unknown local artists.

      “The museum also seems to serve donors more than artists.” I don’t even know what you mean by this? I think we “serve” everyone who walks in our doors – whether its because they are here to see what’s in our free gallery space, here for our free afternoon, here for family days, here for a talk or a film, or here to buy a book or a gift.

      Sorry for my rant – but i really believe in this museum. i work an amazing number of hours every week, as do each of my colleagues, and really get miffed when people diss the museum – especially if that person has not been here in years, has never been here, or in some cases, doesn’t even know that we are more than the lobby space. Artists – please take advantage of having a museum in your midst!

      • It’s helpful to read your note, but how many programs for local artists does the museum have? There is a lot more that could happen, from more frequent talks, to events, to things that make the museum more of a magnetic center for local artists. Consider this constructive criticism.

        I enjoyed a recent exhibition I went to at the museum, but as the largest space in Asheville that shows contemporary work, I’d love to see more social and community events, stuff that really takes the lead in pushing the envelope. How about an event similar to PS1’s Warm Up in Pack Square? http://momaps1.org/warmup/ Or something like First Saturdays at the Brooklyn Museum?

        Thanks for all you do.

        • Hi Ignaci,

          Thanks for asking about the programs. I do depend on Asheville people – not tourists! – when i plan my programs.

          We have a monthly art-related book discussion group, a monthly film screening, and twice monthly special tours about a specific exhibition. These tours are led by either a curator, a visiting artist (maybe from asheville, maybe not), or an art critic or author, or maybe just someone cool (Brooke Priddy talked about the exhibition Art/Sewn.)
          Also, we have special evening lectures (Recently 120 people enjoyed hearing Mel Chin speak, screen his animated film, and even play an original song on acoustic guitar!), and hands-on workshops (there was one today!) We’ve had 2 Picha Kucha events and might bring that back sometime soon. (An example of an event that pushes the envelope some!) You should take a look at our website , or sign up for our email news (you don’t have to be a member to get it!)
          And family days, etc. happen at the museum on a regular basis – they often include asheville-based artists working with kids. This coming Tuesday we have our first Tot-Time 🙂 – and we’ve got 3 artists coming to help out! But we need more Tots!

          We are a small staff but the amount of offerings we have are a lot….check it out, I really think you will be impressed.

    • Free Market Artist says:

      “To the previous poster- you could have a studio open 24-7 and if the area is deserted, you cant manifest people.”

      False. First of all, RAD is by far “deserted”. We get thousands of people through every year.

      THOUSANDS.

      You can’t manifest people? Oh, yes you can! It’s called MARKETING.

      The problem isn’t the art organizations. It’s that artists don’t make the effort to market themselves. Look at Johas Gerard. Do you think he’s complaining that RAD is “deserted”?

      Geeze, you can go through four years of art school and get a BFA and not have to take a single business class.

      THAT IS THE PROBLEM.

      It’s not the organizations. Can they do a better job? Sure they can! But that can be said about most volunteer / non-profits.

      In the days of social media where “marketing” is essentially FREE, there is no reason why EVERY artist shouldn’t be doing their share in getting the word out about themselves, and about the art scene in AVL, whether that be RAD or otherwise.

      As for the $75 RADA membership, that equates to a little more than SIX BUCKS PER MONTH. If you think that this is asking too much, but you’re still stopping by the cafe for that latte mochachino, then mind I suggest that your priorities are a little skewed?

      Six bucks per month.

      Resulting in THOUSANDS of people coming through your studio.

      And, you think it’s asking too much?

      • Wondering if the previous post is what artists will get when they try to make a suggestion and help to improve the situation for all artists. It is little wonder that some are resistant to join RAD.

        Everyone can do better, probably so- but to say that most artist can market their art like Jonas Gerard is comparing apples to oranges. Most artists dont have that kind of major money to spend on marketing.

        To accuse artists of being frivolous with their money, (going to get a latte) is not a rational or fair answer to the poster, and only seems to be an attempt to belittle them and their concerns.

        Possibly, this is why most have had to post here anonymously, because they feel they will be belittled or shamed for speaking their frustrations.

        • Free Market Artist says:

          Do you think that Jonas always had the marketing budget that he has now? Do you think that someone simply handed him his success?

          Nobody is trying to belittle anyone. I’m just stating fact. If someone thinks that a little more than $6 / month (about 20 cents per day!!!) is “expensive, given the return on the investment (i.e., a listing in a brochure that gets to tens of thousands of people, along with thousands coming through the district every year), then they really need to think long and hard as to whether they have the commitment to make it as an artist, whether that be in Asheville, or anywhere else for that matter.

          Just 20 cents per day.

          This isn’t belittlement. It’s a fundamental look at the economics of an investment.

          20 cents per day.

          FYI: When someone like this “Leo” guy goes on a ridiculous, baseless rant the way he has, one should expect a passionate response.

  16. Free Market Artist says:

    Sounds to me like a few AVL artists would like the art scene to be socialized. No surprise, as there are still, apparently, millions of people out there that believe you can “make the weak strong” by “making the strong weak”. Isn’t there enough (world) history to prove that such a system doesn’t work, and only results in mediocrity (i.e., failure)?

    Speaking as a RAD artist, the feedback that I often get from the foot traffic passing through RAD isn’t that there isn’t enough “good” art. It’s that there aren’t many studios open (especially before 12 noon). Presumably, the same artists that don’t open their doors until the afternoon are the ones closing before 5pm as well. Moral of the story is that if you want to sell your wares, YOU HAVE TO BE OPEN, or you have to know how to market yourself on line (or both)! And, if you’re not open and someone else is, or if you don’t market yourself and others are, and these other artists are getting the sales, then whose fault is that? You have no one but yourself to blame if you you are expecting others to create your success (and happiness), and it’s not happening for you.

    As for the alleged lack of coordination in, say, RADA, from what I see, in a district with, what?, about 300 artists, only about half of them cough up the (very affordable) $75 / yr to join RADA, and only about 25% of those members attend the monthly meetings. And, of that 25%, no doubt there are a few that just show up for the beer and pizza (I recall attendance was much lower before “refreshments” were served regularly at the meetings). If you want RADA to do more for you, then perhaps you should do more for RADA, no?

    On top of all that, isn’t it strange how so many artists that don’t want to contribute to RADA ride the coat-tails of the Stroll weekends (i.e., you’ll find them open all weekend during Stroll), and reaping the benefits of thousands of people coming through the district (while, due to their lack of RADA membership, avoiding the 15% “commission” that the RADA members are contributing after each Stroll)? How lame is that?

    So, if one is going to criticize the RADA “leadership”, then I hope that they are RADA members, attending monthly meetings, and volunteering for board posts or committee positions. If not, then I suggest that these people re-think their whining AND CONTRIBUTE. In other words, if you don’t like the way RADA is being operated, then show your face at a meeting and do something about it.

    I personally believe that Asheville is an AMAZING little city with a lot to offer. But, there are a lot of people in all trades COMPETING for the same disposable dollars of both visitors and locals alike. If you truly want to succeed as an artist in this city, then you not only have to work hard (i.e., create top quality work), but you have to work “smart” as well. You have to market yourself and your work and give people good reason to spend their money on YOU (rather than another artist, or on the Biltmore, or on a gig at the Orange Peel, or on a meal at Curate, or on a growler or six of Wedge ale, or on…). Just because you built “it”, doesn’t mean that they will come. And, spending all of your energy complaining that they are not coming, rather than “doing” something to welcome them, certainly isn’t going to help your cause.

    • Well said. The difference between a gallery or
      studio & the art for sale on the walls is
      accessibility to the artist. If the doors are not
      open, no one can buy your art. If the artist
      is not happy to be there, who will? Come visit
      my studio on Level 2 of the Wedge- open
      8-5, EVERYDAY, (Mondays, Wednesdays,
      Fridays & Saturdays until Late).

    • The Darkhorse says:

      I was a RADA member, and it didn’t do squat for me, or anyone in our buildings. They didn’t represent us,we were an afterthought. During the stroll, we were left out completely. So sorry, your assumption that this is a bunch of trustafarians griping about not getting theirs – we tried. I worked my ass off. I volunteered. After missing a meeting due to pneumonia, I was treated like a leper who didn’t count, and was told that I wasn’t dedicated enough. So yeah, sorry to burst your bubble but RADA leadership IS the problem. It’s just a high school art clique, and if you aren’t besties with the leadership, you won’t ever get anywhere.

      • Free Market Artist says:

        Uh, I’m not “in” with the clique (I don’t make every meeting due to other commitments), but I seem to be doing alright for myself in RAD.

        So, the problem certainly isn’t RADA leadership, or RADA itself.

    • Jeeezzzseee now it’s a political rant?
      DESTROY THE MYTH!

    • Kevin Tibbles says:

      FREE MARKET ARTIST = Republican lingo for
      ‘F**K Everyone But Me’Businessman Posing As An Artist’

      Republicans always like to redefine words which are
      already well defined and what a coincidence they are always the opposite of their true meaning.. why? because they are too chicken sxxt to be honest.
      EXAMPLES:
      Peace Keepers – MX Strategic Missiles
      Right To Work – Destroy unions – work for less.
      No new taxes – Guard the 1%’s Loopholes
      Defend America’s Interests – Open new markets for weapon sales and contractors.
      Hell they would stab you in the back and call it your ‘right to bear arms’.

      This whole conversation is about Asheville being a poor market for contemporary art it figures you would flip it and claim it’s not the market but lazy artists!

  17. Kevin Tibbles says:

    BEHOLD this is the actual Asheville art market:
    From Craigslist Arts& Crafts (check out the prices)

    DISPLAY SIGNS – $5 (CANDLER**) pic arts & crafts – by owner
    Magazines Needed – (Asheville Area) arts & crafts – by owner
    Large Blocks of Modeling Clay for Sculpting or Artist – $1 (North Asheville) pic arts & crafts – by owner
    Tons of High-Quality Paint Brushes (roughly 100-150 brushes) All sizes – $1 (North Asheville) pic arts & crafts – by owner
    TONS OF ASSORTED TUBES OF ACRYLIC, WATERCOLOR, AND OIL PAINTS – $1 (North Asheville) pic arts & crafts – by owner
    LOTS of ARTIST CANVAS PADS – $1 (North Asheville) pic arts & crafts – by owner
    LOTS of BRAND NEW ARTIST CANVAS’ – $1 (North Asheville) pic arts & crafts – by owner
    IVAN RIPLEY PAINTING – $300 (MAULDIN, SC) arts & crafts – by owner
    Cricut expression with TWO cartidges – $130 pic arts & crafts – by owner
    1999 ford f250 side mirrors – $50 (marion) arts & crafts – by owner
    Cricut Expression – $100 (Weaverville) pic arts & crafts – by owner
    ABSTRACT AFRICAN? HEAD WOODEN SCULPTURE – (Leicester) pic arts & crafts – by owner
    Thousands of Vector Illustrations-Health, Science, Technical – (Asheville Area) pic arts & crafts – by owner
    Custom Jewelry Box – $225 pic arts & crafts – by owner
    Pottery Equipment, kilns, wheels, pugmill, – (Asheville) pic arts & crafts – by owner
    Cricut – $100 (asheville ) pic arts & crafts – by owner
    Legs for Crafts – $5 (Bill’s Creek Area) arts & crafts – by owner
    Beautiful Star Rose Quartz Landscaping Stones Freshly Dug – $2 (east asheville) pic arts & crafts – by owner
    Artwork with Brushed Gold/Black Frame – $65 (Norcross) pic arts & crafts – by dealer
    Artwork – Fall Landscape – Hotel Liquidation – $10 (Norcross) pic arts & crafts – by dealer
    Flower Black and White – Hotel Liquidaiton – $15 (Norcross) pic arts & crafts – by dealer
    Artwork-Flower Small – Hotel Liquidation – $6 (Norcross) pic arts & crafts – by dealer
    Hoke Torch – $20 (Hendersonville) pic arts & crafts – by owner
    VALENTINE ARRANGEMENTS – $27 pic arts & crafts – by owner
    Hand-Made Metal Puzzle Pieces/ Wall Decor – $25 (Woodfin) pic arts & crafts – by owner
    Local Hand-Made Pottery $15 and Up! – $15 (Woodfin) pic arts & crafts – by owner
    Hanging Orb Terrariums – $12 (Black Mountain) pic arts & crafts – by dealer
    scroll saw art – (wnc) arts & crafts – by owner
    Hand sewn Guatemalan wall hanging – $50 ( Rutherfordton/Lake Lure) pic arts & crafts – by owner
    vintage folk art woodpecker – $12 (Rutherfordton/Lake Lure) pic arts & crafts – by owner
    Vintage window painting – $45 (Asheville) pic arts & crafts – by owner
    HAND PAINTED SAW BLADES – (FAIRVIEW) pic arts & crafts – by owner

    • Free Market Artist says:

      Thanks for the heads-up. I’ve been looking for side mirrors for my 1999 Ford F250. Now I know where to find them!

  18. Charlie Gentner says:

    I’ve been here 19 years now and I’ve known plenty of folks from every demographic that have come to this town with a grin and a bunch of ideas. There’s always a story about coincidence, or intuition, or a quixotic sense of kinship or camaraderie that lands people in this place. People come here with “I could…” framing their intentions. It has been a place of investigation and fruitful labor, creative therapies and cultural repose. I tell people that this is a ‘project’ town. One comes here to work on their next thing. It is a surprisingly introspective place for those whose imaginations draw them here. But it is not a place to get rich. Come in, be calm, enjoy some beer and conversation. Find your creative center and then go out into the world to prosper from whatever knowledge and experience you may have gained from the chance to live in such a wonderful environment. For love of all things holy, please don’t expect or try to model this city on the outdated successes of other entirely uncharacteristic stinkholes. This is no metropolis. It doesn’t have fame or riches for you. But what it does have, is for you alone.

  19. OutsideLookingIn says:

    Interesting conversation. I don’t live in Asheville, but absolutely love the place, and we hope to one day move there.

    As one who has many artist friends, and who has lived in NYC, I’ll just say that the sense of frustration expressed in Asheville can be found even in Manhattan among all the starving (and talented) artists unable to get any kind of job in the arts, unable to get their stuff shown, and unable to get noticed by ones who might help them.

    I have family members and friends w/ Masters in Arts, in NYC, who spend every waking moment (outside their 9-5 days) in their studios painting — subsidized by their legal-secretary jobs, waiter jobs, etc.

    I just finished reading Patti Smith’s ‘Just Kids’ about her and Robert Mapplethorpe’s days of literally starving for their art, and how they would frequent Max’s Kansas City bar, hoping to assimilate somehow into the Andy Warhol crowd, thinking they might meet people who could help them somehow. And they did, and then they did.

    It is similar to music, fiction writing, etc. You need to somehow generate a buzz — a hype — and only then will the ones w/ money/connections begin to notice you.

    I worked in the music industry in NYC and found that most at the labels/agencies/management companies look for bandwagons to jump. They really don’t trust their own instincts, since there is so much at risk (like their careers). They look for feeding frenzies to join (visible interest shown by others in their industry).

    I’d see an amazing band that no one cared about playing to a dozen people at Brownies. And then that band would instantly become the flavor of the month, because some big manager decided to sign them, and suddenly they would sell out CBGB’s where I’d see reps from every single record label, booking agency, publicists there — all dying to sign them. Labels would be willing to pay hundreds of thousands for a band two weeks ago they would probably scoff at. Then, for the first time, there would be articles that week in major music mags about the band.

    There is a lot of amazing talent in the arts, so it unfortunately often boils down to hype and luck to separate those who thrive and those who starve. Though aggressively putting yourself out there can better your odds.

    This might be a dumb idea (I am admittedly ignorant w/ regards to visual arts industry) but could perhaps artists join together to form a co-op gallery to help promote their work? It might help to empower artists, so that they don’t feel so dependent on what an earlier poster described as a “good ole boy’s” network. Just a thought…

  20. I do not see this as ranting either. Maybe the first post. People in the arts have to promote their work. There is a need for community and that is what seems to be missing and also there is a push to be what tourist expect. I do not like the word scene. It creates this clique mentality.

    It sounds like there needs to be a way to connect. It does not matter if this is a small town. What about the Algonquin School that was seven artists or for that matter like it not the Impressionists School which was a handful of people in Paris. Then the Modern Artist. There was also the Hudson River School. There is no discussion or group of like minded people and no critique. The fact that there are arts administrators makes the point. There seems to be a need for a salon or get together where people can connect.
    To speak to selling. There are many new avenues.
    In this day and age you do not have to live where the market is you can create an online portfolio, a Pinterest page, an etsy store, you can be on Deviant Art or Threadless. There are some online services that will insure your work so people can rent to own and you get a commission. Your artist statement is important.
    I do not like the self congrats Asheville puts out there but I understand it from a marketing perspective. There are two issues. How does one connect with a community which is separate from how does one make a living? Someone should start an Honest Salon and have monthly meetups. I run the WNC Social Media and Content marketing meetup perhaps I will have one specifically for artists to discuss promotion techniques. Of course anyone is welcome any time.
    For the most part Asheville is what it is. I am glad to have an open forum.

  21. justanothervoice says:

    Wow…what a discussion.
    I have been in Asheville for over 6 years. I moved from a coastal city with a modest little art scene. We always attended the local art events with amazement at the diverse talent that people have…imagination…vision!! As a craft person myself, I would never try to attack or insult a fellow craftsman or craftswoman for following their passion, even if it means not having the income they deserve for the art they so lovingly create. I will add this…the comments about the “Asheville Community” are spot on. This city is filled with “community members” that will lie, cheat and drain you of anything they can get from you in the name of “community”. I have never been asked to do more free work and to volunteer so much in my life! It is something that I have always done with a smile for a good cause…but when the organizers make bank on your work and then turn around and tell you how poor they are and your efforts didn’t make a difference…It’s not a community. The word “community” is being used as a front here. It is every person for themselves and they are willing to get dirty to get what they want…as true in the restaurant industry here as well. I have a friend who pays to be in the Independent restaurant association and tells me stories about how they use the membership fees to promote themselves and a few restaurants that have been in a very tight clique for years.
    Here is the deal. I am moving away from here!! The economy is in a hurt and I do not believe in my heart that this becoming the mecca of beer canning plants will turn things around for Asheville. It is a city that is more concerned with putting in bicycle paths then making much needed improvements to already existing landmarks(US Cellular Center, Downtown buildings) to encourage people from out of town to come and spend money here. How long before Asheville becomes the “Detroit of the South”? unemployment is escalating here!! The homeless congregate in the hub of downtown during the summer time and are horrible to the tourists. My own family doesn’t even want to go downtown!
    Now, take my comments and replace the word “Asheville” with the name of any city in the US. The country is facing the same problems as a whole…we just notice it more because this is our home.

    My 2 cents.

    • “…even if it means not having the income they deserve for the art they so lovingly create.”

      This is my only point of contention with your otherwise intelligent comment. No one DESERVES an income, not even artists. Income is the result of market forces which include, but are not limited to, your own talents and self-promotion. And by self-promotion, I do not mean whining.

      The art market here is saturated with producers whose goods are overpriced and whose consumer pool is limited, even in good financial times (remember those?). Simple economics.

      Also, calling the Civic Center (I refuse to call it otherwise, I don’t care how much USC paid) a landmark is a stretch, but I do agree it is a very useful piece of infrastructure whose renovation would bring more benefit to Asheville than bicycle paths and traffic circles.

      Otherwise, you are spot-on! Sorry to see you go, but I understand.

      “Capitol At Play” recently posted an editorial stating that everyone in WNC either works for or services the Doctors, Lawyers and Real Estate brokers. There is very little else here, yet we seem flooded with young people who flock here for the beer and music, only to discover that no one will pay or house them. Welcome to the real world, kids.

      • “Capitol At Play” aren’t they along the same lines as Fox News, Newsmax?

        • If you mean they are Capitalists, as opposed to Socialists, and believe in free markets rather than forced redistribution of wealth from producers to entitled parasites, then yes.

          • Interesting that you are actually commenting on a post about fine art while conservatives are trying to defund the arts in all forms of education. 99.9% of Capitol Play’s readers allegedly vote republican therefore in favor of defunding the arts in school ect. Just saying.

  22. Dang if y’all don’t need a big ol’ group hug.

    *HUG!*

  23. The performing arts scene here is pretty great. Could be better, but there is a lot of experimentation going on.

  24. Fashionably Despondent says:

    In my experience if you are an artist and relying on local sales, a local nonprofit or a local vibrant scene to make a living you may have a rough road indeed. I am a six year resident of Asheville and have been fortunate to make a living as a visual artist for over 20 years. I have exhibited in over 120 shows in 15 states and on two continents. What connects a patron to your work and compels them to own it is not a science it is personal. Put your best work in front of as many people as possible let it rest on its merits.

  25. “Josh Barnett says: Asheville is a small town of retired people, lesbians, underpaid workers, and broke artists – that’s it. They just don’t want to admit it.”

    Aside from sounding pretty bitter, I have to say I have seen a lot more gay men than women in Asheville, so I don’t understand why you singled lesbians out.

  26. Vincent Van No says:

    I don’t find this ranting too surprising (or necessarily off base), but honestly, what do you expect from a small city nestled in the woods? To have a “real” art scene you need institutional-level sponsors and wealthy buyers–who are, more often than not, the hated 1%. I bet people pay a lot of money for art in Charlotte or Atlanta, even if those cities “suck,” because they have the lifeblood of any vibrant art scene: a large status-seeking class with disposable income. (No judgment here…just sayin’.)

    It’s called a “market” for a reason. You wanted to live in your Subaru-saturated utopia with mountain views, and that is fine–I drive a wagon myself!–but there are certain costs. Let’s be real: in a small tourist town, Bob and Sue probably aren’t interested in a vivisected anemone munching on its own larvae (a work I’d consider sufficiently challenging). Not that I know all that much about the art world, but my impression is that unless you’re famous enough, you need to actually be where the market is to…find the market. Jeff Koons can work from a cave in Timbuktu, but I don’t know if many others can.

    There’s an article in the Mountain Xpress, from December, about a gallery that left the city because they found it too difficult to gin up any sense of scarcity (that is, a decent price):

    But a bigger problem, Egan feels, is the over-saturation of the Asheville art market. True gallery representation, which is founded on exclusivity, is rare in Asheville. Here, you can buy the same artists work in three different locations and for three different prices. “There’s no sense of urgency to collect the work because it’s everywhere,” Egan says.

    • Exactly…but once again we are ranting to DESTROY THE MYTH .. not the city. The myth is perpetuated by the NY Times, travel agencies, etc. to make the city seem like it has everything.

      Asheville is beautiful with cool people and amazing craft artists in the surrounding area but it is not a contemporary art scene with collectors buying art left and right as some would make you think before you come here.

      • So why can I drive an hour to Greenville for one of the best fine art shows on the east coast, Artisphere.
        http://www.artisphere.us/

      • Leo – you sure sound sour.

        “Contemporary art” – art produced since 1945.

        You are the only one on this thread debating the existence of a “contemporary art” scene in Asheville. Perhaps the word you were looking for in your frustrations in comparing Asheville to Paris and Tokyo is “cosmopolitan?”

        At any rate for a frustrated artist who hates living in Asheville, you sure spent lots of time posting on the internet.

        Asheville thrives on tourist money. That’s what separates us from other smaller, poorer mountain towns up and down the Appalachian corridor. These tourists bring outside money from Atlanta, Charlotte, New York, etc. Many of them have started to hear about the art scene in Asheville. They come, they might choose to spend money on art. Asheville’s reputation grows modestly.

        I’m not sure what you are wishing were here. If you are really going to openly laugh at those who suggest that in order to make your living at art you have to put some time and effort into the marketing and business side, you will not succeed anywhere. If you want to learn more about how to make your art profitable, there’s lots of resources here in this town. Go talk to people at Handmade in America, Mountain BizWorks, the Southern Highland Craft Guild… I personally know many people who have found these organizations to be incredibly helpful in helping them market, price, display their art.

        Or, just sit here and write angry letters online and move somewhere else spreading the word of how horrible and unsupportive our town is. It’s all the same to me.

  27. As a musician who has been playing music for 20 years (and moved here in 1999), I find this conversation fascinating. I’ve lived in Austin and NYC and had moderate success in those cities, but I long ago (about the age of 25 I think) abandoned the idea that I was going to make a living off of playing music. Whatever happened to “Art for Art’s Sake?” In this day and age, people actually expect to make a decent living just by selling art?

    If the root of this discussion was that artists here should be telling other young artists to stay away from here because there’s no money to be made, then I guess that’s a pretty reasonable warning. But just because one artist doesn’t find success here, that doesn’t mean the next artist won’t. Isn’t that the case everywhere?

    I absolutely agree that this city gives off the appearance of being more “artsy” than it is. It was doing that when I moved here back in 1999. But is that really so bad?

    I hear people who are not so successful here (at any type of financial venture) complain about this town on a daily basis, and I also here people who are doing well financially talk about how great it is here.

    I have so far failed to become a professional musician (which was a dream of mine for a long time), and I blame one person for that failure: myself. I still play music today with the same passion I put into it 20 years ago. And if the world never hears it, then so be it. And here’s a little secret: as soon as I abandoned the idea of becoming a professional musician and just made the music for music’s sake and put more energy into making a living outside of art, I became less envious of other artists and more content with my own place in the world. Perhaps that may be seen as giving up by some younger artists, but I just consider it facing reality.

    • Musician please … whole different thing. There’s a lot more venues to survive as a musician (drunks don’t buy art but they want to dance).

      Excuse us for wanting to be true to our selves AND survive .. I’ve done it for over 20 years. Once again
      there posts are about exposing the myth about Asheville as a contemporary art market to keep other younger artists from wasting their HARD EARNED time here.

      The dichotomy in Asheville between the haves and the have-nots is astounding. Until 2006 you could
      make money in real estate or construction but the last 7 years the affluent here get or have their money from somewhere else.

      • Leo, is it really that different?

        Art is art. Music is the art of time. The visual arts are the art of space. Both are creative endeavors. They both are seeking an audience for the piece, and the sense of cathartic release for the artist.

        Sure there are a lot of venues in Asheville, but there are also a lot of musicians. Cost of living is rising. It takes a lot of gigs, a lot of hustle, a lot of investment and a lot of hard work to even pretend to make a living in music. If you start to add in touring, forget about it. The expenses of travel alone will eat any potential profit in the first ten miles.

        If you want to make a living in art you have to be both a creative being and an entrepreneur. You have to work really hard and think outside of the box.

      • Leo, you sure are fired up about this, aren’t you? How many angry posts have you made so far? And in most of your posts you’re mocking people, being sarcastic, and sometimes insulting and accusatory. For instance, you’re implying that by giving up on the idea of being a professional musician I’m not being true to myself. You really know about me and whether or not I’m being true to myself? I’ve never felt more like myself than I do now. I am a musician (among other things) and I always will be.
        Secondly, you say that being a musician is a whole different thing and I’m sure there’s some truth to that, but I’ve played shows in front of thousands of people in Austin, and you know how much money my band got paid for opening up for Spoon with 2000 people in the audience? About two hundred dollars for 5 band members.
        Bars here (like everywhere else) do not pay bands well at all.
        Finally, your mentioning the “haves and have-nots” reveals where you’re really coming from, I think: Envy.
        Artists of all types like to curse the wealthy while at the same time sticking their hand out for some of their money.

        • Oops! I didn’t mean to imply that ALL artists complain about the rich while at the same time wanting their money – just a lot of artists (and musicians, etc.). I know because I hear it often and I used to do it myself.

        • Clint I am releasing anger…anger at myself for wasting too much time living here, and anger at the bullshit reasons people are spouting for why the problem is with me and not just the truth about Asheville.

          I’ve been rich and I’ve been poor … I’ve had shows in Paris and Japan and I’ve sold my art on the streets. I’ve traded my art for food and currently my pieces are selling for $4000-10,000 in other cities. My art is in museums and also can be found under people’s beds and in their basements … all part of the journey. I am not complaining about an artist’s path.

          All I’m saying is Asheville is not a place to make a living selling contemporary art and it’s directed to those artists considering moving here.

          • Georgia O'You're Killin' Me Now says:

            Leo, If you’ve had exhibitions in Paris and Japan, and have sold your work to museums and people all over – than what are you exactly complaining about? Why do you care if people here in Asheville are buying or exhibiting your art? (To quote you: Asheville is not a place to make a living selling contemporary art and it’s directed to those artists considering moving here.”)

            More than likely YOU moved here at some point. Guess what – this is not a contemporary art city. I find it strange that you didn’t realize that when you moved here. But what do you care – why aren’t you happy that you can live in a nice place and sell your art elsewhere? What kind of ego do you have that you feel you must exhibit your $10,000 pieces here or you’re not happy – in your words, you’ve “wasted your time living here?”

            I’m pretty certain some therapy would help you – and I’m not talking about art therapy.

          • Dear Therapist From Georgia,

            So glad we agree .. you said, “Guess what – this is not a contemporary art city. I find it strange that you didn’t realize that when you moved here.”

            Have you read any of these posts????
            That’s the point people and magazines currently promote the opposite…
            For the umpteenth time …. “we are posting to DESTROY THE MYTH that it is contemporary art city”

            Then as you say someone moving here knows what’s up BEFORE they come.

          • Georgia O'You're Killin' Me Now says:

            Dear Leo Castelli (interesting nom d’art for a contemporary artist such as you bill yourself to be),

            Asheville has been billed as an art-town, not a CONTEMPORARY art town. As we all know, there is a difference. I’m pretty certain that anyone in their right mind can see that right away by walking around, even those young artists who you feel need warning and protection. With few exceptions, the opportunities for showing and selling cutting-edge art work is limited. But guess what? It’s limited everywhere. Name a place in the US where it isn’t limited, where ten 20-somethings can move this month and expect to make it big?

            Sincerely, Georgia O’Keefe

          • Georgia Dearest,
            You must just like the feel of the keyboard keys on your petite little hands. Once again you tip toe around the point just to hear yourself pontificate your ridiculous non sequiturs. Read the two NY Times articles on Asheville … you would think this was the Chelsea gallery scene.

  28. Most of these artist are just pissed because they are having trouble selling their art. Most of them were probably having trouble selling their art wherever they came from, and moved to Asheville thinking that this small city will be their savior. I’m not sure what they are expecting with Asheville being the 400th largest city in the United States, and every other artist from every corner of the country moving here.

    I think it is wonderful that new artists are coming here, but most of them think that they should be able to hide in their studio and somehow become an instant success. It takes time, and it takes a lot of effort in the marketing department.

    With Asheville overflowing with artists,and more coming each day, it makes it even harder to stand out and get some recognition.

    If you are an Asheville artist who doesn’t like to promote your work, get someone to represent you who will do the marketing legwork for you. Of course citizens of Asheville aren’t as likely to purchase your art – they are bombarded by a hundred works each day. You have to open the door to the rest of the country, and the rest of the world.

    If you find that local arts organizations are not accepting of you – start your own! There are plenty enough artists who feel the same way you do – mad because people aren’t bowing down at their feet. Put your heads together and accomplish something. Stop crying and ranting about your woes and do something about it.

    Take Jonas Gerard for example. This guy moved to Asheville from Florida and has become something of a rock star in the Asheville arts scene. Is his art really that much better than the next artists? No. But his marketing is in an elite category. When he first arrived in Asheville, he worked his ass off networking and getting his name out there. As things grew, he hired people to promote his art for him.

    As an artist, your name is your brand, and if you want your brand to become a holdhold name, you have to get it out there in front of people. I know. I know… no one will help you. You have to first help yourself. Once people and organizations (groups of people) hear your name a couple dozen times, they will start to take notice and realized that, “hey, maybe there IS something to this artist’s work.”

    Once you get the ball rolling, things will start to happen. Success breeds success. But you have to be the one to get it rolling. People don’t like to help someone else push a big heavy boulder, but they love to help someone push a boulder that is already rolling.

    Let me give you some real good advice: TARGET.
    Most new-artists-on-the-scene try the shotgun approach, spreading their name to a mass adience. Instead, choose one influential person, or organization, or gallery, and make sure they hear or see your name dozens of times over the course of a couple months. Wherever this person(s) is, you be there. Send them something in the mail. Send them an email. Whatever you can do to get your name in front of just this targeted person or group.

    It just takes one ambassador being on your side to help you get the boulder rolling. Then target someone else and do the same thing.

    Always believe in yourself and be passionate about anything and everything you do.

    Now get out there! and stop hiding behind Craigslist.

    • Hahahahahahahahahah…………………
      Gosh why didn’t we think of that – it sounds so easy.
      Thank you for the rare insights trust fund baby teacher.
      “With Asheville overflowing with artists,and more coming each day” That’s the point of this Craigslist
      discussion .. no one’s ‘hiding’ … trust fund baby plleaseee … we’re letting the future ones avoid
      coming here and wasting their hard work and time.

      • Free Market Artist says:

        Wow. Michael Dale just gave you some of the best advice you’ll ever get, and he did it for free, and out of the goodness of his heart. And, what do you do?

        Ridicule him, and judge him.

        Do us all a favor and take your whining, creativity-zapping energy elsewhere already.

        If there is anything wrong with the Asheville arts scene, then I think we found it. Now, if we can only get rid of it.

        Adios, bro. Good luck finding your socialist utopia.

        • ‘Bro’
          I got that advice (Michael’s) 20 years ago in High School art class. He thinks Gerard is making a living here – lol. Maybe he’ll learn from my sarcasm that $19.95 brochure strategy doesn’t work in the real world. I’m supposed to thank him for saying “Always believe in yourself and be passionate about anything and everything you do.Now get out there! and stop hiding behind Craigslist.” when I live art 24/7 the last 23 years. I’m not looking for advice .. once again the point is we need to
          DESTROY THE MYTH.

          • Free Market Artist says:

            Dude, you’re not looking for “advice”. You’re looking for HAND OUTS.

            Stop your complaining and market yourself and your art.

            Or, is the real problem here simply that people don’t find your art worth investing in?

            Hmmmmmmm, we may be on to something here…

          • Wow. A guy who calls everyone “trust fund babies” and “bro.”

            He’s obviously a republican.

      • Elizabeth H. says:

        Man, you have a chip on your shoulder a mile wide… all this energy you spend ranting and fixing myths and being rude to other folks…. imagine if you spent it in forward motion. I suspicion you will leave Asheville, go to another new mecca and repeat the same experience. I would love to see your art but I suspect your angry black heart that came through your art wouldn’t call me to purchase it

    • Thank you for writing that and well said. It’s about time these so called artist in Asheville got their act together. I’ve been an artist for years and very successful at selling my work. It took hard work and rubbing elbows with suits, not acting like some strung out hippie happy to see a rainbow in the sky. For god sake have you seen some of the so called art hanging in these galleries. There is good and there is mostly bad. The bad stuff is half done unframed or unfinished works, the fools won’t even paint around the sides of the canvas. Looks like a high school student did them not a person serious about making a living. Art is a business people whether you like it or not. If you think not then you are just wasting paint.

      • “It took hard work and rubbing elbows with suits… ” You must be an awesome salesman!

        Great art sells itself when there’s real collectors and art lovers around.

        Newbies don’t let Asheville turn you into salesmen.

        • Free Market Artist says:

          “Great art sells itself when there’s real collectors and art lovers around.”

          Wow.

          With such a naive view of business acumen, not to mention an apparent total ignorance of the nation’s / world’s economy, it’s no wonder you’re struggling.

          Sounds to me like you’ll be forever searching for the proverbial greener grass on the other side.

          Good luck, bud. May you at least enjoy the journey.

  29. ART IS A LIVING ORGANISM NOT A CATEGORY

    I’ve lived in cities with art scenes … a group of artists living, working together to create and keep the energy flowing and alive.

    Sorry Asheville’s not like that .. she knows art is a vital element to be considered a ‘cultured’ city so she creates the appearance of a scene with no real life behind it..

  30. Asheville is a small town of retired people, lesbians, underpaid workers, and broke artists – that’s it. They just don’t want to admit it.

  31. Posters here seem to be fairly unrealistic. Asheville is a city of fewer than 100,000 people. There is not a strong economic base outside of tourism, medicine and government. Of course, it is difficult to earn a living here in the arts, especially if one chooses to ignore those “tourists”. Name a city of 80k with a thriving arts community supported by residents.

  32. I don’t see whining. I went and read through them all and I hear people who aren’t being listened to, no matter how hard they try. Saying they’re whiners is easy; it’s hard to go and see what the problem is. I’ve been here a long time and I know many artists in town. They’ve pretty much all the same thing, but if you dare speak out anywhere, you’re labeled a ‘whiner’ and told to shut up and take it. If you don’t listen and seek out the root of the problem, then you’re part of it.

  33. Earlier this year I attended a great multi-week workshop in Charlotte for “The Artist as Entreprenuer”. I was the longest-distance attendee for sure. I think most everyone wondered why I came all the way from Asheville to attend every week, given Asheville’s reputation as an arts center. I left the workshop thinking, I wish we had this kind of organization in Asheville. We could learn a lot from The Arts and Science Council (ASC) of Charlotte.

    • For sure, the Arts & Science Council is a great organization. I follow their mailing list for ideas & to see what they are up to – truly they are one of the best arts organizations in not only the state but I would argue the entire South-East. The crux is that CLT has a ton more business so there is a lot more money flying around. AVL not so much.

      • Also, just a follow-up on my previous comment, the ASC employs a large staff of highly professional arts administrators which in turn helps them run their organization with quality standards, best practices and in an efficient business manner. They also have a huge board full of well-to-do investors.

        Asheville has very few organizations that employ people with an actual professionally trained arts admin background. Grass-roots methods are great for some missions, but can also be a detriment if people keep re-inventing the wheel each time someone has a great idea and don’t have the know-ho on how to effectively survive the bumps in the road.

        I agree with the original post in that people on boards in AVL often don’t get what the commitment should mean in so far as their investment either in significant volunteer time or in monetary donations. It also means showing up to meetings and being pro-active on behalf of that organization. Not to mention the people that are good board members are often spread thin by having to sit on multiple boards.

  34. Reports are that Jonas Gerard wrote the Craigslist post to weed out all the whiny babies…

    • Easy for you to say Harry – where’s your market?
      What do you do to support yourself?

      I guarantee you his money doesn’t come from here. He’s a nice guy but let’s get real, talk to his manager. Having owned a gallery and several businesses myself, unlike you, I actually know what it costs to support this type of enterprise and the Asheville market and tourists spending $100 or less won’t do it.

  35. Cry me a river. No wait, paint me one. But I won’t be able to afford it because I actually live here. Not that your work isn’t worth the money (but maybe it is not). It’s that the money simply is not in this town. And yes, most of the “art” looks the same. Everyone has been lied to. AND IT WORKED! I guess somebody forgot to tell artists that people that actually like your work have to be able to see it for it to sell. It’s not like some older tourist from Florida cares about your mixed media whatever. Find a different outlet to sell your work or just stop complaining and hand me my latte.

    • ” But I won’t be able to afford it because I actually live here. ” then why haven’t you moved Einstein?
      Take your own advice we’re just warning the newbies before they waste their time .. this city is what it is.

      • I guess I gave the wrong impression. My point was that job/economic options in this town are so sparse that I wouldn’t be able to buy my own work. I think most of us that live here are in that position. I have no need or desire to move because I long ago decided that this is where I call home. So I deal with it and make do. I actually gave up a well paying trade job in Baltimore to move back to a place I actually enjoyed living in. And I did it with the understanding that I would end up with a less lucrative job. This town eats people up if they can’t handle it. We all know this already and had to learn it the hard way, by moving here and succeeding or failing. Just like all the “newbies”.

  36. Carringtons Rant says:

    Ive never been to a town filled with so many “artists” and their $100 souvenirs. A joke really. I’ve seen nicer pottery at pier one! And, my cat makes killer paw print paintings to rival the best the RAD has to offer.

    A bunch of trust fund babies with low self esteem still glomming of mommy and daddy’s words of encouragement. “what a talented little artist we have here”….Look closely and you’ll notice that the artist you just supported is the same person serving you local grass fed beef for dinner that tastes like dirt.

    • wow haha someone’s bitter!

    • When I decided to move here, I had been told for several years that it was the place to be for artists, that it was a welcoming, open-minded town that lived for the Arts. In the years since I’ve been here, watching and listening, it has been obvious that it isn’t what it’s advertised to be. That’s not a crime, but I knew several great artists who had great sales everywhere else – that came to a halt here. They were glad to leave and go back to the real world after being told ‘they weren’t trying hard enough’, which is utter horseshit. Yes, it’s a small town, and yes, there’s a lot of artists here. But unless your studio is right by The Wedge/Clingman Cafe, you won’t make any difference. I’ve been there during the Strolls, when there’s been thousands of people in that area, and nobody – nobody – at any of the surrounding studios. Several years ago, I had a studio that was supposedly in the RADA zone, our buildings were even on the map, but we never ever had more than a hundred people come to our building during the stroll on any given day. We lined our street from beginning to end with “More RAD artists this way” (with arrows) while the thousands were up at the ‘popular’ area. We always gave directions to tourists to get to The Wedge, but I sincerely doubt any of the studios up there gave us a second thought, or sent anyone our way. I remember saying at one of the RADA meetings that we were the ‘red-headed step-children’ of the Arts District, ignored unless we finally screamed out of frustration. I closed my studio and moved out for personal reasons, but even if I had been physically able to keep on doing what I did, I wouldn’t do it here in this town. After reading all the posts on CL (thanks Ashvegas for finding it!) I just have to agree with the people who are upset, because I’ve lived in the midst of it and it’s not just whining.

      • I’m one of those thousands of tourists on the RAD stroll..I can only give you my experience as to why there were more people in the popular area: Myself, my partner, and my teenage daughter of 14 decided to all do the stroll together. I was anticipating a short stroll as that day in June 2013 was 80 plus and humid! We got our brochures and parked at the Wedge building and started up near the White Duck Taco area with the good intention to hit every gallery and work our way down the street. We decided also to watch Jonas Gerard do a live painting inside-this gave us a refresher time to sit and cool off. We made it down farther than I thought! There were so many little studios within the studios that we soon became exhausted. It wasn’t that we didn’t want to visit all of them. We felt we needed to come back another day to pick up where we left off! Due to the nature of our trip this was not possible. I did buy a few souvenir art items..I would have loved to have spent hundreds on the many beautiful paintings and other pieces we saw but our vacation budget was strictly limited.

  37. I’m working on a rebuttal filled with info & insights, but it’s gonna take me at least a day to get it up. Gotta make sure I got all my facts straight.

    • I was looking forward to Ms. Bowen’s rebuttal, as she is very knowledgeable about the arts in Asheville. Is that going to appear?

  38. Ronald Kuykendall says:

    Face it, this is a small town in a state where natives resent the incomers. Face it, this is a town that depends on tourists. Face it, the museum is a joke as are most of the other cultural institutions. They are created as part of the tourist trade. There are a few bright spots with limitations, symphony, chamber orchestra, etc. If you are an artist do what artist’s almost always do. Create, don’t worry about sales, showing or recognition. Make your living outside art (not easy in Asheville) the way artists usually do, or move somewhere else.

  39. 1. Charlotte has a wonderful performance art venue, the Blumenthal Center, and

    2. I see concerts there all the time.

    When you have to stand in a mile-long line just to pee at TW Auditorium, yeah, there’s a problem. I don’t consider this whining.

    • Yes, Thomas Wolfe is in bad condition. But this isn’t Charlotte. How much do you want your property or sales taxes to go up to pay for a new facility?

      One of the reasons the city hasn’t done anything about Thomas Wolfe in recent years (like they have the arena portion of the civic center) is that a private group continues to work on funding a completely new facility. But that’s tough sledding in a relatively small city with little corporate support.

      Besides, this is mostly tangential to the original topic.

      • Asheville property taxes, cost of living, and property value are all overwhelmingly more expensive that Charlotte’s. I just moved to Charlotte and can’t believe how much art and local music there is, and how cheap the homes are. The drawbacks are: less beer (it’s getting better) and a lot more yuppies. It’s worth it. Love Asheville, but it’s definitely trying to be a lot of things that it just isn’t. It’s a small town masquerading as a vibrant art community. In reality, it’s just great PR from the city.

  40. Two questions for the assembled masses:

    1. What are some arts destinations that live up to their reputation?
    2. Why haven’t you moved there?

    The point is not to say, if you dislike it so much, why don’t you move? (Although that’s a reasonable question–if you’re going to choose to pursue a career in the arts, shouldn’t you go somewhere where you can make a living?)

    No, the question is, what are reasonable expectations for a city of Asheville’s size?

    And what would you do besides whine to make it better?

    • We are moving – like all the ones before us – just stating the obvious to maybe save newbie artists moving here because of the myth from wasting a few years of their life.

      • I don’t think a real artist would ever consider that they were “wasting a few years of their life.”

        A real artist knows that the journey is more important than the destination. Knowing this, one can never waste a few years of their lives because of the lessons learned. And a real artist puts these lessons learned into their art. Now you can sell a bunch of “I hate Asheville” t-shirts and stickers and make a fortune. But you better send me a cut of the profits.

    • Yes but where are you moving?

  41. Just happy to see people debating about the arts in our community. Bravo. Good it be better? Always. But are there communities that envy what we have? Absolutely. What is at stake is that some within the community power structure take what we have for granted, and as soon as you do that, you risk losing it. Let us all embrace what we have – make it better for all – and be grateful that we live here.

  42. This sounds a lot like the Westboro Baptist Church of art/craft makers and haters. By the sound of things I wouldn’t want any of you to be my studio mates , nor would I want to buy anything from you if this is the vibe you are putting off. Please come to the RAD, buy/rent a building make whatever you want. It is not up to the community or visitors of the city to support you. Art/craft is a business and it shouldn’t be thought of as a “make it and they will come” career. It is your job to market yourself and get the customers in your door, whether it be a brick and mortar or virtual. There are a lot of fish in this pond here in Asheville and I know MANY people making a good living off of what they make and it was done in and around this community of artists with hard work and dedication, along with marketing, salesmanship and networking.
    It has been my experience that most of people who are complaining aren’t people trying to change their surroundings just complain about them. Maybe it’s your work? just sayin’……..and craft is not a bad word or a compromise. Different mediums speak to different artisans. This area is rich in its history of craft and we should treasure that aspect and hold it in the same regard as “fine art”. BTW, Most of the craft I sold at the studio stroll was over $100/piece, and it didn’t include souvenirs or have puppies on it.
    It’s always someone else’s fault, right?

  43. I don’t know anything about the art part (paintings, sculptures etc), but I do know firsthand that the civic center sucks. It’s beyond repair, and absolutely nothing can be done about the non-existent acoustics in the TW Auditorium. Backstage and the dressing room area are a travesty. Forget about the bathrooms, or lack of. We could get so many more big-name acts if we could finally build the Performing Arts Center. I saw Itzhak Perlman back in the 80’s (I was in the Strings in the Schools program so I know the backstage area well), and I saw Joshua Bell last year. I was shocked that he even came here to such a horrid venue. Yo Yo Ma came to Brevard a couple years back but that’s as close as he’s gotten I believe.

    • As a young person who couldn’t find work and moved to Charlotte (which has a bustling art scene and tons of talent), I think this has to be one of the most accurate portrayals of the city I’ve read so far. If you can’t keep the young folks, you end up with a retirement community. I’m convinced that in a decade Asheville is going to be a giant retirement home.

  44. hauntedheadnc says:

    The biggest problem with Asheville’s art scene — and everything else — is that we’re too concerned with saving the world to save ourselves. When it comes to art, the most glaring example I can recall is how our own city councilman Cecil Bothwell spoke out against a new performing arts center because, what with peak oil and all, there would soon no longer be any traveling Broadway shows to fill it. Thus, we’re stuck with that boil on the ass of downtown, the US Cellular Center, which occasionally sheds pieces of its own roof onto the stage during concerts, and which has the acoustics of a public restroom.

    And it happens again and again and again. We’re much to busy fretting about the world situation to ever step up and really fix things here at home. Nothing can ever expand or improve or change either because the NIMBY’s won’t stand for it, or we’re too involved in cosmic navel-gazing to admit something is wrong and it needs fixing. This drive to keep everything just as it is isn’t preserving the city so much as it is embalming it and because of that, we’re losing God alone knows how much talent and capital to other places when artists can’t hack it and young people can’t find jobs.

    What we need to do to fix it is embark on some aggressive growth, attracting employers and residents and customers, all while directing all that new growth with our trademark environmental sensitivity. There’s no reason we can’t have the superior cultural facilities of Greenville while disallowing their rapacious sprawl. But you try telling that to one of Asheville’s gem-quality NIMBY’s.

  45. The whole situation, the complainers, and the complaints themselves, have all come together as one beautifully ironic work of art.

    • Unfortunately like our art most here won’t buy it.
      They’s rather believe the myth to feel ‘cultured’.
      Fake culture = fake artists.

  46. Adam (not scared) Caddick says:

    So, I have joined the conversation on FB in regards to this subject with a bit of a nasty rant. I will tone it down here. As I see it, in ALL communities, there is a percentage of the population who want to cry about it. That is great in terms of starting the conversation but not very effective fr ending it i.e., changing things. If there is a glass ceiling here in Asheville it is GLASS a nd therefore subject to destruction. If they want to hide behind it, protecting their own interests by fearfully denying access to their resources to any perceived outsiders, then let them. Get together, start a real comunity movement. They started that way. Things don’t happen unless you make them happen. That is not a stale old truism it’s a fact of life. I agree the art scene here is a bit of a joke. Strolling through the River Arts District is about as entertaining as the old builtmore mall. There is a sense of desolation and towny-ism down there but they are all struggling too. The way i see it is it is too small here in size and mind and it boils down to some sort of “lord of the Flies” mentality. I think that is bull. This town already has a reputation as an “arts destination” which, looking around, I don’t get but whatever. So it seems to me that the real community of artists could capitalize on. We need to band together and create (you know, what we DO naturally) a new paradigm. It is the only way anything has ever changed in the history of humanity. We are selfish ,greedy,scared little children by nature. We are responsible for changing ourselves into open, honest,personally responsible adults of the world. I am not happy to sit around crying about the problems having no greater goal in mind than to keep my own petty anger going. There are enough people in this town fed up with the exploitation and waiting to rally behind someone or something with the right vision. We run this. Stop putting your stuff in spots that take a huge, unjustifiable cut. There are spots around town that are true supporters of the arts. If we got together we could pressure these others to offer a better deal. They exploit us because they can. We are a derelict community with no spine. everyone huddled up snarling at their perceived oppressors. Seriously? Put up or Shut up.
    I am down to get in on something. In fact 2 of my friends and I are developing something right now to start to address the closed door, every-man-for-himself thing happening in this town. But it won’t fly if we don’t make it fly. You will see us around soon. Jump in. Let’s build a true community that looks out for all of it’s members not just the ones that don’t pose a threat. Quit licking your wounds and start bleeding in some faces.

    • David Wendelken says:

      “They exploit us because they can. We are a derelict community with no spine. everyone huddled up snarling at their perceived oppressors.”

      Well, at least you can console yourself that you’re just like the rest of Americans nowadays.

      “Seriously? Put up or Shut up.”

      Music to my ears. Advice that’s not given out enough.

      Add these to the list of what’s ailing people:

      ‘Buck up and deal with it.’

      ‘Whining never fixed anything, only Hard, Thoughtful Work does that.’

      Best of luck in turning things around. Three phrases of advice while you figure out your plan of action:

      1) Be welcoming and friendly.
      2) Be fun to be around.
      3) Be profitable.

      • Thank you Mitt Romney.

        You can work your ass off to the bone but if there’s no market for your product guess what … it doesn’t work.

        Smiling, be friendly .. should have thought of that one .. jeeezzz what are you 12?

    • Adam my son I was like you years ago … I ignored the advice of a wise sage in the River District that told me ‘there’s no scene here – stay away’. I came anyway, thinking like many here,he was just a bitter a-hole and bad artist. The only thing resembling a scene here was when John Payne was alive and running The Wedge .. now that’s even a hoax. I’m not against people and Asheville is entitled to be what it wants and is, but there’s the myth of a contemporary art market and scene here and that myth needs to be destroyed to save artists moving here their precious time.

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