Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

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Hey Asheville, artist Gabriel Shaffer wants to rock your balls off.

Hold on. Let me rephrase that. Gabriel Shaffer wants to rock balls off anyone who stops by Hey Asheville, a pop-up show Shaffer’s curating at Horse + Hero gallery in downtown Asheville. A 6 p.m. Friday reception at Horse + Hero on Patton Avenue will celebrate the show’s opening. It’s only up for one week, so get out to see it.

Shaffer’s never been shy about talking about his art and his intentions. When he was in Asheville, the folk artist gained wide notice for mixed media work. He openly talked about the mountain town’s role as muse, and made no bones about wanting to push the Asheville art scene forward to wider acclaim.

Shaffer’s nothing if not ambitious. Driven. So when opportunity came calling a couple of years ago to move to New Orleans and sling art at Red Truck Gallery, a renown gallery he’d been associated with since about 2006, he took it.

It wasn’t a snap decision, but it wasn’t planned, either. It also didn’t hurt that Shaffer was pretty much broke at the time. That’s the way Shaffer rolls.

The self-described “art nerd” is also damn good at selling art. He’s been thriving at Red Truck, a unique gallery in that it’s located in the French Quarter, where it feeds off the massive amount of humanity constant flowing by on foot. It turns out that all those Big Crafty and jam-and-jelly shows Shaffer did for years in Asheville were good training.

Red Truck represents artists in a variety of sub-genres, Shaffer says, from contemporary folk and outsider-influenced work to pop surrealism and new contemporary. And he’s more than excited to bring those artists and their work to Asheville.

“You would never see this shit in Asheville,” Shaffer says.

He offers a few examples. Jason Borders is a mixed-media sculpture artist who creates work “that feels like an artifact from an Indiana Jones movie,” Shaffer says.

Mark Rodgers “is one of the freshest artist on the scene and one of my favorite painters,” Shaffer says, describing scenes of aliens interacting with early American settlers in bizarre situations. “This is an opportunity to see him before he really blows up,” Shaffer adds.

And having Mike Shine as part of the show “is like saying Obi-Wan Kenobi is coming to your town,” Shaffer says.

That’s all good. So how does Shaffer feel about coming back to Asheville, a place that was so important to him for so long?


“I love Asheville, but it kinda feels like coming to see an ex-girlfriend. I wasn’t ready before, but I think I am now,” he says. “I’ve been having some flashback episodes about her.”

And what’s Shaffer have to say to anyone interested in the pop-up show?

“Come by, bring me tequila and let’s make out.”

The Red Truck pop-up show Hey Asheville will be up at Horse + Hero on Patton Avenue through Oct. 9. An artist reception will be held from 6-9 p.m. on Friday. The show includes artists Mike Shine, Bryan Cunningham, Bunny Cunningham, Molly McGuire, John Whipple, VHS Girl, Steve Moseley, Ida Floreak, Chris Roberts-Antieau, Jason Borders, Mike Egan, Justin Hager, Butch Anthony, Mark Rogers and Gabriel Shaffer. Contact us for details [email protected] (504)522-3630.


Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

  • 1

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