The New York Times reported earlier this year that an average of one gallery closes in New York City every week. In the same article the Times profiled out-of-gallery artists who are hanging their work in clothing boutiques and (gasp) cafes—as if this is some kind of new phenomenon due to the recession. In Asheville (and in NYC for that matter) this has always been happening, and in fact some of the more interesting art is to be seen on the walls of noncommercial gallery spaces.

Photo by Jonathan Welch

For an example of this, check out the frenetic prints and drawings of Jonas Fricke currently on display at Izzy’s Coffee Den (Lexington Ave. location). On a sign that announces the show’s title, You are More, Fricke has written a manifesto to the importance of offering sliding scale rates to interested buyers. “We all deserve artwork. No guilt. Creativity can save your life.” Fricke’s artwork covers every empty space in the café, and given the visual noise it is easy to overlook the details of each piece. Mostly executed on paper, they hang modestly by clips and pins. The prints and drawings reference a punk aesthetic—think zines and comic books—and mischievously convey an inspired critique of the dominant world paradigm. “Awesomology” is scrawled out more than once, and another piece declares, “If you believe in magic, it believes in you.”

Comprised primarily of paint pens, colored pencils, ballpoint pens, Sharpies, spray paint and crayons, the work is fresh and sophisticated in a Jean-Michel Basquiat sort of way. In “Home as Living Entity” a house extends its many arms and reaches into its cozy homey innards. “We Are Both of Them” shows two stylized human forms in an embrace, arms reaching into ribcages, faces turned away, but still intimate. It’s as if the artist didn’t have time to make sketches or figure out the best use of color, so the splendor lies in the immediacy of each piece.

For another example of novel art in a nongallery venue, visit Rags Reborn on Walnut Street for the work of fiber artist Jen Swearington. Her wall hangings incorporate her original drawings with quilting techniques and evoke a sense of nostalgic storybook fantasy. A fox leaps over a spinning Ferris wheel in “Rock-A-Bye.” Grain silos appear to commune with each other in “Indiana,” and a masked woman sits alone with her trick-or-treat pumpkin basket in “Wallflower.” The subtle narratives and capricious imagery of Swearington’s fiber work compliment the little clothing boutique nicely.

Be sure to peak into the windows of Krug Creative (next to BookWorks) the next time you are walking down Haywood Road in West Asheville, to catch a glimpse of Nava Lubelski’s stained and stitched mixed media “paintings.” Don’t be shy; if the business is open, go inside and study the works at close range. Based on themes of spoilage and repair, from a distance Lubelski’s pieces are often mistaken for abstract paintings. Up close, the thousands of stitches that comprise each piece become apparent. What took only moments to “destroy” with stains and holes has taken hours of careful stitching to repair, and each vital stitch contributes to the overall greatness of the work.

Lubelski frequently exhibits outside of Asheville—in January her solo show at LMAK Projects in NYC received a write-up in the Times, and more recently she has hung work in Sweden and Berlin. Hopefully Asheville will get to see more from this invaluable artist.


About Webmaster
Mountain Xpress Webmaster Follow me @MXWebTeam

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

5 thoughts on “Ursula

  1. AshevilleObserver

    A nice report on art and artists in spaces we might not think to check.
    The writer seems to imply that technique is not necessary for an artist: “It’s as if the artist didn’t have time to make sketches or figure out the best use of color, so the splendor lies in the immediacy of each piece.” Would she say of a musician, “It’s as it the piano player did not have time to practice or figure out the best use of notes, so the splendor lies in the immediacy of the playing.”
    Note to multi-media editor: Enable the little images to zoom to a larger size. Include a slide show of images from all the artists mentioned.

  2. Ursula

    Thank you for your comments, Asheville Observer. If you get a chance to look at Jonas Fricke’s work closely you will see that clearly the artist possesses technical skills and probably keeps hundreds of sketchbooks. Due to his drawing and design abilities he is able to freshly render each original piece of art. I am referring only the pieces I see hanging on the wall.
    But I would also argue that one does not need to possess masterful technical skills to produce successful works of art. Maureen Tucker (drummer for the Velvet Underground,) Henry Darger, Yoko Ono, and Howard Finster are just a few examples that spring to mind.

  3. Jola

    Our salon is looking for local artwork to display. If you have any contact info on artists could you pass along our email to them? We would greatly appreciate it.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.