Thousands of art enthusiasts will descend on Asheville this weekend to peruse paintings, pots and mugs, drawings, clothing and sculptures offered by the array of artists, galleries and businesses in the River Arts District. This June’s walk marks the 17th year for the biannual Studio Stroll, which claims the distinction of “first, largest and most walkable” studio tour in the region. More than 165 artists scattered throughout 19 buildings in the district will be participating Saturday, June 9 and Sunday, June 10.
“Each year the event has been growing exponentially bigger,” says Wendy Whitson, president of the River Arts District Artists, which spearheads the stroll. The growth is easy to see if you’ve been attending throughout the years.
Studio tours may be the easiest means of getting people into artists’ spaces. Here, artists can speak directly about their work, meeting — and better informing — potential clients. Many will reap the financial benefits of the two-day event, particularly the more portable works by ceramists. For a few artists, these interactions can serve as the start to longer-lasting relationships with collectors. More reluctant artists will keep their doors closed, opting to take the day off.
In-studio demonstrations are among the most popular activities to occupy the eight-hour days. While spectators get a good show, they also double as a kind of half-workday for the artists. Others just hang out, talking with whomever shows up. Much depends on the size of the studio. “They may not have the space for demonstrations if they’ve got a line of people coming through the door,” Whitson says. “But what a great problem to have.”
The River Arts District Artists’ Studio Stroll is this Saturday and Sunday, June 9 and 10 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Information packets and brochures will be available at a booth set up at the five-points intersection near Clingman Café. http://www.riverartsdistrict.com
Up on the walls, and on a couch
Check out a few noteworthy gallery exhibitions and one after-hours performance called “B Naked After 6.”
In the depths of the Phil Mechanic Studios (109 Roberts St.), down in the Flood Gallery are an array of masked WNC and Asheville-area residents. Well, photographs of them. The work is that of Rimas Zailskas, publisher of Bold Life, Verve and Carolina Home and Garden magazines. Each of the 30 or so photographs was taken using a pinhole camera, adding to the shadiness of their shadowy black and white nature.
At Pink Dog Creative (348 Depot St.), just a few blocks down from the five-points intersection, hangs a body of work by Asheville photographer Ralph Burns. Somewhere Beyond the Constellation Norma consists of pieces from several different series Burns has been working on during the past few years. Black-and-white images of Afro-Caribbean religious ceremonies share the walls with pictures of similarly religious worshipers of Elvis. This show marks the end of a long dry spell for Burns. It’s his first solo show since 2005 and his first Asheville solo show since 1994.
Next door at The Artery you’ll find the sculptural works of Susannah Zucker. The figurative ceramist and Asheville-area resident has 25 years of experience studying dance and the human form. Zucker’s aim is to interpret the human experience by illustrating emotions with slightly scaled-down ceramic human figures. She combines human bodies with animal parts or mechanical attachments that echo our bodily functions and physical responses. In a few works, skeletal fragments appear outside the body, but in conjunction with a figure’s pose.
After making your way down Lyman Street and through the Riverview Station studios, head out back to building No. 6. Valeria Watson-Doost’s Goddess Stuff is a self-described mesh of in-your-face artistic protests against rape and violence with cues toward our personal healing and social remedy. Doost’s vibrant, colorful collage works combine images of societal norms, consumer goods and erotica. After the day’s festivities have concluded, she’ll play host to “B Naked After 6,” described as “just adults being naked together.” No alcohol or illegal substances. There will be a kissing couch, a lasso rope contest and Butoh dance performances by the artist and her cohort, Julie Becton Gillum.