State of the Arts

Art to skate on: Asheville ceramicist and skateboarder Alex Irvine is working to help build a new skate ramp. Photo by Kyle Sherard

The Media Arts Project is now accepting submissions for their Community Arts Grants. The grants will award up to $1,200 to two projects designed by WNC artists or groups of artists. Each of the works will premier at next year’s HAPPENING, an annual arts event and fundraiser produced by Black Mountain College Museum and Arts Center and MAP.

“The grant is open to WNC artists working in performance, multimedia, sculpture, installation, new media, interaction, sound, photo/video, film and web art,” according to a MAP press release. MAP is an Asheville-based arts organization with a focus on supporting digital and new-media art. As such, the granting process shows a preference to artists using digital media.

Last year, MAP used the money raised to seed a variety of fundraising campaigns for artists participating in the ReHAPPENING, through the online platform Those campaigns helped raise money for nearly 20 group and individual projects for this year’s event, held in April. They’ll continue to incorporate Indiegogo campaigns for individual project fundraising, according to board member Sara Baird. But the focus will stick to instruction and campaign organization and funding returns to the Community Arts Grants.

Applications for the Community Arts Grants went public July 1 on MAP’s website. The deadline for submission is Aug. 15 This year’s grant cycle will be juried by Curt Cloninger, assistant professor of new media at UNCA, and Nancy Sokolove, who formerly headed the Asheville Art Museum’s New Media Gallery. For more information visit

LAAFF changes names, again

In April the Lexington Avenue Arts and Fun Festival officially became the Love Asheville Arts and Fun Festival. The festival’s organizational body, known as the Directorate, changed the name to reflect the shift from an event focussed on Lexington Avenue business and culture to one with a wider view on Asheville and WNC.

Now it’s going to be called LAAFF Asheville. That’s to say, L.A.A.F.F. is now LAAFF — a proper title, no longer an acronym.

“With renewed focus on a localized event (focusing on WNC entrepreneurs and artists), this year's festival promises to be stronger and more in tune with our community than ever before,” says Tiffany Narron, LAAFF Asheville’s media coordinator. “Therefore, we are dropping the long form name of the event, 'Lexington Avenue Arts & Fun Festival' and simply going with the acronym to dub it LAAFF Asheville.”

Throw some bones and then take some home

A new show at Push Gallery by Asheville ceramicist and skateboarder Alex Irvine is part art exhibition, part installation and all fundraiser. Throw Me A Bone, up through July 20, features screen prints, dozens of ceramic tiles and femur bones, a life-size gorilla (suit) and the skeletal beginnings of a larger, collaborative work in progress — the foundation of a new skate ramp. 

That soon-to-be ramp is the centerpiece to a show bound by a bone and gorilla theme that reads like a debauched scene from 2001: A Space Odyssey. Instead of a monolith, the elliptical web of steel piping and rebar is sprawled across the floor. All that’s left to do is install it at a site tucked behind several studios in the River Arts District and fill it with concrete.

Beneath this ramp-turned-cage is a Kubrickian gorilla. It’s laid out and surrounded by shards and shattered fragments of Irvine’s ceramic bones. On the gallery’s right-hand wall you can see Irvine’s take on the a would-be fundraiser thermometer — the type that gets filled in with red. Instead, there’s an outline of a bone-wielding, skateboarding gorilla perched atop a ramp. It’s complete with dollar increments and details of the project.

Proceeds from their sale of Irvine’s work will go toward the costs of installing the ramp, pouring concrete and a much-needed site clean-up.

Irvine, the Push Skate Shop crew and any number of area skateboarders have been skating at the RAD outpost, aptly and temporarily called “The Foundation Spot,” for a little more than two years. It’s a working title, though. “A lot of DIY skate spots pop up on old foundations,” Irvine tells Xpress. “They’re all just waiting for the right name to take hold.”

Irvine says the new ramp will be the first professional-grade piece to land on the spot, which is scattered by makeshift wood ramps and few rails and concrete pours.

“Way before people were skating back there other people were dumping their trash,” Irvine says. The landowner put in steel cable to keep people from driving in to dump waste, according to Irvine. But the problems persisted. A heavy cleaning will require a dumpster and disposal services, which Irvine has built into the fundraising budget.

All of the artwork is priced on a sliding scale that goes as low as $5. You can also acquire space on the ramp itself. Irvine’s making small tiles to line the edge. Each piece can have names or small drawing, or whatever can be crammed onto the pieces. For more information, check out the show at Push Gallery, located at 25 Patton Ave.

About Kyle Sherard
Book lover, arts reporter, passerby…..

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