State of the arts: Setting the bar with the basics

Drawing is often just a stage of the artistic process. But as a well-done end in and of itself, it often has arresting power. The dark, near-black tones rendered by a heavy hand, balanced with delicate, feather-like highlights offer a simple purity. Asheville doesn’t get a lot of this.

Several drawings by Asheville artist Tamie Beldue dot the walls of an ethereal take on Blue Spiral 1’s Summer Salon exhibition. (The show, which also features Stoney Lamar, Charles Ladson, Hannah Skoonberg and Andrew Hayes, has a dreamlike essence conveyed through the artists’ purposefully ambiguous subjects and styles.)

Beldue’s realistic portraits are each sealed beneath encaustic. While that extra layer protects the drawing, it also creates a delicate veil that brings her figures to life. Each seems to have a modern touch, often in the form of clothing patterns and furniture. In “Study of a Feather,” it’s the model’s dreadlocks.

Beldue, who works from live models, focusses on capturing body language, still with visual ambiguity. If a model moves, even flinches, she seems to have captured it. Maybe it’s as a blur, or loosely rendered hand.

Despite the living, breathing qualities in each of her works, there’s one that defies the technique. “Portrait of a Rooster” has a female figure laid out on a floor. She’s motionless. Her legs are unseen, but the twist in her hips and fold in her palm-up left arm propose a problem. The stillness leaves you wondering if you’ve witnessed a death.

New work from Hoss Haley

The New Topographics photographers monumentalized the tens-of-thousands of acres of post-war suburbia that developed in Levittown, N.Y., descended south and spread west — each marked with a tombstone-like ranch house and two-car garage. Land artists like Robert Smithson and the recently deceased Walter De Maria took to developing, literally, tons of earth to make artwork while artists like Andy Goldsworthy cultivated what was left into serene constructions and calendar-worthy pictures.

But just when you think that artistic social commentary on land and resource abuse is on its way out, an artist will pop up with new, evocative work. In this case, it’s Asheville sculptor and painter Hoss Haley. Two new works on view in Blue Spiral 1‘s New Works Exhibition take a less-than-flattering snapshot of domestic life.

In “Subdivision” he depicts a gridded sea of Monopoly-style cookie-cutter homes on a 4-foot-wide piece of painted steel. The identical, repetitious roof-topped rectangles extend into the horizon where they blur into a linear mass — seemingly without end.

The work resembles a mock-up or architectural drawing, one that suggests impending construction. Above the flattened terrain is a rusted halo, though there’s nothing angelic about it. Rather, it’s ominous and slightly warped. It’s reminiscent of Malvina Reynolds’ 1962 hit “Little Boxes,” poisoned with a view of Don Delillo’s fictional, fear-mongering “Airborne Toxic Event” depicted in his novel, White Noise.

Another of Haley’s works sits on a small pedestal in front of the steely painting. “Red and White Wad” is from a larger series of sculptures that Haley’s been developing over the last year. Each piece is a 2-foot-wide ball of metal, folded and crumpled to resemble balled up paper. Put another way, trash. Our trash. His initial works were made from the sides of washing machines. Now, he’s including pieces of metal paneling from cars.

It’s the final touch that adds a slight tongue-in-cheek humor to “Subdivision.” Cookie-cutter homes are no beacon for quality. It’s that same poor quality that lends to the constant cycle of household replacements.

Postcards from Peru

On Aug. 24, Blue Spiral 1 will host a book launch and artist/author’s talk for area illustrator and painter Robert Johnson and poet Thomas Rain Crowe. The two will be debuting their new, collaborative book entitled Postcards From Peru. The event begins at 2 p.m. with talks by Johnson and Crowe.  They’ll each speak about their work, artistic process, trips to Peru and the collaborative efforts that resulted in creating the book. A signing will follow the talks.

Postcards From Peru features a collection of Crowe’s letters, postcard excerpts and poems sent to friends and other artists while on a trip to Peru in 2007. Crowe’s literature is accompanied by sketches and drawings culled from a separate and equally as influential journey to Peru that Johnson took in 2011. The project received funding by the N.C. Arts Council, via a Regional Artist Project Grant awarded through the Haywood County Arts Council. The bilingual edition was published by Sol Negro Edicoes, a Brazilian-based publisher. Johnson and Crowe’s talks will be accompanied by an exhibition of Johnson’s works.

For more information on Blue Spiral 1’s summer’s exhibitions and Postcards From Peru, visit

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2 thoughts on “State of the arts: Setting the bar with the basics

  1. Arts Lover

    The delicate coloring in the illustration of Beldue’s work suggests she is is using more than pencil, unless she’s drawing with colored pencils.

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