Collecting art on a budget

The holiday season is an interesting one for art galleries. Many of the commercial spaces in the area see it as a last chance to make enough cash to get them through the winter, when there are few visitors and fewer buyers. This can lead to an exhibition of a conglomeration of items that are not shown during the rest of the year. Sometimes it smacks of desperation.

“Homage,” a fiber-arts work by Luke Haynes

Nonprofit spaces have the same money problems as the commercial galleries; it’s just that the problems are not seasonal, but year-round. The not-for-profit Flood Gallery has taken a direct approach to this conundrum. Its current exhibition, Collecting Contemporary: Even With a Small Budget, is billed as a holiday show and fundraiser, and most of the artists in the show have had exhibitions at either Flood or Pump, the upstairs gallery. Other contributing artists have studio space at the building. The art is all priced from $20 to $500, and the gallery is taking 30 percent of sales, rather than their usual 20 percent.

The works in the show are varied, but all are serious examples of the artists’ genres.

For instance, Lisa Ringlespaugh-Irvine’s mixed-media pieces are photography-based and feature local downtown scenes in day-glo colors accented with bits of bright, shiny holographic papers. The works have a celebratory air. In the work, “In her Party at Page and Battery!,” young people cluster around the corner, sitting at a sidewalk table, sprawling on a bench and perching on the curb.

Julie Covington shows a beautifully functional tea pitcher with matching cups, and there are a few works in glass by Logan MacSporran. There is a necklace with matching earrings by Jamie Addis. Handmade clothing, some made from men’s ties from the ‘70s, is represented by Stina Anderson, Morgan Purdy and R. Brooke Priddy. Priddy’s “Her Fingertips Dripped in Gardens” is a remarkable pair of elbow-length gloves in a white fabric patterned with lush red roses.

Frank Jones has created eight pieces of furniture for the exhibition, including a storage chest, a CD rack, a basket table and foyer table. His most interesting pieces are a bench and an accent table made from rough-sawn aged wood.

Nighttime photographs by Max Cooper make not-so-subtle political statements. There is a double image frame holding one photo of flags and another depicting a lighted cross behind a cluster of gravestones. His “II Chronicles” shows the lights of a quiet highway illuminating the back of a parked tractor-trailer labeled Ralph Sexton Ministries. In “The District,” car lights pass by a smokestack on Riverside Drive at twilight, and the background is filled with the lights from the Smoky Park Bridge and Westgate Shopping Center.

Lisa Ringlespaugh-Irvine’s photography-based mixed-media piece “After five.”

There are four intriguing pieces by Nava Lubelski. They are all quite small and all begin with stained canvas augmented with embroidery. Three are abstract and have an air of mystery, but the fourth is figurative. It shows two figures on a TV screen. The woman’s face is embroidered. The work is titled “X-Files.”

Luke Haynes ignores the idea of quilting as “women’s work.” His “Domesticity No. 3” is a fiber work picturing an oversized kitchen spatula. The piece is quilted in 6-inch squares and finished with a black border. Haynes has even more fun with “Homage.” This piece features an oversized bunch of bananas and is quilted with uneven machine stitches, some using black bobbin thread. The intersections of the stitching still sport the safety pins used to hold the image to the batting and backing, and the raw edges parody the idea of “fine craft.”

The mixed-media prints by Kyoko Masutani are outstanding. In one untitled piece, the image of a woman in a coat and gloves strides across the page. The image is repeated in several ways, as is the image of open scissors. A piece of a dress pattern with a printed arrow reads “depth of crotch.” In Masutani’s work, the concept is as multilayered as the medium.

Michael Hoffman presents ceramic tree ornaments that do not look like anything used at Biltmore House. “Bike on Broadway” is one of a number of small square works by Ursula Gullow done in her usual painterly style.

[Connie Bostic is an Asheville based painter and writer.]


who: Collecting Contemporary: Even With a Small Budget
what: Flood Gallery Holiday Fundraiser
where: Flood Gallery (109 Roberts St., in the Phil Mechanic Building at the corner of Clingman and Roberts streets)
when: Through Monday, Dec. 31

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