Fans of folk art in the John “Cornbread” Anderson and Cher Shaffer vein might be well-tuned to the wealth of unique art coming out of our region. Even still, it’s easy to miss the colorful studio and gallery of painter Eric Legge. Located at 98 1/2 Lexington Ave. (the space behind Forever Tattoo, formerly occupied by Mountain Scoot Adventures) Legge’s space, from the street, resembles not a gallery so much as the surreal between-floors office that led to John Malkovich’s brain in the film Being John Malkovich.
A row of windows reveals an array of brightly-colored paintings of all shapes and sizes, some hung, some leaning against walls. Some are of churches, some faces, some flowers. One is mounted askew, a dusty level perched atop the slanting frame.
Inside the studio, Legge’s friendly brindle dog greats visitors (“My dog is sweet, she just does the hillbilly door bell thing when folks come by,” the artist remarks) to the oddly-situated building. Part garage, part front room, part hallway, one area leads into the next and every space is filled with sculpture, assemblage, painted boards, found objects and random items that Legge may someday turn into artwork.
Born up North but raised in the South, Legge spent years in Georgia where he claims crystaline minerals in the water add to the creative air of the place. North Georgia, around Athens, has certainly bred its fair share of folk artists as well as bands and visionaries. Legge says he lived for a decade in a single-wide trailer overlooking a valley and a small white church—an image often revisited in his work.
The Lexington Avenue studio, which has been quietly occupied for the past year, also houses some pieces by Legge’s father, Joe. The father-son collection blends well, seeming to tell a tale of the South’s great mystery. Faces, figures, places and objects are captured in vivid paint, sometimes with found objects affixed to the canvas, sometimes with handmade frames that act as continuums of the artwork. But, as alluring as Legge’s artwork is, the artist himself is the real gem in this studio. He speaks softly but enthusiastically about his work, often pointing out pieces given to him by fellow artists (Willie Willie, Deacon Trust).
Legge plans to relocate after the New Year, though he may stay in Asheville for a few more months. Catch him while you can. His studio will be open all day on Saturday, Dec. 20 and an end-of-year sale is planned for Saturday, Dec. 27. For more info, contact Legge at (706) 982-1496 or firstname.lastname@example.org.