Asheville artists Dustin Spagnola and Gus Cutty have finished work on two new murals in the River Arts District. Of all the places to spend such time and effort, they have done so on a decommissioned and soon-to-be demolished building.
Their canvas is the old Penland Auction house on Craven Street, which will be razed to make way for New Belgium Brewing. So you might ask, why bother?
In a planning presentation this July, New Belgium vocalized their intentions of reusing as many of the resources and materials currently on the lot: sheet metal, steel and wood — maybe even the glass.
With this in mind, Melyssa Glassman, New Belgium’s Creative Director, decided that before the building goes, the company would commission area artists paint parts of it. Spagnola and Cutty’s murals come down with the building, which is slated to happen in the next four to six weeks, Glassman says. Her aim is to have the fragmented pieces of the mural integrated into the new building, dispersed amid the tasting room, bar and other facilities.
“The intent is to repurpose as much as possible,” Glassman told Xpress.
Glassman saw Spagnola’s artwork in and around the city during recent trips to Asheville. Their official acquaintance came from Leslie Huntley of Roost Interior Design. Huntley had selected Spagnola’s work for a house that New Belgium owns near the future facility.
Equipped with paint brushes, rollers and spray paint purchased by New Belgium, the duo covered two walls of the sheet metal, glass and wood-patched building. Cutty spray-painted a large-scale facial portrait entitled “Howlie.” The face sports thick, black-framed glasses, a nose ring and a snarl.
Spagnola painted an orange and violet tiger, seated and surrounded by Nepalese flowers. He’s in the middle of organizing a multi-month trip to Nepal, where he will teach painting — hence the flowers. As for the tiger, “It’s for no real reason,” he said, hinting back to the temporary nature of the work. It would seem that it was another chance to use excessively vibrant colors and break away from his black-and-white roots.
“The opportunity to incorporate local art at the new brewery is something we’re all excited about,” Glassman said. “But we’re still a long ways off from hanging art on the walls.”
The artistic details aren’t final, and most likely won’t be until construction is under way. So there’s no telling what kind of art can be incorporated and otherwise purchased and hung in the brewery. As for now, the mural was a starting point for New Belgium’s artistic partnership with the city.
“It was about providing a blank, large scale canvas for creative freedom and artists to have fun with,” Glassman said. “I love the arts, and collaboration is huge for us.”