The past year has been an especially successful one for the Asheville Area Arts Council. In addition to receiving record funding from the city of Asheville and Buncombe County, the AAAC was assigned the county’s disseminator of arts programming funds through the state’s Grassroots Arts Program, helping to further its mission as the collective local voice for the arts.
Entrusted with these important public funds and in search of a theme for its annual color ball fundraiser, inspiration struck when the AAAC moved from its Depot Street offices in the River Arts District to the Grove Arcade in August. Finding parallels between her new downtown surroundings and the Biltmore House, executive director Kitty Love likewise saw similarities between the AAAC’s role in the county art scene and that of the Vanderbilts circa 1900 — a time when art played a crucial role in the way many locals thought of themselves. “The Vanderbilts did a lot to encourage a very aesthetic group of folks to focus on and enjoy Asheville,” Love says. “As we move forward in our work, it’s important for us to reiterate the importance of culture and the arts and what it means as a community’s identity.”
Celebrating that golden age’s elegance and energy, the Gilded Ball will take place on Saturday, Sept. 27, at Isis Restaurant & Music Hall. Consistent with past iterations, such as the ’20s themed Tangerine Ball in 2012, attendees are encouraged to dress accordingly. “Gold, silver or any metallic color would be nice. Bronze or copper would stand out,” Love says. “It would be neat to see a mix of colors, actually, and/or if you wanted to dress era — Victorian, Edwardian, turn of the 20th century. Moulin Rouge is probably the easiest reference — big hats, big feathers.”
As for choosing an appropriate venue, the AAAC selects a location that fits with the feel of each year’s ball. The nooks, corners and beautiful upstairs piano of the Isis do just that. The venue will be filled with music and entertainment largely focused on the evening’s theme. Providing the tunes is Asheville quartet Resonant Rogues, whose old-fashioned originals evoke early 20th-century sounds, and DJ Cosmo Q, sporting an eclectic repertoire of audio cocktails that includes what he calls “a side of Gypsy beats.” Additional performances come courtesy of fireball spitter Sneaky McFly, costumer and belly dance movement mainstay Claire Dima, acro-yoga artist Ani Oakley and hula hooper Paul Van Heden.
Other Gilded Ball highlights are silent and live art auctions, curated by AAAC board member Michael Manes. This year marks Manes’ first time curating the art auction, but he grew up in a household full of non-profit directors and volunteers and has been helping out with auctions almost his entire life. Works were donated by over 25 local artists, the majority of whom are represented by Blue Spiral 1 gallery, where Manes serves as assistant director. The pieces encompass everything from painting to printmaking, sculptural work, ceramics, glass and wood fire vessels, and though the artists committed to donating before the color ball’s motif was released to the public, the selection nonetheless rings true to the evening’s ideals. “By having the caliber of work this year, it really resonates with the theme anyway,” Manes says. “The artists are extremely skilled, and these works represent that.”
WHAT: Asheville Area Arts Council’s Gilded Ball
WHERE: Isis Restaurant & Music Hall
WHEN: Saturday, Sept. 27, at 7 p.m.-midnight. VIP $100; general admission $50; $10 at 10 p.m.