Local art show welcomes countywide talent

COME ONE, COME ALL: Photography, mixed media, paintings and drawings will all be on display at the inaugural 'All Access Art Show.' "This is the trial run," says co-organizer Mary Cozens, right. "Our long-term goal is to have it happen annually and have more galleries involved." Also pictured, from left, are Mamie Fain and Jeannie Regan. Photo by Thomas Calder

Chaos, happiness and opportunity are among the driving forces behind the inaugural All Access Art Show, says local maker and co-organizer Jeannie Regan. The three-week exhibit, hosted by the Asheville Area Arts Council, launches Friday, Sept. 6, and will feature both emerging and established Buncombe County artists, ages 18 and older.

“There is so much talent and just so much joy for making here,” says Regan. “But it’s not always so easy to get that work shown.”

To be considered for an exhibition, Regan explains, artists typically must submit portfolios for review, along with an artist statement and biography. Like a job resume, a thin CV can impede a young artist’s chances of being selected. Regardless of the outcome, Regan notes, submission fees are par for the course (with prices generally ranging $25-$100). For those fortunate enough to be chosen, additional shipping costs follow (if self-delivery options are unavailable).

“Quite often it’s a net loss for any artist,” Regan says. “It can be very depressing to spend so much just to get into a show.”

To level the playing field, All Access did away with the selection process, inviting all Buncombe County artists to submit their work to the Asheville Area Arts Council on Tuesday, Aug. 27. With space for 500 works, acceptance was based on a first-come, first-served basis. Meanwhile, the only associated cost was a sliding scale fee of up to $10 to cover post-show repairs.

In simplifying the submission process, “we opened up the gates so that anybody who wanted to have their art seen has the availability and the place to do so,” says Brianne Stoehr, co-organizer and curator. This includes self-taught artists who, according to Stoehr, are sometimes overlooked and undervalued, due to their lack of academic credentials.

Challenging this notion through broader exposure, says fellow organizer Mary Cozens, is among the show’s many missions. Art, notes Cozens, allows a deeper understanding of individual experiences, no matter the degrees held by a given maker. “That’s kind of the heart of it,” Cozens says about the upcoming show. “We want to get conversations started and really have the whole Asheville community back up everybody from all different parts of Buncombe County.”

But, without a unifying thematic guideline, the range of topics explored and the sheer number of works presented might overwhelm some visitors, notes Regan. “Salon-style presentations are not for everyone,” she says. She recommends approaching the collection not as a series of individual works, “but also as an entity — the gloriously haphazard sum of us.”

Along with celebrating the joyful chaos of an inclusive community art show, the exhibit is also a great way for young artists to build their confidence, says Mamie Fain, program manager at the Asheville Area Arts Council. Through their participation in the upcoming exhibit, Fain hopes local creatives feel encouraged to apply to more shows in the future. “Even if it’s something like a coffee shop or a boutique,” she says. “Everyone needs to start somewhere.”

Regan echoes the importance of taking that initial step in showing your work publicly. “Being an artist can often be a really solitary, lonely existence,” she says. “You’re toiling away in your studio and if you’re working multiple jobs to support yourself as well … it can be very tiring and very discouraging to work that hard and to never get to show your work outside of your friends and family.

“So being able to place your work in public, and to stand back and have people look at it and appreciate it, is an incredibly validating experience. And it can really sort of make that hard work feel totally worth it. You feel part of a wider community of artists and makers. I think it’s really important, emotionally, to feel that connection with other people who create and to be part of that artistic tradition.”

WHAT: All Access Art Show
WHERE: The Refinery Creator Space, 207 Coxe Ave. avl.mx/6gc
WHEN: Opening Friday, Sept. 6, 5-8 p.m. Artwork will remain on display through Friday, Sept. 27

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About Thomas Calder
Thomas Calder received his MFA in Fiction from the University of Houston's Creative Writing Program. He has worked with several publications, including Gulf Coast and the Collagist.

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One thought on “Local art show welcomes countywide talent

  1. Chris Bell

    As a participant of this awesome event I say… “Bravo!”… and a most humble thank you… There were over 400 attendees at the Opening Reception and it was a fabulously fun exciting event for this first time show for me… The AAAC team worked hard to give us a spectacular event with food and libation… and kind words and support… THIS is what community art participation looks like!!! ❤️🎨❤️

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