Paintings like “Torrents of the French Broad,” “Dustbowl, The River Arts District” and “Linville Gorge at Dusk” all draw inspiration from painter Jason Rafferty’s surroundings in Western North Carolina. And for the landscape painter and figure-drawing aficionado, the rewarding relationship with Asheville is not a one-way street. Rafferty often donates his art (or a portion of proceeds) for fundraising efforts, partnering with local nonprofits like RiverLink, Pisgah Legal Services, Open Doors and Brother Wolf.
“I’m adamant about giving back to Asheville because I believe in the greatness of our community.” he explains. “I’ve been totally enriched by living here since arriving in 2009 to attend UNC Asheville. I also very much believe that you reap the seeds you sow and that good karma and generosity return to you.”
Perhaps ironically, WNC’s intangibles have influenced Rafferty’s artwork more so than the region’s aesthetics.
“The cityscape does show up from time to time in my work in various forms,” he says, “but the texture of life in the whole area is a more dominant influence. We are a youthful, innovative city, and there is this beautiful pulse of life underlying the frenetic creative activity happening in the area. We are away from the big museums and established culture of larger urban areas, and it allows for a great freedom to experiment with new approaches to creative work.”
The perpetual student says he also enjoys studying art history and tradition between busy days at his shared Cotton Mill Studios space in the River Arts District. In fact, he’s currently wrapping up a crowdfunding campaign that could send him off to Paris for three weeks of hands-on continuing education.
“A good friend of mine, artist Toby Hall, is teaching a figure drawing workshop [at Studio Escalier],” reads his IndieGogo page, “and as soon as he told me, I went and signed up.” Rafferty is reaching out to his peer network and other interested donors to raise $1,200 by Sunday, March 15. This amount, he says, will cover rent at an apartment 10 minutes from the classroom.
Currently, Jason is involved with two upcoming benefit events. Pisgah Legal is holding a fundraiser at Cotton Mill Studios on Thursday, May 14, for which tickets will be available through pisgahlegal.org. Later this fall, RiverLink will host “Of Time and the River: Local Artists Interpret the French Broad,” scheduled for Thursday, Oct. 22, from 6-9 p.m., at Sol’s Reprieve. Visit riverlink.org in early fall for more information and tickets.
For more information on Jason Rafferty, visit facebook.com/artofjasonrafferty or check out his crowdfunding video below: