Of Time And The French Broad River

Painting by John Mac Kah

Art and literature unite for the sake of the French Broad River on Thursday, Oct. 23, in Of Time And The River. The ticketed art exhibition is a benefit for RiverLink. This event takes place at Sol’s Reprieve (11 Richland St.), a multiuse meeting space and spiritual arts center located on the west side of the River Arts District.

Both the event and its title are inspired by Thomas Wolfe’s 1935 fictionalized autobiography that examines the the passing of time and the evolution of the creative process. It’s that theme, says RiverLink founder and executive director Karen Cragnolin, that closely parallels the recovery and growth of the French Broad alongside Asheville’s arts scene.

The exhibition features paintings, drawings and etchings of the river as rendered by 14 Asheville- and WNC-based artists, including Julyan Davis, Christine Dougherty, Jason Rafferty, Robert Johnson and Matthew S. Good, among others. The works are largely representational and of the plein air style — realistic portrayals with some loose impressionistic takes.

“I wanted people to experience the river, to really get out there in the middle of it and paint,” says John Mac Kah, the show’s curator and another participating artist. It’s that interpersonal experience, he says, that can really bring such a river to life in a work of art.

Opening reception. Photo  by Kyle Sherard
Opening reception. Photo by Kyle Sherard

“This all evolved out of one painting,” Mac Kah says. Two years ago, he created “Ledges,” a plein air-style landscape of Ledges Park, located just outside of Woodfin. The painting was donated to RiverLink in the hopes that its sale would generate funding for the RAD-based organization. However, Mac Kah and Cragnolin decided to wait and incorporate the work into a larger and more expansive artistic effort, thus laying the foundation for Thursday’s exhibition. “The goal is to make some money for RiverLink, but also to raise awareness for the French Broad,” Mac Kah says. “Everybody uses the river, but not everybody cares about it.”

Of Time And The River is a ticketed event ($50 for RiverLink members/$65 for the general public) and the entry price includes hors d’oeuvres, wine and beer from Whole Foods, Biltmore Wines and Catawba Brewing. All funds go towards ongoing remediation and water testing at Karen Cragnolin Park, a Brownfield site and former junk yard located on Amboy Road.

The exhibition will be open to the public on Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. For tickets or more information about Of Time And The River, visit RiverLink.

About Kyle Sherard
Book lover, arts reporter, passerby…..

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