Artist Amanda McLenon calls herself the new kid on the block. Two years ago, she moved to West Asheville by way of Charleston, S.C. More recently, she purchased a home in Weaverville and rented her first studio space at Pink Dog Creative in the River Arts District in July.
She was still getting to know her fellow Pink Dog artists when the building’s co-owner, Hedy Fischer, offered the gallery space to its members for a group show. McLenon stepped up and planned the event, figuring it would be a great way to introduce herself. Or, as she more colorfully puts it, “I’m the newbie who dumbly volunteered to organize this show. Everyone kind of laughed at me.”
The exhibit, The Colors of Pink, runs through Sunday, Feb. 25, and features 18 of the building’s 30 artists. As its title suggests, the collection explores the studio’s unusual name as well as the role color plays in each work.
Inspired by nature
Similar to McLenon, Emelie Weber Wade is a relative newcomer to Pink Dog. She and her husband, Bressler, moved to Asheville from Frankfort, Ky., in November 2022.
“We came down to the RAD for the studio stroll and looked around at different studios,” Wade recalls. “I didn’t think I’d get one anytime soon. But I talked to someone at Pink Dog who was planning on leaving. So I was able to take over her space right away.”
Wade’s studio, Lundadendron, focuses on handwoven wearable art. A native of Columbus, Ohio, Wade says she developed an interest in her craft at an early age. “I learned how to knit when I was in middle school at the public library. And my neighbor taught me how to sew so I could make a medieval dress for history class. I really got into art quilts and dyeing fabric in high school.”
Wade studied weaving at Berea College in Kentucky, where she worked full time at a call center. “I was weaving at night in the kitchen area of our tiny studio apartment,” she says. Her studio’s unusual name was inspired during these sessions. “It came to me as a flower that grows by the moon.”
Wade says she creates modern textiles for old souls. “I look at a lot of old Appalachian weaving patterns,” she explains. “And I look at a lot of vintage fabric for inspiration. So my pieces have a very vintage feel. But of course, I use modern fibers and a modern loom.”
For The Colors of Pink, Wade is exhibiting a crop top with an intricate pattern of irregular diamonds and chevrons. “It’s like a shawl that has more structure,” she says. “It’s meant to be worn over something.”
Nature, she adds, inspired the design. “I have been really wanting to do a piece based on the rosy maple moth,” she says. “That’s where [my design’s] colors come from, but I was also looking at the shapes of the moth wing. I am really interested in insects and trees and ecology.”
Unlike McLenon and Wade, Viola Spells is an Asheville native. At her Pink Dog studio, ZenobiaStudio, she crochets thin wire into intricate webs that she shapes into robust bracelets, necklaces and earrings embellished with gemstones, crystals, beads and other materials.
Spells, who attended Asheville’s former Allen High School, was introduced to crocheting and enameling in Girl Scouts. Her mother, Zenobia Jones, coached her in crocheting. “She helped me master some of the techniques,” Spells says. “And my grandmother made doilies that decorated my home as I was growing up in Asheville.”
Spells says her fascination with jewelry was sparked by a childhood train ride to Dayton, Ohio. “My father gave my brother and me both $25. We had to change trains in Cincinnati and had an hour layover. So I wandered around the station trying to find a necklace.”
She eventually found one she liked but wanted to see what other options awaited her in Dayton. “But I didn’t find anything,” she says. “I saved my money the whole time. On the way back, I got that necklace. I still have it.”
Spells’ studio is named to honor her mother, but her work, she says, honors all women. “In this exhibit, I use woven wire inspired by African culture to reflect how women have always woven materials and social fibers to cultivate connections, color, and comfort in their homes, families and communities,” she says.
Back at McLenon’s studio, the show’s organizer notes that there will be artist talks and demonstrations throughout the exhibit’s run.
“The thing to stress about this show is that it is a special opportunity to see work from most of the Pink Dog Creative members in one location, to meet some of the artists and to talk to them about what color means in their work,” she says.
“The show is not curated,” McLenon continues. “I paint in large scale, so I have one 36-inch square painting called ‘Sunset Cranes.’ People who do small work have multiple pieces.”
Getting to know her neighbors, she continues, has been satisfying. “This is the best group of artists I have ever shared space with. They are a really cool, eclectic group and they are supersupportive of each other. It is truly a community.”
WHAT: The Colors of Pink
WHERE: Pink Dog Gallery, 342-348 Depot St. Free
WHEN: Through Sunday, Feb. 25. avl.mx/bux