Revolve, it’s fair to say, has evolved. The art space, which hosts visual art, photography, dance, music and more, got its start as an idea tucked into the corner of a River Arts District studio.
About five years ago, artist Colby Caldwell (now Revolve’s program director) had moved back to Western North Carolina, where he grew up, after many years living and teaching in Washington, D.C. He’d rented a space in the Cotton Mill Studios where he did his own work but also started a series of conversations — under the auspices of Revolve, to which he dedicated part of his studio — called First Drafts, where other artists could present new ideas and receive feedback. “They were much better-attended than I expected,” Caldwell recalls. “After the first year, the studio space shrank, and the Revolve space grew.”
MAP = REVOLVE + HOLLER: ONE, in part a celebration of Revolve’s first anniversary in its current RAMP South location, will take place Sunday, July 8.
It was last July that Revolve offered its initial show in its current digs. Caldwell moved to the RAMP building after outgrowing his Cotton Mill Studio. “That first program was with Mountain Bitters [a local folk trio] and Julyan Davis [a local painter],” he recalls. “We felt it would be really nice to make that circle with having Mountain Bitters be the featured performer this year.”
The anniversary show also serves as the album release party for the all-women outfit (Emmalee Hunnicutt, Gretchen Caverly and Megan Drollinger). They tracked their record, Woven from Rushes, at the Eagle Room in Weaverville. It was made with financial support from the Media Arts Project’s and Revolve’s Make Local Creative Grant program. “Those small artist grants [are] for local folks to fulfill projects that they need help on,” Caldwell explains. Mountain Bitters was the first recipient of that fund, which comes from money raised via initiatives MAP supports, such as Asheville Butoh Collective, David Raymond’s In Love Shadow documentary and Eric Baden’s photo+sphere project.
The MAP, founded nearly a decade and a half ago, supports arts and artists in WNC through educational programming, artist opportunities and grants. Revolve teamed up with that organization in 2017, effectively becoming the physical manifestation of MAP. HOLLER, a web-based arts magazine, serves as the online arm of MAP and Revolve. That triad has led to expansions for all facets of the MAP/Revolve collective, so the organization brought Anna Helgeson on board this spring as Revolve’s exhibitions director and editor of HOLLER.
“From the first time I attended Revolve, it had an amazing energy,” says Helgeson, who relocated to Asheville from Milwaukee four years ago. She mentions an art-theory reading group and speakers series organized under the Revolve umbrella. “I would see work and hear conversations that weren’t happening as vibrantly [elsewhere]. I loved the sort of risks Colby was willing to take with programming.”
She adds, “I don’t know how Colby was doing it alone — just the amount of requests [we’re] getting [to host shows, exhibitions and events], now that Revolve is a known entity. People from all over are loving what’s going on and are reaching out.” To foster that, as part of the MAP = REVOLVE + HOLLER: ONE celebration, a subscription service is being launched so supporters can sign up to receive benefits such as performance tickets and invitations to members-only happenings.
A donation from artists and former Cotton Mill Studios owners Denise Carbonell and Derek Dominy helped support Revolve’s programming; now Caldwell and Helgeson hope the local creative community can step in and step up.
Past shows at Revolve include Arone Dyer’s Drone Choir sound installation; an exhibition of Linda Larsen’s paintings in collaboration with movement by Butoh artist Constance Humphries, music by Kima Moore and projections by Adam Larsen; and Warp & Woof, which paired local dancers with musicians for improvisational performances.
The art space’s sound series, which continues to push the boundaries of experimental music, “came about by accident,” Caldwell says, when he saw local guitarist Shane Parish perform at Downtown Books and News. Parish later approached Caldwell about a listening-room-style concert at the early iteration of Revolve, “and that was a seed,” Caldwell says.
Giving a platform to that collection of artists and ideas “was like lighting a match,” Caldwell says. “I thought we’d have one show a month. It became where we could literally have a show every day.” Luckily, the RAMP South space is located in a converted warehouse that includes a community exhibition area — the RAMP Gallery — for which Revolve handles programming duties 10 months of the year. That room allows for more flexibility in types of shows and events, such as pop-up performances and exhibits.
The MAP = REVOLVE + HOLLER: ONE celebration will include a taste of that potential: Along with the Mountain Bitters album launch, there will be a communal art project, a DJ, projections, a video installation, and food and drink. “We’re really hoping that anyone who’s been involved with Revolve in the last several years will come to celebrate with us and see where we’re going in the future,” says Helgeson.
WHAT: MAP = REVOLVE + HOLLER: ONE and Mountain Bitters album release show
WHERE: Revolve at RAMP South Studio, 821 Riverside Drive, No.179, revolveavl.org
WHEN: Sunday, July 8, doors at 6 p.m., show at 8 p.m.