State of the Arts: RAD Studio Stroll moves to a new weekend

21 YEARS AND STILL STROLLING: The River Arts District will hold its spring studio stroll during Mother's Day weekend. Photo of Kyle Carpenter's studio at the Curve Building courtesy of Carpenter

Each spring and fall, thousands of art and craft collectors and enthusiasts converge on the River Arts District for the biannual studio strolls. Now, as the stroll enters its 21st season, the River Arts District Artists organization has moved the two-day event previously scheduled in June to Saturday and Sunday, May 9 and 10.

The scheduling change follows an examination of the stroll’s impact on RAD and individual artists, says stroll organizer Claire Reeder. “We had five or six options that went up for a member vote,” she says, referring to the organization’s attempts to generate more interest. “We ended up settling with a shift to a May date, which should have less interference with other arts events that get underway in the summer months.”

She adds, “Mother’s Day weekend should also offer up a great opportunity to get brunch and then come on down to check out a ton of beautiful artwork.”

This spring’s stroll features roughly 180 artists in 22 buildings dotting a mile-long stretch of riverfront studios and galleries. The event offers visitors a look at the RAD’s artistic breadth, as well as opportunities to meet artists and check out demonstrations by metalsmiths, glass blowers, potters and painters, among others. RADA will also sponsor a weekendlong scavenger hunt for kids and families attending the stroll.

While the switch to a May date is due in part to the RADA’s sustained organizational growth, it also comes in the wake of declining personal sales reported by many artists after the last few studio strolls. In earlier years, artists could count on the studio stroll for a quarter or even half of their year’s total income. Those days have come and gone, says Shelley Schenker, RADA’s marketing chairperson. “We used to only be open a few days a month or year and have only 70 artists,” she says. “Now we’re open seven days a week and have more than 180.”

Total patronage and spending have increased year by year, according to Schenker, but so has RADA’s membership and the presence of other citywide arts events. While the entire neighborhood experiences a financial boon during each stroll, the personal economic impact has been increasingly diluted.

We’re bigger and better than ever, Schenker says. “Now we have to figure out the best way to move forward.”

WHAT: RAD Studio Stroll

WHERE: River Arts District, riverartsdistrict.com

WHEN: Saturday and Sunday, May 9 and 10, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Free and open to the public.

Asheville Bookworks

Wood engraving is alive and well, according to Joanne Price, president of the Wood Engravers Network and the curator of the traveling WEN Triennial exhibition, which opens Friday, May 8, at 6 p.m. at Asheville Bookworks. The show includes 60 works from 51 artists from the network’s international membership. Among them are Andy Farkas and Laurie Corral of Asheville and Nancy Darrell of Marshall.

The medium may be most commonly associated with centuries-old floral and children’s book illustrations, but its contemporary applications are remarkable for contrast, stark detail and linear finesse. That storybook aesthetic is also a mainstay in many of the exhibition’s works, which makes the perfect pairing for print fanatics and bibliophiles alike.

This event is free and open to the public. For more information visit ashevillebookworks.com.

474 Gallery 

474 Gallery may be the most viewed gallery in Asheville. Motorists can see the street-art inspired works in the windows of the Haywood Road gallery while waiting at the I-240 exit ramp traffic light in West Asheville.

For the first time in years, studio resident and operator Dustin Spagnola is hosting a group exhibition, which opens Friday, May 8, 6-9 p.m. The exhibition features current studio artists Erin Hardy, Megan Kelly, Jeremy Russell and Spagnola, as well as guest artists Alli Good, Gus Cutty, Edwards Harper and Ishmael.

The space used to serve as Spagnola’s personal studio. Two years ago he opened it up for use by other artists, ultimately leading him to subdivide the studio and create a gallery to represent the collective output. “We held off on doing a show for a while now,” Spagnola says. “Now the space has jelled together and feels more concrete in the last year.”

He adds, “And with spring arriving it seems like a good time to do a small opening with friends.”

For more information, check out Facebook.com/474GalleryStudio.

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

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