The latest exhibit at Adler Gallery looks to the sky

BOTH SIDES NOW: Artist Constance Vlahoulis views clouds as "an impossible beauty." She says they're difficult to capture on canvas but offer an endless source of inspiration. Photo by Thomas Calder

Asheville-based artist and curator Constance Vlahoulis is a self-described “cloudaholic.” On any given day, on any given road, she is likely to pull over and photograph the various formations and shades migrating across the troposphere. A lifelong skygazer, Vlahoulis says there is mystery and beauty to these fleeting billows of condensed water vapor, which she often tries to capture in her paintings.

But, as it turns out, Vlahoulis is not alone in her appreciation for the sky’s moving islands. On Thursday, July 27, she and 18 other local and regional artists will come together for Clouds, the latest exhibit at the Adler Gallery in Posana Restaurant. The show, curated by Vlahoulis, will feature a number of paintings, along with handcrafted jewelry and pysanky eggs, an ancient Ukrainian art form. Representatives from The Collider, a local nonprofit innovation center that promotes market-driven climate solutions, will also attend.

Vlahoulis says the nonprofit is a perfect fit for the show’s theme. She views the collaboration as an opportunity to expand The Collider’s reach by introducing it to members of the art community. In her opinion, the two entities have more in common than most would think. She quotes Leonardo da Vinci to convey her point: “Art is the queen of all sciences, communicating knowledge to all the generations of the world.”

Megan Robinson, The Collider’s executive director, echoes Vlahoulis’ views. “Art is a medium to communicate to nonscientists,” she says. Robinson considers the exhibit an ideal platform to inform people about the planet’s changing climate, as well as inspire them to become more proactive in the fight against global warming.

While the organization won’t give a formal talk, its representatives will be available to speak one-on-one with those who attend. “We think that everyone should care that the climate is changing because it’s going to impact everyone: every individual, every community, every business,” says Robinson. “We want people who walk away [from the event] to look into how they can become involved in growing the climate solutions — whether it’s donating to The Collider, volunteering their time or becoming a part of another environmental organization.”

Participating artists, such as Andrea Kulish, express similar opinions. Kulish notes the integral role clouds play in regulating the planet’s climate, as well as in providing water. “Art is a wonderful way to bring these issues to the forefront, to a place where we can learn, discuss and hopefully take positive action,” she says. Her pysanky eggs will be decorated with traditional agricultural symbols as a way to remind viewers of the many ways we rely on the rain.

For jewelry maker Pamela Wright, the world of art and science literally collide. Along with craft making, Wright is the meteorologist for WYFF in Greenville, S.C. Her upcycled jewelry includes meteorological symbols, such as lightning rods. Spare parts from discarded umbrellas are among the materials with which she works.

Vlahoulis notes that Clouds is the third show she has curated at Posana. The plan is to continue with group exhibits on a quarterly basis. Her hope is to turn the gallery into a premier space for local and regional artists’ works. “We’d like to build it into something that people are always looking forward to,” she says.

These group exhibits, continues Vlahoulis, have been a success so far because of the range of interpretations that come from any given theme. “I like the idea of one-word shows,” she says. “They allow the artists to take off the blinders and not be bound by a single variation.”

Julie Miles, whose paintings will show in Clouds, agrees. Even with a common thread, she says, “it’s still amazing to see how many different ways that theme can be interpreted,” mirroring the variety of cloud formations found in the sky.

Other participants, like painter Phil DeAngelo, see the exhibit as a way to emphasize often-overlooked aspects of life. “I hope that this show will encourage the viewer to take more notice of the beautiful landscape that surrounds us in Asheville,” he says. “There are colors in the sky and cloud formations here that I have never seen anywhere else.”

WHAT: Clouds, conn-artist.com
WHERE: The Adler Gallery in Posana Restaurant, 1 Biltmore Ave.
WHEN: Opening reception Thursday, July 27, 6-8 p.m. The exhibit will remain on view through about Wednesday, Nov. 1. Show hours correspond with Posana’s hours of operation

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About Thomas Calder
Thomas Calder received his MFA in Fiction from the University of Houston's Creative Writing Program. He has worked with several publications, including Gulf Coast and the Collagist. For his weekly #tuesdayhistory tidbits on Asheville, follow him on Instagram @tcalder.

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