Art is important in Asheville. We all need it. Whether you can understand it or not, it is something that makes you feel, something that speaks without having to say a word. It is something that comes from the heart.
Adam McMillan (a contributor to Xpress) is a photographer, photojournalist, musician, community activist and event coordinator. He has a background in filmmaking and marketing. He’s originally from Columbia, S.C., but has lived in Asheville for almost 10 years. McMillan recently launched the project Art is Power/Art is You at the Phil Mechanic building in the River Arts District. The inaugural event took place Feb. 5. A friend invited me and I had no idea what to expect. She said it was an open space and to bring some art to work with.
What I found was more than I could have hoped for. There was a roomful of creators from different backgrounds. One man played the keyboard and created — mindblowingly — the sounds of other instruments from his mouth. Another showed his chef skills, sharing his lentil stew. The same artist also engineered a way to generate sound waves with the stroke of a paint brush.
Art is Power/Art is You is a free gathering, and if you consider yourself an artist, you’re invited. BYOB and snacks. During the first night of this social event, it was all about bringing the arts community together to create and network in a safe space. There were musicians, painters and engineers. A gentleman played the keyboard while mindblowingly constructing the sounds of other instruments from his mouth. Another showed his skill of being a master chef, sharing his lentil stew. He also designed a way to generate sound waves through the stroke of a paint brush. There is a community canvas to which anyone can add their touch. This is just a bit of the magic that occurred over the course of a few hours of friendly association. Imagine what possibilities could stem from strangers-turned-collaborators on a daily basis.
“The former Flood Gallery provides a great kind of underground gallery space that I was immediately inspired by and drawn to on my many trips to the building,” says McMillan. “The gallery space and the building as a whole have a rich history that I felt was in the air upon entering. … In recent years [it] seems to have been used less and less.”
He continues, “The Phil Mechanic building is a great hub of really talented, local, independent artists creating great work. I just found it a natural central point to begin this art collective movement and I am excited to work with all of its artists to help create an even more welcoming and inspiring space for creatives.”
The next Art Is Power/Art Is You event will soon be announced.
“I hope to see the space continue growing as a beacon of the cutting-edge, independent art community — a central point for the local art community to enhance its growth and attract more attention from even the international art scene,” McMillan says of the soon-to-be-renamed Phil Mechanic Studios. “This is only a small piece of the true potential and it’s only the beginning of what we, as a community, can accomplish. I look forward to helping in every way I can to help support and empower creative people doing inspiring things, and uplifting our community as a whole.”