Tracey Morgan Gallery celebrates new location with inaugural exhibit

HEADED SOUTH: Tracey Morgan Gallery’s new home at 22 London Road near Biltmore Village launches with the inaugural exhibit, What Came First. The show opens Friday, March 8, 6-8 p.m., and continues through Saturday, April 20. Photo courtesy of Morgan, who is pictured

When Tracey Morgan opened her eponymous art gallery at 188 Coxe Ave. in January 2017, she knew she would be off to the side of Asheville’s bustling arts scene.“When I moved into the South Slope,” she says, “there was very little there.“

The gallery was a member of the Downtown Asheville Arts District. It stayed open for the weekly Friday night gallery strolls, but people rarely came down the hill. After a while, Morgan stopped participating. “It was me staying late for one person,” she says.

Now, as the South Slope has become another bustling area for galleries, breweries and restaurants, Morgan is moving off to the side again. “Our lease was up, and the rent increased every year,” she says. “In order for me to keep the gallery going, I needed to cut my overhead. That meant finding a less expensive space.”

That new space was made possible by artist Randy Shull and his wife and entrepreneurial partner, Hedy Fischer. On March 8, Tracey Morgan Gallery will open its first exhibit, What Came First, at its new 22 London Road location, just outside Biltmore Village.

22 London has been Shull’s working studio for nearly a decade. He and Fischer have also organized five exhibitions there from their personal art collection.

“Tracey Morgan has represented my work for the past five years,” Shull says. “I consider a good relationship with a gallery a business partnership.” Offering Morgan more space for ambitious projects and for parking, he notes, is an extension of that partnership.

Intentionally small

Tracey Morgan stands apart from other Asheville galleries in more than geography. “We’re a little bit different than, say, Blue Spiral 1 and Momentum,” Morgan says, referring to two of her prominent downtown peers. “We only show one or two or three artists at a time unless it’s a group show. I’m a tenth of the size of those two places. I think what they do is amazing. But I have no aspiration to have a 15,000-square-foot gallery.”

Blue Spiral 1 and Momentum keep many artists on continual display along with special themed exhibitions. “Because of the sheer size and scale of their operations,” Morgan notes, “they can show 30 artists or more at any one time. I think Blue Spiral represents 130 artists. I represent 32.”

Morgan also doesn’t show crafts in a city famous for its crafts culture. “Craft isn’t in my wheelhouse,” she says. “I wasn’t going to add it just to compete with other people. I wouldn’t know how to talk about glass or contemporary ceramics. And we have many galleries that show crafts, so it’s not necessary for me to do that.”

With a degree in art history from Florida State University, Morgan began her career as a curatorial assistant in West Palm Beach. She moved to New York City in 2004 and worked as a director in several prominent galleries there before relocating to Asheville.

One show at a time

When she first got here, Morgan says she intended to “show work of artists new to Asheville,” as well as established artists from New York who wanted to expand into Southern markets. “I had such a good relationship with several of them it was very easy. It’s like working with your friends.”

But once she was open in Asheville, she continues, “I started realizing how many very talented people were here.” She began adding local and regional artists to her roster. About half of the artists she now represents are from the area, including Rachel Meginnes, Nava Lubelski, Kirsten Stolle and Luke Whitlatch.

Margaret Curtis of Tryon is another artist Morgan represents. Curtis first gained national attention in 1994 in the Bad Girls exhibit at the New Museum of Contemporary Art in New York City. “I have shown with galleries in New York,” Curtis says, “and those weren’t always positive experiences. I trust Tracey. She works so hard to get my work in front of the right eyes. I really value working with someone who has a completely different skill set from my own. And she knows the art world outside of the region.”

Shull agrees. “Tracey is committed to her artists’ vision and promoting their work. Hedy and I like that she commits time, energy and her passion into promoting the voice of artists one show at a time.”



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About Arnold Wengrow
Arnold Wengrow was the founding artistic director of the Theatre of the University of North Carolina at Asheville in 1970 and retired as professor emeritus of drama in 1998. He is the author of "The Designs of Santo Loquasto," published by the United States Institute for Theatre Technology.

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