Thanks to a lot of community support, the Faces of Asheville project — an effort to get portraits of the city’s unique denizens — is back.
When local artist/photographer Jenny Bowen‘s house was broken into Aug. 18, the thieves took her camera and hard drive and broke the lights she had been using for the project. The break-in left the project’s future in doubt.
Now, just a little more than four months later, an outpouring of local support has enabled the project to not just continue but to be even grander in scope and scale this time.
“The community really came through,” says Bowen (whose self-portrait from the project is pictured here). “A lot of [people] started calling me, offering their support. I started getting checks in the mail, getting cash donations from people who had participated.”
Kitty Love, organizer of the Lexington Avenue Arts and Fun Festival (and one of Bowen’s original portrait subjects) arranged a silent auction at this year’s Festival. The $1,200 it raised allowed Bowen to get another camera and lenses. Grants from the Asheville Arts Council, as well as getting studio space at the Wedge Gallery, have made the project a reality again, though she continues to seek donations, as lights and some other equipment is still needed.
Originally aiming for 100 portraits, Bowen now says she won’t turn anybody away — and that she’s shooting for 500, hoping to finish the project by April. Other plans include a book and a gallery showing, and she still plans to donate the results of the project to the city’s historical archives.
Those interested can apply at the project’s Web site, which also includes some of the surviving portraits, the “Faces of Asheville” story and a long list of those Bowen thanks for their support.
— David Forbes, staff writer