In his letter of Oct. 2, [“We Owe Artists an Opportunity, Not a Living,” Xpress], Charles Peele revealed the soul of an auditor or financier — rather than that of an artist. If Asheville is to maintain its extraordinarily vital art scene, it needs to maintain the critical mass of artists who comprise the heart and soul of that scene.
The simple fact is that Asheville’s artists need each other. It is the very concentration of artists here that enables the creativity that flourishes in every gallery, art studio and street vendor’s booth. It is the presence of their fellow artists that raises the bar and challenges our artists to express themselves in ever-evolving ways. Without the unique mix that we have here, their art will wither and fade.
Creativity does not lend itself to a financial formula. In fact, artists pursue their craft even in the face of the sure knowledge that they most likely will not become millionaires. They know that their road will not be easy, but they take that road anyway, because they must. For most, pursuing their art is not a choice but a calling.
So I challenge Mr. Peele’s conclusions that if the artists’ community here was hypothetically cut in half, the remaining half would stand to “double their sales opportunity” and that the “cream” would rise to the top.
As I see it, the fact is that, should our artist community be diminished, there would be far less “cream” all around, and we would all be the poorer. Art enriches our world as nothing else does or can. Especially today, we need art as never before. We owe artists far more than affordable housing. We owe them for infusing our world with beauty.
— Gail Solomon