Camped Out On Greasy Grass: A Series of Portraits
Curated by Jeremy Russell & Jameid Ferrin
Highlighting Displaced Artists from RAD’s Old Lyman Street Studios
The Asheville Area Arts Council will host its first art exhibition since relocating to the Grove Arcade this month. On August 29, 2014 from 6:00-9:00pm there will be an opening reception at The Asheville Area Arts Council Gallery at 1 Page Ave, Asheville, NC 28801.
“Camped Out on Greasy Grass: A Series of Portraits” curated by Jeremy Russell and Jameid Ferrin, formerly of the Tannery Studios, will run from August 22 through September 20, 2014. The exhibit will feature a series of portraits from the following artists: Carley Brandau, Alex Irvine, Jameid Ferrin, Libby Gamble, Jennifer Gordon, Bob Judy, Zaire Kacz, Dan Lavender, Daniel Rhineheart, Jeremy Russell, Andy Sreb, Molly Sawyer, Steve Spurgeon, Ian Wilkinson, and Terpsicorps.
Due to fire hazards and building code issues, power was turned off for 23 artists from the Switchyard and Tannery Studios in the River Arts District on Lyman Avenue on July 14, 2014. This exhibit will not only display the works of some of these displaced artists, but will highlight the spirit of partnership and innovation. As explained by show curator Jeremy Russell,
“Camped out on Greasy Grass represents the previously outlined plans of the Tannery and the Switchyard and the removal of occupants/artists who had worked along steadily, altering the space with their unique invention. The installation will provide a sense of the individuals and their work as well as a sense of inclusion. (The exhibit) aims to give a sense of intangible connection between ourselves and the artists working a bit on the fringes…”
Not only will attendees get a chance to view the new Asheville Area Arts Council Gallery in the Grove Arcade, but attendees will also make an important impact on the lives of local studio artists. As the collective voice for the arts in Buncombe County, it is an honor for the AAAC to host this important and meaningful show. According to Executive Director Kitty Love,
“We have the capacity, we only lack the strategy and the commitment, to make it a reality that our artists are retained as Buncombe County grows, so that we don’t lose them to more welcoming places who are reaching out and searching for what we are so lucky to enjoy. We must recognize that the vibrancy and beauty they create as vital to our success as a city. I’m honored to work with a hard working and committed team of artist entrepreneurs and advocates to bring to light the work, and a crucial community issue, that was left in the dark on Lyman Avenue this year.”
With the ensuing finality of the Tannery and Switchyard evictions, a conclusion has been drawn that subsidized artist’s studio spaces are a real necessity. Artists who create work without commercial drive being perhaps their main or motivating focus, but who create art in exploratory capacity at times cannot afford studios that have the facilities needed to render innovative work.
Camped out on Greasy Grass represents the previously outlined plans of the Tannery and the Switchyard and the removal of (as of yet unknown) occupants/artists who had worked along steadily, altering the space with their unique invention. The installation will provide a sense of the individuals and their work as well as a sense of inclusion. We all have a creative side, we all have an outline of ourselves; some just need more space to draw outside the lines as the normative ways of finding sense of self don’t do the trick. The more they dig at it, the more we all learn. With outlines, different streams of direction, interactive depths, and looped streams, Camped out on Greasy Grass aims to give a sense of intangible connection between ourselves and the artists working a bit on the fringes, on cheaper land; less restricted land. The next big thing always comes from some kid toiling in the basement.
The tourism industry in Asheville hinges on the art scene that exists here. The art scene includes but is not limited to: public art, performing arts, self sustainable commercial art sales in galleries and private studios, art oriented non profit institutions, museums, schools and subsidized art studios that house merit based artists through grants, fellowships and residencies. This diverse spectrum of the art community is the catalyst for real estate growth, tourism revenue, and commercial stability in the Asheville region. Essentially, the artists themselves are a part of the draw. We help pave the way for people visiting the city who support the hotels, bars, and retail stores. Simply put, the difference between visiting Asheville or any of the other Western North Carolina town is the diverse, educated, liberal and stimulating scene that the artists play a vital role in providing. It is a formula. It can be quantified in dollars. There have been many panel discussions and proposals that have come and gone based on this subject, but the time to take action is now. This community needs to protect this important asset.
The short-lived Smartspace program of just a couple years ago was a good example of city-organized artist’s program. Diane Ruggerio built a format that was subsidized by private real estate businesses that benefitted by exposing their spaces while housing artists. The success was outstanding. Within two months, the space we were in sold, after a year of sitting vacant. The success of this symbiotic relationship is self evident, yet this is only one of many potential scenarios. Advertising, tax write offs and bringing patrons to a desired location are benefits. The loss of Diane’s role as the arts liaison to the City of Asheville has created a huge vacuum. I propose a new discussion that brings the right components to the table. There is an overlap of interests that should be recognized and strategized around to bring about a profitable and culturally significant environment.
Artist’s migration to cheaper industrial areas is not a new thing. Investors buying up those newly established, profitable space always follows. Some artists feel like it is part of our civic duty. It is how we help the larger community grow. The Tannery and Switchyard were the last haven of cheap space in the river district. The question is: how do we give artists cheap working space and still make money.
– Jeremy Russell and Jamid Ferrin
Statement from the Director:
On July 14th, 2014, power was turned off for 23 artists and creative businesses at several different studio spaces on Old Lyman Street in the Asheville River Arts District. The buildings occupied by the artists in Camped Out on Greasy Grass: A series of Portraits provided an affordable way for the now displaced artists to make their work, but the lack of proper safety and construction ultimately made it impossible for the City of Asheville to allow occupancy. Power was removed in order to avoid fire. The City had worked with the property owner for years to bring the buildings to code, but ultimately the artists were the big losers in the battle.
The mission of the Asheville Area Arts Council is to be the collective voice for the arts, advancing Buncombe County by providing access to resources, developing innovative collaborations, and fostering creativity in the community. We believe that this is a time for us to use that voice to be heard on the issue of the need for community wide support for creative industry entrepreneurs.
As a long time arts advocate in Buncombe County, I have spent years researching best practices in vital communities nationally and creating strategy. The time has come for us to, as a community, to commit our resources to provide support so that our artists can do business sustainably. We have done this successfully for many industries already, and the creative industries represent a return on investment that pays back, not only in tax revenue, but also in quality of life and the preservation of culture. Our neighbors in the Southern cities have done well, and we must also, to the extent that we are able.
We have the capacity, we only lack the strategy and the commitment, to make it a reality that our artists are retained as Buncombe County grows, so that we don’t lose them to more welcoming places who are reaching out and searching for what we are so lucky to enjoy. We must recognize that the vibrancy and beauty they create is vital to our success as a city.
I’m honored to work with a hard working and committed team of artist entrepreneurs and advocates to bring to light the work, and a crucial community issue, that was left in the dark on Lyman Avenue this year.
Gallery Hours: Monday – Saturday 10:00am-6:00pm
This exhibition is made possible with support from the Windgate Charitable Foundation.
Beer generously provided by :