On the evening of December 23rd, an unknown vandal defaced a mural of Tina Turner painted by Gus Cutty on the outside wall of Static Age-Records (110 N. Lexington Ave.). The offensive swastika tag was quickly covered by a Good Samaritan. The shop owners have already painted over the mural and launched a highly successful GoFundMe appeal to commission a new mural.
According to Katie Cornell, the Executive Director of the Asheville Area Arts Council, “When an outrage like this occurs it is our gut reaction to fix the problem as fast as possible―to make a clear statement that these are not our shared values. The incredible upswell of support around Static Age is also a bold statement in support of public art as a powerful vehicle for unity and community.” She went on to say that, “While it does my heart good to see the outpouring of support for a new mural at the record shop, there are many additional public art projects in our city that champion equity and inclusion that need financial support from the community.”
Public art is free and accessible to all. It is a statement of who we are and what we value as a community. Asheville prides itself on its public artworks, from our many outdoor murals to our Urban Trail. In recent years, our community has taken great strides to ensure that the stories we are telling through our artworks include those of the many diverse communities that live here.
In November, the City’s Public Art & Cultural Commission completed a two-year project resulting in Asheville’s latest public art piece, entitled Hope Springs Forth Brightly by Art Ecologie and local artists Joseph Pearson and Phyllis Utley. The two installations serve as a gateway to the historic Block area of downtown and pay homage to the many African American businesses and residences lost during urban renewal in the 1970s. In addition, the work envisions an equitable future for Asheville.
Other current projects include:
- The City of Asheville’s African American Heritage Commission is in the early planning stages for a new memorial in downtown to recognize the contributions of Asheville’s African American community.
- The City has commissioned a plaque to recognize the contributions of the Jewish Merchants Association and the many contributions that they made to the development of downtown.
- The African American Heritage Trail, led by the Buncombe County Convention and Visitors Bureau, is underway and will have a series of public forums in January. In addition, the CVB has also provided initial funding for an African American heritage museum at the historic site of Stephens-Lee High School.
- The Martin Luther King, Jr. Association of Asheville and Buncombe County recently formed the Buncombe County Community Remembrance Project Coalition to bring public awareness and formal remembrance to citizens of Buncombe County who were lynched during the Jim Crow era, in conjunction with the National Memorial for Peace and Justice (NMPJ) in Montgomery, AL.
The Asheville Area Arts Council has been involved with many public art projects in our community, including the recent installation at the Block. As a nonprofit committed to elevating the arts as central to our area’s economic and cultural vitality, the arts council relies on individual and organizational donations for our funding. If you would like to support our efforts in these areas, please click here to donate.