Tag Archives: Fine Art

River Arts Studio Stroll

13226648_1009023005850299_1845978604982363381_nHi Folks! This weekend is the River Art’s District Studio Stroll. We have sooooo many friends down there with cool fine art and hand made items to see. It should be nice weather so get out and enjoy it. While you are wandering about be sure to stop by Splurge for some refreshments with extended hours Friday and Saturday. Hope to see you out there. Cheers!

COTTON MILL STUDIOS | Open House Tonight

-1Stop by and see all our friends at the Cotton Mill Studios tonight. See you there!

Daniel Nevins | A Trembling World

Untitled-2 2In honor of springing forward let’s start the week off with something evolutionary, shiny and bright. Friend, artist Daniel Nevins, sent me a snap of his latest painting the other day. {I’m a huge fan!} This piece is entitled “A Trembling World.” According to Daniel, “It is his visual reminder that hidden beneath that cold, brittle layer of nature, and perhaps our own nature, that we feel this time of year, there lies a warm throbbing, a fecundity, a vitality, simply waiting for its moment to be reborn, again and again, forever.” The man is tapped in! For past articles on Daniel just type in his name in our blog search on the right. Cheers! Troy

Smoking, Death and little bit of Art


These were just a few of the topics bantered around my dining table tonight. Despite the busy week Kelly and I have had – I’ve been lucky to catch up with some wonderful creative friends. Tonight Barbara Fisher, Spender Herr and Alicia TrinityChatham dropped in to add their creative energy to my space. When I moved in their paintings naturally fit on the main walls of my cozy dining area. I took it as a sign to someday share in creative communion there with the artistic trinity. It has been six years since we shared studios in the same area. Here they are holding their paintings.

{Not pictured is the big smile on my face behind the camera. }

Barbara is currently working towards a May show at Gallery 17 in Greenville in May. {Road Trip} This month her artwork is feature on the billboard for the River Art District. Yeah Barbara!1975106_10152243804379687_1233076523_n

Spencer is a featured artist at American Folk in downtown Asheville. He has art at Pop Santa Fe, Meson Furer Fine Art in Atlanta and others. He has recently made the switch to oils and is enjoying both the richness and realism he is finding. Spence and Alicia

Alicia is a featured artist at Gallery 17 in Greenville, the Haen Gallery in Asheville,  Atelier in Charleston and the Eno Gallery in Hillsboro. She has been working in a larger format then previously. I’m hoping that someday soon we find ourselves together in her studio at the same time so I can check in. You hear me Alicia?

What a great Sunday. Thank you Barbara, Spencer and Alicia!


Artist: Barbara Fisher


“In all chaos there is a cosmos, in all disorder a secret order” Carl Jung

I stopped in to visit Barbara Fisher yesterday morning in her studio. We haven’t had the chance properly connect since I landed from all my travels. It is always great to chat with her, share her space and absorb her passion. I can’t think of anyone more practiced and dedicated within her neighborhood of artists. And there is the fact that I simply love her art.

Though I have had the privilege of witnessing the evolution of Barbara’s work for over six years now, I’m going to bow out of discussing it in detail here. Andrew Wengrow recently wrote a wonderful piece on Barbara that spells it all out in an article titled A Different Orbit. He both captures the spirit and evolution of her work and notes her current solo show going on at the Hickory Museum of Art.


As witnessed by the overflow of art outside her studio door, Barbara is in the midst of preparing for a big show in Atlanta at the Mason Murer gallery in May and June. If you would like to see more of her work please visit Barbara’s website. Better yet, stop by her studio at 170 Lyman St for a visit and be inspired!

Barbara the Stack

Artist Profile: Mitchell Lonas

Artist Mitchell Lonas has been creating his artwork here in Asheville for four years now and is currently featured in this months show at the Blue Spiral Gallery.  Also, he has a show in Seattle and recently opened a show in New Orleans at Gallery Bienvenu (photo below) where he sold 11 of 18 pieces on opening night.  The director of the Gallery Bienvenu painted such a clear picture of Mitchell’s work I reusing his words below.

Several years ago in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains, artist Mitchell Lonas laid eyes on something of such uncanny beauty, he has never forgotten it: a trio of swallows’ nests, which the birds had fashioned solely from horse-tail hairs. The nests, each a different color, were so improbable in their architectural intricacy and gossamer sheen, they filled Lonas with the inspiration to transmute common natural phenomena such as nests, feathers, and trees into items of aesthetic rapture. These motifs are central to The Wrench Series, the artist’s debut exhibition at Gallery Bienvenu. To create the works, he employs a unique process to apply paint to steel and aluminum panels. Then, working from sketches, he uses customized cutting tools to incise the picture planes with iconic imagery, the beveled lines glinting as viewers behold the pieces from different vantages. “You walk in front of them,” he explains, “and the light travels with you. There’s a sparkle, a feeling of movement. It’s almost a fiber-optic effect.”

Lonas, who studied art history at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, was a respected portrait painter before transitioning to his current style. A portraitist’s sense of focus, line, and beauty continues to inform his new work, which is included in notable private, public, and corporate collections, among them a series of large-scale commissions for Nordstrom department stores. An avid hiker and birdwatcher, he is compelled to portray nature in ways that are both poetic and inventive. “The challenge,” he reflects, “is to create something original using unconventional materials and methods.” The artworks’ gestural drama is tempered by a hushed, Zen-like serenity, heightened by an intuitive use of negative space that recalls Asian sumi-e brush painting. Immaculately presented with hidden cleats that make the works appear to float in front of the wall, the incised paintings have a weightless, ethereal quality and a sculptural presence that is contemporary but not cold. In these semi-abstracted celebrations of the natural world, viewers will find a treasure trove of symbolisms and personal narratives, which lend themselves to extended contemplation and interpretations as varied as nature itself.

For more information on Mitchell Lonas visit his website at MitchellLonas.com .

Text courtesy of Gallery Bienvenu.  Photos courtesy of Mitchell Lonas and Troy Winterrowd.

Werner Haker’s “Seduction” Construction

My friend, artist and architect Werner Haker, was featured in a show this past spring at The Upstairs Artspace in Tryon.  The show was titled Seduction.  He exhibited a series of assemblages of which you can see two of in this photograph.  They are titled the small house (left) and the stone villa (right).  The two pieces are a commentary on two early projects by the architect Le Corbusier – La Petite Maison and the Villa Stein.

Shadows and Fog

30 Minutes with Artist Heather Lewis

This past week I was able to visit artist Heather Lewis in her studio in Malvern Hills, a rather pastoral mid-century neighbor in west Asheville.   Heather moved from Knoxville to Asheville in the summer of 2007.  Originally, she began her art career in Trinidad where she was inspired by her nighttime view of oil refineries.  Struck by the light from the flares she watched how the resulting shadows danced across the landscape.  At the time Heather captured those with paint in her sketchbook.

Following Trinidad she spent seven years producing decorative pottery to sell until she found the factory style of creating uninspiring.  Seeking to explore and nurture her creativity she pursued getting her BFA and MFA while in Scotland.  Then in Knoxville she started teaching drawing classes at a community college.  Teaching was an opportunity for her to revisit artistic concepts.  Rethinking perspective along with shadows and light brought her back full circle to where she began painting in Trinidad.

Today, she applies all her past experiences into her work.  Using stencils to apply pattern to large canvases draws from her experience in adding design to pottery.  She experiments with layering her stencils in a way that creates light, shadow and movement across space creating perspective and foreground.  Currently, she is part of a group show in New York at the Hunter College’s Times Square Gallery.  The exhibit is called Smoke+Mirrors/Shadows+Fog and features 16 international artists who use low tech means to create stirring illusions.

One of her favorite exhibits from that show featured an artist who put together a miniature train in a dark room.  The train had LED torches on it.  While moving through a maze of crystal and reflective objects it threw shadows across the walls distorting and changing the space constantly.

Heather continues to evolve her art  and re-examine traditional understandings of drawing.  Part of this she does while teaching.  Currently, she teaches in three places;  a variety of classes at AB Tech including drawing, design and art appreciation – an experimental drawing class at Warren Wilson – through UNCA she teaches art at a men’s prison in Spruce Pine.

What’s next?  Heather will be featured in an upcoming show at the Eyedrum in Atlanta.  The show is about “light” in artwork.   And in her next evolution as an artist she is hoping to experiment with photography and stop motion to capture shadows and how they move across different landscapes.

Photos and writing by: Troy Winterrowd

Artist: Nava Lubelski “Slashed”

I had the opportunity to meet with artist Nava Lubelski again.  And once more I found myself fascinated with her infectious enthusiasm and the depth of thought that she puts into her work.  Overall, she is still exploring the dualities that have fascinated her for some time now.  Construction and Destruction.  Perfection and Decay. Art and Handicraft.  The evolution is that she is moving further into layering and dimension and pushing towards sculpture.

She is currently featured in an exhibition at the Museum of Art and Design in Manhattan where she got her start.  The exhibit is called “Slash: Paper Under the Knife.” In April she will be in a group show at Luis De Jesus gallery in LA and in November she has a solo exhibit in Toronto.

Nava now works from her home just north of downtown Asheville.  To see more of her work you can click on her website link to the right.

Artist Karen Weihs


I had a friendly visit with artist, Karen Weihs, at her new studio in Biltmore Village that she shares with artist, Gayle Paul.  Over coffee we discussed Karen’s love for Abstract Impressionism.  She says, “I just follow the paint where it takes me.

securedownloadIt is part intuition and part exploration of both form and color.  After years of painting it is about letting go and trusting your accumulated knowledge and life experience.”

One of Karen’s life experiences that solidified her direction as an artist was painting along side Charleston artist, Frank Licciardi, for several years.  Licciardi had a successful art career in Charleston with art shows, television shows and gallery sales. He was acknowledged in Charleston as a gifted artist by artists, collectors, and galleries alike.  Frank and Karen became close friends.  She painted alongside him in his Charleston studio up until his death in late 1991.

karen-021Since then Karen has established her own successful art career with gallery shows in Charleston, Atlanta and Asheville at the contemporary Haen Gallery.  Even with success Karen continues to challenge herself as an abstract artist.  She explores subjects from the real world such as landscapes or figures, breaking them down into shapes and color.  securedownload-3Karen believes one needs to know how to paint form first before exploring abstraction successfully.  That is part of what she teaches in the art classes she offers for clients and another way in which Karen challenges herself to learn, by teaching.

Karen’s teaching has further inspired her to create a book called Out of Your Mind.  kwbook1You can understand the richness of Karen’s paintings by understanding the richness of her thought in this book.  She says,” This book was born out of sharing. Through teaching and being taught, I have learned that people who develop their creativity are more confident and courageous in life.”  Karen breaks down a simple way of understanding oil painting, but incorporates life lessons to help you work past your own hurdles to exploring creativity.  Karen generously acknowledges the role many people have played in her life and success as an artist.  Out of Your Mind is Karen’s way of helping others and bringing her creative exploration full circle. kw-end-photo1

I encourage you to visit with Karen in her studio across from the new shopping center in Biltmore Village.      (text by Troy Winterrowd)

Nava Lubelski


Fine Artist – New York to West Asheville

I met with Nava last Tuesday at her studio in West Asheville.  I’ll admit that upon seeing her name, knowing she studied Russian literature and was a New Yorker, I pictured an eastern European intellectual ready to have a challenging debate on art.  However, what I encountered was everybody’s favorite sister.  Her open and comfortable attitude made art as easy to discuss as a baseball game or putting together a delicious sandwich.  She really enjoys herself and the process of making her art.  She takes her work seriously and is polished in her craft, but she makes it as comfortable as throwing on a favorite pair of jeans.  It worked for me. img_5027


Before moving to Asheville, Nava found herself in the midst of a successful art career in New York.  Having received a fellowship with a free studio program several years back she gained quick recognition as having developed a look and style all her own.  Her modernist abstractions within the fine art world combined with the modern reinvention of hand-stitched crafts allow her to bridge audiences from fine arts, design and craft.   If you go to her website you will see the quantity of shows and art publications she has been part of.  Recently, she was published in a design magazine in Spain.

A few different things in the creation of her art drive Nava.  She has a compulsion for saving and reusing things.  She can’t allow waste.  So, she allows these remnants and tossed aside pieces to be a starting point for creating something new.  Nava, also, has a fascination with “the stain”.  The history, the intended or accidental destruction it causes, the feminine symbolism and its ability to forever alter a place.  Following that is our need to fix things.  I’ll let Nava explain it; “My work explores the contradictions between the impulse to destroy and the compulsion to mend.  I juxtapose rapid acts of destruction, such as spilling and cutting, with painstaking, restorative labor.  Embroideries are hand-stitched over stains and rips, contrasting the accidental with the meticulous, constructing narrative from randomness and mistake.  The initial marks are found on linens or are created by cutting and staining canvas.  The work scrambles expressions of aggression with masochistic patience and sublimation and plays with the feminine through the graphic form of the “stain” and the adding of peek-a-boo, lace inlays to repair cut holes that expose the hidden space behind the canvas.

img_5034Shadows on the wall add a sculptural dimension and some pieces are hung off the wall to reveal the secret and unintended marks of the verso.”

Nava moved to Asheville with her boyfriend over two years ago following some family members. Nava wanted fewer distractions to focus on work and, not afraid to get her hands dirty, she wanted a garden to grow her own food.  Life here is an experiment for them.  We are lucky to have her here as part of the greater community of art.

Nava will be having a new show located at Krug Creative sometime in March.  I’ll be sure to keep update you when they have a date.  It is a fun space and a great colaboration between Emily Krug and Nava.


(text by Troy Winterrowd, photos by Nava Lubelski and Troy)


Werner Haker


Mindful Constructions

The Artist, Werner Haker, has been painting for 8 years.  He has dedicated himself full time to his paintings and considers it his current profession.  He goes to his practice every day.  “It’s my way of chopping wood and carrying water,” he likes to say.  This is how he currently makes his living.

Since the production of his last show at The Haen Gallery in Asheville, Werner has chosen to take a break from doing gallery work, as it tends to change the focus of creating.  During this time his paintings have evolved and emerged further from the wall as assemblages.  “The illusion of space is transitioning to the reality of space”, says the artist. He wants to create work that is more experiential.  An ultimate goal for him is to create installation pieces to activate spaces.


Here I snapped a photo of Werner in front of one of his latest assemblages.  It’s called  Box Car Memorial. He begins with a theme or notion when he starts a piece.  This time it was the Holocaust.  Having grown up in the generation following the Holocaust in Germany he discusses the weight of the collective unconscious that people were living with during that time of reconstruction. Through the use of deconstructed symbolism, composition, weight, texture, and large and small-scale experiences – a story is pushed and pulled into existence to ultimately be completed by the observer.

Werner likes to focus on the process of creating.  He is “mindful” of moving back and forth from thought to intuition and from randomness to precision.  Improvising, constructing, deconstructing, the final sobering decision becomes when to stop.  When is it enough?  That is when we connected on something we both appreciate, the richness in expressing something with so little.  As he puts it, “How to achieve the highest degree of complexity with the least means.”  This is a principle of modern creation and a good point to transition to further spatial reality, architecture.

The Architect, Werner Haker, has been practicing architecture for decades beginning in Europe.  Achieving a degree in architecture he has taught, worked and had influential roles in mega-firms and ETH – The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology.  Since moving to the Asheville area 15 years ago he has been a guest professor at NC State along with doing some private practice work.  It is his house he designed, for him and his fashion designer wife, five years ago that became a great point for discussing his practice of design. exterior2

Werner’s house was created to be a low cost, low maintenance, passive solar and sustainable stage for not only enhancing and maintaining daily life, but for quietly stepping out of its way. The nuts and bolts description is a 3000sq/ft box that is divided half into home and half into work studios.  The walls and the roof are created from a typical industrial steel structure and incorporate 8” insulated walls.  They are made from recycled steel components.  All walls are non-load bearing.  The exterior siding, doors and windows utilize low maintenance, standardized components to keep initial and future costs to a minimum.  He likes to describe the style as “Bauhaus Trailer.”  Interior walls are created to combine and frame multiple, back-to-back functions.  fireplace1The wall of the fireplace becomes more spatial to serve as media storage, fireplace and a screen for hiding the office along with structure for supporting the desk beyond.  Combining functions is another modernist principle in design.

To emphasize the last point we can take a more detailed look at the floor.  The concrete slab floor in Werner’s home was designed to serve three functions.  First, it is the key component to the structure of the house, the foundation.  Second, it is the main surface or backdrop to the stage of living in the house, the floor.  Third, the slab is also an integral component of the home’s mechanical systems, heating through a combination of a hydronic radiant system with additional passive solar.

Compare that to a traditional home.  First, there are often footings to support the base of the home.  Then on top we may add wood beams, floor joists and sub-flooring, before getting to the final finished surface of the floor.  We can then add the cost of the finished floor material (carpet, stone, wood) on top of the costs to all the layers of supporting construction. All these components are used to complete the floor and we don’t have the addition of using the floor for heat.  In fact, we have created a floor that allows heat to escape and requires extra cost and material to keep the heat contained.  Again, like discussing his art, we both find ourselves compelled by the richness of creating so much with a seemingly small gesture.  On the surface, the concrete slab appears simple and void of thought, but in reality it contains layers of sophistication. hall

When applying this idea to the rest of the home what is the result?  As both a designer and realtor I know that homes in the Asheville area can be purchased for $150 to $500/sq.ft.  I have met a builder who can build a decent quality traditional home, not sustainable, for $100 sq/ft.  Werner has constructed his home for $70/sq.ft including all infrastructure and labor.  It may be a good time to consider the implications of this, compare it to the houses created today and the quality of life of its inhabitants.


Werner states it is not a matter of being green on its own.  That is only one aspect of a broader way of thinking.  Again, it is a matter of being “mindful” of each choice he makes in designing a home.  Like his art, it is a matter of knowing when to add, when to combine and when to take away.  Does an element enhance or hinder the story and the ability for the observer to create their own story?  final-illustration3Likewise with architecture, does an element enhance or hinder living life in a home and the freedom to create your own life, both today and tomorrow?

(text and photos by Troy Winterrowd)