Tag Archives: studio

Asheville | A Week of Art and Craft Openings

Hi Folks! November marks a banner month in Asheville for Art and Craft with at least three major events coming up in the next week. Nov 9th and 10th is the River Arts District yearly fall Studio Stroll. Get out this weekend and enjoy that and support our local artists. We, also, have two major grand re-openings at both the Asheville Art Museum and the Center for Craft downtown. Click on the links for details. Let’s celebrate and support our Asheville cultural community in downtown that is helping us retain the Asheville we know and love there. Cheers!

Beaverdam Studio Tour

Hi Folks! Just a quick note in support of our North Asheville artist community. We hope you get out and support this talented group. For details go here. Cheers!

RAD Studio Stroll

Hi Folks! Don’t forget that today and tomorrow is the RAD Studio Stroll. Go HERE for more info. Cheers!

River Arts District | Fall Studio Stroll

November 14-15 from 10am to 5pm

12191897_10153732084796532_4698471145216248792_nThe Artists of Asheville’s River Arts District open their doors for a full weekend in the Fall Studio Stroll, welcoming the public to see and collect amazing art in their studios and galleries.

Getting to the River Arts District is easy (Here’s a map!). Take advantage of ample parking and hop aboard one of our free trolleys running throughout the Studio Stroll Weekend. The River Arts District consists of a vast array of artists and working studios in 22 former factories and historical buildings nestled along the French Broad River.

The_River_Arts_District_Association_Inc_footer2_local_flavor_avl_visit_explore_arts_ashevilleMore than 180 working studios, many with showrooms and galleries, are open every day, all year round. Our Artists work in paint, pencil, pottery, metal, fiber, glass, wax, paper and more. Come be inspired, shop, meet the artists and watch live demonstrations!


An apartment in historic Parc Vendome gets a modern makeover SWITCH style.

I recently spent a few fun days in NYC visiting friends and catching up on the latest trends in the city.  One of my hosts was Roy Otwell, co-owner of SWITCH Modern in Atlanta.  He is a big supporter of Modern Asheville and a thoughtful interior designer.  I spent a couple of evenings in his condo in the well known Park Vendome on West 57th a few blocks from Columbus Circle.  He originally liked the building and its proximity to Central Park and the subway lines.

Park Vendome was built in the 1930s and has a old world air about it.  Most of the apartments are quite grand with fireplaces and double height living rooms.  With 570 sqft his smaller and shorter studio apartment provided him all the space he needed to live efficiently in the city.  Roy cleverly took what was one open space and built walls to divide it into zones including a kitchen, bath and dressing area, bedroom and combined living space.  His living and working stage rests on honed absolute granite flooring and all the functional cabinetry is Poliform which he sells through his shop in Atlanta.

Overall, I was struck by the efficiency and thoughtfulness that Roy designed into the space.  Everything was very purposeful and there was no waste.  I was left wishing to see this level of thought and quality products in Asheville downtown condos.

In his bathroom I admired the catalano sink and toilet.  However, it was the Dornbracht hardware that I was drawn to the most.  It was all very simple, elegant and functional with out excess mechanical components.  In otherwords, perfect.  It is sometimes the little things that bring elegance to a space.

Article and photos by Troy Winterrowd

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

Dr. Neon’s Laboratory – A Church Goes Industrial

11 Rich - KitchenThe skull-and-crossbones warning sign posted at the front gate was the first indication the scheduled tour of Alexander Evans’ home would prove to be an interesting afternoon.

Alexander, perhaps best known as Dr. Neon, resides quite expressively at Farkham Hall — a converted 12,000 sq.ft. church that stood abandoned for years before he purchased it in 2002.  There is nothing normal about Farkham Hall.  But then, for Alexander, normal is highly overrated.

An artist and creator, Alexander approached life with a nothing-is-impossible attitude and a thirst for pushing the envelope.  Neon Dragon-1Fast bikes, fast cars, and bright lights are all part of the script.  He earned the moniker of Dr. Neon by being the first to introduce neon tubing for motorcylces, and later cars.  He’s originally from California where he also created neon art for Disney, MGM, and Twentieth Century Fox.

His affable nature led him to the stage as a stand-up comedian trading wisecracks with the likes of Pauly Shore and the late Sam Kinison.  All thos pursuits would have comprised an impressive resume sufficient for most people.  Alexander, however, was just getting started.  He builds custom bikes, does metal fabrication both commercially and artistically, is a talented wood and silver artist, and built a custom car for Snap-On Tools.  His home, including his 75,000 sq.ft. workshop, is a visual tour of his creative genious.

Wearing camouflage bib overalls and sporting a mischievous grin, he begins the tour in his shop where he and his assistants are preparing for a knife show in Atlanta.  “Welcome to my laboratory!” he says wtih outstretched arms.  He fabricates the knives entirely on-site, from the forging of the blades to the carving of the handles made of elk and deer antlers.  Decorative handcast silver animal replicas adorn each one.Neon - Knife

The shop is abuzz with activity as Alexander continues to give instructions and answer questions.  He admits that the workshop was the property’s big selling point for him because it allows him to live and work in the same place.  Plus, he adds, “I’ve got the best view of the river.”  There is every tool and gadget one could possibly need — all neatly organized (in customized Snap-On Tool chests, of course).  There is even a paint booth where Alexander dos custom auto and bike painting.

Walking back toward the house, Alexander points out his auto collection including two Chevies (a ’57 and a ’54), a ’61 Cadillac, and a ’74 Indy Pace Car.  A quick stop at the garage reveals his motorcycles, including a tricked out Harley.

Farkham Hall, like its owner, is boldly eccentric and fun.  The abandoned church was in bad shape when he bought it, but his ability to visualize things into creation has worked its magic.  “It took two years to clean this place up,” he says.  “it was a mess.”

Neon - EinsteinA neon image of Albert Einstein gazes out over the open living room and kitchen.  Large diamond-shaped, slate-colored tiles cover the floor and draw the eye to the art deco tile work on the fireplace.  A collection of flying pigs and cows hangs happily from ceilings and others are perched on tables giving visitors and idea of Alexander’s whimsical tendencies.

The kitchen is his pride and joy.  An avid cook and gourmand, Alexander ripped out the ceiling and replaced it with corrugated steel that he recycled from the site and illuminated with a fabulous blue neon glow.  He brought in high-end commercial appliances, created custom door pulls, and added beautiful cabinetry in a warm honey color.

11 Rich - Loft ViewThe loft space above the kitchen serves as the master bedroom where Alexander’s collection of tin toys from robots and wind-up cars to noise-making space guns is displayed.  The master bath is huge and features Alexander’s handiwork in the leaded copper shower and personal shaving mirror.

The tour continues down a handcrafted 11 Rich - Dtlspiral steel staircase to what could easily be considered fantasy land.  Here visitors find a large castle Alexander constructed entirely of sugar cubes and featuring hundreds of detailed pewter knights and soldiers he sculpted and cast himself. Neon - Castle On this level are also the “planes, trains and automobiles room, ” the library , and his office.

What used to be classrooms have been converted to work spaces for his neon production, metal casting, and other artistic endeavors.  The former sanctuary is now a grand hall boasting 48-foot ceilings, polished wood floors, and a stage.  He currently holds dance classes there on Wednesday nights and rents out the space for parties and other functions.

Alexander lives life out loud, full of energy and optimism.  His home is a fitting and thoroughly entertaining representation of that life.  At Dr. Neon’s Laboratory, there’s always something going on.11 Rich - Facade 02

Article courtesy of The Laurel of Asheville, July 2009

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)