Asheville Art Museum

Matt Peiken | BPR News


Ask any of the 50 artists invited into Asheville Art Museum’s “Appalachia Now!” exhibition and, to a person, they’ll tell you they were honored and elated. Many were motivated to stretch themselves artistically to create what they regard as their most ambitious works.

For good reason. “Appalachia Now!” is the flagship exhibition that reopened the Asheville Art Museum last November and few of the artists had ever experienced exposure on this level. The exhibition closes Feb. 3.

But here’s another truth: Even the museum director acknowledges the artists were largely paid with exposure. The museum raised $24 million for its renovation and only distributed stipends of $100 each to the “Appalachia Now!” artists, regardless of whether they simply loaned pieces out of their studios or created major new works at the request of the exhibition’s curator.

Colby Caldwell


Molly Sawyer used to sculpt stylized horses and human figures from clay. That changed after her battle with breast cancer.

“The work became a response to my own direct experience with life, death,” she said. “I guess the issue of mortality has always been present in my deeper thought process.”

Today, Sawyer’s work is a mashup of found objects such as driftwood, stone and metal rods with braided or balled-up wool, twine, ash and fur. She usually works large, with some installations at once clumped on the floor, leaning against a wall and hanging from the ceiling.  

The dimensions and materials make this body of work difficult to place in galleries focused on sales, but Sawyer is riding a wave of exposure in area museums and art centers. She’s among the 50 artists invited into the Asheville Art Museum’s “Appalachia Now!” exhibition, and Sawyer is soon opening solo shows at Revolve in Asheville and at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee.

Matt Peiken | BPR News

This isn’t another top-10 list. But in the spirit of looking back on 2019, we’ve cobbled together this sampler platter from among more than 60 stories Blue Ridge Public Radio produced in 2019 about regional artists and arts happenings.

Matt Peiken | BPR News


Mission Health is a hospital, not a contemporary art center. But you wouldn’t know that from browsing the public areas—and, if circumstances bring you there, to the patient and waiting rooms—of Mission’s new North Tower.

There, you’ll find sculpture, etchings, woodcuts, photographs and one-of-a-kind paintings—some 659 artworks in all, from more than 150 Western North Carolina artists. All of it created on commission, and purchased, by Mission Health.

Matt Peiken | BPR News


  “Come on in, welcome to the museum.”

And with that, at 11am Thursday morning, the Asheville Art Museum reopened to the general public. David and Olivia Franklin, in town from Atlanta on their honeymoon, stepped in from the cold to become the museum’s first general-admission patrons.

“We always make it a point to go to the art museum wherever we go, and we felt like we needed to be able to be a part of history,” David Franklin said. “It seemed like a wonderful little bit of serendipity.”

Matt Bush / Blue Ridge Public Radio

This is a monumental week for Asheville’s arts scene. The Asheville Art Museum reopens this Thursday and, two days later, the Center for Craft reopens. Both are emerging from major renovations.

Matt Peiken | BPR News

The Asheville Art Museum has finally set a reopening date — Nov. 14.

The museum has been closed for three years while completing its $24 million renovation and expansion, with a number of construction and permitting hiccups along the way pushing back the project timeline.

 

The museum will reopen with 54,000 square feet — up from 12,000. It will feature a new rooftop sculpture terrace and cafe, atrium, public art installations, an all-ages play space and 10 new galleries showcasing the permanent collection.

David Huff Creative / davidhuffcreative.com


The Asheville Art Museum's long-awaited reopening is awaiting longer than anyone hoped or anticipated.

Just a few months ago, museum officials gave area media a first look from inside the renovated galleries and announced an opening sometime in the summer. Now that summer has passed, leaders now are saying the museum won’t welcome visitors again at least until October -- three years after the museum closed for its $24 million renovation.

Matt Peiken | BPR News


Here’s a little perspective: This year’s high school graduates haven’t been able to set foot inside the Asheville Art Museum since early in their freshman year. That’s how long the current, $24 million renovation and expansion is taking.

 

But this past Friday, museum director Pam Myers and some of her staff walked BPR and other local media through three floors and a rooftop of new galleries and other features that, up to now, have never been part of the museum’s 71-year history.

Matt Peiken | BPR News

Unless you’re wearing a hardhat in the vicinity of Pack Square, the construction sounds filling every workday are reminders how far away the Asheville Art Museum is from reopening.

“We thought we would be functioning on this site throughout the construction project,” said Pam Myers, the museum’s director for the past 22 years. “I think I said ‘Oh really, we’re really going to need to move, and move the entirety of the collection?’ It was fast and furious.”

Jeremy Loeb/WCQS

Visitors to downtown Asheville will notice some new work taking place at the Asheville Art Museum at Pack Square.  WCQS’s Jeremy Loeb has details.

Construction workers were busy building scaffolding outside the museum.  It’s the launch of major construction at the building that once housed Pack Memorial Library.  The Italian Renaissance building opened in 1926 and was home to the library until 1978.