Jeremy Russell

Matt Peiken | BPR News

Alicia Armstrong can’t count how many times she has turned down Jeremy Russell.

“When he would come to me with the ideas, I would say ‘Dude, that is f***d up,” Armstrong said. “‘I don’t have time for that.’”

There was the time Russell wanted partners to go in on a bowling alley or perhaps an abandoned Kmart and turn it into an “art experience.” For years, he hit up friends to join him in buying a warehouse and renting studios to other artists.

“Jeremy comes in hot and I’m used to it because I’ve known him for a long time,” Armstrong said. “And he does get disgruntled that I am not as exuberant about his ideas.”

Russell nodded in agreement.

“Alicia’s not. My wife’s not. Nobody is,” he said.

But earlier this year, as Russell put it, he caught Armstrong on a “weird day” with the idea of moving both their studios and showrooms into a vacant gallery in the heart of downtown Asheville.