Artful Asheville

the loud creek

the loud creek

Last weekend I camped beside a loud stream near Asheville.  All night I got to hear the stream rush by– my favorite way to sleep.  The canopy was dense so I could only catch small bits of the mountain starlight.  My alarm clock was a loud crow who would arch through the trees, cutting his handsome black silhouette against the green patterned canopy and insisting I get up.  On Saturday, in spite of the the crow,  I slept two hours later than my definition of sleeping in because it was so delicious.

For entertainment I started by visiting the Faculty Show at UNC-Asheville (  I was particularly intrigued by the work of Mark Koven there.  The sculptures he was showing were small in scale, and kinetic.  My favorite was a tower with a small generator that was powered by a turbine.  (I was reminded that Leonardo invented the turbine.) The turbine required the breath of more than one observer to turn it enough to power the dragonfly wings mounted at the top of the piece, which in turn evoked, for me, the flying machine drawings of Leonardo.  I also was captivated by the drawings of  Tamie Beldue, which were skillful and voluptuous, in graphite and watercolor, and floating under a layer of wax which gave them an extra aura of delicacy and intimacy.

My son Stewart and I had fun going to the Asheville Art Museum (  which has its own special style– Very Asheville.  It’s in a glamorous Italian Renaissance style building in downtown that was the former home of the town library.  Now it houses a wonderful collection.  Lucky for me the work I’d seen there in April had all been replaced with other work so I got a larger notion of the museum’s holdings.  There are always plenty of surprises there, but the piece that sticks best in my mind is an abstract Maud Gatewood rendering of a tunnel (also very Asheville).  One sees the view framed by the tunnel.  Snow is falling and creates a pattern over the framed vista.

I paid a quick visit to the Blue Spiral (, ate some great food, watched a guy dressed in a nun’s habit complete with a black miniskirt pedaling up Biltmore at a 45 degree angle on a red bicycle that had to be 10 feet tall (employing the same Attitude as the Wicked Witch of the West).  I heard the drum circle in the park.  Saw lovely bits of blacksmithing here and mosaic-making there… bits of random wall painting, and the basic urge of many creative souls to express themselves.  My refrigerator is now full of mountain apples from the Farmers’ Market.  And my head is full of  color, and snapshots of focused energy made material .  Thanks Asheville.

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