Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Down From the Mountain

What’s a great place to live if you’re an artist or fine crafter?  Any guesses?  My answer is Asheville, North Carolina. 

A couple of weeks ago, I was staying in the mountains at Lake Lure, NC, and had a chance to go to Asheville for the day.  Wow!  You can practically smell the art and fine craft when you step out of the car.  I think if you swing a cat in any direction, you’ll hit a gallery.  (Metaphorically only - no animal cruelty intended.)

And judging from the high-production-value free magazines about art there, plus the presence of all those galleries, art is actually a viable part of the economy.  The Biltmore brings in lots of tourists, to be sure, but they must be buying the art as well.  Otherwise, how could all those galleries exist?

As I fiber person, I felt (no pun intended) it was my duty to check out Bellagio, a boutique of fine handmade clothing, much of it handwoven or hand-knitted, as well as hand-dyed.  Beautiful stuff, and priced to actually reflect the time and skill required to produce it.  Their website is http://www.bellagioarttowear.com/.

Next to Bellagio is the New Morning Gallery, a fabulous repository of fine crafts beautifully displayed.  Fiber was represented there by some large traditional quilts, pillows, and some fantastic appliqu├ęd and stitched folk-art works in embellished frames and under glass.  Sorry I didn’t get the folk artist’s name, but her work is unforgettable and charming. 

The interesting thing about this well-known shop (newmorninggallerync.com) is that I had seen the work of many of the artists there – the last time I attended the American Craft Council show in Atlanta.  This leads me to conjecture that the ACC show is an effective showcase for crafts.  It will be held March 11- 13, 2011 in Atlanta.  Check out the website at http://www.craftcouncil.org/

While in Asheville, I naturally had to visit at least one art supply store, and that one was Earth Guild (http://www.earthguild.com/).  I was wowed!  In a fabulous old building sat spinning and weaving supplies, yarn, roving, dyes, paints, tools, books, and more general fiber goodies than I could possibly list.  I even stocked up on something I had never heard of, wheels of bias-cut cotton strips (in yummy colors, of course) called Poppana.  You weavers probably know it – apparently it’s used for the weft in Eastern European rag rugs.  There’s not even much info about it on the web.  But if you need any, I have extra!

Well, it was a great trip, and I was duly rested and duly impressed by the great North Carolina “Art City.”  I just wondered, as I was driving down from the mountain, if Atlanta can’t be a “Fiber Art City.”

Claudia