Not surprisingly, galleries and artists want to take commercial advantage of the added traffic of the “leafers.” So the Gallery Guild of Henderson County, in collaboration with the Arts Council of Henderson County, fixed the dates of their “Henderson County Open Studio Tour” as October 10-11 this year. That posed a problem for me, because the “Church Street Art and Craft Show” in downtown Waynesville was held on that Saturday and twenty-seven artists from Black Mountain, Swannanoa, Fairview and East Asheville participated in the “East of Asheville Studio Tour” on the same weekend.
I had to make a choice, and Henderson County won out this year. Having formerly lived in Hendersonville, I am familiar with many of the 26 artists and all ten of the galleries that participated in this year’s self-guided tour. It was too much for one day, so I hopped and skipped about, briefly touching base at familiar territory but also paying attention to new artists and artists who have made recent changes in location or style.
Dave Goldman is an interesting recent arrival in our area. Formerly an oceanographer, he left mid-career in order to paint full time. His work for several years has been primarily “imaginary landscapes and seascapes.” His work can be seen at Number 7 Arts, the co-operative art gallery in Brevard, and at the ®evolving Arts Gallery in Hendersonville. His landscapes are very well painted oils, but I find them a little commercial, intended to appeal to the buyers he meets at Southeastern art festivals that are a regular part of his sales effort. Personally, I was more attracted to his recent mixed media collages, which use darker colors and incorporate found objects such as chains and wires. They are edgier paintings that seem more personal to the artist.
Sue Fazio recently made a major commitment to encaustic painting. If you are familiar only with her earlier oil paintings, I recommend that you consult www.suefazio.com to see images of her recent work. Fazio is a painter who continues to show admirable development, each year incorporating more of her own sensibility into her painting.
I spent a liberal amount of time that Saturday taking in the quite wonderful “Chair Show” at Hand in Hand Gallery in Flat Rock. This exhibit will stay up through November 29 and is worth a trip. Fine crafters David Voorhees and Molly Sharp, owners of Hand in Hand, invited other crafters and selected artists to submit entries that incorporated the “chair” theme, and the resulting exhibit is full of works that are bubbling with humanity. There are practical chairs such as Mona Grabon’s “Painted Chair” and Kevin Felderhoff’s “Mountain Laurel and Rhododendron Root” bench. There are useless but charming chairs such as Del Holt’s “Beach Chair” filled with sand and an attached starfish. There are photographs of chairs such as Robin Smith’s “Primary Colors.” There is jewelry incorporating tiny swings and chairs by Pegi Pike and Laura Dahl. There are paintings such as Mike Gilboy’s “Power Nap.”
To my mind the finest entries are two “haiku” constructions by Henry Mitchell. Each construction incorporates wood pieces silhouetting a chair, and each includes a haiku, written out in stylized wooden letters that are in the Roman alphabet but shaped to appear like Asian characters. The chair silhouette itself also resembles a Kanji. In “Rocker” illustrated at the right, the second line of the haiku is “arc to arc from rest to rest,” a wonderful evocation of a rocking chair. I will leave the other two lines as an exercise for the reader to puzzle over.
That is what filled my day on Saturday, October 10. What about Sunday? I spent October 11 looking at the fall foliage up on the Blue Ridge Parkway. After all, I moved to Western North Carolina not just for the beauty of the arts but also for the beauty of nature.