Virtual Holiday Gallery Tour, Day 3 – by Louise Glickman
Through his curatorial clarity of vision for Blue Spiral 1, Michael Manes provided an insider’s look at the history and range of talents represented at this acclaimed gallery that has parented the Asheville art scene. Mentored by the renowned John Cram, Michael has lent his own talent and curatorial exceptionalism to the bright future of Blue Spiral 1. This private tour was a family affair in many respects with a focus on glass, in particular the work of Alex Bernstein who grew up in “the business” with his father William Bernstein, an early and exceptional artist in the contemporary glass movement. The Bernstein’s familial relationship with Blue Spiral continues with Alex’s abstract glass sculptures using molten glass to create amazing forms and shapes inspired by nature. Cram’s relationship with the family of Will Henry Stevens (1881-1949) was foundational to the building of Blue Spiral 1 as a downtown showplace for Stevens’ work. Beyond glass, tours through various galleries provided a vast look at exhibitions and works reflecting the range of mediums and talent at Blue Spiral from more glass (Shane Fero’s birds and newcomer Hayden Wilson) plus Brad Sells’ sculptural woodworks, Matt Tommey’s baskets, Scott Upton’s abstract oils and more. All in the family, Hanna Manes’ curation of a ceramics invitational, “Form to Table,” allows focus on the variety of outstanding ceramic artists at Blue Spiral placed in what used to be gallery founder John Cram’s “conference room.” This revolving display for functional gifting again shows the range of crafts in clay at Blue Spiral from Judith Duff, Casey Engel, Rickie Barnett, Will Dickert, Lynne Hobaica and more.