In the month following the Sand Hill Artists Collective Virtual Holiday Gallery Tour, we sent a survey to all ticket purchasers asking for feedback on the project. 32% of those polled responded, and the overall response was very favorable. There were some good suggestions relevant to similar events in future, and we have made note of them. And there were very positive comments made about specific episodes as well as the series as a whole.
For those interested in the numbers, we present the following graphs based on the responses.
As an encaustic painter and businesswoman with deep ties to the Midwest, I can’t believe I took the plunge and moved to Asheville in the midst of the pandemic. At first glance, it appeared that I might have to exchange the quest for a peaceful and inspiring space to paint for the commotion of two side-by-side houses (mine and my daughter’s), a settling-in period, and lots of babysitting.
Always my goal in moving the family to Asheville was to connect with local artists. As luck would have it, I read about Sand Hill Artists Collective and signed on to their Virtual Holiday Gallery Tours. It enabled me to discover the Asheville art community in short order and from the comfort of my little cottage. Louise and Bob created an intimate and welcoming online discovery of galleries, art professionals and their offerings. This brought me an intensive and inside look at the work of other artists, galleries I want to visit, and places that I might settle in to do my own work. As an accomplished artist whose work has been shown in exhibitions and is widely collected, I felt privileged to identify so immediately with a community fertile with artists, ideas, and enthusiasm. Through SHAC’s Virtual Tours, I could see that there was potential to actively show my work to both a regional and national audience from studio and home.
My encaustics reveal my daily meditative journalling of mountain walks and my time travel through layers of memories and reflections on natural surroundings. However, lacking confidence on the marketing side of the arts equation, the Virtual Tours showed me that Asheville provided possibilities to connect more directly with potential buyers in a personal and informative way, moving me from gallery to self representation. It has further inspired me to rethink my approach to business and how this might influence my art.
I am appreciative to SHAC in encouraging me to commit to my studio space at 213 Riverview Station in RAD starting March 1st. My goals are to keep my website current, start a personal journey on Instagram, and of course, stay involved with SHAC! Please come visit me soon.
As we close 2020, we also celebrate the first year anniversary of Sand Hill Artists Collective, an embryo of an idea born to bring neighbors and art enthusiasts together in the age of Covid. Here’s a look at how we have grown and gifted the inspiration of creativity to supporters across the country.
December 2019 – March 2020: An enthusiastic group gathered at the Biltmore Lake Clubhouse just three times for discussion and art presentations from Biltmore Lake Artists before Covid shut us down in early March. A survey of our first 35 art members showed their top priority was to “Show and Sell” their work. Others wanted activities like gallery tours. We had no idea that our first virtual tour in June would become a test run for our Virtual Holiday Gallery Tours in December.
April: Using Zoom to gather, a few enthusiasts loosely formed a committee to discuss how we might create a studio tour using available technology. Now in isolation, without any budget, we bravely challenged ourselves to “show and sell” and to prepare for a future studio tour.
Mostly Biltmore Lakers gathered informally on Zoom: Katrina Chenevert (who helped coordinate from the very first Biltmore Lake Artists meeting), Stephanie Moore (Center for Craft), Bob Ware (photographer with digital skills), Michael Manes (Blue Spiral 1), Carol McCrory (artist and activist), Louise Glickman (arts activist) and Daryl Slaton (artist and advocate).
With trepidation and no money, the group decided that a blog or website would be the best, least expensive way to launch our group. After speaking with leadership in areas like Beaverdam and Weaverville, experienced with producing open studio events, Biltmore Lake Artists morphed into Sand Hill Artists Collective to encompass much of Westernmost Buncombe County.
Bob Ware, Louise Glickman and Daryl Slaton used their combined years of professional experience to undergo the rigors of building a website. This included identifying featured artists and an audience for FREE distribution of the very first SHAC monthly blog. The format continues to include three featured artists monthly from the 28704, 28715, 28728, 28806, and 28810 zip codes, and for commentary and news from anyone, anywhere to further education, learning and working in the arts field.
— SHAC’s first blog goes virtual.
— Enka Village neighbor Michael Manes, Gallery Director of Blue Spiral 1, leads us on a well-attended virtual tour providing insights into this top gallery’s history and exhibited artists.
October: Five months of blogging brought a growing audience to SHAC as well as the recognition that we could not build further without social media. Biltmore Laker Tim Bennett of WSI Digital Marketing advised us that hiring an expert would bring the fastest, most cost effective results for SHAC, but we needed funding. Marilynne Herbert and Sam Walker suggested that traditional fundraising would be virtually fruitless with so many organizations vying for funding during Covid.
November: Our volunteer expertise expanded with the addition of Jean McLaughlin (former director at Penland), Merrily Orsini (marketing professional, arts collector, and activist) and Marilynne Herbert (marketing and community activist). The idea of a Virtual Holiday Gallery Tour quickly evolved, and within one week ten of the area’s top galleries signed on to produce individual gallery tours for a virtual audience. To promote holiday traffic for the galleries and ticket sales for SHAC, the database expanded beyond the Carolinas to friends across the country whom our volunteers suggested might purchase tickets for the series. Andrea Kulish, an artist and social media guru in the River Arts District, launched our moderate social media efforts on Facebook and Pinterest.
December 2-15: SHAC’s Virtual Holiday Gallery Tour has brought both visibility and viability to the Sand Hill Artists Collective. Our database of supporters has grown nationally, West Asheville area artists are submitting applications to become featured artists, we secured a small budget to continue social media in 2021, and SHAC has become a credible and creative tour de force in Western North Carolina and some major cities.
Special thanks to Gallery series participants: River Arts District Artists, Pink Dog Creative, Blue Spiral 1, LEAF Global Arts, Penland Gallery, Momentum Gallery, Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center, Southern Highland Crafts Guild, Center for Craft, and Tracey Morgan Gallery.
Anyone, anywhere may sign up for the FREE monthly SHAC blog at www.sandhillartists.com.
To view recordings of the ten programs in the Virtual Gallery Tour series, please mail a check for $65 to Sand Hill Artists Collective, 7 White Palmer Ct., Biltmore Lake, NC 28715.
For more information: firstname.lastname@example.org
In one segment of the Sand Hill Artists Collective’s Virtual Holiday Gallery Tour, ceramic artist Shae Bishop talks about his detailed, colorful, and thought provoking work as part of the Penland Gallery webinar. This brief excerpt is a small fraction of the work and artists featured in the webinar series presented by SHAC this month. Tickets are available on our home page. Purchasers will receive access to recordings of all ten webinars after the series concludes.
On a personal note: Today, midway through SHAC’s Virtual Holiday Gallery Tour, I’ve come to some realization of how far we have advanced bringing a kernel of an idea to satisfying fruition. Bob Ware has literally made this virtually possible with his tech skills. Our production is smoother now, including segues from live to video and our content has been strengthened by daily communications with gallery presenters. I’m also learning why so many people are out of work and possibly never to return. Since Covid, everyone has had to reinvent their businesses and non-profits and are relying on internet with a handful of talent. For us, that has primarily been Bob and myself. Our goal for 2021 is to build more volunteer participation and to find some funding to support our social media and marketing. Most surprising to us, a large part of our audience is from outside the Asheville area. I’m thinking that art lovers who are following Sand Hill Artists Collective (SHAC) and our virtual gallery series would certainly want to visit here post-Covid to see our art and meet our artists. Ideas on ways to corral this energy are germinating as we “speak.”
Tues. Dec. 8- Penland Gallery: Gallery Director Kathryn Gremley and ceramic artist Shae Bishop presented a program at the very top their game combining Penland history with a preview of exhibitions to come when the Penland Gallery reopens next spring. A video with Corn Wagon Thunder showing her photographs provided more insight into thoughtful curating as Shae and Corn will be presenting together in one of Penland’s beautifully renovated galleries upon reopening. I wasn’t aware of Shae Bishop’s work until yesterday and I’m now completely taken with his ceramic clothing in glorious patterns and textures revealing his extensive travel and study in faraway lands. He was both personal and intentional, weaving stories and a photographic travelogues into his presentation. An ultimate expression in ceramics and textiles, Shae showed how inspiration and process grow to exceptional craft through the hands and heart of a skilled artist.
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.
Day 2 of SHAC’s Virtual Holiday Gallery Tours told the story of culture and communities through the eyes and hands at Pink Dog Creative (PDC), its founders and artists. We were introduced to the vision of Randy Shull (Randy’s art at https://22london.org) and Hedy Fischer that PDC would form a community of artists while launching the expansion of creative businesses onto Depot Street. Their philanthropic endeavors dovetail with projects like In Solidarity where their artists and friends have done special works, sold online and at the gallery, raising over $7000 for justice & equity initiatives. http://www.pinkdog-creative.com/in-solidarity. Joseph Pearson gave us demos of delightful gestural drawings of the human figure accented with wash and showed his masterful oil paintings focusing on subjects and issues towards uniting our humanity. Along with Lynn Bregman Blass’ presentation of her Virtual History Collaborative, using stories for families, organizations and foundations to raise funds to further their endeavors, these presentations showed the interconnectivity between art and commonality of purpose. Adding a cultural element, Christie Calaycay’s jewelry is a study in simplicity in gold and silver. Resulting collections reflect her Filipina heritage dovetailing with nature’s wonders in clean design and form.
Rounding the corner with hope toward a healthier new year, I want to point out that Sand Hill Artists Collective (SHAC) has been a bright spot in 2020. Last December a group of neighbors in Biltmore Lake got together to discuss art and learn more about it on a regular basis. Biltmore Lake Artists began with about fifty folks, not only artists but neighbors who enjoy exploring all things creative and are eager to learn more.
Most of the artists in the group wanted to work towards an open studio tour here in Biltmore Lake, to join the ranks of neighborhood “studio strolls” near Beaverdam, Kenilworth, Weaverville and others. Covid-19 forced the recognition that this couldn’t be done at present, but why not begin with a virtual tour, a blog delivered to homes monthly? That evolution, Sand Hill Artists Collective, is now seven months old, reaches more than 400 subscribers, and is mounting Asheville’s first Virtual Holiday Gallery Tour from December 2nd through 15th.
Each month the SHAC website, available throughout the US, features three artists working in a variety of media and provides regional art news and commentary. This content is archived and easily accessible on the site. Anyone can view our growing online gallery of artists and learn about our creative neighbors and area arts non-profits. Subscribe on the Home Page to receive your monthly blog. It’s free.
The admin who maintains the SHAC website is Bob Ware, while I, together with a small committee of volunteers, develop ideas and criteria to move forward. This has all happened on a “shoe string,” and so far Bob and I have borne all expenses. The Virtual Holiday Gallery Tour showcasing area galleries and artists—including some from our SHAC neighborhoods—is intended to raise funds that will allow SHAC to hire a part-time social media coordinator to broaden our visibility. Our advisory committee agrees that this is critical for Sand Hill Artists Collective to grow, so that when the pandemic subsides we will have built a foundation of support to launch a live open studio event full of creative input and art from Biltmore Lake, West Asheville, Enka and Candler.
So, please support SHAC’s first-ever Virtual Holiday Gallery Tour. Tickets can be purchased on our website at www.sandhillartists.com. You will receive ten Zoom links, one for each gallery program, all for $55. Shop virtually by selectively “visiting” your favorite galleries or explore the offerings of all ten venues. Kick back with a glass of wine each weekday afternoon from 5-6 pm from Dec. 2-15.
See, shop, and learn about art in these hour-long webinars. View presentations, live demos, explore the galleries: Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center, Blue Spiral 1, Center for Craft, LEAF Global, Momentum Gallery, Penland Gallery, Pink Dog Creative, River Arts District Artists, Southern Highland Craft Guild, and Tracey Morgan Gallery. Meet gallery directors and curators, hear from artists, view work, and shop from the comfort of home. Enjoy a range of work from the contemporary to the traditional in 2D and 3D, featuring the region’s well-known and emerging artists and craftsmen in a range of media: painting, drawing, wood, metal, fiber and more.
If, however, you are unable to attend the Virtual Holiday Gallery Tour sessions but wish to support SHAC’s future, you can find a donation link on our Home Page or here.
Sand Hill Artists Collective has announced its Virtual Holiday Gallery Tours! For ten weekday evenings at 5:00 pm December 2nd through 15th SHAC will host live, hour-long webinar-style online tours of ten Asheville area art galleries, a different one each day.
The galleries are Black Mountain College Museum, Blue Spiral 1, Center for Craft, LEAF Global, Momentum Gallery, Penland Gallery, Pink Dog Creative, River Arts District Artists, Southern Highland Craft Guild, and Tracey Morgan Gallery.
Each gallery will present a unique webinar highlighting their artists and offerings, their histories and programs, and many will offer an online shopping opportunity for this holiday season.
Tickets are available now. A single $55 ticket will secure your access to any or all of the tours. This is a great chance to explore the best of our regional galleries, meet gallery owners, curators, and artists, and pick up some holiday gifts from the comfort of your living room. You’ll be supporting the ongoing mission of Sand Hill Artists Collective as we bring you news of area arts events and feature a wide variety of local artists’ work throughout the coming year.
We look forward to seeing you online!
This creative couple has carved a path of understanding through their creative activism to model Asheville as a more thoughtful and socially committed community. Randy and Hedy are collectors, travelers, curators and all around cultural pollinators who have used their dynamic capabilities as communicators, designers, builders and philanthropists.
Pink Dog Creative: As a team, they are committed to art that spurs social advocacy, evokes understanding and stimulates self-awareness. Hedy curates a monthly exhibit at Pink Dog Creative, their colorful studio collective of 28+ working artists on Depot Street. This colorful venue alone by design pinpoints RAD as a focus of excitement and artistic energy. These shows embrace current issues stimulating both change and action; they are compelling, courageous and thought provoking.
Currently, Pink Dog Creative artists have collectively contributed works to “In Solidarity” an exhibition that speaks to the violence, fear and grief caused by centuries of injustices to Black people. Conversely, the pieces also celebrate the many contributions made by people of African American descent to the culture of this country and to the world. To view it virtually allows for quiet introspection and a greater understanding to the viewer of their role in both understanding and resolving cultural bias. Up to 100% from the sale of art from “In Solidarity” will go to the following charities whose missions include justice and equity: Black Lives Matter, BeLoved Asheville, and the Equal Justice Initiative. Pinkdog-Creative.com
22 London: For over 25 years Randy Shull has been working at the intersection of architecture, landscape design, furniture design and painting. His evocative studio space at 22 London Road allows him to show and sell significant paintings and furniture, often bridging the gap between art and design. Once again, the couple collaborate throughout the year to curate their own generous art collection to advance cultural understanding and meaningful dialogue. Currently on view by appointment is “High Anxiety,” select pieces that bear on themes such as identity, race, forced migration, politics, technology, pandemic and corporate culture. Viewed individually but considered as a whole, “High Anxiety” evokes contemplation of the challenges that face us now and for the considerable future. Poignant and energizing as Randy and Hedy themselves, the collection inspires confidence that through the viewing, we may ourselves foster greater creativity and inspiration.
Pink Dog Creative, 344-348 Depot St., Asheville, NC 28801, (828) 216-1331
22 London, 22 London Rd, Asheville, NC 28803. 22london.org