Sand Hill Artists Collective

Jenny Pickens, Profile of an Artist and Doll Maker

Sometimes childhood memories stay with us forever. One of my favorites was having dolls I could dress and whose hair I could style. I would even use old hand-me-downs to make new outfits for them, giving authenticity to the character of the doll. Dolls taught me quite early to love and care for others. 

My name is Jenny Pickens, a native of Asheville, NC as well as a self-taught artist. Although my mediums lie in several categories, sewing is a favorite.  I paint, quilt and freely tackle new ideas and art mediums to express myself. 

After the death of my niece Candace Pickens in 2016 I decided to return to designing dolls. They come in various forms from bundle babies, ballerinas, standing dolls, and mermaids to others that may be commissioned.  Using sentimental fabrics or clothing from loved ones , they bring memories of family members and friends. They are also great for big brother or sister when the new baby arrives. These dolls are designed to be handled gently or added to a doll collection. Most of all, they are meant to be handed on to children and grandchildren. Each evokes stories, memories, heritage and culture.

Being a self-taught artist did come with challenges. Not being taken seriously or simply being turned away without being told why. Fortunately, I had a passion to create and a drive to put my feelings into everything I created. Although I have dabbled in various mediums, I prefer acrylics because of their versatility. 

I am not limited in what I create. My paintings are connected to my cultural background and ensure I never lose my roots. Whether making a wall hanging or putting brushstrokes on canvas, each piece is personal to me. My gifts came to me at a time when I needed a voice, and healing and my art practice allow me to honor my creative bounty.

You can see several of my paintings and printed wares at Noir Collective AVL located at 39 South Market Street in downtown Asheville or visit Fine Art America.

SHAC Exhibit Announcement in AVL Today

The Sand Hill Artists Collective will be exhibiting works from 30+ featured artists at its upcoming anniversary event. SHAC Celebrates Year One will be held on Sat., June 12 at Foundation Studios (27 Foundy St.) in the River Arts District from 5-6 p.m., privately for collective members + publicly from 6-8 p.m

Making It: Three Easy Steps to Money and Visibility for Emerging Artists

Sand Hill Artists Collective provides opportunities for artists. We’re talking grants, workshops, conferences and exhibitions. Quick clicks that will lead you to easy money, FREE learning and simple ways to exhibit your work. We’re all beginning to break out into Covid-free sunshine now, so climb out of your doldrums (masks on, please!) and beat a path to open doors that will show and support your art future.


NOT REAL ART grant and exhibit (in Los Angeles!!!). The grant fund offers a $12,000 award annually to empower the practice of six contemporary artists each year. Grant recipients are announced in Los Angeles at NOT REAL ART: The Conference. If you’re an emerging contemporary artist, be sure to apply to win a grant in 2021! This $2000 unrestricted grant includes more than the money. Winners are interviewed on the NOT REAL ART national podcast, will be featured in the NRA blog and have their work exhibited in a West Coast exhibition.

Exhibitions and live conference dates and venues TBA as Covid safety allows.

Applying is simple and quick.

Go to NOT REAL ART Business School FREE. Over thirty sessions available online.

. License your art

. Build your brand

. Pitch your ideas

. Get career advice from successful and known artists.… and much more!



Sand Hill Artists Collective (SHAC) provides free regional and national visibility to three featured artists each month. So far, thirty artists in our neighborhood zip codes (28715, 28716, 28728, 28806 and 28810) have increased their audience exposure with an application that takes just minutes. Featured Artists access additional opportunities with spotlights on our
Facebook and Instagram posts, mention in publications that write about SHAC artists and, soon, an opportunity to exhibit in Asheville’s River Arts District. 



Mountain BizWorks has put local craftspersons on our radar with Craft Your Commerce programs that include a bi-annual learning series, craft Industry coaching, and a Makers Mixer. Apply now for the fall series or, at the very least, get on the CYC Interest list for alerts on upcoming intensives, events and more.

LEARN MORE about Craft Your Commerce

SHAC / Pink Dog Creative Artist Featured in Our State Magazine


Beautiful Ukrainian Psanky Eggs, created by artist Andrea Kulish, are featured in Our State magazine in an article on art and food and festivities befitting the Spring/Easter season. Read the full article here.

Andrea has a studio at Pink Dog Creative in the River Arts District. She is also the social media coordinator for Sand Hill Artists Collective, so we are particularly pleased to see her receiving this recognition. Congratulations, Andrea! And thanks to Our State for featuring her work.

What a WOW! SHAC Supporters Visit Momentum’s New Gallery

Visit Momentum’s New Gallery, 52 Broadway, Asheville

Sand Hill Artists Collective has been reaching out from our base in Western Buncombe to downtown and RAD galleries since our inception. Tours have had to be virtual, that is until mid-March when Jordan and Shifra Ahlers were kind enough to invite us to preview their exciting new Momentum Gallery, which has moved to 52 Broadway across from the Center for Craft. Jordan has built Momentum to be one of the premier art galleries in the U. S., but now—expanded into 15,000 square feet of stunning space—every angle, surface and stairway has been designed to reflect their artistic vision. 

Jordan and Schifra Ahlers, owners of Momentum Gallery, Asheville.
Jordan and Shifra Ahlers, owners of Momentum Gallery

Jordan, along with his partnering wife Shifra, have taken a carefully mapped two-year journey to represent over seventy mostly emerging and mid-career artists, serving them with his over two decades of curatorial experience, as well as his intuitive yet refined aesthetic, candor and kindness. He makes gallery visitors feel welcome, always with an easy conversation that reveals each artist’s background and intent as well as his own. From the viewer’s perspective, you will leave knowing why an individual piece of art was special enough to hang on Momentum’s walls.

Jordan Ahlers showing SHAC members around the new Momentum Gallery.
Jordan Ahlers showing SHAC members around the new Momentum Gallery

Jordan and Shifra did just that for ten SHAC “artivists,” our Covid limit to ensure safety in the gallery. Jordan and Shifra’s careful attention to the health and safety of gallery visitors has allowed them to remain open throughout the pandemic. They have retained a full-time Health Coordinator and have architecturally addressed ongoing wellbeing. Momentum is fully ADA compliant with accessible ramps and an elevator, and a variety of safety-minded features such as a brand-new HVAC system with integrated UV light “air scrubbers.” 

SHAC members touring the new Momentum Gallery, Asheville.
SHAC members in one of the galleries

In an interview with Luxe Magazine, Jordan said, “Momentum provides a venue that introduces museum-quality work from around the country while simultaneously showcasing the best of this region. We are passionate about elevating the Asheville community as an arts destination, propelling our artists’ careers, and promoting their work to national and international audiences.”

Mission accomplished! You can enjoy, as SHAC did, an unparalleled gallery experience with peace of mind as you explore this masterful venue, designed and executed to perfection.

Gail and Joseph Pearson at the new Momentum Gallery, Asheville.
Gail and Joseph Pearson

New artists now on exhibit at Momentum: Chihuly glass and Samantha Keely Smith, whose painterly large works draw you to their core with vibrant colors and traditional brushwork, pouring and staining. They represent the landscape of the psyche, the place where the conscious and unconscious meet.

Louise Glickman, Terri van Duyn, Lisa Dillon, and Daryl Slaton at the new Momentum Gallery, Asheville.
Louise Glickman, Terri van Duyn, Lisa Dillon, and Daryl Slaton

Fun Shops Will Get you Outside the Covid Box

I’m an artist but not one who creates in a vacuum. I need my friends, community input, feedback, activism and frankly, fewer ZOOM calls. 

Social isolation during Covid really slowed down my studio practice but it also gave me the time to carefully examine the why, what and how of my art making. But the isolation became too much for me. I needed you: my artistic peers, my friends, my collectors, my social justice warriors, you know who you are.

Finally, recognizing that Zoom is here to stay, I began to consider how I could use this technology to expand my art and my relationships with my “community.”

Welcome to Mary’s FunShop. It’s definitely not a serious workshop, but rather a way to come together, chat and have fun while exploring your creative side with your besties. Remember that, fun times with your friends?

FunShops are not necessarily for artists (many of my friends are artists and many aren’t). My FunShop is a way to share an experience and have a conversation that is driven by being together and not stressing over anything at all. Its only goal is no goal at all, except to be with others.

At first, an experiment with a few close friends, my FunShop is now a thing I organize for others. Basically, it’s a group of folks doing a simple art project over Zoom using prompts to keep things moving and encourage interesting conversation.  We chat as we work bringing the satisfying joy of being with friends and doing something fun and productive. The most important item on the list is a pitcher of your favorite beverage. Yes, it’s time to get loose.

FunShops are for everyone from artists who miss their friends or just want to loosen up as well as friends and folks that have  never done anything in an art studio but miss being with friends. It’s stress-free, something new, a conversation generator, and a creative way to share with others. No critique, just plain fun.

If you would like to enjoy a Fun Shop get-together, just send me an email or give me a call. I promise, this interactive activity brings Zoom to a whole other dimension.

Mary Farmer


Studio: 184 E. Chestnut St, Suite 6

Asheville, NC 28801

Asheville Area Arts Council Announces March Events of Interest

Crafting Resilience
Public Health and Collective Memory
March 11 at 5 pm
How can the critical and creative practices of craft and public art be imagined to better serve and support the wellbeing of BIPOC communities?

Virtual Holiday Gallery Tour Survey Results

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.

Selene Plum: Artist Finds Creative Home in Asheville

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.

It’s a Wrap: SHAC Puts a Lid on 2020 — by Louise Glickman

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.

Biltmore Lake Artists Meeting

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.

Katrina Chenevert

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.

Jean McLaughlin


— 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.

Merrily Orsini

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.

Stephanie Moore

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

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: