When John Cram purchased the Freck Radio & Supply, Inc. building in 1990 and transformed it into high-end art gallery Blue Spiral 1 (BS1), he had no idea what the space or the Asheville art scene would become. Nearly three decades later, the city is a hotbed of creativity and BS1 is at the heart of it. To ensure that the gallery continues to evolve along with the community, Michael Manes, who has a knack for relationship building and collaboration, was recently appointed director by Cram.
“While continuing to focus on southern fine art and craft, I also plan to increase the diversity of our permanent artist roster,” says Manes. “I recognize the importance of BS1’s history in Asheville’s art scene and see that a broader demographic must be attracted in order to secure the longevity of the gallery.”
Manes, who has a BFA from Columbus College of Art and Design, moved to Asheville in 2010 and began working for New Morning Gallery as well as volunteering for the Asheville Area Arts Council (where he currently serves as vice chair of the board), Handmade in America and the Center for Craft, Creativity and Design. Through his experiences with these organizations he developed an interest in building relationships among artists, local nonprofits and collectors.
As director, Manes states that he hopes to expand the visibility and accessibility of the gallery by freshening its image through a total rebranding and working more directly with both the community and artists. Upcoming shows include a variety of themed invitationals, combining works by currently represented artists with those by artists who are new to the gallery. “These invitationals permit more diversity in our programming,” says Manes. “We can highlight the successful artists we represent while also opening the door to emerging artists and those new to the Asheville scene.”
The first in the invitational series is Ink + Imagery, an ongoing exhibit held in the Main Gallery through December 22. Fourteen artists, eight of them new to BS1, show works applying varying methods of printmaking to paper, fabric, glass and ceramics. In the Small Format Gallery, the prints of award-winning mezzotint artist, Art Werger, are showcased. New work by mixed-media artist Isaac Payne and ceramicists Michael Poness and Jeremy Randall, whose pieces are inspired by architectural and industrial design, are on display in the Showcase Gallery. Payne will give a gallery talk on Friday, December 1, at 6 p.m. in conjunction with the Downtown Asheville Art District’s First Friday Art Walk.
Additionally, new works by Mitchell Lonas and emerging sculptor Cory Williams are shown in the Lower Level Gallery. Lonas, one of BS1’s most popular artists, is presenting a new body of work in his signature painted and incised aluminum panels.
Blue Spiral 1 is located at 38 Biltmore Avenue in downtown Asheville. Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. For more information, visit bluespiral1.com or call 828.251.0202.