An exhibition of oil paintings by Lisa Blackshear titled Plein Mountain Air, Magic and Mystery will be on display at the Asheville Area Arts Council’s Hallway Gallery from April 7 through Saturday, May 13. There will be an opening reception Friday, April 7, from 5–8 p.m., at which guests can meet and speak with the artist.
“I paint outside to catch the fleeting effects of nature that are so expressive,” Blackshear says. “I’m especially drawn to the art deco buildings, exposed granite cliffs, and mountain lakes and streams that make Asheville so unique.”
Blackshear’s illustrations have appeared in many publications including Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal and The Village Voice. She grew up one of six children near White Bear Lake, Minnesota. Her parents, both teachers, were proud of her talent, but encouraged her to be practical in her choice of career. “I majored in biology in college,” she says, “but my heart wasn’t in it. It was only after I submitted some drawings to the college newspaper and was accepted as an illustrator that I thought art could be a viable career.”
After graduating from the University of Minnesota with a degree in Studio Arts, Blackshear began doing graphic design work and also painted and exhibited her watercolors. She began to get more illustration work and decided to quit her day job and move to New York City to see if she could make it as an artist, exhibiting watercolor paintings of New York street scenes in East Village galleries—and eventually her efforts paid off.
She met her husband Chuck Spang while skating in Wollman Rink in Central Park. “I’m fortunate that he’s a photographer and enjoys nature and hiking like me,” she says. “We decided to move to Asheville when our son Daniel was born. We’d heard so much about Asheville; it seemed to combine all the artistic excitement of the East Village with less traffic and more natural beauty.” Once in Asheville, Blackshear was able to pursue her lifelong dream of painting in oils.
To help advance her painting practice, in 2013 Blackshear formed the Asheville Urban Landscape Project, which brings professional and emerging artists together to paint en plein air. “We learn from each other, provide support and community and even contribute to civic life.” Generously funded in part by the Asheville Area Arts Council, the project, now led by Susan Dolamore, is beginning its fifth year of paint-outs.
Blackshear counts among her influences the Cape Cod School, the Impressionists and local artists Richard Oversmith and Cheryl Keefer. “Western North Carolina Plein Air Painters, the Asheville Area Arts Council and the Asheville Urban Landscape Project are just a few of the great organizations here that have helped me with my art career.” Blackshear has also recently begun exhibiting her paintings with Woolworth Walk.
Asheville Area Arts Council’s Hallway Gallery is located in the Refinery Creator Space at 207 Coxe Avenue. Hours are Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The event and exhibition are free and works are for sale. For more information, visit ashevillearts.com.