Located just a bit off the beaten path in the River Arts District, four of the Phil Mechanic Studio’s (The Phil’s) floors are home to a number of artists producing high-quality fine art and jewelry. “In addition to gallery settings where fine art can be viewed and enjoyed, visitors will also find busy professional artists working with a lot of focus and intent,” says artist Leslie Rowland of L Rowland Fine Contemporary Art.
She and the building’s other artists will be participating in the River Arts District Artists Fall Studio Stroll on Saturday and Sunday, November 9–10. Rowland will exhibit new ecology and technology inspired paintings from three different series. Her work happens, she says, “where art and science intersect and is created using my own specific layering techniques.”
Richard Johnson combines a blend of modern art techniques with traditional mediums, including encaustic wax, to create contemporary figurative works. “I make all of my encaustic paints and wax medium by hand myself, which I consider an enjoyable and crucial element in the alchemy of my creative process,” he says. During the Stroll he will be demonstrating his painting techniques.
“People can find an array of very talented professional artists with eclectic styles at the Phil Mechanic Studio,” says Frederic Payet. He has had a studio in the building for three years and plans to display new works of contemporary French impressionism during the Stroll.
Stephen Quinn brought his abstract work to Asheville just over two years ago and says he feels “blessed to be in a space that I love energetically and one that is filled with incredibly talented artists who have become friends.” He layers colors, shapes and patterns using various experimental painting techniques to create his works. “We are all looking forward to this Fall Studio Stroll,” he says. “You will find me in my studio working on several pieces. This will be an opportunity to show my work in different stages of development and answer any questions about how my paintings evolve.”
Tess Darling has worked in and out of the RAD for years. She graduated from UNCA in 2013 with a BFA and has a studio suite in the Phil. “My work depicts wildlife I’ve seen around the country and the local area,” she says. “I photograph, sketch and take notes of the animal in person and then I use those references for the final drawings in acrylic paint, ink or graphite. However, I keep the unfinished look intact; I enjoy the initial line work and monotone quality of a study to translate the moment in time, as the animal continues to move, continues to breathe.”
An Irish-born, eco-contemplative artist, teacher and guide, Elizabeth Porritt Carrington uses the mountains, forests, rivers and geology of Appalachia as inspiration for her work. She calls her work “an invitation to remember our place in the natural world, an interplay of nature, mythology, history and romanticism.” Each year she travels across the Atlantic to paint the landscapes of Ireland and to merge the presence of both places in her work.
Kelcey Loomer says that her art “walks the line between narrative and abstract, and explores our emotional and physical sense of place in this world.” She is inspired by the stories that peeling layers of wallpaper or an old tree in the forest tell. Her mixed media paintings combine layers of artist’s resin, old papers, fabric and paint. With her jewelry business Seed & Sky, she creates pieces of jewelry that feature tiny prints of her fine art paintings and illustrations.
“The Phil Mechanic Studios continues to follow the path set up by Jolene Mechanic,” says Stephen Lange, who creates two-dimensional impressionistic works made of woven reflective glass tape. “She wanted a safe place for artists to make and sell their work in an environment of creativity, community and hard work. I have been in the building for four years, the RAD for 20, and I believe that this is the best studio I have ever had.” He calls the Phil “the avante-garde of art in the RAD with international artists of the finest cloth.”
Deanna Chillian, who paints in an abstract expressionist style, agrees that the artists at Phil Mechanic are true professionals who enjoy talking about their work and about art in general. “This is how we make our way in the world: our living, our contribution to our community, our commitment to our practice; it’s who we are,” she says. “There is an edge to the Phil. It is an old building with a layout that feels like you’re walking around inside an M.C. Escher, so it invites exploration. I think some of that edge extends to the artists, each in our own way.”
The Phil Mechanic Studios is located at 109 Roberts Street in Asheville’s River Arts District. To learn more about individual artists, visit their websites.