By Emma Castleberry
Through the month of May, Woolworth Walk will host an exhibition of works by illustrator Fian Arroyo in the F.W. Gallery. Dreaming Between the Lines will include several new watercolors, ink drawings and digital work featuring Arroyo’s original, mystical characters. Arroyo first discovered fantasy art in 5th grade, when he was inspired by the cover of the book Moon Man by Edgar Rice Burroughs. “I saw this painting on the cover by the fantasy art legend Frank Frazetta,” says Arroyo. “I bought the book for the cover art alone and never read it, and I’ve been captivated by fantasy art ever since.”
A native of San Juan, Puerto Rico, Arroyo grew up traveling the world as a U.S. Army brat, including an influential stint in Japan. “Japanese culture and art and sense of design has left an indelible impression in my creative development,” he says. The artist graduated from Texas State University in 1986 with a BFA in commercial art, then moved to Miami, Florida, where he began his freelance illustration career. In his 25 years as an artist, Arroyo has worked with companies such as US News and World Report, ABC Television, KFC, Taco Bell, The Los Angeles Times, SC Johnson and Scholastic.
After Arroyo moved with his family to Weaverville in 2009, the local community of artists inspired him to diverge from his commercial career and create more personal art. “I took a leap of faith by investing time into projects that I developed for myself,” he says. “I appreciated the opportunity to pursue my imagination and bring my rich inner world to life. It just keeps getting better and better.” His work was recently juried into two of the top fantasy awards books: Spectrum 26: The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art and Infected By Art: Volume 7. “These books, with a panel of international judges, decide what the best fantasy art of the year is worldwide and I’ve been getting into them for the past few years,” he says. “I’m blown away.”
Dreaming Between the Lines is Arroyo’s first solo show. “Dreaming Between The Lines is a culmination of works that peek into my vision of mixing a little whimsy, fun and the surreal with intricate layers upon layers of color and ink line work,” he says. “Finding my way and bringing a little joy into this world, one painting at a time, is what life is all about for me.” Woolworth Walk will host a free, public reception for the artist during the Downtown Asheville Art District First Friday Gallery Walk on May 3 from 5–7 p.m. in the F.W. Gallery.
F.W. Gallery at Woolworth Walk is located at 25 Haywood Street in downtown Asheville. Gallery hours are Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, call 828.254.9234 or visit WoolworthWalk.com.