Galleries Visual Arts

Snake Charm at American Folk Art in June

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Square Snake. Doug Franti, artist

American Folk Art & Framing owner Betsey-Rose Weiss often looks to the gallery’s artists for similarities of expression when she curates shows. “A lot of the artists we represent like to use snakes as subjects,” she says. “Whenever snake imagery is shown in the gallery, the reaction is intense and immediate. It seems everyone knows exactly how they feel about snakes.”

Snake Charm will run Thursday, June 6, through Thursday, June 20, with an opening reception Friday, June 7, from 5–8 p.m. Included among the works will be paintings, woodblock prints, pottery, ceramic works and sculptural forms carved from wood—all depicting the quietly alluring, beautifully mysterious and often misunderstood snake.

Ceramic artist Marvin Bailey, of SC, was inspired by his father’s art pottery collection to take up the craft 25 years ago. Without any experience, he bought a wheel and kiln, built a shop and taught himself to make pottery. “My work is typical of the Southern Folk Art pottery tradition, which includes face jugs, snake jugs and whimsical figures,” he says. “Snakes have always been a part of Southern culture, whether in art, religion or medicine.”

Growing up in Maine, Doug Frati says that the “common denominator” in his life was wood. “We cooked on it, heated with it, built with it, fenced with it, hunted in it and tapped it for maple syrup in the spring,” he says. He graduated from art school with a degree in printmaking. “My wood carvings are about icon and allegory, and the snake is a rich source of symbolism as well as design,” he says.

Weiss hopes that even those who are ambivalent about snakes will find the show appealing. “Without the surprise element of encountering one in the wild,” she says, “perhaps the beauty, the textural nuances and the real charm of these remarkable creatures will help evolve attitudes toward fascination or even appreciation.”

American Folk Art and Framing is located at 64 Biltmore Avenue in Asheville. Hours are Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. For more information, visit AmeriFolk.com or call 828.281.2134.

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