The Success of BLISS, Asheville Painter Virginia Derryberry, and a New Podcast Episode: May Newsletter

In this month's newsletter, Artsville discusses the success of BLISS, shares a feature with painter Virginia Derryberry, and announces a new podcast episode.

The Success of BLISS, Asheville Painter Virginia Derryberry, and a New Podcast Episode: May Newsletter

Happy May, Asheville art lovers! May marked the first-ever art event in Enka/Candler, Biltmore Lake’s Imaginative Studio Stroll (BLISS). We’re exhausted but thrilled by the success of the tour. If you attended, we hope you enjoyed it. If you missed it, there’s a recap in this newsletter from Artsville founder Louise Glickman. Mark your calendar now for BLISS 2024 slated for early May. Also included in the newsletter is a new podcast episode announcement, a feature spotlighting Asheville painter Virginia Derryberry, previous survey answers and a new question!

Story: Bliss Art Tour Brings over Almost 800 Enthusiasts to Biltmore Lake

The most asked question about the first-ever arts event in Candler and Enka was “What does the ‘I’ stand for in BLISS?”

It stands for imaginative, making it Biltmore Lake’s Imaginative Studio Stroll. The reality is that the “imaginative” provided the opportunity to add bells and whistles to the standard art tour model. The twenty-six host and guest artists were the major draw, of course, and reports are that high traffic, interest, and sales came from attendance as high as 300 people at each studio stroll location and 800 guests in overall attendance. The addition of food, demos, and activities from neighborhood non-profits—and a barn quilt driving tour from Biltmore Lake’s Afternoon Quilters—deepened the experience and engaged organizations in this all-out effort to build cultural capital for Western Buncombe.

Glass art landscapes from BLISS artist Tanya Franklin who also shows at Marquee Gallery in the RAD.
BLISS guest artist Patricia Cotterill exhibited her animal and still life paintings, available at her studio in the RAD.
Maggie Whitney, Biltmore Lake artist, has supported BLISS with her beautiful work and arts activism since the group first convened in late 2019.

The art tour was inspiring, innovative, inviting, and invigorating, meaning that this group of creative activists will continue programming throughout the coming year with events and exhibitions produced by Biltmore Lake Artists, which has grown to be known as Artsville Collective. This organization, dedicated to providing marketing platforms and programs for emerging artists, began as Biltmore Lake Artists in late 2019 when the desire to show and sell their art and craft was first imagined.

Top-notch art and craft brought visibility and substantial sales to BLISS resident artists and their talented guests. The partnerships with neighborhood nonprofits like the Ferguson Family YMCA, A-B Tech’s Small Business Center and its Enka-Candler Tailgate Market, and Connect Enka, were another great success of BLISS.

Let’s Hear from BLISS Participants

Biltmore Lake artist Molly Courcelle says, “BLISS was a real team effort that included my mom Bee Sieburg, neighbor Tanya Franklin, and my kids and friends that volunteered to help load and unload—and even spruce up the yard. BLISS was fun and rewarding, including showing how my art looks in a home setting.”

Candler artist Kurt Ross says, “As a guest artist, I feel the greatest benefit has been an occasion for the community to get to know me and my work. I most enjoyed the chance to meet a variety of people and the opportunity to explain my ceramics process.”

BLISS Chair and Organizer Elaine Scherer says, “BLISS was an eye-opening experience for many of us who had never put on an event of this kind. I have been energized and gratified by the commitment and professionalism of our planning team, artists, and neighborhood supporters.”

Podcast: New Episode with Sherry Masters: Bridging the Gap Between Artists and Art Enthusiasts [Ep20]

If you listen to the Artsville Podcast, you already know that art brings beauty and joy into our lives, but it can also bring us closer as we learn about it together and share experiences. This is the objective that Sherry Masters had in mind when she created Art Connections, an Asheville-based business designed to bring artists, collectors, and enthusiasts together by visiting studios throughout Western North Carolina.

Sherry founded Art Connections in 2013 to act as a bridge between those who are interested in art and the highly-skilled artists in the Asheville area who create paintings, textile art, glassware, ceramics, sculptures, and more. As a native Ashevillan, Sherry intimately understands the phenomenal impact of these cultural art practices, and her 30 years of experience have allowed her to gain the trust of not only the local creative community but the visitors it attracts too.

Sherry Masters by Charley Akers
Sherry Masters (Photo/Charley Akers)
Art Connections tour.
Art Connections tour to Robert Stephen. (Photo/Sherry Masters)

In the Episode

Sherry Masters discusses...

  • Why you should seek Art Connections out next time you’re in Asheville
  • Where her love for art and making things originated
  • The inspiration behind her decision to “be a bridge” between artists and art enthusiasts
  • Examples of some of the personalized art tour experiences that she curates
  • And more!

Listen here or on most major podcast platforms.

Feature: Asheville Painter Virginia Derryberry Talks Mythology, Alchemy, and Duality

Part experimentation, part magic, medieval alchemy impacted modern chemistry and influenced the work of Asheville artist Virginia Derryberry. While the alchemists tried but failed to turn various metals into gold, Virginia’s art practice—which uses a similar formula of experimentation and questioning—led to a golden career as an educator, showing artist, and storyteller.

Born of the South where storytelling is an art form, Virginia started drawing doodles at the age of five, often of friends trying their best to sit still in church. “I would do profile drawings, and it just really charged me up,” she remembers. The inner artist in Virginia ignited, and she started a life of making with abandon. “I know sometimes kids around that age worry about judgment of their work and whether it’s good enough, but for some reason I never cared. I just wanted to make things,” she tells Artsville.

Virginia Derryberry
‘Road Trip’ by Virginia Derryberry
Virginia Derryberry
‘Medusa’ by Virginia Derryberry

Pursuing an art career was never in question, and though she studied art history at Vanderbilt, she consistently escaped to her studio to paint. “Up until about the early 2000s, I considered myself more of a landscape painter—making these dreamscapes that were partly observed, partly invented,” she says. But, during an artist residency in France, Virginia embraced a new direction inspired by the beautiful European cathedrals and the art that adorned them. “In the cathedrals, I saw a lot of sculptural and relief carvings of floating and flying figures,” she says. “I thought, that’s what my paintings need. When I got back to the studio, I started a series of work that began the process of showing figures that seem to be floating in air and/or reaching a hand into the landscape.” Thus began her fascination with magical imagery and figure studies, and she started to plant enchanting portraits of people in her life into her landscapes.

Currently, Virginia’s working on her most figure-heavy series to date called Private Domain, inspired by mythology, alchemy, and duality. In the series, she often revamps classical myths—“I love the idea of a myth that is from the past, but is something that people still respond to,” she says. “It's human nature that's being depicted, right?”—showing Artemis (or Diana) the hunter as a man covered by her mom’s fur coat and Echo (of Echo and Narcissus) as the one that falls in love with her reflection. Making sure to guide the spotlight to the women in her narratives, Virginia portrays them as strong, independent, and calm—a counterpoint to their representation in classical myths as deceitful and uncontrollable.

To view some of Virginia’s work from Private Domain and read the full interview, please click here.

We asked and you answered…

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Click here to share your answer. Stay tuned, we’ll share survey results in an upcoming newsletter.

What We Do at Artsville Collective

The Artsville Collective online exhibition space provides a virtual format for artists to show their work, providing an opportunity for artists to broaden their reach to Artsville's expansive network of collectors, art enthusiasts, and supporters.

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The ARTSVILLE Podcast is available on most major podcast platforms and features extensive show notes here on our podcast pages. Created in partnership with Crewest Studio/ LA, Artsville celebrates contemporary American arts & crafts from Asheville and beyond for folks from all over the world to discover western North Carolina’s creativity and culture.

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