Asheville Citizen-Times: How does an artist afford Asheville?

top photo: Sarah Wells Rolland doing a demo at The Village Potters

Lori Theriault giving a tour of The Village Potters

The front page story in Sunday’s Asheville Citizen-Times asks, “How does an artist afford Asheville?” The writer, Hayley Benton, spoke with a number of Asheville artists, including Sarah Wells Rolland of The Village Potters, where we just held Clay Club. Here’s an excerpt:

Sitting at her wheel, hands resting on a lump of clay, Sarah Wells Rolland, owner of The Village Potters, chatted with visitors as she began spinning, pulling, crafting a vase in front of a small crowd.

"I've sold my work all over the United States, and that's what made The Village Potters possible," she said, wetting the gray-brown object on her wheel.

After she founded the local pottery company, she realized she missed the chatter and company of having other artists and visitors in her studio. So Roland decided to open it up to other resident artists and bring in visiting expert potters, "not only to learn something myself, but to make money in the process through workshops."

"The thing about artists is that we use all of the elements," Roland said, holding a torch to her newly crafted vase. "We use the earth, we use fire, water — we use everything we've got."

A couple more passages that stood out to me:

From artist Kathryn Amorastreya:

“I see Asheville as very friendly to the arts — right now,” she said. “However, I do fear that if Asheville fails to make moves to protect the arts and artisans who draw in the tourist crowds. ... (Asheville) may suffer the same fate of other gentrified cities that have gone before (it)."

Amorastreya spent eight years in Austin, Texas, and 10 years in San Francisco. And sadly, she said, "I watched the same pattern happen: The artisans who create the culture of a place make it desirable. Wealthy people move in ... and, too often, rents rise and the artists get pushed out, leaving yet another yuppy town — Anywhere, America — full of the same old corporate chains.

And from artist Stephen Louis Lange:

"There are lots of really, really, really good artists that don’t need the RAD," he reiterated. "It’s a distraction. They might have had a studio at one time, but got into galleries and realized they don't like (to work with) people peeking in the windows ... and touching their work. The RAD is an (interesting) model. You have artists creating something beautiful as well as something they can sell, and they're doing it from a studio that's cleaned up enough to where it's comfortable for people to come in to buy their pieces."


"People are curious about what an artist's life is like. (When you visit a studio), you’re walking into something that’s a cross between a church, a museum and someone’s mind. The amusement park aspect (of the River Arts District) needs to be cerebral, about what you see, how the colors make you feel. Once you start expecting me to jump through hoops, I'm done. I'm not in the entertainment business."

Read the complete article here: