Ashwini Bhat is a Clayspace Co-Op resident artist from India working in clay. She’s been in Asheville for three months working out of Clayspace (located on Roberts Street in the Wedge building). Her exhibit is tonight.
“The overriding vision of Clayspace is to raise the level up, to be better artists, and sell better work–not necessarily increased quantity, but increased quality,” says Josh Copus. ”Ashwini’s work and residency is an example of what that looks like.” Beer for the event has been donated by Wedge and food is donated by Clingman Cafe, and Bee Sieburg –an artist working in upstairs studios at the Wedge-generously offered unsolicited flower arrangements. ”I’m floored with gratitude,” says Copus, “these are community relationships.”
Painter Ben Betsalel (studio next to the brewery) is exhibiting The Investors–a reflection on the purchase of the Wedge building. Read more here from MountainXpress. John Payne‘s portrait, a Betsalel piece owned by the Wedge Brewery, will be shown as well.
John Payne bought the Wedge Building in early 2002. During John’s 10 years of stewardship, The Wedge fostered many young artists, helping to create its legacy as a great place for art. In 2008, just before he died, John, Tim Schaller and friends, dreamed up the Wedge Brewery, as one way to help the building pay its expenses and keep the rents lower for artists…. pretty much the same thing that is going on now at The Wedge, where a restaurant will make financially possible, the desire to keep studio rents reasonable.
Tensions have been high around changes in the River Arts District. For someone who has one foot in community development and one foot in business development, the conversation thus far has been interesting. Some questions also worth considering:
- Business: How does a business need to change in order to stay viable? How much can a vision change and still be “a good neighbor”? What responsibility does a business have to its community? Are there forces outside of all of our control? Would it be better to walk away rather than adapt? How should the business community communicate necessary changes to keep community informed?
- Community: What responsibility does a community have to understand the complexities of owning a business?
- Symbiosis: Business development supports community development. How would our communities thrive without thriving businesses that can afford to give back? What mechanisms can be put in place to create viable forums for the airing of grievances? How can dignity and respect stay our way of doing things in the ARAD? Can we be a true “alternative”?
I am interested in people’s thoughts. I don’t have the answers, but I’m sure of what the answer is not: to allow the community to come undone because change is occurring. This is a time to increase communication and come together, not sever and split apart.