Even though Asheville has a thriving art scene of its own, Greenville’s 3-day, nationally acclaimed festival, Artisphere presented by TD Bank, is a one-tank trip offering patrons unique visual, performing and culinary arts experiences. At the heart of the festival Artist Row will feature 135 artists selected by a panel of jurors form a record high applicant pool of 1,136 (1 in 12 chance of acceptance). There were 139 artist applicants from North Carolina, 20 were accepted, 4 are from Asheville.
Now in its 13th year, the festival draws tens of thousands to downtown Greenville to experience the visual arts in a variety of mediums including painting, woodwork, sculpture, jewelry, ceramics and photography to name just a few. A full list of participating artists is available on www.artisphere.org.
Among the Asheville artists participating are ceramicist Karen Newgard, Pop surrealist painter and light-box maker, Leif Erik Johansen, multi medium artist Matthew Smith and precious jeweler Geoffrey Giles.
Newgard is ceramicist that uses sgrafitto, a carving technique made by scratching through a surface to reveal a lower layer of a contrasting color. She will be showcasing her work for the first time at Artisphere. “The accepted artists are some of the best in their mediums,” stated Newgard. “The downtown Greenville area is a lovely setting to enjoy art, food, and music. I’m honored to be a part of the festival this year.” Newgard’s work can be purchased in the Curve Studios and Garden or on the web at www.karennewgardpottery.com.
Johansen is a self-taught artist who uses a form of Chinese paper cutting (Jianzhi) for his unique light boxes and dioramas. They are remote controlled and allow you to preform various functions such as fade, strobe or color variation. His mixed media paintings often focus on man’s relationship to nature and his surroundings. Before Artisphere, Johansen will be attending the Atlanta Dogwood Festival April 7-9. Johansen’s artwork can be found on the web at www.leiferikjohansen.com.
Smith is a multifaceted artist with many interests in graphic design, woodworking and furniture and has merged these interests into jewelry designs of precious metals and gems. His design elements are things such as line weight, color and pattern which are translated into silver thickness, resin tint and wood grain. Smith’s artwork can be purchased in the Mora Collection and Woolworth Walk galleries in Asheville. Check out his work at www.matthewsmithstudios.com.
Giles has received three Saul Bell Design Awards for his jewelry designs and has shown his work at both national and international exhibits. His work exemplifies a minimalist aesthetic; a combination of bold geometric forms, clean lines, attention to surface detail. Giles also has a permanent exhibit at the Mint Museum of Modern Craft in Charlotte. His work can be seen on the web at www.geoffreydgiles.com.
Among other things to enjoy during the weekend long festival are the Furman Art lab with 13 interactive art experiences that allow patrons to roll up their sleeves and flex their creative muscles with instruction by local Greenville artists including Cecilia Ho (needle felting), Izzy Mitchell and Heather Brame (collaging), Carol Funke (handmade paper), and Joann Benzinger (photo image transfer) to name just a few.
“This year’s festival is chock full of cool arts programs that will elevate the patron experience to a new level,” stated Artisphere Executive Director, Kerry Murphy. “We are so excited about the weekend from start to finish. Just when you thought you’d seen it all, something new pops up to delight and surprise. Don’t miss a minute of it.”