by Paul Blankinship
Of Time and the River 2014 was culture the way it’s meant to be.
The show benefited Riverlink, which has helped to build greenways along the French Broad River as well as revitalized Asheville’s River Arts District. That’s a pretty wide swathe of regional life impacted by one not-for-profit.
When invited, I put art into the show because I respected the combination of economic and environmental achievements that Riverlink has under its belt. The show seemed a good way to get my art in front of people who understand that culture needs money and other things than money, too.
I put a few hundred miles on my car in search of scenes to paint for the show, and by October, my eyes were pretty full of the French Broad River. But seeing the works of my fellow painters was like a trip down the river again without getting wet. Because the paintings were made by artists who work from nature, who go out into the landscape and interact with what they see, the show had an impressive power.
So much visual art appeals solely to the imagination, but the art in Of Time and the River never abandoned the senses. It offered a strong engagement with a very real place. I saw the river in new ways, but I never lost sight of what I was looking at. Kudos to Asheville painter John Mac Kah for gathering so many artists’ senses of place into a celebration.
Tying a community to the land and water around it is one of the basic functions of culture. Developing properties and ameliorating blight, which Riverlink does, go towards that end. So, too, do the less-feted efforts of pulling weeds and installing boat launches. It was a pleasure to put my work alongside theirs
We live here, not just anywhere, and that’s worth celebrating. Such celebration is part of what a culture is. This year, the second annual show will feature more art as well as artefacts from the French Broad’s varied history. Follow the work here, and join the celebration in October.