Shopping for Art at HGTV Urban Oasis 2015
Let me tell you how difficult it is to shop for art in Asheville, NC. It is not difficult, at all, to shop for art in Asheville. Well, unless you’re (a) not awake, or (b) trying very hard not to find art.
One of my artist friends, Rob, moved to this amazing mountain city a few months before I signed on to design and decorate the HGTV Urban Oasis 2015. Anxious to find local art to inspire my initial design and decorating plans, I took a trip up to Asheville to visit Rob and get the inside scoop on where to look for art.
Find Your Inspiration
"When it comes to art, it’s totally my thing," says interior designer Brian Patrick Flynn. "Regardless of how low or high-brow you’re going in buying furniture, when you have one-of-a-kind pieces of art it elevates the overall design of the whole room and makes it seem a lot more high-end."
Discovering Asheville Art
"One of the things I do in almost every single house is to have a mix of art that really tells a story," explains Brian. "When I first got to Asheville I wanted to get acquainted with the art neighborhoods, so I went to all of the studios I could find and found a nice mix of genres to make sure the house appeals to a bunch of different types of tastes."
Folk art can be a perfect addition to home decor and bring character and interest into a space.
"I don’t think you should count out folk art," says Brian. "It is a very specific style but there is something approachable about it. If you are somebody with really high-end taste, just adding one piece of folk art in the house immediately makes it feel more warm and approachable."
Mix and Match
"When I'm designing a space, I don’t want all of the art to come from the same genre," says Brian. "I love a mix of street art, folk art, really beautiful traditional oil paintings and especially portraits. There’s a personal element about them that makes a house feel like a home, and you don’t want to live in a showroom."
"There is a lot more rawness here, there’s a lot of folk art, graffiti and pottery so I didn’t necessarily want the house to be packed with fine art, I wanted it to be a little more unstructured, loose and maybe more edgy," exaplians Brian. "I decided to find a bunch of really interesting pieces that are a little more low-brow but then also up the taste factor by bringing in some really good looking gallery art."
Versatile Colors vs. Bold Colors
Be mindful of the colors of the rooms for which you are choosing art. Bold colored rooms do not work as well with a wide spectrum of colors as do neutral colored rooms.
"If you’re going to be in a colorless home I love the idea of using art to break up all of the neutrality," says Brian. "The other option is if you’re somebody that lives in a colorful house and you don’t want to overload, think of bringing in art that might be a little more subdued like simple blacks and whites, figure drawings or landscapes that have more muted colors."
Invest in Good Framing
A good frame is key. "If you get something from a flea market or if your friend makes you a painting and it’s just a canvas with a sketch on it, invest in good looking framing," encourages Brian. "If you’re going to buy a piece of gallery art that comes in a frame, go ahead and invest in having it professionally framed because it elevates the overall look."
Conveniently enough, there’s a pedestrian neighborhood known as the River Arts District packed with studios where artisans both create and sell their work. Completely unaware of what I’d find, here’s a fish-out-of-water experience on successfully shopping the River Arts District.
In just under two hours, I scored some pretty significantly sized pieces to help kickstart the interior design process for the HGTV Urban Oasis 2015 great room, which features lots of steely blues, rich browns and a strong use of black and white. Well, maybe not lots of steely blues, more like just one, but you get the point.
"Room With a View" (left) is one of the many eclectic pieces of art found on the Asheville art scene, and The Old Crown graffiti silo (right) is a popular local landmark that inspires creativity.
The Old Crown graffiti silo is one of the most identifiable landmarks for the River North District. It’s off limits for elaborate photo or video shoots. However, it’s an amazing source of inspiration for color, pattern and graphic.
Case in point: I ended up buying this folk art piece titled “Room With a View” from nearby Zapow! Studios, which has the same colors you see in this chunk of graffiti. Coincidence? I think not.
You know how some people take things too seriously and it’s annoying and then when you want them to take something seriously that matters, they fail at doing so? Well, Asheville takes its art seriously and in an awesome way.
Almost every studio or gallery door in the River Arts District is covered in color and and pattern or with elaborate murals, instantly putting you in a good mood even if you decide to, like me, get there two hours before most places open due to lack of planning and research.
After scoring my reclaimed window art in the nearby Grove Arcade neighborhood, I set my sights on Studio 140D, a collective gallery and artist’s workspace packed with understated abstracts, impressionistic pieces and vibrant farmhouse works by painter Patricia Cotterill.
Also, if you’re looking to shop in the River Arts District, it’s good to know that many of the artists work on “by appointment” hours, which they'll be at the studio to show you completed works if you call ahead and schedule a showing with them.
As you can see from the photograph, I kept myself glued to my iPhone calling every gallery before walking to it, just to make sure someone was there and I wasn’t standing out like that unprepared tourist guy.
One look at Patricia Cotterill’s booth and I was sold on her cow art. In fact, blue and brown officially became my great room palette after discovering this piece. In the far back of Studio 140D you’re likely to find artists hard at work, something that’s enticing due to how much natural light the space gets.