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November 2019 Rapid River Magazine

  • Text
  • Waynesville
  • Alexander
  • Fresco
  • Watercolor
  • Voorhees
  • Rapid
  • Artists
  • Asheville
  • Arts
  • November

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More of what Makes Asheville Special: Dining • Shopping • Galleries • Music • Fun D o w n t o w n A s h e v i l l e The Haywood Street Fresco sabotages the shame of poverty BY AMY MANIKOWSKI • DOWNTOWN ASHEVILLE In downtown Asheville, a true Buon fresco is being unveiled in the sanctuary of 297 Haywood Street. It is an unlikely gallery for one of the oldest and most demanding art forms known to humankind. Since 2009 the Haywood Street Congregation has opened its doors and called everyone in, regardless of identity, history, orientation, ability, or status. The Fresco includes portraits of from the community of Haywood Street, many of whom have suffered from homelessness, poverty, illness, and addiction. The uniqueness of this representation is significant, the goal being to sabotage the shame Nearly ten years in the making, the Haywood Street Fresco came to life in 2019. of poverty by announcing in plaster and pigment the sacred worth of every human. Fresco is a physically and mentally demanding art form. The technique uses natural pigments mixed with water and applied to a layer of wet plaster. The colors are absorbed, becoming part of the wall as it dries. The mixture of pigment and lime creates a unique luminescence not seen in other mediums. Multiple layers of plaster ensure the stability and durability of the project. While the initial layers cured on the wall for seven months, the artists did extensive sketching and composition for the portraits in the Fresco, sitting and drawing each person from life. After the initial sketches, a huge fresco-sized 16 |RAPIDRIVERMAGAZINE.COM | RAPID RIVER’S ARTS & CULTURE | VOL. 23, NO. 3 NOVEMBER 2019

Downtown/Montford 95 Cherry Street North Asheville, NC 28801 828.258.2435 South: 200 Julian Shoals Dr Suite 20, Arden, NC 28704 828.687.8533 The Fresco team is made up of a band of fine artists who have dedicated their lives to learning the ancient tradition, apprenticing themselves, and doing work that can only be done painstakingly and with the help of others. cartoon is created and then traced to transfer onto the wall. Although this is completely plastered over in the final stages, it allows the artists to see the entirety of the design to ensure the composition works. The pounced tracing paper is then cut up so it can again be transferred onto the wall in smaller pieces. These pieces are what the artists deemed themselves able to paint in each 8-10 hour workday, as the drying plaster allows. The final layer of plaster is spread the morning of each painting day, and the artist uses the tracing to guide their painting on the fresh wet wall. If anything goes wrong during this process - color mistakes, composition errors, plaster irritability - the day’s work has to be chipped away entirely redone. The Fresco team is made up of a band of fine artists who have dedicated their lives to learning the ancient tradition, apprenticing themselves, and doing work that can only be done painstakingly and with the help of others. Led by principal artist Christopher Holt, a native of Western North Carolina, the fresco is a team effort, with John Dempsey III, Caleb Clark, and Jill Hooper assisting in key components, as well as an apprentice, Anselme Long, learning firsthand the complexity of the craft. The Fresco also includes other architectural elements that residents and visitors of Asheville will recognize - the Jackson Building, the Basilica of St. Laurence, the former Stephens Lee High School, and the loggia of the Central United Methodist Church who owns the building that Haywood Street Congregation calls home. Nearly ten years in the making, the Haywood Street Fresco came to life after over the summer of 2019. From July 1-September 29, the team of artists mixed and laid plaster, ground pigments, and carefully painted the details of the composition onto the twenty-eight by eleven-foot wall. An open house event will be held Thursday, November 14, 5-7 pm at 297 Haywood Street in Asheville. Meet the artists, hear the stories, and experience the Beatitudes as portrayed through the ancient art form of Fresco. Haywood Street Fresco Learn more at: haywoodstreetfresco.org and follow via Instagram and Facebook: @haywoodstreetfresco INFO VOL. 23, NO. 3 — NOVEMBER 2019 | RAPIDRIVERMAGAZINE.COM | RAPID RIVER’S ARTS & CULTURE | 17