Saturday, November 29, 2008

"Sewing the Muse" on URTV

"Sewing the Muse," an Art Seen Asheville production, is finally complete and will be airing repeatedly on URTV. This week it is scheduled to air on charter cable channel 20 at the following times:
Monday Dec. 1st - 2:00 am and 9:30 pm
Wed Dec 3rd - 2:30am, 2:00pm, 10:30 pm
Thurs Dec 4th - 9:30pm
Sat Dec. 6th - 4:30pm
If you are one of the many who proudly do not own a tv or have cable you can now stream URTV on your computer! Go to and check it out.
URTV is the public access community television station in Asheville, NC and broadcasts to all of Buncombe County. It is a tremendous resource for the community and a plethora of groovy shows have sprouted out of URTV.
The KC Waters Show, Mount Dungeon, Pleasure Saucer, The Wall Paper Project, The Mad Monk of Montford, The Matt Howard Show, Glo Lady TV, The Ellen B Show and The Global Report are among my personal faves.

Monday, November 24, 2008

An interview with Chris Bower

Chris Bower lives in Asheville and has produced several short films in addition to the feature length science fiction epic Moon Europa. Bower is currently producing We Won't Bow Down a documentation of the Mardis Gras Indians of New Orleans. In addition to his film making pursuits he fronts the notorious and ever-evolving punk filth band, The Sexpatriates


ASA: How did you get into film making?

CB: I started doing experimental film and slide dissolve back in 93 with a group of artist in Knoxville. From there I messed around with it when I could get my hands on a camera. I jumped around a lot as a younger artist. I did music, painting, sculpture, installations, photography, writing, design and went to school for historic restoration. I came to a point where I felt I needed to commit to one thing. I decided it would have to be film because it is the one field where I was going to use everything I was into. Also it was the most challenging.

Do you think you have a specific style or approach to your films that differentiates you from other filmmakers?

My style is very visual. I’m sort of old fashion in that I believe in “pure cinema”, telling a story through images. I like to push the medium, experiment with the camera and with narrative structure. There is a certain magic that can be achieved through proper cinematic decision-making. I also believe that film can be a powerful art form and not just a commodity. I’m not sure if that differentiates me from anyone but these are the ideas that shape my process.

What are the advantages to being a filmmaker in Asheville?

You have a lot of community support from individuals and small business. A good infrastructure with Blue Ridge Motion pictures. As well as a large pool of talented people to collaborate with.


It has very little economic opportunity. The arts are used to attract people to the area but there is little offered to help the artist. The city and county could get together and offer healthcare and housing/studio services to the people whose backs they have built their reputation on but I doubt this even registers in their thought process. They take our creativity, commodify it, and sell it to the outside world. What does the artist get? Nothing but higher rent. What is the artist worth? After a few nice words and a glossy magazine spread, Zero. Give back? What is that? Support? We’ll give bloated prices for a piece of bullshit public art instead of making a significant contribution to members of the arts community that are struggling to survive.

Again, the city and county could offer health care to artists through the health department. And use some city funds and land to build short-term housing and studio space to nurture and replenish what they have harvested from us. This would free up resources and allow artists more time to develop, produce, market and sell innovative work. Leading to a more vibrant community and more tax dollars. But unfortunately, I think that the city’s love and support of art is really the love of exploiting people for it’s nice P.R. and ad campaigns. I sound jaded I know, but I think this can change for the better if we want to make it an issue.

What prompted your interest in documenting the Mardi Gras Indians?

Steve Mann’s photographs. When I first saw his images I knew I had to see these amazing people. I got my chance after Katrina when Steve invited me to go down to help document how Katrina was affecting the Indians. We were trying to get a grant that George Soros was giving away to help tell the story of that tragic situation. Unfortunately we did not receive the grant. A good six months went by and I couldn’t get it out of my mind so I went to Steve and Craig Hobbs, producer of Moon Europa, and asked if they wanted to do a feature documentary on the Indians. They said yes and we went down and talked it over with some of the Indians and they were down so we went for it.

How has the production of a documentary been different than the production of a narrative movie?

The whole process is different in everyway.

Are there any movies or filmmakers that specifically inspire you and your vision as a filmmaker?

I like the philosophy of Herzog, the grand vision of Kubrick, the dedication to craft of Sergio Leone, Ridley Scott and the Coens, the daringness of Godard and the completeness of the Maysles brothers.As far as films go, so many mean so much to me in different ways that it is to hard to single any one out.

You've been painting lately, is this something you've always done or is it new to you?

When I was younger I concentrated on painting but gave it up because I wanted to explore other things. Then when I lived in Paris I did a series of paintings based on space but then got wrapped up in film and once again lost interest. I haven’t painted in almost 8 years so it feels very new.

Describe your process of making the paintings.

Well it’s like found object art. I paint houses to pay the bills and so I’ll save left over paint I find on the jobsite. I’ll find boards and other scrap material in the alley, I live chicken alley, and then I’ll find random imagery that excites me in some way. After I get enough stuff together I’ll do as many paintings as I can as fast as I can. It is sort of primitive I guess.

I love to work as fast as possible because film making is soooo slow. It takes years from beginning to end. After doing film for so long it amazes me that I can create something and it is finished quickly. Sometimes in a few days!

In your opinion, are there any similarities between your paintings and your film making?

We built the spaceship in Moon Europa and Solatrium out of found and salvaged objects, so I bring that same spirit to the paintings. But what I like about my painting is that I can just let go and do it. With the films I am constantly thinking, questioning and planning.

Chris Bower discusses the inspiration and costuming of Moon Europa in "Sewing the Muse" a new Art Seen Asheville production about the work and collaborations of R. Brooke Priddy.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Asheville HATCHfest

HATCHfest is a multi-day experience that includes performances and exhibitions, interactive mentoring labs, panels and demonstrations, lectures, parties, and awards. It is described as a "mentoring festival" which means that established professionals from various disciplines will be brought to Asheville to teach workshops and provide assistance to people about their discipline. The workshops will be free and open to the public and among the disciplines provided will be fashion, architecture, journalism, photography and illustration.
The first annual Asheville HATCHfest will occur April 15-19, 2009.

R. Brooke Priddy has been instrumental in the development of Asheville HATCHfest through her creative presence at fund raising events and assistance provided with establishing the fashion portion of the festival. This past October, Priddy was invited to create a performance for the HATCH festival in Bozeman, Montana. These are pictures of her installation entitled "By Land." To read more about the creative unfolding of this project visit her blog here. The photos were taken by Taylor Richards Glenn.

Alison Watson is the co-chair of the Asheville HATCHfest and she appears in "Sewing the Muse" to discuss HATCHfest in greater detail. Watson began her career directing and producing documentary films, which have won recognition and awards across the US. She spent several years shooting and producing outdoor films and television commercials, and has worked with the Media Arts Project in building the media arts industry in WNC. Currently she is involved with the Asheville Film Commission and Terpsicorps Theatre of Dance.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Rene Treece

Check out the blog of local photographer, Rene Treece
where you will find her stop-motion videos and personal photography journal.
Rene Treece appears in "Sewing the Muse" as friend and collaborative partner to R. Brooke Priddy. Read another post I wrote about Rene here.

Friday, November 14, 2008

An interview with Megan McKissack

I often seek the advice of Megan McKissack when I'm working on video projects. I trust her eye, her opinions, and her technological know-how. Megan developed the opening title to Art Seen Asheville, and has helped with production of "Sewing the Muse." She has made leaps and bounds as a video projection artist over the past two years both technically, and creatively, and best of all she's really cool to hang out with.

ASA: How did you get into video projecting and electronic media in general?
MM: I started out editing my partner Ben's music show on the local public access station, URTV about two years ago and working with my friend Scott Furr who is a vj. Scott was the first person I had seen do that style of video performance and I was blown away. He introduced me to the software and got me started with how to use it and we started doing shows in tandem. I have always been fascinated by and impressed with the potential of computers but had never really had a worthwhile computer until four years ago, I was typing papers on a manual typewriter until about my second year of college. I guess now I'm making up for that by trying to learn as much as I can.

ASA: Describe what you do.
I curate video clips and edit them down to their essential parts and then use video mixing software similar to a dj and play and mix clips live in reaction to music played by a band or dj.

ASA: How do you find your images?
Some clips I make myself but a large amount of clips I use come from places like youtube, (which has a lot of open creative commons videos) and old vhs tapes that I find.

ASA: What are you looking for when searching for imagery?
When working with a band or dj, I start thinking about a theme or a mood that the music expresses to me and then collect imagery that I feel relates. I am really biased toward videos that are homemade and more lo-fi. I usually don't like to use video that is too high quality unless aesthetically it is of a beautiful subject. I like using youtube videos because they express a human touch, there is bad lighting or glitches in the video, they are never seamless and perfect, a quality that makes them attractive to me.

ASA: What programs do you use and why? what are you learning? what is your
favorite program?
I use final cut pro, vdmx (video mixing software), quicktime, and photoshop almost daily. VDMX is wonderful in that you can take the basic elements that the program provides and build a custom video mixing system suited to you, in that same respect it can be challenging because you don't just open the program and start mixing. It makes for a really dynamic program in that you can constanly learn about and change the program from top to bottom. I'm also trying to learn more about adobe after effects and quartz composer.

ASA: What has been the most challenging event you've done?
The most challenging event so far has been working on the Arts Council Purple Ball. I had spent a lot of time preparing video to go on all of the screens in the building plus using the projector as a lighting source for a dance performance but on the very day of the event nothing was working so I spent every last minute right up until the start of the event redoing a lot of the work I had done and it came together just in the nick of time. It was the most stressfull thing I have ever done but the staff at 11 on grove were extremely helpful in getting everything together.

ASA:Tell us about a really fun event.
After everything came together for the Purple Ball, it turned out to be a great event. I worked with Brooke Priddy projecting onto an 8 foot tall dress that she made for a singer to wear at the Purple Ball. I loved being able take the projection off of a flat wall or screen and onto the architecture of the dress.

ASA: What is your favorite thing?
The smell of old books

ASA: What video artists or people in general inspire you.
I really like the work of Takeshi Murata, Stan Vanderbeek, Josef Albers but I'm really inspired by my friends and other artists I have meet here in Asheville, they consistently do amazing work despite not have any support from the community at large and performing even when they don't get paid.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Amanda Boekhout and Elliott Elephant Clothes

Inspired by Asheville's unique fashion aesthetic, Amanda Boekhout taught herself how to sew shortly after moving to North Carolina from Florida. What began with embroidery and stenciling on t-shirts, has now transformed into her clothing line Elliott Elephant.
Using old clothes Boekhout creates one-of-a-kind pieces that are sold at The Honey Pot and on

Amanda Boekhout has modeled for R.Brooke Priddy and credits Priddy towards inspiring her tailoring and sewing. She will appear in "Sewing the Muse" an Art Seen Asheville production which features the work and collaborations of Priddy.
Visit to see Amanda's paintings and clothing.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Paul Olszewski

Paul outfits Aubrey Adams. Photo by Stephen Miller

As Paul Olszewski tells it, ten years ago all the elements of the universe came together in such a way that suddenly one day he found himself designing and sewing leather pants for legendary fashion designer Anna Sui. From a warehouse in NYC's Meatpacking District Olszewski and a friend created leather bags, guitar cases, hats, pants and jewelry for top name designers and celebrities including Julia Roberts, David Bowie and Metallica.

Today Paul Olszewski lives in Asheville with his wife and two kids and continues to construct leather belts and straps. Frequently he collaborates with dressmaker R. Brooke Priddy for fashion happenings including the The Post Apocalyptic Fashion Show, and The Red Carpet Vortex.
A graduate of the School of Visual Art, Olszewski also paints and creates video installations. See more of his work at

Monday, November 3, 2008

Julie Armbruster

The characters are disturbed, yet are set in a familiar illustrative context. The combination of layered materials and concentrated attention inextricably link the process of automatic drawing and repetition to the preoccupation with finding meaning and satisfaction in life. ~ Julie Armbruster

Believing that she should be able to afford her own work, Armbruster often creates pieces that are small in scale. She has been a contributing artist to the Artomat Project where her cigarette box-size works are sold in vending machines nationally.

Julie Armbruster appears in the upcoming Art Seen Asheville program, "Sewing the Muse" as friend and collaborative partner of Brooke Priddy. Julie and Brooke have been members of a drawing club called Segment 16 and will be exhibiting their drawings in January 2009.
Visit to see more of her work.