Gallery founder Joey Sheehan recently fielded questions about the beginnings of the gallery in what was previously his studio space.
Tell us about why you started Asheville Ceramics Gallery?
I wanted to create a place in the river district where my self and my peers could show our ceramic work to the public in a clean and inviting environment that was not polluted with clay dust and the cluttered with the tools and materials inherent to a working clay studio.
Can you give us some history about the space?
The Phil Mechanic Building went through a metamorphosis of many different businesses before Mitch and Jolene Mechanic opened its doors for artists to make their studios. I made pots in the gallery space along with two other artists for almost 4 years before deciding to convert it into a full on gallery.
How did you select artists to be a part of the gallery?
I approached all local artists that I felt already had a connection to the River Arts District. I also wanted to create a full spectrum of ceramic work representing all of the many different means of making ceramic art. I wanted all the work to be different yet cohesive enough to display well together. I was also careful to select responsible, good people who would be proud to show and represent their work here.
What does “a cooperative gallery” mean?
The term “cooperative” applies to this gallery because it is comprised of a group of artists working together to keep the gallery open. We all put in time and money to get the doors open and keep the space looking good. Each day of the week you can come in to find a different artist behind the counter ready to explain their work as well as the work of our fellow members.
What makes the gallery special or different?
This gallery is special because of the fact that it is a cooperative, we do demonstrations, and we have a grouping of some of the most interesting and high quality ceramic work that can be found in one place.
What was the biggest challenge getting the gallery started?
The hardest part was finding the right group of people who all wanted to be a part of the gallery and were in the right place both professionally and in life to do it. There are so many great artists in the area it was hard to pick only 10!
What should visitors expect to see at the gallery?
Visitors can expect to see and excellent grouping of ceramic art from low-fire earthenware pots to high-fired stoneware. We represent artists creating functional tableware all the way to decorative sculpture. You can also expect to be greeted by one of the actual artists represented in the gallery as well as to possibility of real ceramic demonstrations.
What do you like most about being in The Phil Mechanic building?
The Phil Mechanic is one of the quirkiest and oldest buildings in the River District. It houses everything from potters and painters to seamstresses and a bio-diesel factory. What better place to showcase a bunch of dirty potters!