Tag Archives: Asheville

Asheville Art Museum – Newly Reopened and Better than Ever.

For years I’d not thought about the Asheville Art Museum.  Years ago when the museum had a great program that paired works from their collection with our US history curriculum, I took my fifth graders. The last time I visited was in 2007 when they had an exhibition of the paper dresses made by Mars of Asheville.

But for the most part, a visit to the Asheville Art Museum was just not that exciting. They were limited to a very small space in what was originally the Pack Library (where I spent many hours during my college years in the Sondley Research Library). But several years ago the museum closed for expansion and renovation. They reopened in November and the difference is amazing.

For such an arts-aware city, the old museum felt like an afterthought, especially after visiting the museums in other comparatively-sized cities. The excellent collections at the Greenville County Museum of Art (SC) and that of the Gibbes in Charleston, SC are just two examples.

Not every museum can be the Met or the Louvre, and so it helps when a small city discovers it has a niche to fill. For instance, the Gibbes has a wonderful collection of art from the Charleston Renaissance of the early twentieth century. The Greenville County Museum of Art focuses on South Carolina artists, as well as the Wyeth family.

So what is Asheville’s niche? When a city is located in the middle of “Appalachia” it might be easy to go full on mountain culture, whatever that is. I’m happy to say that what I saw reflects what Asheville and the surrounding area are today.

One of the most beautiful works is not actually in the museum, but is outside in Pack Plaza. This is Reflections on Unity by Henry Richardson. I have to say it is a great addition to the plaza, and seems to be a counterpoint to the obelisk, the Vance Monument. Zeb Vance was North Carolina’s Civil War era governor. (And don’t get me started on that glass and concrete monstrosity in the background, whose construction in the 1980s meant the destruction of a block of historic storefronts.)

I know you all are here for the textiles and clothing, so that’s what I’ll be showing. The inaugural exhibition in the new museum is Appalachia Now! in which all the artists either are from, or work in the area designated as “Appalachia”. I’ll be honest, I’m not a fan of the designation. The area of the Southern Appalachians is too large and too diverse to be defined by a single word. But it’s the word chosen, and I’ll deal with it.

In an exhibition on Appalachia you would expect quilts, but the art quilts of today are a far cry from the Sunbonnet Sue and Double Wedding Rings associated with the craft. The quilt above was made by Kelly Spell, and is titled Spotted Hawkfish. “This particular work was inspired by a fish of the same name…”

What would an exhibition on Appalachia be without an overshot woven coverlet? But this work by Danielle Burke is much smaller and more finely woven than the traditional coverlet. But the design, Carolina Star, is the same.

It is almost impossible to escape the effect of textiles in art exhibitions. These works by Amanda Brazier use her own oil-based pigments from the earth (seen in the little jars) to make paintings that look like weaving patterns.

It might be hard to tell just how small this embroidered work by Amanda Remmen is, so I’ll tell you it is about six inches across. I-81, Winter 2017, is part of a “map” series. The museum has four of these on display.

 

This dress is made of oak leaves dipped in beeswax.  Garment for Remembering the Earth, 2010 -2017 was made by Jennifer L. Hand from leaves she gathered on walks in the woods. The garment is accompanied by a video showing her process.

Sculptor Elizabeth Brim uses traditional blacksmithing techniques to produce metal garments reminiscent of the ones made by her seamstress grandmother. From Italy with Love, 2017.

The area of the museum devoted to the permanent collection is a nice mix of works with regional connections, historical works, and contemporary works. To my delight, there is a section of the work of the teachers and students of Black Mountain College. The sculpture is by Ruth Asawa, and is made of wire. Untitled, circa 1954.

Dorothy Cole Ruddick used thread and embroidery to create the illusion of depth. She studied at Black Mountain in 1945. Untitled; undated.

There is a small section of regional works.  I’ve written about Bayard Wootten and her photographs in the past, and it was good seeing her represented in Asheville’s collection.

Getting a decent photo of this Granny Donaldson Cow Blanket was impossible, but I had to show it as another example of her work.  It’s not as spectacular as the one I recently posted from the Folk Art Center’s collection, nor as detailed as the one in the collection of the Mint Museum in Charlotte, but the charm of her work is readily apparent.

Asheville quilt artist Luke Haynes puts a twist on familiar works by other artists, as you can see here in [The American Context] Christina’s World, 2012. Haynes had friends strike the poses of works like Andrew Wyeth’s Christina’s World.  The background squares are made of fabrics from old clothing, while the figure is made from new fabrics.

I’m really excited for future exhibitions at the Asheville Art Museum. It’s exactly the cultural asset Asheville needed.

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Filed under Museums, North Carolina

Anne Adams Sewing Patterns, Fall 1938

Anne Adams was the name of a sewing pattern company which sold their products through syndicated content in newspapers across America. I have seen Anne Adams patterns from the 1940s through the 1980s, but this catalog of designs is dated 1938. I added it to my archive because it was published by my hometown paper, the Asheville Citizen.

In looking through this catalog, I was struck by the big variety of lifestyles Anne Adams catered to. As you can see on the cover, there were evening gowns for those who had need of them. And while people might not think that women in a small city in the middle of the southern mountains would need a formal gown, there were plenty of events in Asheville that would make such a dress a necessity for many women.

On the other end of the spectrum was the house dress. A woman working at home during the day might not wear the three inch heels shown in the illustration, but I can remember that as late as the 1960s my grandmother and her three sisters always wore dresses similar to the ones pictured while doing their house cleaning, laundry, and cooking. All of them made these dresses out of cheerful prints in easy to clean cotton.

Here is a grouping of day dresses of a different sort. These were not for housework. They were for shopping or lunching, or perhaps for a club meeting.

In 1938, as it is today, the older woman is encouraged to look younger and thinner. Some things seem to never change.

For the truly young, there were campus fashions, starring the original teenage star, Deanna Durban.

The career woman was advised to make and wear separates which she could mix and match. The idea of separates is more associated with the 1950s, but it actually dates back much earlier, to at least the 1890s.

It’s pretty unlikely that in 1938 there was any skiing going on in the Asheville area, but a good, warm coat was needed. Interestingly, with the exception of pajamas, this was the only pair of pants offered for women. That was to change dramatically in just a few years.

And here are the other pants, in the form of pajamas. I can see where the width of the hems is starting to diminish from the extremely wide legs of the mid 1930s.

When I was coming of age in the 1960s and 1970s, one of the chief complaints of the girls in my school was that “fashion” here was two years behind what we saw in the fashion magazines. I’ve come to realize that our own conservatism had more to do with that than what was available to us. Even in 1938, women in the mountains of North Carolina could buy patterns of what was fashionable in other markets.

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Filed under North Carolina, Proper Clothing, Viewpoint

Pollock’s Shoes, Asheville, NC

In my ongoing search for all things concerning hiking clothing, I found this ad in a 1926 issue of Everygirl’s, the Campfire Girls magazine.  I can’t resist looking at the lists of stores whenever they are a part of an ad, and I’m always interested to see if there was a store in Western North Carolina that offered the product.

In 1926 Cantilever Shoes could be bought at Pollock’s Shoes in Asheville.  I had read about Pollock’s in the great booklet, The Family Store, which tells about all the Jewish-owned businesses that could be found in Asheville in the twentieth century.  Pollock’s was owned by Lou Pollack, who according to his obituary, started the business in 1910.  In the 1920s the store was located on Patton Avenue, one of the main streets in downtown Asheville.

There have been a lot of changes on Patton Avenue, including the loss of two entire blocks to parking lots, and much of another to a modern bank building.  Almost incredibly the old Pollock’s store has survived at 39 Patton Avenue, with some distinctive brickwork that can be seen in old photos still in place today.

I was a bit surprised when I looked up one day while walking on nearby Haywood Street, to see the Pollock’s name.

By studying old city directories, which can be found online, I found that for a period of time mainly during the 1940s, there was a second Pollock’s store.  Just by looking at the decoration on the exterior of the building, my guess is that it was a posher version of the old family oriented store.

The Haywood Street Pollock’s was sandwiched between the very nice Bon Marche department store, on the left, and Woolworth’s on the right.  The Bon Marche opened in 1937, and Woolworth’s in 1938, and my guess is that the Pollock’s space dates to the same time period.

Lou Pollock was famous for having a yearly Christmas party for children who needed shoes, and he must have given away thousands of pairs over the years.  Pollock retired from his store in 1939, but the Patton Avenue store was open at least until 1956, the last year I found it listed in the city directory.

I love this kind of urban exploration.  There are little bits of the past still to be found in brick and plaster, tile and signage.  It’s all a matter of keeping one’s eyes open.

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Filed under North Carolina, Shoes

Vintage Shopping with the Vintage Traveler

My husband likes to remind me that it’s not shopping unless you buy something.  Maybe I should have titled this post Vintage Looking, because I do I lot more looking than I do buying.  I have learned that one does not have to buy all the great stuff in order to appreciate it.

Still, I often second guess myself, and the early 1930s hat above is a good example of that.  I love everything about it except the green color and the fact that it would not fit in neatly with my other early 30s things.

I can’t help but think about how handy this non-electric clothes dryer would be, not to mention the energy saving factor.

I’m really not very tempted by old Coca-Cola items, but I do love to see how they portrayed women in their sports attire.  Seems to me this model would be better off with a mug of hot cocoa than with the Coke.

I could use a bit of help with this dressage helmet. Any equestrians reading this, please enlighten me.

I recently bought a fantastic riding suit from the late 1930s or early 40s, and I’m now looking for a helmet.  They are quite commonly found, but I have no idea on how to put a date on them except to look at the interior construction and at the materials used.  Newer ones often have faux leather straps and plastic findings.  Does this one look 1930s to you experts?

I really don’t need another pair of 1950s pants, but these were tempting, mainly because of the hang tag.

Blue Bell was manufactured in Greensboro, North Carolina.  Maybe I was wrong to leave them behind.

Also interesting is the line on the tag, “Ask for my Color Mate.”  It appears that they were also making matching separates.

I had never even heard of this Asheville business, H. Redwood & Co.  The address no longer exists, as that stretch of Patton Avenue was demolished in the 1960s for the construction of the Northwestern Bank Building (now the BB&T Bank Building).

A visit to Asheville is not complete for the vintage lover without a peek into Magnolia Beauregard.  It’s worth it just to see the owner’s collection of mannequins and hat heads.

For a very short time in the mid 1960s, the surfer shirt was all the rage for boys and girls.  I really don’t see a lot of them, but a seller at Metrolina in Charlotte had this one.  That label and hang tag are everything.

If this had been one size larger, and if I was sure I could get the discoloration out, I’d have bought this one to wear.  Again, look at that great hang tag.

And finally, I thought this was a camping kit, but the tag identified it as some officer’s mess kit during WWII.  Still, wouldn’t this be great for a bit of vintage auto camping?

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Filed under Shopping

1960s Chanel-Inspired Davidow Jacket

I mentioned a few days ago that I lucked into a vintage pop-up shop on the streets of Asheville.  One of the great things about Asheville is that there are numerous little alleyways and side streets, many of which are not being well utilized, but which have great charm and potential.  In this case there is outdoor seating for a restaurant, but the space behind it was perfect for a temporary shop.

The business is called the Urban Gypsy, and the young woman who owns it does pop-ups in Asheville and Savannah.  What a perfect combination of cities!

After the disappointment of the very needy Bonnie Cashin I kept looking, hoping that lighten would strike twice.  That’s when I spotted a small group of tweed jackets.

There were a couple of jackets in shades of blue, and here is the one I choose.  I tried it on, and even the older man standing there waiting for his wife to finish up looking gave it a thumbs up.  It was truly a perfect fit.

The icing on the cake was the Davidow label.  Davidow was a high-end ready-to-wear label.  According to the research of Claire Sheaffer, Davidow made both Chanel-inspired suits and Chanel reproductions.  The reproductions actually used Chanel fabrics and in many cases, buttons.  My new jacket is probably of the inspired variety, but the wool plaid tweed is one mighty fine textile.

The jacket has bound buttonholes, something I’d be afraid to risk on such a loosely woven and bulky fabric.

The pockets are functional, and I love how they are cut on the diagonal.

I’m not 100% sure that the buttons are original, but the thread used to sew them does match the color of the lining.  The underside of the buttons is a mottled blue, which indicated these may have faded over time.  I’ll probably replace the buttons, as I bought this to wear and I want blue ones.  I will carefully save the old buttons.

Unfortunately, the lining proves once and for all that Southern women do actually sweat (as opposed to glisten).  The lining is a rayon faille, and is not as luxurious as I like.  Am I crazy for even considering replacing the lining with silk crepe de chine?

The seller found the jacket in Savannah, and it has a nice store label.  I can’t find a thing about Fine’s, but I do remember shopping there on a trip to Savannah in the mid 1970s.  At that time the store was located in a mall, as their downtown was in a downward slide.  Today downtown Savannah is a charming place with nice shops, most of which are local.

 

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Filed under Shopping, Vintage Clothing

Vintage Shopping in Asheville, NC

Over the past two weeks I’ve visited all my favorite vintage shopping places in Asheville.  To be such a small city, there are lots of interesting places to look for vintage treasures.  I actually took these photos over three days.  There is no way you can do justice to the old stuff stores of Asheville in just one day.

This record tree and the Santa ladder above can be found at The Screen Door.  This place is a little off the beaten path, but it is well worth finding.  It seems like no matter how often I go there, I find new things of interest.

I really liked this pretty equestrienne.

I actually found this Scottie print at a thrift store.  The thrifts in Asheville sometimes seem to be really picked over, but it is possible to still get lucky.

Click to enlarge.

There are several antique stores and malls downtown.  I’ve shown this fantastic store, Magnolia Beauregard’s, before but it is worth another look.  The collection of mannequins and hat heads is really impressive, plus he sells some great hats and vintage clothing.

Here’s an interesting twist on an old favorite: Pin the Shoe on Cinderella.

This is the cover of a 1920s tourist brochure for Glacier National Park.

Lexington Park Antiques is also a favorite of mine.  I found these cute 1950s clam diggers.  They were made by White Stag.  Note the striped lining where the leg is rolled.

This forearm looks a bit gruesome at first, but note that it is a display piece for Van Raalte gloves.  It actually stands on the base.

My photo comes nowhere near to showing off this lovely quilt, made of velvet pieces.

Time for a break.  This is the Mellow Mushroom, which is housed in an old service station.

These two coats were made by Davidow.  I was happy to be able to examine them so soon after writing about the company.

If I don’t stop with the vintage patterns, I’m going to have to get one of these vintage storage pieces.

The day after I took these photos of this Red Cross vest, one of my Instagram friends posted an old article on knitting a Red Cross Sweater.

Someone bought this Sally Victor flower explosion and didn’t have the nerve to wear it.  Or at least that’s my guess.  Anyway, it was fun seeing the hangtag.

And here I am, unable to pass a mirror without taking a look at my own image.  I’m wearing my favorite vintage coat, a Pendleton!

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Christmas Windows, Asheville NC

I went to Asheville today to see what was “new” in my favorite vintage places, and also to check out the Christmas windows.   It had never occurred to me that Asheville might have great holiday windows, but I saw in the newspaper that there had been a design contest on the theme “A Star is Born,” and I felt I owed it to myself to see them.  I had no illusions that the Saks and Bergdorf’s and Macy’s windows were facing stiff competition, but for a small city like Asheville I thought the display was pretty impressive.

Over the past twenty years, the civic leaders in Asheville have worked hard to revitalize downtown.  After most of the stores and restaurants abandoned the area and relocated at the mall, downtown Asheville was a rather scary place.  Only a few stores were able to hold on.  But they did, and slowly they were joined by other urban pioneers.  Today downtown Asheville is a wonderful place to shop and eat.  Best of all, almost all the businesses are locally owned.

But enough bragging on my little city.  Here is a tour of some of my favorite windows.

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This window was made entirely of layers of cut paper.  It really was a showstopper.  Note that there is no product to be found!  This was one of the windows at
Sensibilities Day Spa.

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This sock monkey carolers window was at the yarn shop, Purl’s Yarn Emporium.

Windows are really hard to photograph, so I’m sorry about the quality of this one at clothing store, Caravans.

I cannot resist polar bears.

This is one of the windows at Spiritex, which is a clothing store.  All the clothing is made here in Western North Carolina.

This is one of four star windows at the Chevron Trading Post.   These stars are made of paper and they are stunning.

This is the window at Mountain Lights, which is a seller of locally made candles and crafts.

Hip Replacements had a retro theme and won the Judges’ Favorite prize.  They sell retro and vintage clothing.

I couldn’t help but notice that some of the most effective windows I saw today were the ones that featured only a few, or even one product.  Some of the windows that I did not photograph looked like windows from the turn of the 20th century where shopkeepers piled the windows high with as much merchandise as possible.  I think people are attracted to visual clutter (like the star windows) but the clutter has to make sense.   Trying to show everything in the shop is just confusing.

So, what are the holiday windows like in your corner of the world?

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Filed under Curiosities, Holidays, North Carolina, Shopping