2013 Urban Loft + Art Tour
By Adrian Etheridge
On October 10, the Asheville Art Museum conducted its annual Urban Loft + Art tour inviting participants to view a few of downtown’s most stunning lofts and art collections. Each year the museum partners with loft owners within the community to show spaces that most Ashevillians don’t even know exist. On this beautiful fall evening, groups of fifteen to twenty left from the museum at intervals on a guided tour, strolling through five of downtown’s iconic buildings and an art gallery, and ending with a reception at Mobilia. I had the pleasure of tagging along and photographing some of the most well-crafted living spaces in Asheville.
The first stop along the two-hour walking tour was the beautiful Art Deco S&W Building, which originally opened as a cafeteria. While the cafeteria closed in 1974, it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977. In 2007 it was purchased by a developer who reopened the restaurant and began the renovation of lofts on the upper two floors. One of the lofts (pictured above) has a very “urban chic” look with exposed brick walls and beams complementing more modern furniture and decorations, making it a very cozy and inviting space.
The Piedmont Building on Patton Avenue, built around 1920, was the second stop on our tour. After entering through the WineHaus (and drooling over the incredible assortment of cheeses), we arrived at Steve Lott and Mickey Randolf’s unit, which was filled with an eclectic assortment of contemporary and antique stoneware, wood carvings, and framed art from places ranging from North Carolina to Iran. I could have spent hours just exploring their incredibly large collection of artwork that filled the rooms.
After a longer trek through downtown, we came to the Grove Arcade – one of the most iconic buildings in downtown Asheville. Designed by famous local architect Charles N. Parker, this building was originally created, and unfortunately left unfinished, for E.W. Grove. Ann and Farley Snell’s residence was supposedly Grove’s own intended residence, although he died before it was completed. Undoubtedly, he chose this space for the incredible view.
Our fourth stop on College Street had one of the most interesting (and modern) lofts complete with an enormous red-tiled walk-in shower and bathroom. Our entire tour group could probably have fit into the shower comfortably.
Our fifth spot, Rankin Press Lofts, which are brand new, housed a vacant loft that is currently on the market. This stop featured in-house entertainment, and the space was staged with fashion pieces made from recycled material by local designers, which we explored to the sounds of fiddle tunes from Sally Anne Morgan.
The final stop along our urban loft trail was the Alchemy Fine Arts Gallery. This warmly-lit space housed beautiful paintings that were gradually added into the gallery as the designer thought they felt right. A number of the paintings – my favorites there – showcased some unusual dramatic portraits of “regular people” rather than models. With tattoos, bags under their eyes, and tired expressions, these portraits had a very relatable quality.
The lovely evening concluded with a reception at Mobilia – a contemporary furniture store – hosted by William Coin and Scott Mills, Beverly-Hanks& Associates, and the Fitzgerald at Grove Park.