The Docent’s take in Art

Monday, November 9, 2009

I learned something very interesting today… Steven Seinberg and I grew up in the same neighborhood in the Florida suburbs; we share memories of the same river, where the Florida wetlands butt up against the rows of residential houses.

Seinberg is an artist living and working in Asheville; his contemporary abstract paintings are inspired by the tranquility of natural settings. I hopped on a tour that the Asheville Art Museum Docents took this week of his studio, and as he was speaking about nature as a strong focus in his art, his paintings grow livelier and stronger. I can feel the breeze and hear the brook where he gained inspiration. I am calmed by the majesty of the mountains in the distance. He speaks about the importance of Asheville’s setting for his work and the connection it has with his childhood memories where the Florida swamp is unforgivably intrusive, yet the lushness of the surroundings is easily forgotten amid daily routine. I suddenly remember the canoe I steered throughout middle school, down the river I spent so much time on during my childhood, and I jump back into the cool, refreshing spring where shark teeth can be found with a snorkel and a mask. It is a memory we both share, and one I forgot for so long; a memory that was overshadowed by Central Florida asphalt and unnatural suburban landscapes.

Steven Seinberg’s paintings can invoke still moments that we all have experienced at one time. Standing before his work invokes the tranquil feeling of nature, moments of stillness, and the peace of healthy relationships. As I stand in his studio, on the second floor of a busy downtown street, I am suddenly aware of the greatness of our city- that he can work in the busiest part of downtown and still take inspiration from the stillness of our surroundings.

This is a perfect segue for the second part of the Docent’s journey today. We leave the studio and walk a few blocks down to the Asheville Mural on Lexington Ave where we meet Molly Must, a 23 year old artist whose artistic dream for a rundown space under a busy highway overpass was realized- for Asheville’s immense benefit. Understanding the power of urban spaces and mixing it with her love and knowledge of Asheville’s appreciation for the arts, she pushed for this project to happen from city approval and feats of fundraising, to the logistics of scaffold rental and artist scheduling. She understands that art can transform political arenas and assist with social problems. Her vision extends to inserting art as a positive force in the lives of the underprivileged, the forgotten, and those on the fringes of ‘productive society’. And not only that-she is a very talented painter.

This mural is a testament to her ambition, her talent, and her passion.

As I take photographs and listen to her speak- I am also aware of the awe and appreciation the group before me has for her efforts. The Mural has not only transformed the walls under this busy overpass- but it has also individually transformed so many of our daily lives and the lives that we have as a citizens of this great city.

Overall, I have to say that the Asheville Art Museum Docents get to do some very exciting things! They give their time and energy to the Museum in the pursuit of dispersing knowledge, entertaining visitors, and enriching any visit to the Museum- and we appreciate every moment of their time that they give to the Museum. Thank you to the Docents- and to Steven Seinberg and Molly Must for a fascinating Monday adventure!

Want to be an Asheville Art Museum docent? Contact Nancy Sokolove, Adult Programs Manager at the Asheville Art Museum. 828.253.3227 or email