James Love is no stranger to the galleries of Asheville, but for his latest show, he’s gone in a decidedly different direction. Rooted In Love: A Collection of Paintings And Assemblage is a fully appointed virtual gallery.
“Having had a few art shows and group shows, I’m just going to be honest with you: It can be tough carrying the work around, making sure things don’t get broken, and everything else that goes into a show,” Love says. During the early phase of COVID, the artist was motivated by the increase in online shows and online galleries.
The new show’s theme, says Love, “is really about honoring family roots — where your source of love comes from. It’s easy to take for granted the love your family has for you, if you’re lucky enough to have a family that really loves you. It’s a way of saying to them, ‘The love that you showed me has not been overlooked, and it’s very strong.’”
Scrolling through the exhibit — designed to look like it’s mounted in a spacious contemporary gallery — guests can double-click to enlarge images of the real-life pieces, shown next to descriptions of the artwork and purchasing options.
What I Was Consumed By is a collage of found objects — like Love’s old Warren Wilson basketball shorts from when he won the tournament MVP, leading his team to win the USCAA National Championship. That fabric surrounds a portrait of the Reverend J.H. Love — part of a long lineage of pastors in the family — hovering over a drawing of a young man engrossed in a cell-phone screen.
“I was going so hard to be a professional player, and then COVID hit. It was a total disruption, and I found myself reconsidering, ‘What can I do now? What do I have?’” he ponders.
Another installment is a portrait simply titled Mom. The folk-impressionist painting of his mother depicts her sitting in a brightly patterned blouse, a loving smile on her face. His mother suffered a stroke in 2020 which affected her speech and mobility, but couldn’t daunt her spirit. “I’ve always been tight with my mom, so it was tough not being able to communicate like we used to,” he says. “She’s always been upbeat, and despite all the heaviness, how is she still smiling? I’ve been asking that question my whole life.”
Love concludes, “When I look back to some of my earlier works, I think about how I was so excited just to get the work out there. But as I’ve been maturing as an artist, there’s really a lot of intention behind what I’m doing now that I feel like I didn’t have before.”
Rooted In Love: A Collection Of Paintings And Assemblage is a virtual exhibit on view at ipaintforgod.com.