Little Boxes Where We Dwell: Habitats, Spaces, and Reflections

Through the Stone Wall There Was a Village, Mark Bettis

It’s been almost 15 years since Mark Bettis landed in Asheville.  He started out in his garage, which he quickly outgrew, and took a studio in the Wedge Building, the heart of the River Arts District, where he currently runs his own gallery, teaches workshops, and regularly features the work of artists from a variety of genres: sculpture, colorful abstracts, and landscapes painted in various styles from many areas in Western North Carolina.  

About his gallery’s upcoming exhibit, Bettis says, “I love doing these group shows; it brings an energy into the gallery and shows the diversity of our local artists. I also believe it stretches the artists’ creativity, because I ask them to do something they don’t usually do in their work.”  When artists must adhere to a theme, they have to interrupt their current work and create something fresh, but within a boundary: This is a kind of growth.

Moving Day, Deb Williams

The inspiration for the title — Little Boxes Where We Dwell — comes from Malvina Reynolds’ satirical folk song. Reynolds sang about “little boxes on the hillside/little boxes all the same” — mocking conformity in Mid Century suburbia. 

I’ve Grown Tired of Thinking About a Fireplace, Grant Penny

But Bettis hopes for something wildly different in 2021, as his chosen makers examine and expand upon the concept of home. From Deb Williams’ whimsical “Moving Day” to Grant Penny’s somber “Little Boxes in Blue” to Nabil El Jaouhari’s “Metamorphosis” with its swirling, intense colors, the idea of home is limitlessly subjective. It can be a sanctuary, a gathering place, a place to celebrate and heal — or a place to leave. (The other exhibited artists include Bettis himself, along with Jacqui Fehl, Samantha Edmiston, Michael Hofman, Phil DeAngelo, Carrie Cox, Terri Foland, and Andrea Kulish Wilhelm.)

— Jolene Mechanic

Mark Bettis Studio & Gallery, WEDGE, 123 Roberts St., River Arts District (Asheville). www.markbettisgallery.com. 941-587-9502. The exhibition is on display November 13-27. Opening reception: Saturday, Nov. 13, 4-7pm.

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