An upcoming gala will unite two organizations that bring honor to Southern Appalachian cultural heritage. The Appalachian Barn Alliance and The Saints of Paint will exhibit en plein air paintings from 18 local artists, raising money to save vernacular barns from deterioration.
The idea for the gala, “A Pastoral Palette — The Barn Whispers its Memories,” stemmed from an inspired local extension agent, Ross Young, in 2012. The agriculture expert gathered a group of activists to begin documentation of historic barns in the state.
Madison County alone, where Appalachian Barn Alliance is headquartered, is home to around 10,000 barns. “It’s impossible to raise enough money to save barns for all we have,” explains Sandy Stevenson, president of the Barn Alliance Board and director of the Madison County Visitor Center. “We do our best to document each barn, though, by getting an oral history, architectural drawing, and photographs. This tells us about the family who owned it, the crops they grew, why and when it was built, and much more. Over time, this has helped us preserve the agricultural heritage of the Southern Appalachians, while focusing on the barns as the prime symbol of it.”
The gala, with participating artists in attendance, including Madison County special-guest painter Polly Gott, will serve farm-to-table food from local restaurants to provide a “taste of Asheville” — as the directors are calling it — for visitors. Restaurants include Fig, Green Sage Café, HomeGrown, and others, as well as charcuterie and fruit from Whole Foods and cheese from local Three Graces Dairy, plus wine and beer.
The Saints of Paint support select nonprofits by creating special pieces to sell at large fundraisers such as “A Pastoral Palette.” The core group consists of John Mac Kah, Ruthanne Kah, Christine Enochs, Dana Irwin, Susan Kokora, and Mark A. Henry, working with more than 30 additional artists whom they jury for diversity in mediums to fit each event. For the barn gala, the drawings, oil paintings, etchings, pastels, and watercolors for sale will show Madison County rural landscapes, farmscapes, and architecture.
The group finds inspiration by helping with environmental and human-rights issues, and they want people to see the bigger message behind protecting our history. “As the agrarian culture of family-owned farms continues to shrink in this country, the Barn Alliance seeks to educate and illuminate the next generation about their heritage and its relevance to the global conditions we are experiencing today,” John Mac Kah tells Asheville Made.
A Pastoral Palette – The Barn Whispers its Memories Gala happens Friday, June 21, 5-8pm. The event continues June 22-23 from 9am-5pm both days. Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce Building, 36 Montford Ave., Asheville. Tickets for the gala are $45. To make a reservation for the event, visit appalachianbarns.org/pastoral-palette-art-show-gala/. For more information, call 828-380-9146 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.