From the Daler Rowney Artist Inks laid out in a neat and tidy spectrum of color to the origami-like modern chairs that beckon you to sit around a crafting table and create something with your hands, everything at the Kristin Ashley Artist Shop in downtown Athens speaks of seduction. Rows of colorful papers tempt and appeal. “Pump Action” fat paint markers entice with their girth. And on a recent Thursday night, many Athens area artists just couldn't get enough of the store’s latest exhibit: "Love in All Its Many Forms."
Artist Cynthia Johnson has a work in the show and was there for the opening that evening. Recalling her initial visit to the art supply store on Jackson Street that is owned and run by Kristin Ashley, she said, “I just came for art supplies, but loved how she had set everything up. It’s visually stunning.”
The work of 70 artists hung on the walls of the shop’s small gallery space, and it felt like they had all come and brought along at least two dates each. Viewing the work was nearly impossible, but the party was lovely.
Newly minted mayor of Winterville Dodd Ferrelle was there with his talented wife Cameron Bliss. Bliss contributed a portrait of Flagpole arts editor Jessica Smith that many guests were especially smitten with. Bliss captures Smith’s trademark half-dark, half-light hair and intelligent gaze and sets them off with a dotted background, dotted blouse and, whimsically, a stuffed horse with dots. When asked about the significance of the toy, Bliss laughed and said, “She might hate horses or be allergic, I don't know.”
Another popular piece in the show was “Self-Portrait 1978” by Julie Swindle. “I love that Lily Swindle submitted a self-portrait that her mom took when she was an art student,” Ashley enthused. The piece exemplifies the show’s theme, and not just through the love a daughter showed for her mom by submitting it. The photo depicts the artist sitting with her boyfriend at the time, and both seem to bask in being together. Thirty-eight years later, the couple remains happily married.
About the exhibit, which will be up through Saturday, Mar. 19, Ashley said, “This show is all-inclusive. It’s the one I do every year that is not curated. It’s nice to do a show where everyone is invited. You get to see the broadest swath of art that everyone is making.”
The next exhibit at the shop will be “Works on Walls," an all-female and site-specific show.
The Kristin Ashley Artist Shop is located at 127 N. Jackson Street. For more information, visit kaartist.com.