lifestyle Review

Art is Power / Art Is You: Local Asheville Artists Unite

April 18, 2017

Phil Mechanic Studios taken by Christina Geneve

Asheville, North Carolina; the beautiful city people come from all different directions to see. Flourishing from Bohemian culture, the souls who’ve built this city seem to be the reason why Asheville can be considered the perfect escape. Yes, we’ve got pretty mountains, historic building structures, great restaurants and beer. But there are some the outsiders seem to over look. The community — our community.The hippies didn’t start the Drummer Circle, but they’ve done well at continuing tradition, as well as most who have decided — years before tourism became a thing in our city — that Asheville is the place to call home. Over the years our city has been centered around tourism and bringing more people in for profits.

Art is an important aspect here in Asheville. As humans, we all need to embrace our creative nature. Whether you can understand a piece – no matter the form it is in – it is something that makes you feel; something that speaks without having to say a word. It is something that comes from the heart. And with today’s society, heart is what we are in dire need of.

Adam McMillian shot by Batsabe Fregoso Lee/Peak of the Mountain Productions

Adam McMillan is a photographer/photojournalist, musician, community activist, and event coordinator with a background in film making and marketing. Originally, he’s from Columbia, SC, but has lived in Asheville for now almost 10 years. 

Adam has started a new project called Art is Power/Art is You, taking place at the Phil Mechanic building in the RAD, located downstairs in the Flood Art community space. The event took place Sunday evening on February 5th earlier this month. A friend had invited me and honestly I had no idea what to expect. She said it was an open space and to bring some art to work with. What I had gotten was more than I could have hoped for.

Olesya Moon enjoying the music by Adam McMillan/AM Photography


Bobbi Williams hugging a new friend by Adam McMillan/AM Photography


Friends dancing to free-styled music by Adam McMillan/AM Photography

Art is Power/Art is You is a free gathering, and if you consider yourself an artist, you’re invited. You’re also inclined to byob and snacks! Locals like, Kris Lars and others, congregated in this community area for the first night of this social event. It was all about bringing the arts community together to create and network in a safe space. There were music artists, painters and engineers! A gentleman played the keyboard, while constructing the sounds of other instruments from his mouth (mind blowing). Another showed his skill of being a master chef, sharing his lentil stew and designed a way to generate sound waves through the stroke of a paint brush. There is also a community canvas that anyone is allowed to add their loving touch to. It’s really neat to see what comes of it at the end. This is just a bit of the magic that occurred in just a few hours of friendly association. Imagine what possibilities could stem amongst strangers on a daily basis. 

Kris Larrs and Christen adding to the community painting by Adam McMillan/AM Photography

“The former Flood Gallery provides a great kind of ‘underground’ gallery space that I was immediately inspired by and drawn to on my many trips to the building.  The gallery space and the building as a whole, has a rich history that I felt was “in the air” upon entering, but in recent years, seems to have been used less and less.

The Phil Mechanic building is a great hub of really talented, local, independent artists creating great work.  I just foundit a natural “central point” to begin this art collective movement and I am excited to work with all of its artists to help create an even more welcoming and inspiring space for creatives.  

To help ‘breathe new life’ into the old Flood Gallery, we are in the process of renaming and reclaiming the former Flood Gallery and will have a Grand Opening celebration at our next Art Is Power/Art Is You event to soon be announced.

I look forward to seeing the resident artists of the Phil Mechanic building rename and reclaim the gallery, utilizing it as a more active art event space again, with regular art openings, special events, workshops, etc.  I especially would like to see (and am looking forward to hosting) artists and art events celebrating and exploring more cultural and artistic diversity as well, such as female artists, African-American, Asian and Latino artists, LGBTQ artists, etc.

I hope to see the space continue growing as a beacon of the cutting-edge, independent art community- a central point for the local art community to enhance their growth and attract more attention from even the international art scene.  Asheville is only what it is today because of the independent artists leading the culture change that attracted the many profitable industries to set up shop here.  As we’ve seen in so many places, time and time again, the influx of tourist dollars and the resulting growth of industry, the artists inevitably get pushed out of the town they helped create in the first place.  There are far too many “starving artists” struggling to survive– much less thrive– in a town internationally known for its “artsy attraction.”
Gaining experience and insight through my extensive work with local businesses, government, and the tourist industry, I do not subscribe to the arguments I have heard proposed that this is an inevitable result of “an oversaturated market” or especially that “the art being produced isn’t of a high enough quality” to adequately compete with the more financially successful, well-known artists in town.  It’s simply not true.  It’s a matter of organizing and promotion.  And the more members of the community we can have involved, the more successful this movement will be.
I simply want to see the power (and profit) come back to the artists through an active and expansive community effort.  This is only a small piece of the true potential and it’s only the beginning of what we, as a community, can accomplish.  I look forward to helping in every way I can to help support and empower creative people doing inspiring things, and uplifting our community as a whole.

-Adam McMillan

Art community gathering at it’s finest by Adam McMillan/AM Photography

Community painting by local Asheville artists by Adam McMillan/AM Photography

To keep up:

Art is Power/Art is You Adam is also apart of IAmAVL (, a professional video production company specializing in music and arts programming based out of Echo Mountain Recording Studio in downtown Asheville. Recently, they have announced a new collaboration with UNC-TV. Read more here.


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