Saturday, June 03, 2006

An Afternoon's Adventure with Minerva

It’s so easy not to see what is close at hand. Like most, I sometimes fall back into the sense that I know the world in which I live and move, and become anaesthetized to surprises it might offer.
We are estranged from that with which we’re most familiar. Sometimes it takes the eyes of someone new to the particulars of the city to open my own eyes to what has changed, to new phenomena in the landscape. I didn’t really expect an adventure when I agreed to meet a friend for lunch downtown, but got one regardless. And a fine adventure it was.

My friend had seen an ad for a gallery in Rapid River, a local arts magazine, and wanted to check it out, so we walked over to Church Street to locate Gallery Minerva. Having been under a rock for the last three years, I hadn’t even realized there even existed a gallery on Church Street. “Are you sure it’s on Church Street?” Sure enough, that’s what the ad said – and there it was, just past the parking lot at the intersection with Patton, at number 12.

Asheville’s blessed with galleries, of course, but this one offered some types of work I hadn’t often seen locally, like the fine figurative surrealist work of Clayton Anderson, the rich tensions of form and color of Kate Worm’s landscapes, still lives, and nudes, and the large-scale mythic enigmas of Chris Sedgwick – and several striking recent limited edition prints by photographer Judith Angel, an old friend, native of Candler, who now lives and works in New York.

Perhaps as interesting as any of these, though, the gallery also offered the affable intelligence of its proprietor, art consultant Anna Parker-Barnett. And the gallery, it turns out, as good as it is, is merely the small visible facet of her activity in the arts.

Parker-Barnett opened Minerva two years ago. Born in Alabama, educated (in Interior Design) at the University of Texas and Parsons School of Design, she took a circuitous route to Asheville, one that led through New York (where she worked with fabric designer Jay Yang), Chapel Hill, Valle Crucis, and Hickory. When her cousin invited her to partner in a design business in the town of San Jose del Cabo, in Baja, Mexico, she decided to accept the challenge. Familiar with the world of well-designed, well-crafted North Carolina furniture, Anna found that she was able to provide resources otherwise unavailable in that part of the world. When a local gallery fell victim to the divorce of its owners, she made it an adjunct to her work as a consultant in art to designers and their clients in San Jose. She’d developed relationships with the artists who found themselves in her vicinity in Baja, including a contingent of those in the nearby arts-centered community of Todos Santos, and became an advocate for the work she found extraordinary, serving as its ambassador to a larger world.

One of her projects brought her to Asheville, and … well, you know the story. One thing led to another, she met her “fabulous” husband, found the Asheville designer community congenial, had a vision for a new gallery, and moved here, full time, early in 2004, and opened Gallery Minerva.

In the course of her peripatetic career, Anna has worked with hundreds of artists all over the world, and built a network that serves her, she says, well, no matter what her clients need. With her background in design, she can assist clients not just with the purchase of works of art, but also with development of interior color palettes, lighting, framing and other situational factors that will enhance their display. Given the considerable investment art can represent, she says, she always tries to help her clients find real values as they develop their collections, however modest or grand those collections might be. She feels she offers clients “unique connections,” and, given the unique creations in her gallery, I’d say she’s surely right.

But, not having been under a rock finishing a book by earthlight, you may already know Gallery Minerva. No? Well, it’s well worth the jaunt to Church Street.

Anna has promised to keep me advised as new work arrives and events develop, so I’m sure I’ll be checking back; I’ll keep you, as they say, posted.

If Gallery Minerva is an example of what I’ve lately missed, I’ll have to get out more. I look forward to the next such surprise. Even in Asheville, it seems, you never step into the same city twice.


A version of this post appeared in Rapid River. Photo of Anna Parker-Barnett by myself.

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Blogger Screwy Hoolie said...

I've missed it all this time...

Can't wait to check it out.

12:36 AM  

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