Posts Tagged ‘Kitty Love’

Arts 2 People
PO Box 1093
Asheville, NC 28802
Contact: Kitty Love, Executive Director, 828-216-8815

Arts 2 People announces the opening of the Artist Resource Center

(Asheville, NC) Arts 2 People, an Asheville-based non-profit devoted to promoting the role of the arts as an integral part of our culture , announces the institution of an Artist Resource Center (ARC).  The ARC will provide programmatic assistance to art-centric entrepreneurs invested in diversifying their business management skills and enhance their ability to benefit from the current revitalization and economic development in downtown Asheville. The Artist Resource Center will teach artists the business skills necessary to make their creative endeavors economically viable and sustainable.

Essentially a career center where artist entrepreneurs can hone business management and other practical skills, the ARC will feature workshops and classes specifically geared toward fostering the growth of local creative professionals. In an economic environment where it is often difficult for small business owners to invest in the equipment needed to evolve, the ARC will provide access to the equipment, training, and support that they require to make the next step.

“The ARC will be of pivotal importance for Asheville’s aspiring creative professionals and the local economy,” says Kitty Love, Executive Director of Arts2People. Asheville thrives off of its art scene, and the ARC offers tools to help facilitate and nurture artists in business. This will create a symbiotic relationship between cultural creatives and the greater community.”

Course offerings at the ARC will include classes on grant-writing, web marketing, bookkeeping with an extensive curriculum designed to give students a strategic approach to launching a productive career. Access to state-of-the-art equipment, software, and peripherals will be available to members and students to utilize for the promotion and development of their businesses. While classes and equipment are essential tools, the ARC also provides a means for artists to connect with a supportive network of peers, one of the most essential yet overlooked pathways to success.

As the Center grows, ARC will  develop an online search engine interface providing the community at large digital access to a plethora of resources including: means for creative professionals to link to resources and each other, a virtual marketplace where artists can broker their work, creative services, or studio spaces, as well as listings of available resources for production. The potential of this comprehensive database will continue to unfold as the ARC’s impact on the community deems its necessity. As artists gain success through the ARC’s programming, Arts 2 People will continue to grow the program to match the needs of the community.

“If our local artist-entrepreneurs manage to build businesses and take advantage of the opportunities that exist here, it will benefit everyone as it solidifies economic success and increases the culture of creativity we already enjoy,” says Love. “What the ARC means for the economy of Asheville, a city with a brisk tourist economy based in no small part on its thriving arts scene, should not be underestimated”.

In collaboration with the YMI Cultural Center, Arts 2 People will house the ARC in one of the historic auxilliary storefronts on Market St. In an effort to work in unison with the Downtown Master Plan Strategy 1 Initiatives that call for the “cultivation of strong links between the cultural district and the Eagle/Market St. district”, Arts 2 People is pleased to have the opportunity to support and facilitate this economically strategic investment for the future of all of Downtown Asheville and the amazing creatives that make this city unique. The Performance Center, planned for nearby, is supportive and will be an active partner of the ARC. The target launch date for the ARC is set for mid-February and  Arts2People is currently seeking Instructors to fulfill all curriculum coursework. For more information, or to submit a class proposal form, please visit arts2people.org or email kitty@arts2people.org.


Funding for this program was made possible by The Community Foundation of Western North Carolina. The Community Foundation is a nonprofit organization that serves the 18 county mountain region by professionally managing charitable funds created by individuals and families, and by using those funds to make grants to local nonprofit organizations.

This program is funded, in part, by a Grassroots Arts Program Grant of the North Carolina Arts Council, a state agency, and the Asheville Area Arts Council.

Arts2People is an Asheville-based non-profit dedicated to the nurturing, promotion and effective expansion of the local arts scene. The organization is responsible for multiple programs that are proven bright spots in the Asheville cultural landscape — the Lexington Arts and Fun Festival (LAAFF), the Asheville Mural Project (responsible for the Lexington I-240 overpass mural) and the REACH educational program, are just a few of the great programs under Arts2People’s umbrella.

Please visit us on our website:    http://arts2people.org/

Please visit our Facebook pages:     Arts 2 People Page and Group page.

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This is a great article about LAAFF co-Founder and Arts 2 People’s executive director, Kitty Love. I have worked with Kitty for 8+ years now on Arts 2 People and LAAFF as well as other projects and so appreciate the telling of the inception of LAAFF and news on the creation of an artist resource center in Asheville. Great article Jason! There are some long excerpts below, please follow the link to read the full article.

Margaret Lauzon, Kitty Love, and Erin Scholze (Dreamspider) at LAAFF 2009

For Love of Lexington: LAAFF co-founder Kitty Love works to support Asheville’s artists

by Jason Sandford • September 5, 2010 in the Asheville Citizen Times.

Kitty Love enjoys a good freak.

It’s a descriptor she’s adopted for a unique fundraising project and a noun a neutral observer might use for some of the clients who come into the Liquid Dragon tattoo shop she works out of on Lexington Avenue.

… …

“Anybody can be a freak,” Love said. “It’s just a way to describe who’s being their authentic selves.”

And it’s those emerging artists and creative types who help make Asheville the tourism destination it is, she added.

That’s why she’s spent the better part of the past decade supporting and promoting artists as executive director of the nonprofit Arts 2 People, as a staunch advocate for the creation of an artists resource center and as the promoter of sideline projects such as the “Freaks of Asheville” calendar and the Lexington Avenue Arts and Fun Festival .

…   …   …

Having a LAAFF

Love knew Lexington Avenue had something in its eclectic collection of independently owned clothing stores, record shops and restaurants. Love says she saw “a loose conglomeration of individuals coming together to share their unique perspectives in a way that is culture-changing.”

Love and her partner at the time, Michael Mooney, opened Sky People Gallery and Studio on the street. The gallery opened about a month before the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The economy sputtered, so Love says she and Mooney dreamed up the Lexington Avenue Arts and Fun Festival the following year to give the area a boost.

“We really wanted to see that Lexington Avenue culture grow without getting gentrified,” Love says.

More an anything-goes block party than an official festival, the event took root with street games like Bowling for Karma — knock over the right Hindu god and erase that awful sin — and Baby-head Putt Putt.

Now in its ninth year, LAAFF is a full-blown, daylong event known for embracing Asheville’s freaky side.


“LAAFF is meant to show that individual self-expression is actually a more attractive product” than other festivals with a more corporate flavor, Love said.

Resources for artists

The Lexington Avenue festival is perhaps the most visible manifestation of Love’s passion, but she’s been working to support young artists through the nonprofit Arts 2 People she leads, and through the ongoing effort to create an artists resource center.

…   …

Arts 2 People, which survives on a shoestring budget, includes outreach and education projects. Love readily admits she doesn’t have the best skills when it comes to raising money and jokes that she needs a “development angel” to swoop in and help.

Love’s dream of creating an artists resource center may strike at her heart the deepest.

She said her mantra is “the wisdom is in the circle,” a guidepost for creating an umbrella organization that can offer young artist-entrepreneurs a wide range of support they need.

It will be “a professional development resource center” that can offer tips on where to find rental space, equipment or specific training, she said.

“When you’re someone who makes pots, that’s what you want to do. But you need to take pictures of your pots to market them, and you need to make business cards with pots on them to network,” Love said.

A resource center could also help identify the exact number of artists in Asheville — she guesses the number at between 6,000 and 8,000 — and the true economic impact they have.

Such a study would go a long way toward cementing the importance of artists to the local economy in the minds of decision-makers, she said.

For Love, it’s all about putting a face on Asheville’s artist-entrepreneurs — Asheville’s freaks, as it were.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE: http://www.citizen-times.com/article/20100905/NEWS/309050022

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Asheville Mural Project: A Sneak Peek!
Saturday, June 19, 2010
7-10 pm
19 Carolina Lane, Grace Studios

Arts 2 People has officially announced a sneak-peek event unveiling the finished “Chess Players” piece of the Lexington Gateway Mural destined for the Broadway/Merrimon side of the project.

The mural for the Broadway/Merrimon side has been done using a technique known as merouflage, painting on cloth, and will be hung to be viewed for the first time at Grace Studios for the event.

The $25 event ticket includes catering by Mela and locally crafted beer from the Lexington Avenue Brewery, and one raffle ticket for a beautiful piece of furniture donated by Terra Nostra Decor.  Entertainment by members of Seduction Sideshow and The Pond Brothers. The muralists will be present to meet and greet supporters. All proceeds from the event will be used to complete the mural!

The Lexington Gateway muralists are Trish Tripp, Kurt Thaesler , Harper Leich , Melissa Glaze, Steve Lister, Daniel Beck, Molly Must, and Ian Wilkinson

The Asheville Mural Project , a program of Arts 2 People , exists to beautify and diversify Asheville’s urban landscape, providing artists and local community members with the opportunity to implement their own public art. Murals enhance quality of life and create an artful metropolitan experience through the transformation of conventional architecture. The murals are both the testimony and celebration of a lively local arts culture.

They are working to complete a section featuring two chess players engaged in play. The inspiration for this work comes from two gentleman that play in Pritchard Park daily in the warm months. The idea is to celebrate and sort of deify these two fellows for being a fundamental but potentially overlooked aspect of Asheville’s Downtown culture . It is a goal of our artist designers to accentuate things that are defining elements  of Asheville. The large format of our public works is a great way to magnify important things that normal passersby might miss.

The opposing mural on Merrimon’s west side will celebrate our agricultural importance, viability, and  how sustainability is an important part of Asheville culture. This mural designed by Trish Tripp , and Melissa Glaze is underway in our studio in the River Arts District.

Recently the mural project as a whole has switched mural techniques . The first half of the project was completed using  a more  traditional approach of painting directly on the surface of the bridge. Now we have adopted an old technique called marouflage.  This method of painting murals on canvas like materials and laminating to a prepared surface has been improved greatly with the  advent of modern materials. It creates a strong, long lasting mural and allows artist to work continuously through months when weather wouldn’t usually permit. There are numerous benefits to this technique  and it has greatly improved the production and efficiency of our work. The Mural Project artists are too many to list because we employ the help of many different groups; from graffiti artist, to volunteers, Warren Wilson students and local “at risk” youth groups etc. Above is a list of our core artist that  can be accredited not only with designing and painting for this project, but really giving their hearts and souls to this endeavor.

The Asheville Mural Project is Directed by Molly Must and Ian Wilkinson.


Arts 2 People
The Asheville Mural Project
Kitty Love, Executive Director
(828) 216-8815

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pol·li·nate : verb [pä-lə-ˌnāt] — to innovate and collaborate to grow a more sustainable and vibrant community

by Suzanne Hacket, 2009 August 30

[See the Blog for Pollinating Asheville for more links to different pollinators mentioned in this article]

LAAFF Poster Design By Sound Mind Media

LAAFF Poster Design By Sound Mind Media


The 8th Annual LAAFF, or Lex Fest, is coming up one week from today on September 6 from 11 a.m.-9 p.m. on Lexington Ave. in downtown Asheville. Usually I highlight specific people as “Pollinators,” but as I sat and talked with Erin Scholze, I realized that there are so many people and business involved that the entire festival is a Pollinator.

A Bit of History (or Herstory, as it were)

LAAFF was the brainchild of Miss Kitty Love and tall bike freak, Michael Mooney. In 2001, in order to celebrate their gallery and the downtown culture and businesses, they wanted to have an art car parade. Instead they decided to have a festival. Alexis Gault (former Rebelle’s and now Lush Life Designs) had already started Arts2People and wanted to partner. And, LAAFF was born under the umbrella of Arts2People in 2001. Rebecca Hecht, Adorn Salon, has organized the arts vendors since year one.

2002: enter Erin Scholze. As a caretaker for Kitty’s son, Erin caught the LAAFF bug and started organizing the music for the festival. Graham Hackett (Catalyst Poetix and Poetix Vanguard) and Alexis Gault partnered with Erin in helping to program the festival. Alexis and Graham both moved on to their own personal projects, and Erin has become a major face for LAAFF focusing on music and public relations.

2004: enter Brad and Elizabeth Reichardt, owners of BoBo Gallery. Brad, an original Burning Man visionary, wanted to be involved and expand the festival, and schedules the BoBo stage outside of the venue.

2006: LAAFF focuses on greening the festival. Long-term volunteer, Aaron Johnston, organizes with local organizations to make sure their are options for compost and recycling. They ask vendors to use Jack’s Boxes.

NEW For 2009

New LAAFF DIRECTOR: Kitty Love steps down as director to focus on Arts2People to connect with arts organizations in town around an Artist Resource Center. Frank Bloom, former music committee member, is hired as the new director of LAAFF.

LA ZOOM TOURS: Jim and Jen Lauzon made art cars for LAAFF and recently have built their most extravagant art “car” yet, a huge rococo-style purple performance bus, La Zoom. This year, LaZoom is also going to be a performance space for LAAFF. They are doing bus rides around town with live entertainment.

ASHEVILLE BREWERS ALLIANCE: Long-term partner, French Broad Brewing Company, extended an invitation to the newly formed Asheville Brewer’s Alliance (Beer City USA Y’all!) to partner with the festival. Multiple local brews will be available at LAAFF this year.

The stage at Walnut is now located in the parking lot at the corner of Lexington and Walnut.

And, every year more and more businesses and Lexington Ave. spaces want to be a part of the festival and have built it into the largest independent street festival in Asheville, and perhaps in Western North Carolina. LAAFF now draws about 12,000 people.

The other most important part of LAAFF are the volunteers. Interested in volunteering? They still need help. Email Justin Mitchell, volunteer@lexfestasheville.com

And, the sponsors and partners…LAAFF wishes to thank Greenlife Grocery and Mountain Xpress, in particular, and all the other local sponsors.

Other Pollinators involved with LAAFF

LEAF in Schools & Streets, LaZoom Tours, Barley’s Taproom, French Broad Brewery, Jenny Greer of Soundmind Media, Andrew Usher, Stewart Sound, Charles Mooney, Tristan and Jackson, Bob Robertson of Mountain Roots Management, Aslan Roshon of RALAK Fest, Bill Mesmer, Arts2People Board of Directors, Honey Pot, Asheville Mural Project Artists, Phil Cheney of Cheney Graphics, Asheville Downtown Association, Margaret Lauzon of Villasonica, Christina Aurea, Jay Sanders of Sum Networks, Earthfare, The Orange Peel, WNC Magazine, WNCW, vendors, all performers and volunteers who have generously donated their time.

Erin and I sat at Earthfare and brainstormed this great pollination, but we are sure that we missed many who have helped. Please use the comment section to let us know how you’ve contributed to LAAFF!

See who’s playing this year.

Look in this week’s Mountain Xpress for further information and schedule or go to LAAFF’s new website.

from → Arts & Thoughts Artistic, Community Growth & Development, Pollinators & Cultivators: People to Know

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By: Sam Hunt

Issue date: 9/11/08 Section: Features

Blue Banner http://www.thebluebanner.net/

The seventh annual Lexington Avenue Arts and Fun Festival (LAAFF) hosted more than 30 bands from the Asheville area on Sunday amid dozens of other locals in the visual and performance arts.

“The idea is for everyone to create and be rewarded from that creation,” said Kitty Love, co-founder of LAAFF and executive director of non-profit arts promoter Arts2People. “Culture inspired by personal expression can be an economic engine. Amassing to the maximum number of dollars for personal equity is the goal of life.”

The all-local street festival blocked off Lexington Avenue from beneath the I-240 bridge to the College Street intersection. The street was packed with local artists, fans and families, some of whom wore zombie and circus costumes.

“It’s great to see 400 or so artists come together because all of their work is weird, quirky and unique to Asheville,” 21-year-old Moraea June said.

Joel Hutcheson, owner of Static Age Records on Lexington Avenue, said the festival is healthy for Asheville’s music scene and record stores.

“It’s a response to the Bele Chere festival in the sense that it spotlights local Asheville bands only,” Hutcheson said. “(LAAFF) also helps the record stores out. We don’t sell much more, but there is more generated interest.”

LAAFF attracted music lovers with three performance stages and a variety of genres. The Greenlife Electric Stage featured full-sized electric reggae, jazz and bluegrass, while the Mountain Express Performing Arts Stage hosted more stripped-down country, electronic and rock acts.

June said she preferred the Earth Fare BoBo Stage, which showcased acoustic world bands such as Cabo Verde and singer/songwriter Angi West.

“Angi West was the best artist of the festival,” June said. “There were three band members, but it was mostly Angi singing. She had a unique feminine presence unlike the rest of the bands that were almost exclusively male.”

Crystal Kind, a male four-piece reggae band, supported the legalization of marijuana on the Greenlife stage after their first song.

“Let’s legalize that medical marijuana,” singer/guitarist Ras Berhane said to the Lexington Ave. crowd. “They smoke it all day in California.”

Perhaps the most gripping band of the festival was The Broomstars, an experimental pop/rock band that formed seven years ago in Albuquerque, N.M. and relocated to Asheville in 2006.

The Broomstars stood out on the Mountain Express stage with a surplus of guitar equipment.

“We play around with noise more than most bands in Asheville,” said Broomstars guitarist Jeff Santiago. “We like to experiment with every dynamic to paint a distinct sonic palette.”

The Broomstars return to Lexington Avenue on Saturday for a show at the Emerald Lounge with the Silver Machine, an Asheville-based psychedelic electronic rock band.

“That’s the great thing about LAAFF and Asheville in general; there’s a huge sense of community and so many venues for such a small city,” Santiago said. “It’s hard not to find different types of music on the same bill.”

Rhys Baker, a sophomore student at UNC Asheville focusing on interdisciplinary ethics and social institutions, experienced LAAFF for the first time on Sunday.

“The festival really highlights local music and builds community,” Baker said. “There was a lot of different culture everywhere in sight. I loved the belly dancing and music.”

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by Alli Marshall in Vol. 15 / Iss. 06 on 09/03/2008

Related topics: LAAFF, Arts2People

by A.M.

Kitty Love, the mastermind behind nonprofit arts promoter Arts2People and creator of the Lexington Avenue Arts and Fun Festival, says she’s felt at times “like the pawn of some ascended master.” A very community-oriented ascended master, at that.

For Love (who, seven years ago, had just opened the since-closed Lexington Avenue-based art gallery Sky People), those directions were delivered with build-an-ark clarity.

“The purpose of the festival was to promote Lexington as an important piece of the cultural community, and to support the businesses because a lot of them were based in creative ideas,” she says. “Also, just to promote the idea of moving the money around in a local fashion.”

Inspired, at least idealistically, by the Burning Man project (an annual art-and-community event held in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert), Love says her goal for LAAFF was “to create a cultural upheaval of radical self-expression.” However, unlike over-the-top, remotely located Burning Man, LAAFF attendees don’t “have to wear a space suit and travel to the middle of nowhere,” she says.

Along with that concept of radical self-expression (festivalgoers are invited to arrive in costume, participate in interactive events and even apply for mini-grants to produce their own LAAFF performances and installations) comes what Love calls “radical self-responsibility for creating one’s own community.”

“The idea is stolen from Burning Man,” she says. “Produce as much if not more than you consume.”

LAAFF’s strictly local policy is a means of leading by example. Visitors to the festival have the opportunity to experience just how many locally made products and services are available within Asheville. And while the day-long celebration is all about fun and games, Love hopes attendees walk away with the idea that they can make the choice to support the local economy.

So, seven years into LAAFF’s colorful evolution, how does the event’s instigator view her creation?

“It’s the idea of the incredible beauty and majesty of each person’s individual artistic bent, and giving that a vessel,” she muses. “It’s already evolved past the mission of celebrating Lexington Avenue. The new frontier is celebrating grassroots creative culture.”

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by Jason Sandford in Vol. 14 / Iss. 47 on 06/18/2008

Mountain Xpress, http://www.mountainx.com/

Maybe you’ve been soothed by the strains of Wind Motika‘s calming flute. Perhaps you’ve gyrated with the Asheville Hoops women. Or you might have just jammed with some of the other musicians taking their turn.

Programming the park: Wind Motika performed his flute music in Pritchard Park recently as part of a slate of performances by local musicians and artists aimed at transforming how the park is used. Photo By Jason Sandford

It’s all happening in Pritchard Park as part of an ongoing effort to make the park friendlier to downtown residents, workers and tourists. The cultural-arts programming, which started this month and is scheduled to run through September, is the latest move in the remaking of the triangular park in downtown Asheville.

A city committee spent a year studying ideas to rejuvenate the park, and settled on a couple of ideas. Earlier this year, the city hired a park ranger with a $29,000 annual salary to help police the area. And City Council agreed to waive permits and fees and put another $10,000 in taxpayers’ money toward an effort to bring in artists and musicians. The committee raised $15,000 from private donors for the park’s arts programs.

“I think it’s the city’s responsibility to provide programming to activate its parks—to lead the way—but the city can’t do it without help,” says Kitty Love, who is managing the park programming and works as executive director of the nonprofit Arts 2 People. Love wants to see downtown workers and residents support the scheduled events. She’s also looking for an additional $15,000 in support.

Musicians play lunchtime gigs from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., and there are some evening events scheduled from 5 to 7 p.m. Love has openings and encourages artists and musicians to sign up.

She is also working on organizing an artists’ market that would be held Saturdays through the summer. “It’s the beginning of my vision of what Asheville needs, which is a Berkeley market, where people can bring anything and everything,” Love says, noting the funky California college town’s sprawling market of artists and street vendors.

The goal: “Transform the way the park is used. You can’t wait for the park to be perfect. People need to come and support the activities,” says Love, who sees larger possibilities.

“The bigger picture is a rejuvenation of the entire grassroots arts community. The more that those emerging, creative entrepreneurs are getting paid for their work, the more it encourages the creative arts that everyone loves.”

The Pritchard Park Cultural Arts Program will hold a kick-off celebration in the part from noon to 3 p.m. on Friday, June 20, featuring Jen and the Juice, The Honeycutters and the Galen Kipar Project. For more information about the program, visit http://www.arts2people.org.

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by Will Cumberland

The Laurel  of Asheville


LAAFF, Sunday, September 4th – Asheville, NC

Want to try something a little different? The Lexington Avenue Arts and Fun Festival is possibly the  largest community produced art show in South East and a sure fire bet for anyone looking for something different to do while they are in Asheville. Going all day Sunday from 11AM to 10PM, the festival has plenty to see, experience and do. Last year’s LAAFF, brought in well over 10,000 people to the Lexington district. Artisans, musicians, poets and street
performers from the Western North Carolina area, get together each September to create this homegrown extravaganza of the arts.

Kitty Love, one of the festival’s originating artists, says, “This is a celebration of our local grassroots created culture – by providing a place for creativity, we are actively enhancing the quality to life in and around Asheville. We do this by simply utilizing local talent. Asheville is truly an art based community.”

LAAFF takes place right on Lexington Ave and is free to the public. Art cars own the street, along with belly dancers, fire spinners and drummers. Local bands, DJ’s and singer-songwriters give LAAFF its musical bounce. Two stages of music, dance and performances going will be going on well into the night. There’s a bicycle joust too. Kids also have plenty to do; face and art painting, puppetry, bubbling and creativity circles abound. The festival features the Underground Art Show and silent auction, and the finale is a drive-in theatre style showing of Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon with the Wizard of OZ. Plenty of local food vendors will be on hand with the French Broad brewery providing beer for the festival.

Festival goers can purchase locally created jewelry (beadwork), eclectic clothing, Appalachian quilts, paintings, pottery, glasswork and creative pieces to bizarre to name.

Proceeds from this year’s festival will go to support the efforts of Arts2People and the Asheville Mural Project. Arts2People is a public art forum that works in partnership with the Asheville Arts Council and the Mountain Micro Enterprise Fund. For more information, visit Arts2People.org.

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by Kitty Love, LAAFF Festival Director

Spirit of the Smokies http://livingnewstories.com/

September 2005

The Lexington Avenue Arts & Fun Festival is about to happen. All the weirdness elves have dusted off their magic wands and pulled out their bags of pixie dust for another day of enchanting surprises.

In reading Gayatri’s instructions for how to write an article for Spirit in the Smokies, what emerged on paper was more a poem than an article. It’s about empowerment, and the nature of creativity, and working together, and creating community, and healing our relationship to profit.

The LAAFFestival is a totally homegrown arts festival, consisting of exclusively local WNC offerings (even the beer!), which takes place Sunday of Labor Day weekend on Asheville’s funkiest street, Lexington Avenue. Its reason for being is contained within the mission of its parent organization, Arts2People. We are seeking to preserve the culture created by the united anarchists, the artists, the folks whose lives are art (this means you!) we have come together here for a purpose, drawn inexorably out of our dull and destructive pasts, and have created an affiliation that deserves celebration.

As chief cat-herder, the festival has been for me an exercise in trust. I have always had a do it myself attitude, often to a fault. The downside of being capable is allowing limited opportunities to see the miracles of which others are capable. In part, I created the fest to further the enlightenment I received from the experience of single motherhood. At that time, I wasn’t averse to begging help from strangers in parking lots, much less from my friends and family. I was astounded at what people could do; things I never thought of, solutions that were totally unique.

So the festival is like that. My coordination style is this (to the organizers): “Here’s some insurance, money, a tent, some supplies and a couple of volunteers. Knock us all out and don’t leave any trash.” And we unleash our creativity on the town.

This article, of course, is an unabashed sales pitch designed to entice you, the reader, into joining the frolic. I have become addicted to the process of co-creation of community and radical self-expression, and I know you will, too. We open the invitation to everyone to come and do something funky with us, and then enjoy the wacky, weird and wonderful result. Come in costume! We encourage participation, not just voyeurism (though there’s plenty to gawk at!)

A few festival tidbits include: beer painstakingly crafted in Asheville by the French Broad Brewery, food by local culinary artisans, WNC crafters, an underground art competition, interactive art games, kids art activities by the Arts Council and ArtSpace Charter School, art cars and an art car painting party, performance in three separate areas, and more, all brought to you entirely by volunteers from the community. Last year, we successfully enticed over 10,000 of you to come out and share the fun!

To share a few lines from the free association exercise that preceded this more left brain discourse:

When I work on creating the LAAFFestival I…

See peoples’ desire to connect and give and share

Feel like art has a chance against profit

Feel like art and profit can happen together

Believe poor people can prosper

Believe we can deflate the false importance of money

See god/dess

Feel divine guidance

Feel the presence of the energies of the mountains

Remind people to play

Create an investment in home

Acquaint people with the birthplace of creation

Its what the arts are all about, and how they create a quality of life worth preserving against the seduction of growth choices made with only profit in mind. As our area prospers, lets not relinquish what drew us here in the first place.

Arts2People works to preserve our culture, to strengthen the prosperity of our professional creatives, and to empower people through the creative process. Please go to arts2people.org to learn more about us.

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by Alli Marshall in Vol. 11 / Iss. 5 on 09/01/2004

Mountain Xpress, http://www.mountainx.com/

“The loonies are in Asheville now,” declares Kitty Love. “We need to give them a reason to stay.”

Putting it in slightly more eloquent terms, the co-founder of the Lexington Avenue Arts and Fun Festival notes that the annual event “will help to stimulate and propagate the kind of culture we would enjoy living in.”

Now in its third year, LAAFF has grown from an experimental gathering of local artists and businesses to what verges on being a block party, spanning North Lexington Avenue up to its intersection with College Street.

“This festival is all about everything local,” insists fellow LAAFF co-founder Michael Mooney. (Like Love, he’s prone to delivering headline-worthy soundbites.)

“It’s what the locals are doing for the locals!” he continues.

The hype is backed up by fact. All artists scheduled to show at LAAFF live in Western North Carolina, while two festival stages will boast strictly local bands, and six Asheville restaurants will dish up culinary treats.

Not to mention that all LAAFF organizers and sponsors are from here, too, Mooney adds.

“Even the beer — French Broad and Green Man — is from local breweries.”

The freaks’ arts council

The push to keep LAAFF local hints at a political agenda that’s quickly becoming as integral to the event as meat-on-a-stick is to Bele Chere.

With most other major festivals, vendors parachute into Asheville from other cities and then depart for home with the cash they earned. But LAAFF vendors live — and buy — right here.

“All the money made in the festival stays in the community, including the money Arts2People makes,” explains Love.

LAAFF’s grassroots parent organization Arts2People offers arts classes and other related opportunities to those who might otherwise be unable to afford them. In the coming year, festival proceeds may even go to a joint project with Helpmate, a local nonprofit devoted to domestic-violence prevention.

Still, charitable effort alone does not a great arts event ensure.

Scheduling their street party in the thick of the late-summer festival glut — Labor Day weekend this year also brings Haywood County’s Smoky Mountain Folk Festival, Henderson County’s Apple Festival, and Asheville’s Sistahs on Stage women’s-music fest — means LAAFF had better have something pretty eye-opening to offer.

That part of the Lexington Avenue event’s mission is well taken care of.

Sure, a few tourist-friendly crafters will be “allowed” to show at LAAFF — but the more off-the-wall creative impulses also won’t be buried under a heap of hand-woven baskets.

“We consider ourselves to be the freaks’ arts council,” Love maintains. “We want to be sure that as Asheville grows, the economy based in the arts stays fresh and sincere.”

Arts2People is devoted to emerging artists, she adds. “We focus on supporting the grassroots movement.”

Which means that LAAFF will feature everything from the healing arts to an art-car contest, from Japanese Butoh dance to canvas dance, from food booths to edible art.

Even Love doesn’t know exactly what all to expect of the one-day event.

“Organizing has been an experience … ” she begins.

“Like herding cats,” Mooney finishes for her.

“Yes, but the flip side is, you get these amazing surprises,” Love persists.

The LAAFF kids’ area, for example, will likely not be dominated by such routine-festival staples as face painters and balloon-animal makers. “Their supply list includes shaving cream and pipe cleaners,” Love says with a shrug.

After all, the event is avant-garde.

Which brings up another good cause central to the festival: allowing people to express themselves unfettered.

Still, Mooney’s on board to make that sure no one takes themselves too seriously.

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