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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.

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“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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