On Feb 5., 2019, the building where I’ve had my studio for the last six years burned down from arson. The old French Broad School House in Alexander, NC, was built in 1924, decommissioned in 1980's, and at the time of the fire was divided into different kinds of art studios. The building was old and rough but also beautiful and and full of potential. One of the folks who rented space in the building lit it on fire. Some of the other folks who rented space there were sleeping in the building at the time, but they got out and are ok. Every fire department in the county but two, plus several departments from neighboring counties came to put it out. Apparently they almost succeeded in putting the fire out when it was contained to just the arsonists room, but then the tanker ran out of water. They ran hoses nearly two miles to get water from the river, but the fire spread quickly through the old building.
I lost all of my studio tools and equipment, all of my inventory, 15 years of sketchbooks, much of my pottery collection, out-of-print kiln books, and more than four months of finished but unfired work. For the first several days afterwards I didn’t think much about it. I pruned fruit trees and moved rocks and re-arranged my brick pile. I figured it wouldn’t make much of a difference whether I started to sort things out today, tomorrow, the next day, or the next week. I think it was a good idea to give myself that time and space. After that, I began to sort out what I needed to do to move forward. It’s hard. I lost so much stuff; stuff that represents money and time but also memories and records and so much of my life.
Catastrophic material loss has been, for me so far, a genuinely interesting experience; sort of clarifying in a way. Im glad no one got hurt. I’m glad I have a lot of support. I’m looking forward to moving forward, making new work and continuing to grow.
I am somewhat hesitant to ask for help; however, so many people have asked what they can do that am encouraged to offer a few different avenues by which you can help me get back on my feet. So here are a few options:
1. Please consider contributing to the GoFundMe that my fiancé, Kristin, has helped me set up. We are hoping to raise $20,000. I will use this money to finish the small studio I started building on my land last year and also for living expenses as I begin from scratch to build a new body of work. If you would like to contribute to the GoFundMe Campaign, a link is here:https://www.gofundme.com/HelpEricRebuildAfterStudioFire
I am grateful for contributions in any amount.
2. My gallery in Asheville, Blue Spiral 1, has generously offered to temporarily alter the terms of our agreement in my favor. For the next two months Blue Spiral 1 is donating a significant portion of their share of the sales of my work back to me. So if any of the work they have in their inventory appeals to you, purchasing it in the next two months is exceptionally beneficial to me. You can see the work I have there here:
3. For those of you in the Asheville area with a little extra time, I could also really use a hand with a number of things over the next month including working on finishing the little studio on my land and some kiln/firing related work. If you have a little extra time and would like to come help me, please message me.
4. Spread the word. Please feel free to share this with anyone you think might be interested.
Thank you so much again for all of the support. I’m very grateful.