ArtScape returns to Hendersonville after a two-year hiatus
City officials have been safeguarding Historic Henderson County Courthouse since it was built in 1905. Traffic lights on Main Street hang low, and developers have been turned away in an effort to preserve views of the courthouse’s iconic copper dome.
As a result, Hendersonville’s skyline has remained relatively unchanged for well over a century. But in 2017, artist Connie Knight convinced the city to look toward a new horizon.
Knight had just returned from Winchester, Virginia, where she noticed flags hanging from the city’s lampposts. Each flag featured a photograph of a different artist’s work. Knight immediately went to the Shenandoah Arts Council, which commissioned the banners, for insight into the project.
“Then, I brought the idea back to Hendersonville,” says Knight, who met with the City of Hendersonville’s Community Character Team, Hendersonville City Council, and the Hendersonville Historic Preservation Commission. The committees saw Knight’s project as a way of expressing the city’s dedication to the arts while enhancing, rather than detracting from, views of the courthouse. “‘Let’s do it,’” Knight remembers officials telling her.
ArtScape Hendersonville was soon established as an initiative of the Art League of Henderson County. In the years since, banners have been hung down Main Street, 7th Avenue, and select side streets. The premise is to take down the 40 flags each spring and replace them with juried work from another group of artists. However, after presenting ArtScape 2020 two springs ago, the pandemic struck and ArtScape hit a standstill.
“We depend on businesses to cover the costs of the banners. So, when the lockdown happened, we knew it would be a hard time for anyone to think about sponsoring,” explains Knight. But on Friday, March 18, ArtScape will return to once again “lighten and brighten up our city,” she notes.
Much like previous exhibits, ArtScape 2022 will feature 40 adult artists across a wide spectrum of mediums — from watercolor to clay. However, this year’s outdoor display will also include 20 banners featuring pieces produced by K-12 students. Sponsored by ArtScape, these flags will be distributed throughout Jackson Park, where young artists can get inspired while playing soccer or riding bikes.
As a mixed-media artist herself, Knight understands the importance of providing people — no matter their age — with a venue for sharing creative works. “To walk down the street and see your banner for a year is quite the honor,” she says. But Knight also understands how public art displays have much broader implications: They enhance the culture of a city.
“ArtScape elevates Hendersonville,” says Knight. “This project is such a visible declaration that we are a supporter of the arts — that we are an arts destination.”
On Friday, March 18, at 5pm, ArtScape 2022 will reveal this year’s banners at the Visitor Center Stage (201 South Main St., Hendersonville). For more information, visit artscapehvl.org. Also on Facebook (@ArtScapeHendersonville) and Instagram (@artscapehvl).