Nine toes were enough to get me here

© John Gellman

The weather is warming up, and my foot is fully healed, so it’s hiking time for me on the trails near Asheville. This view is of the Craggy Pinnacle Trail just off the Blue Ridge Parkway. As you can see, the mountain was extending into the clouds and it was a little foggy.

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Cool people I met – Michael Provard

© John Gellman

Trade & Lore is a very nice little coffee house on Wall Street in downtown Asheville, just behind my Flatiron Studio. Their coffee and snacks are good, but that’s not the reason I like to go there. Most days, Trade & Lore is the work space of artist Michael Provard. He can usually be found sitting at a table, nursing a cup of coffee and drawing, surrounded by his art supplies. Michael’s drawings are relatively small, so he can produce one or two a day. He rarely has more than the one he is drawing on hand because they always sell relatively quickly. Michael specializes in drawing religious icons that look like they could have originated in Europe during the Middle Ages. I told him he should sell his art to churches and he said, “Well I would, but if I stop by a church I can never get past the secretary. I think it might be because of the nose rings.” So, here’s some free advice to the clergy of Asheville… stop by Trade & Lore and have a cup of coffee or tea.

Not all of Michael’s drawings have religious themes, but they are all beautiful, and made in a style that is uniquely his. Since he almost never has a selection of drawings to choose from, the best way to get one of his creations is to sit down and talk with him. He will tell you what his latest ideas are and you can ask him to reserve one for your purchase. Whether or not you buy a painting, you will meet one of the most interesting artists in Asheville, and probably enjoy a good cup of coffee too.

This is the first in a new series I am calling “Cool people I met.” It turns out buskers aren’t the only cool people in town.

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Busker of the day – Adi

© John Gellman

Adi is a busker with a background. Before moving to Asheville nine years ago, he was a monk in Greece, Israel, India, and Nepal before spending five years in the Philippines. Now, he teaches martial arts. I can’t help but think of David Carradine’s Shaolin monk, Caine, who was a gentle martial arts expert who kicked ass in the wild west on TV in the seventies. Bottom line – don’t mess with his tip jar. Adi plays a soulful guitar when he busks downtown, and he brought it along for his portrait in my Flatiron Studio.

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SFX makeup man – Akira Fox

© John Gellman

Special effects makeup artist, Akira Fox, spent the afternoon with me doing a photo shoot in my Flatiron Studio. This guy can do amazing things with his face. The Parsons School of Design grad brought a makeup kit the likes of which I had never seen. Akira had time to create three entirely different looks for me to shoot. The time it took to shoot was minimal compared to the time it took him to prepare each design.

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Busker of the day – Izak Helmig

© John Gellman

Singer songwriter Izak Helmig is traveling around the country in his van, stopping in cool places and playing music along the way. He and his girlfriend, Angela, couchsurfed at my place last night, then headed downtown to busk for the lunchtime sidewalk crowd. When he was done, Izak visited my Flatiron Studio and posed for a portrait.

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Busker of the day – Alex Travers

© John Gellman

Whether he’s busking on the sidewalk, playing with the Asheville Symphony, recording an album with Zack and Jack from Midnight Snack, or teaching at the Asheville Music Academy, Alex Travers is always worth a listen. He stopped by my Flatiron Studio today for a portrait.

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Busker of the day – Phil Krell

© John Gellman

Asheville street poet, Phil Krell posed for me today. He wrote the following poem to accompany this post. It is visible in his typewriter.
You can read more of Phil’s poetry at www.instagram.com/travelinonpoetry

© Phil Krell

And, since you asked, the poem on his arm reads:

I turned silences and nights into words.
What was unutterable, I wrote down.
I made the whirling world stand still.
-Arthur Rimbaud

 

 

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Busker of the day – Krischan Winters

© John Gellman
I first encountered Krischan almost exactly one year ago, when he posed for a silly photo with a strawberry in his eye. Krischan, who had just arrived in Asheville from West Virginia was one of the many traveling kids who pass through town. He was a good sport about the strawberry and a very nice guy.  He has recently arrived back in Asheville. I ran into him on Patton Avenue a couple weeks ago and he was as nice and friendly as I remembered him to be. Yesterday, as I was leaving my Flatiron Studio for lunch, I saw Krischan busking with his banjo in front of the Flatiron sculpture, just outside my studio. He came upstairs and posed for some pics with his banjo. No strawberries this time, but shorter hair and movie star good looks.

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