Featured Mural Artist - Billy Smith
“The Man In The Middle”
Billy Smith grew up in Pisgah Forest, North Carolina. He moved to Hendersonville and Asheville a couple years ago, but came back “for the forests and the people.” I understand! The scenery, above all else, calls my name loud and clear. Gorgeous views everywhere you look.
Billy was invited to complete the middle section of a mural started by other artists and find a way to tie the existing pieces together. He was definitely up to the task, “It’s not all about myself. I like to collaborate.”
Tackling the wall in a long alley may be a daunting job for some. Billy viewed it as “a platform that you use to be seen. The bigger the dream… it goes further.” His invitation to others, especially youth, is to dream big!
Kim Provost, owner of Hunters & Gatherers, opened her outdoor space to a group of relatively unknown artists. She spent time getting to know them, their vision, their heart and their artistic style. “She has a heart for people who are up and coming,” was Billy’s impression of Kim.
Other than his Advanced Placement Art class at Brevard High, Billy has no degrees behind his name. “My teacher, Sean Parrish, pushed me to focus on Art as he felt it would take me places.”
Billy is conscious of making a positive contribution in life. “I’ve always prayed about my Art.” For others maybe heading down a negative path, “I want to show them that there’s another way. The kids today need positive role models; people to look up to and something to look at.”
In the near future, another collaborative art project for Billy will be a historical timeline of murals in the future Rosenwald Memorial Peace Park. The vision for the green space that lies beside Silversteen Playground is one that has received a tremendous amount of interest from many community volunteers. The hope is for an improved recreational area, a community garden, artwork that ties to this historical community and a welcoming space. “It’s gonna be inviting,” says Billy. “A lot of tourists know nothing about black history or segregation . It’ll be a catalyst to open people’s eyes to that side and the realization that this is where you come from; this is your pride… who you are.” He forsees the storyline of murals as something positive for the community to see. “I want people to stand there and weep if possible; to say that this is amazing, to cry and to feel it deep.”
Just as Kim Provost, a candidate for City Council, reached out to local artists to add their voices to beautify downtown, Billy feels that Transylvania County has to reach out and adopt Rosenwald as an integral part of their whole history.
“I think that my mother was at Rosenwald School for awhile and then went on to 9th Avenue in Hendersonville. Growing up, I experienced racism at the age of 8. Later, I experienced the evolution; helping others to change and come together. I believe truly that we are making the change. We have the heart to do this.”
During our 4th Friday, September 27th Gallery Walk, stop by Hunters & Gatherers to meet and say “thank you!” to the contributing mural artists who have generously gifted their time, energy and talent! Joining Billy Smith will be artists Leanne Addison and The Jacobs’ Family. Stay tuned for our final artist write-up with pictures!
Nicola Karesh, community volunteer