Project Description

The Asheville Rites Project is a public performance collaboration between painter Molly Rose Freeman, dancer Garth Grimball, and musician Michael Libramento. In April, Molly will install a series of wall-sized panels at the RiverLink Sculpture and Performance Plaza in the River Arts District of Asheville, NC. Over the course of a month, she will paint an abstract mural on them to act as a backdrop for a dance piece that Garth will choreograph. Michael will compose an original score for the piece, and it will be played live during the performance. The performance is scheduled for May 21 and will be free and open to the public. This project is made possible with support from RiverLink, Arts2People, Asheville Mural Project, Asheville Ballet, and the generosity of the sponsors listed below.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

RITES: a public performance

It happened! Last night, around 300 people came out on a gorgeous Saturday evening to watch RITES, live in all its color and glory!

Photos by Colby Rabon:

And a few more photos by Zen Sutherland:

Thank you so much to everyone who came out, and to everyone who helped make this vision a reality!!

Friday, May 20, 2011

A great article in today's Citizen-Times, not only on the project but on both the value and struggles of public art in general

The right to 'Rites': Free art event reminds Asheville artists need our help

Molly Rose Freeman stands in front of her mural in the River Arts District.
Molly Rose Freeman stands in front of her mural in the River Arts District. / Special to the Citizen-Times
Garth Grimball leaps in front of a section of Freeman's mural on Riverside Drive.
Garth Grimball leaps in front of a section of Freeman's mural on Riverside Drive.


What: “Rites: A public performance.”
When: 7-8 p.m. Saturday (Rain date is May 28).
Where: RiverLink Sculpture and Performance Plaza, 117 Riverside Drive.
Admission: Free, and be sure to bring blankets and chairs.

As you're speeding down the Smoky Park Bridge, I hope you've noticed the new, blushing beauty mark below in the River Arts District.

Local artist Molly Rose Freeman — who is a champion of the color that is her middle name — has been spending about the last month creating an amphitheater-shaped mural, blossoming with burst of pinks and reds, cooled by white accents, on Riverside Drive.

It's bright. It's bold, just like Freeman's idea, a vision she shares with Asheville dancer and choreographer Garth Grimball and musician Michael Libramento. This trio of talent is collaborating on “Rites: A public performance” 7-8 p.m. Saturday at the RiverLink Sculpture and Performance Plaza, 117 Riverside Drive.

Molly's mural will become the backdrop for a dance performance from Grimball, with the soundtrack provided live by Libramento.

The art event is really designed to be a community event, so naturally it's free. It's also a fitting price tag, since the $3,000 project was funded entirely by donations through a Kickstarter campaign online.

And Molly hopes it's really just the beginning of a series of free arts events from her and her artist colleagues.

“We have everything that we need to make these things happen,” Molly said Monday. “We need to have (art events) that are a free, or at least don't have a lot of commercial pressure and involvement, and utilize community resources, artists, businesses and ideas that are homegrown.”

This exaltation of collaboration, of community and public art reminds me of the role the Works Progress Administration played during this country's recovery from the Great Depression. Artists were funded by the government to produce projects, from murals to literature.

One of these artists was Jackson Pollock, the abstract expressionist painter credited with being one of the most electrifying artists of his generation.

Sorry to nerd out, but I have to prove to my parents that paying for an art history degree was not a complete waste (Hi, Mom!). Pollock and his fellow New York City game-changers are also credited with shifting the center of the art world to the United States, stealing the crown of contemporary art from our ancestors in the Old World.

I think it's fair to say that the art innovation of the '50s and '60s in the U.S. would not have flourished to the same degree if it wasn't for the government's investment through the WPA.

That's one of the reasons it's so disturbing that arts funding is being slashed during our modern economic troubles, still nowhere near the Great Depression's depths of unemployment.

If we don't support Asheville's next Pollock now, we will lose, practically speaking, a huge portion of our tourism appeal. And whimsically speaking, a pillar of our identity, culture and spirit.

“Rites,” a name identifying the event's spring theme, is a perfect name for the event and exactly the sort of thing that we have to continue to support, especially as Capitol Hill continues to eliminate important arts funding.

This is about something new, and it is a totally new use for the RiverLink park. A new, super-forward-thinking attraction to the River Arts District, an epicenter of the craft tradition of these mountains.

But it's ultimately a renewal and a reminder that public art is for the public, but it's a public that has to invest in the work and the artists to guarantee its survival.

This is the opinion of Citizen-Times staff writer Carol Motsinger, who writes an entertainment column every Friday for Take5. She can be reached at

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A Little Off the Top

Molly and Kyle Wolff, writing/marketing genius for the River Arts District, tackled the jungle at the space today:

Sidekick: Apacha!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Won't you stay for dinner?

For those of you who are in town and plan on coming to the performance this Saturday (gates at 6, performance at 7), we'd like to remind you that this is around dinner time, and we will not have food at the show. However! We've got you covered. You are welcome to bring a picnic/drinks/snacks of your own, but the River Arts District also has some really great places to eat:

Roots Cafe @ the Grey Eagle
Roots Cafe, owned by local hummus king Matt Parris, has relocated to the Grey Eagle and is serving up a great variety of old favorites made from super high quality ingredients. (Tip: go for the quinoa hushpuppies!)
Hours: 11 AM-10 PM

The Junction:
The Junction, opening officially tomorrow, is the newest addition to the Pink Dog Creative buildings (the technicolor strip on Depot Street). Molly got a chance to sample what they'll be dishing out, and it does not disappoint. From a farm egg and grilled asparagus sandwich to a hearty smoked tomato soup, the food here is packed with flavor. There's also a full bar with specialty cocktails.
Hours: lunch and dinner

Clingman Cafe:
Trip will be serving the full lunch menu of delicious soups, salads, and sandwiches, as well as some special dinner entrees, and you can grab a seat outside to enjoy what we hope will be a nice night! Wedge beer is on tap, from right down the hill.
Hours: 8 AM-8 PM

White Duck Taco Shop:
White Duck Taco is so new it won't event be open until Friday, but already we can tell you it will be good--check out the taco menu below!

Our good friends Carol Motsinger and Erin Brethauer from the Asheville Citizen-Times have been following and chronicling the progress of the restaurant since its early stages: check out their blog. The shop also features artwork by Ishmael. Stop in soon (like... Saturday?) and welcome them to the neighborhood!
Hours: Until sundown

Magnetic Field:
A hybrid restaurant-bar-venue-theatre-latenight-hangout, the Magnetic Field, in the bottom of the Glen Rock Depot, has good food, good beer, and a hip atmosphere. If you're not performanced-out after our event, check out "The Family Tree," a play by Lucia del Vecchio, which got a great review in this week's Mountain Xpress.

Happy eating!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Promo Material

Getting these bad boys printed tomorrow.