David and Camille Shafer moved to Hot Springs, N.C. in 1972. Camille was an artist from France, and Dave a photographer from the midlands of the US. They connected with their neighbors immediately in the community of Bluff, in Madison County and made local friends such as Doctor Kimberley, from whom they had bought the property and Harold Finley who now serves on the Azule Board of Directors.
Camille and Dave’s house became a center of activities and their community grew. They organized art and music events, such as quilt shows and regular jam sessions as well as photographic projects such as "Portraits of America", a photographic portrayal of members of the community, which, incidentally, was taken up again by Azule in 2006.
At the same time, Camille was busy planning and creating the amazing architecture you can see now. Dave and Camille’s house is unique. Through Camille Shafer’s sole design and organization, what began as the tiny Kimberly's cabin, has been sculpted into a work of art. The construction itself has always been offered to local carpenters. Camille was very clear about that: all of her creative activities must originate locally.
The roots of the new community were, in fact, the local artists, artisans, farmers, carpenters, who helped withthe construction of the house. As a group, they wanted to open a locus for the arts in Bluff... Some left, some stayed, some came back... But after twenty five years or so, they got together and organized for a non- profit C3 Corporation.
AZULE was born the day Camille Shafer offered her place as the locus.
Board Members Ex OfficioOver 40 years many people have contributed their mark to what Azule now is today, in capacity as board member. They are part of the fabric of Azule and we want to commemorate them here:
Harold Finley was a farmer and is now a landscaper, grading contractor and community developer. He has been a life long resident of Bluff community. Married in 1974 with Sadie Thomas, he has three children and one grand child. He has worked with Camille and Dave Shafer on the grounds of Azule for twenty five years. His work is his hobby. Board member from 1994 till 2016.
Bunny Halton-Subkis is currently a free-lance events & arts consultant in Northern CA. A long-time resident of Spring Creek/Asheville, she became Dave and Camille’s friend in 1979 and feels blessed to have helped with Azule’s vision. Always a student, fan and patron of the arts, Bunny has been a performers’ rep for Loyd Artists and for nearly 2 decades was UNC Asheville’s Director of Cultural Events while booking and performing with several bands in the Southeast. Bunny has a BA in Theatre/Mass Communications from the University of South Florida. Volunteer work has included NC Arts Council (NCAC) and SouthArts grants review and performer showcase boards, NC Presenters’ Consortium (NCPC) Bd. of Directors, Asheville Area Arts Council, Asheville Civic Center Commission and Directors’/Advisory Bds. of Black Mountain College Museum + Art Center and Performance Center of Asheville. Presently Bunny is assisting Humboldt State University in Arcata CA with their 2013/14 Centennial celebration and is planning for the NCAC/NCPC ArtsMarket in Durham, Nov. 2013. She volunteers for 3 local non-profits where she now lives, is married to Ed Subkis, GM of KHSU Public Radio, and is the mom of 2 working musicians, grand of 7 and great grand of 2…soon-to-be-3! Board member since 1994.
Betsy Reiser moved to the Western North Carolina Mountains with her artist husband, young son, and two dogs in the mid-70's from Miami, Florida. They lived in the country pursuing their interests in gardening, art, music, health and natural foods. Remodeling a building in downtown Asheville for a natural foods café led to other real estate projects, and eventually Betsy found herself an executive as the owner and broker-in-charge of a small real estate company. As a self-proclaimed "house voyeur", it turns out that this was a pretty good career path. Betsy believes that Camille Shafer's incredible creation in Spring Creek, which now houses AZULE, is one of the most interesting, inspiring, and organic structures she has seen in her long career of house viewing. Board member since 1994
Olivier Rollin was born in France where he studied industrial design and worked there several years as a designer. In the US since 1980, he has been a self employed designer working on projects including: industrial design, lamp and furniture making, remodeling of buildings and technical illustrations.
Gwylene Gallimard & Jean-Marie Mauclet have worked for thirty years independently and collaboratively in the field of visual arts in France, Canada and the States, receiving support from the SC Arts Commission, Alternate Visions, Spoleto Festival, the Humanities Foundation, the Russell Foundation, the Puffin Foundation, Alternate ROOTS and the NEA. He a sculptor, she a multi media artist, they have evolved from creating art pieces strictly by the two of them, to managing two French cafés offering all the features of an art & socio-economic sustainability project, to rhizome-like activities, specific partnerships and creative art programs or challenging artistic approaches. Their most recent endeavors have involved neighborhoods, other artists and activists. JEMAGWGA is their official name (as in JEan-marie MAuclet and GWylene GAllimard).
Peggy Gardner is currently the office manager for the Preservation Society of Asheville and Buncombe County. A native of Asheville, her interest is in photographic and local history. Over the past ten years, she has worked with archival collections at Pack Memorial Library, the Prints and Photographs Division of the Library of Congress, the Swannanoa Valley Museum, and the SC Library. Before that she provided photographic, design and publishing services for non-profit organizations, educational and historical institutions. Peggy considers her life enriched by her many French friends, and this led to her connection with Azule. They have been an antidote to the trauma she suffered in the eleventh grade, when she had to sing La Marseillaise solo in front of her French class in order to receive a passing grade.
Rebecca Gahagan I grew up in the rural Piedmont area of NC. I left NC in my late twenties as a Registered Nurse working travel nurse contract which took me all over the country. This allowed me to enter many different cultures and communities on a very intimate level. I also traveled to Liberia and continue to work with a community over there. I am Healing Touch (holistic medicine technique), and am also a lifelong student of integrative medicine. The last 15 years of my nursing career were spent in administration and organizational development. Working within the challenging system of healthcare allowed me to be creative in my approach to building teams and promoting a healthier approach to management. I utilize art, movement as well as relaxation techniques to help inspire teams to work together more effectively. I utilize tools such as labyrinths to help people find more presence through movement. My calling in this community is to walk with my neighbors in times of life's trials, celebrations, and everyday life. I work to find creative solutions and ways to be more present with each other. I really enjoyed my work on the Azule board and find that this is an amazing group of people with tremendous potential. I believe that Azule 3 can become the true center of creativity for our community which can help us grow together to meet the challenges of our future.
Suzette Francis, a.k.a. Ital Al-Amin, is a native New Yorker, currently residing in Charlotte, NC. She is a performance artist, who shares her love of the arts through spoken word and African dance. Ital is also a visual artist, utilizing mixed media (metal, fabrics, etc.) to create her unique style of wearable art. Ital recently became a member of "Alternate Roots", at the 2014 annual meeting, and has been a long-time member of "New Danger", a rhizome of the former. She is committed to affecting community consciousness through the integration of arts.
Rena Lasch grew up at the beach in Southern California. She earned an undergraduate degree in Landscape Architecture from Cal Poly, Pomona. She has spent the last 25 years in South Louisiana and South Carolina. Clearly she has a Southern theme. While living in New Orleans, LA she studied classical figurative sculpture, renovated historic buildings and designed Mardi Gras costumes. When she first moved to Charleston, SC she headed up a community based art project "WALK Gallery". The mission of the collaborative project was to fill empty storefronts with local art during a downturn in the economy. She has always been interested in and involved in art,architecture, education, social justice and environmental protection. No matter what the medium the goal is always to improve the quality of life. A recent project has been Happy Camper Snoballs. This is a mobile shaved ice business that is housed in a vintage 1965 camper. No matter were the Happy Camper is parked it ALWAYS puts a smile on peoples faces. It instigates conversation and interaction between people. It makes any day a better day.
Selinde Lanier earned her M.F.A. in Fibers from Savannah College of Art and Design, exploring the structural and fiber content possibilities of getting light through woven fabric. She worked professionally for the furniture industry as a textile designer until 2004 and has recently set up a studio in the Marshall High Studios building, in Marshall, NC. Currently, she is developing a line of hand-woven Appalachian-styled coverlets, using yarn dyed exclusively with natural plant dyes native to the region.
Cecilia Rawlins was born in Rocky Mount, NC, attended high school in West Virginia and returned to North Carolina for college, graduate school, work and family. As an elementary principal in the Wake County Public School System in Raleigh, Cecilia had the opportunity for much community involvement. This included membership on various nonprofit boards: The Visual Art Exchange, Arts Together, Montessori of Raleigh, NC Natural Science Museum, Opera Company of North Carolina, SAFEChild, United Arts Council, Wake County P.T.A. Council and NC State Friends of the College. She has served on an educational advisory committee to the North Carolina State Museum of Art. Cecilia is the mother of Ashley Lindsey, a dancer with The Jose Limon Dance Company in New York. Cecilia is a proud resident of Hot Springs.
Dave Penrose came to North Carolina from the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. He has lived in North Carolina for over 30 years and has made innumerable contributions to the state in the areas of biology and stream restoration. Those contributions were recognized upon his retirement in 2008 when Governor Mike Easley bestowed upon him The Order of the Longleaf Pine, the highest honor to be given to a private citizen in the state of North Carolina. He continues to contribute to the field of science by making presentations around the country, serving as a consultant in the area of stream restoration and keeping a close eye on his beloved streams by fly-fishing whenever and wherever possible. Dave is the father of Kristen Macon, an Adoption Specialist with The Wake County Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. As a life long arts enthusiast and collector of local art, and new resident of Madison County, Dave is proud to serve the community through his affiliation with Azule.
Laird Lanier is a 1987 graduate of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts and holds a BS in Mechanical Engineering from NC State University. Laird is an artist and engineer who builds mobiles inspired by the work of Alexander Calder and provides production engineering services to the Gulf of Mexico shipbuilding industry. "The tools I use as an engineer have grown directly from my sculpture explorations. When we pick up a 50 ton barge section I use the same tools to find the gravity center and angle of rotation that I do to build a mobile. I first unrolled plates to build big art...this gave me the confidence to unroll plates for ship construction. My creativity is, in no small way, a result of visiting with Dave and Camille as a child and being exposed to creativity as a way of life vs. a singular activity. I draw on that creativity every day whether I am laying out bilge plates or balancing sculptures.
Bill Weldner holds a BFA from Rhode Island School of Design and a MFA from Syracuse University. He was a Professor of Art at Fulton Montgomery Community College, Johnstown, NY. "I have now settled in Spring Creek, NC to concentrate on developing my visual ideas. My previous work was two dimensional design and painting. The Digital Series are a new venture for me. These Prints are derived from photographs I have taken in the mountains of Western North Carolina and the coast of South Carolina. Each work is a composite of three or more images woven together on the computer, altered and manipulated to achieve the final statement. Composition, color, texture, value, shape placement and negative area play are an integral part of the finished work."
Val Lyle brings to the board of Azule 30 years experience as a studio visual artist and sculptor, the last 14 of which she also has been part –time faculty in area college art departments and teaching numerous adult and children’s art classes. Val has been working with public art commissions in particular the past five years. Although Val lived and worked as an artist in New York City for over eight years, she is 100% native Appalachian and her recent series of artworks is intended to bring honor to Appalachia using the old tobacco barns as an icon. You can see more of her work at http://www.vallyle.com/
Christopher Jayne is a landscape architect and botanist. He has been raised in Sandy Mush, Madison County, where his parents have a very special Herb Nursery. Board member since 2009
Lorrie Jayne is an instructor at Warren Wilson College where she teaches language and cultural understanding in the Departments of undergraduate Writing and Modern Languages. From the time that she was a child growing up on the US Mexico Border, Lorrie has been interested in the space that occurs between cultures and has adhered to the idea that we come together in our similarities but know one another through our differences. Lorrie earned her Masters Degree in Teaching at The School for International Training in Brattleboro,Vermont. She is currently conducting her Doctoral research in the estuary region of Brazilian Amazonia where she is gathering the memoirs of traditional plant healers. Lorrie lives with her husband, Christopher, and daughters, Miriam and Lillian in Swannanao, NC.
DH Cooper received her MFA from The School of the Art Institute in Chicago. Upon graduating in 2005 she received an MFA fellowship award for her video thesis project. During and after her graduate studies her exclusive use of still images expanded to incorporate performance, video, and fiber arts. This shift opened a new venue for her explorations into the domestic arena. Her works have been featured in numerous exhibitions, some of which have been at the Chicago Cultural Center, The Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art in Chicago, The New Orleans Museum of Art, Time and Space Limited, Hudson NY, and The FAC Modern in Colorado.
Jonell J. Logan is an artist and educator who has dedicated her career to creating arts access for various audiences. She is currently the Director of Education of Public Programs at the Harvey B. Gantt Center for African-American Arts+Culture in Charlotte, NC. Originally from New York, Logan worked at various museums including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Whitney Museum and Studio Museum in Harlem. She now lives in Belmont, N.C. where she manages Juan Logan Studios in addition to her position at the Gantt Center.