Ceramic fish

Libba Tracy pays homage to animals in her new show “Up ‘Til Now” at the Black Mountain Center for the Arts.

Artist Libba Tracy has shown her captivating work in the Upper Gallery at the Black Mountain Center for the Arts numerous times over the years. She has participated as an individual, has shown as part of group shows and in juried shows, and she spearheaded the monarch butterfly, honeybee, bat and bird awareness shows.

In Asheville, both Odyssey and the Grovewood Gallery have her work on regular display, though her work is anything but regular.

Now the community has an opportunity to see a collection of this talented artist’s work in a solo show titled “Up ‘Til Now.” The show, a compilation of Tracy’s distinctive ceramic sculptures, tile abstracts and paintings opens Friday, Nov. 5 and runs through Nov. 23.

The public is invited to an artist’s reception with music, wine and hors d’oeuvres from 5-6:30 p.m. Nov. 5.

Tracy’s involvement in the Arts Center has been instrumental in defining the vibrancy and cultural relevance of the more than 20-year old organization. She and her husband, Tom, were part of the hands-on effort of renovating the Old City Hall into the Arts Center back in the late 1990s. He was instrumental in the fundraising effort and she contributed countless hours as a board member over the years.

She is seemingly tireless, giving of her time and efforts to support a multitude of causes beyond the Arts Center. From painting sets for The Learning Community and creating awareness for threatened species to donating proceeds from her pottery sales to Bounty and Soul, Tracy has been moved by the pandemic to increase her productivity and up her creativity.

What is so compelling about Tracy’s work, aside from its distinctive appearance and clever insights, are the resources she draws from.

She comes from an artistic family. Her father, Guy Lipscomb, was a renowned watercolorist who wrote the iconic book “Watercolor: Go with the Flow.” She spent the early part of her career as a commercial illustrator and, in addition to fluency in a wide variety of mediums, she settled on clay about 10 years ago.

For years, her creative space was located in the River Arts District, but during the pandemic she relocated to a studio on her farm in a rustic barn with sweeping views of the mountains and adjacent horse fields.

“It transformed this chaotic time into one of solitude and joy,” Tracy said.

This new point of view offered her an uninterrupted view of the natural world and enhanced her already close relationship with the environment. All of this is reflected in the work that will be on display in the Upper Gallery.

“The whimsical sculptures could be said to be a buffer from the noise of hard news and homage to my love of animals,” Tracy said. “There are also ones that attempt to address the difficulties we as a human race now face. In this show, there will be a large number of abstract wall ceramics, where I’ve explored the mystery of form, texture and, at times, color. Paintings are also sprinkled in as a reminder of my past efforts.”

“Libba’s impact on and support of BMCA over the years is immeasurable,” said Executive Director Lori Cozzi. “We are thrilled to be able to offer her a solo show so our community can enjoy her many talents in this comprehensive and creative show.”

The Black Mountain Center for the Arts is located at 225 W. State Street. The Upper Gallery is free and open to the public 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday to Friday.

For additional information, visit blackmountainarts.org or call 828-669-0930.

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