Students open arts venue downtown

by Noor Al-Sibai – [email protected] – Staff Writer

David Grubba, left, and Frank Meadows, right, are two of the minds behind Apothecary.

Apothecary, a new mixed-use performance space downtown, aims to fill the void between large venues, such as the Orange Peel, and micro-venues, such as houses that host shows.
The venue’s founding was as alternative as its mission: it’s paid for and run by a group of friends and UNC Asheville students.
“It started off as an idea among our group around February,” said Nick Scavo, an international studies and political science student. “We decided to go with it, and to fund it ourselves.”
The founding collective consists of UNCA students Scavo, Frank Meadows, Dave Grubba, Zach Smith and Aaron Dowdy, as well as their friend and roommate Alex Cumming. Most of them know each other from the Raleigh area; many of them are in bands together; almost all of them are roommates.
“In our house, there’s always someone talking about Apothecary,” said 20-year-old Scavo. “At any given time, there will be two people talking about something on the business end or upcoming acts.”
Some of those upcoming acts include the Swedish synth-pop artist Molly Nillson on Saturday, a show featuring local acts Alligator Indian, Sin Kitty and Thai Food, a duo comprised of founders Cummings and Scavo. Next Wednesday, noise artist Rene Hill, as well as Memphis collective Cloudland Canyon and synth band Difference Clouds, will play.
Music technology student Meadows acts as the pseudo-business manager for the newly opened creative space.
“We don’t really have a hierarchy of jobs, though,” Meadows said. “It’s hard to pinpoint who has what role because we all do a bit of everything.”
The “everything” includes the conception of the idea for the project, shopping around for realty, funding the project, scouting for acts and finally setting up the venue in the three and a half weeks between the acquisition of the property and their first show on Labor Day weekend.
The space, located at the corner of Eagle and Market Streets near Pack Square, is a part of the historic YMI Cultural Center building.
“We were worried about being exclusive,” said 20-year-old Meadows, “but it seems like the reception in the neighborhood has been really positive.”

Alex Cummings, left, and Nick Seavo, right, reflect on the art space inside Apothecary.

The reception of their neighbors has not been the only positive review of the new venue. Meadows said about 75 people attended the opening show, which featured Greensboro-based project Casual Curious.
“It was really well-attended,” said 20-year-old classics student Laura Chasteen. “I think there’s a measurable and deserved excitement about Apothecary.”
A friend of the founders, Chasteen said the people who are responsible for the space contribute to the do-it-yourself atmosphere through their hands-on administration and commitment to the project.
“The initiative is filling a void that I think a lot of people were becoming aware of,” Chasteen said. “This area and the people occupying it now wanted a serious, community-oriented space for what’s important to them.”
That commitment, and the lofty goals associated with it, were outlined in the projects’ mission statement, which defined Apothecary as “an organization dedicated to raising human consciousness by nurturing creativity.”
This goal, according to 20-year-old psychology and biology student Violet Tucker, is represented within the Apothecary project as well as the burgeoning experimental art and music scene.
“To see this excellent, purely art-driven space in town indicates a potentially very important change in the underground art and music scene,” said Tucker, who is also a part of SWAMPING, a local experimental art collective. “The leaders of Apothecary have big plans in mind.”
Tucker’s art will be shown in monthly one-night installment pieces at Apothecary, located at 39 S. Market Street, Suite B.