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Check Out Jordan Ahlers’s Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jordan Ahlers.

Hi Jordan, can you start by introducing yourself? We’d love to learn more about how you got to where you are today?
I have been involved in the arts as far back as I can remember. As a kid, I always enjoyed drawing and being creative. My grandmother was a potter in North Carolina, and I have fond memories of working with her in her studio, learning to hand build and throw pots. I attended a visual arts magnet high school and went on to Kansas City Art Institute, where I focused primarily on my own painting, printmaking, and textile work. Following school, I moved away from my studio practice and increasingly into arts administration and working with other artists. I worked in freelance graphic design and marketing and represented glass artists at festivals and wholesale shows. I worked in picture framing and sales; I began to curate exhibitions within gallery spaces.

I moved to Asheville and spent 18 years as the director of one of the region’s most prominent art and craft galleries. With twenty-five years of experience in the field, I have worked with thousands of professional artists, placing their work within private and corporate collections and increasing their visibility in the marketplace. I have curated hundreds of group and solo shows in a variety of media and collaborated with numerous museums to curate and facilitate traveling exhibitions. I have designed and implemented multiple gallery spaces and developed an eye for what is both interesting and marketable.

I opened Momentum Gallery in October 2017 with the intention of elevating the arts in the region, representing the area’s finest artists and makers as well as providing the southeast increased access to the most exciting work I can.

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I’m very fortunate to have the support of family, friends, and patrons. Everyone experiences challenges and hardships in life, but I’m a believer that there are lessons in any obstacles we face, and if we’re paying attention and understand this, it’s getting through these circumstances and situations that holds the most promise and potential for growth. Nothing comes easily – I devote a lot of time, energy, and effort to everything I do. I have paid my dues, I was loyal, and I worked hard for other people for decades. Nothing happened overnight. I proved myself and built a reputation for excellence. I hold my head high that through it all, I have remained professional and considerate in my interactions and relationships.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
I own and operate Momentum Gallery in downtown Asheville, NC, with my wife Shifra Ahlers. Momentum Gallery presents museum-quality paintings, original prints, innovative sculptures, and studio furniture by emerging and mid-career artists. Our program celebrates material-based traditions rich in this area and reflects a contemporary and modern aesthetic in harmony with our natural surroundings. The gallery works closely with individuals and design professionals to develop meaningful collections and select signature pieces that energize spaces and evoke a sense of happiness and well-being. We offer comprehensive art-based services, including personalized curatorial assistance and are committed to the highest level of client care.

We recently completed the renovation of a 100-year-old building in downtown Asheville. Momentum Gallery’s new space is a fully accessible, two-floor, 15,000 square foot showcase of the finest artwork in the region. With abundant natural light and grand open spaces, the gallery we designed at 52 Broadway is a work of art in itself. I feel exceedingly blessed to be able to curate this space that showcases our artists’ work so well. With the materials we selected–walnut floors, glass, and stainless steel–the architecture echoes some of the outstanding work featured in the gallery-like that of woodturner David Ellsworth, Chihuly Studio glass, and metal sculptor Hoss Haley.

Momentum Gallery is open with regular hours seven days per week. We currently feature five solo exhibitions from artists that have been part of our gallery’s identity since the beginning – Samantha Bates, painting and fiber; Lisa Clague, ceramics; Crystal Gregory, textile and concrete; Ron Isaacs, painted wood; and Samantha Keely Smith, painting. The gallery also maintains a special presentation of Chihuly Studio glass and works on paper. The works in our inaugural array range from abstract to figurative, with subjects as diverse as the landscape and articles of clothing. Works explore themes of transformation and reward an extended look; the overall experience of the gallery often leaves people moved.

I seek art that appeals to my sense of curiosity and wonder, and I bring it together in the gallery in a way that engages and stimulates the audience. Many of the works we show are narrative and reference the southern storytelling tradition. I enjoy connecting people with artwork they love. I’ve been told I have a gift for space planning and design. Much of what I do is intuitive; I like to create a journey through space or tell a story with the work. I try to highlight works to their best advantage and form connections with other elements in the room. Over the years, my aesthetic for presenting artwork has been recognized states away by clients at art fairs and celebrated in the media. I like working with various disciplines and styles, and I enjoy finding cohesion and harmony in eclectic collections.

As a private curator, my passion is working with clients (and with their designers and architects) to source original artwork that makes them deliriously happy. This usually entails responding to space, its architecture, furnishings, and décor. I like to assist people and businesses in with presenting artwork for maximum experience, appreciation, and impact. Often we incorporate things our clients have acquired in travels, personal artifacts, or mineral specimens, along with original works of art. We get a thrill from assisting people in activating their surroundings so they are invigorated by their space. This comes from getting to know our clients and understanding their tastes and goals. I am delighted to have the opportunity to do work I love and grateful for the relationships I’ve made with artists and clients.

I am very proud of the artists I get to represent, to help them achieve milestones in their careers, and to place their work in notable collections. It has been a privilege to be a part of Asheville’s creative community for the past twenty years and now to create an elegant venue that is worthy of the museum-quality work we show. Momentum’s new space honors things that are important to me, including alternative energy (the building is powered by solar), high style, historic architecture, and state-of-the-art technology, which all coalesce to create an immersive and enjoyable art experience!

Do you have recommendations for books, apps, blogs, etc?
I am reading The Overstory by Richard Powers right now for fun, and I am enjoying Phil Sanders’ new book Prints and Their Makers. I listen to a lot of NPR.

Contact Info:

Image Credits
Anastasiia Photography for The Scout Guide Asheville (portrait of Jordan and Shifra Ahlers) John Warner Photography (all gallery interiors)

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