On December 15th, 2022, ABCLT hosted its first annual art unveiling: Before the Bubble Burst at the Tracey Morgan Art Gallery, where the silent auction was announced. This signature event brought together folks who believe in affordable homeownership and the power of community as we uplift the Burton Street neighborhood’s legacy and bright future. With artwork (shown on the right) created by Amar Stewart, our objective is to honor E.W. Pearson and his grandson, Mr. Clifford Cotton (pictured here).

All proceeds from the auction will go to the Burton Street Fund, which was created by ABCLT and Burton Street residents with the goal of creating and protecting permanently affordable homes for Black people in the neighborhood. The bidding will be live until Friday, March 31st, 2023, at which point the winner will be announced via social media and the contact information that is provided. In the meantime, the art is exhibited in the community.

Artist - Amar Stewart

Amar is an oil painter from London, England. Having worked in the skate/snowboard industry since his teens, Amar was surrounded by visual art and alternative fashion. In his early twenties he moved to London working as a buyer importing streetwear brands from New York & Los Angeles. His interest in contemporary and urban art came about whilst working with Upper Playground, a San Francisco based art collective. Amar would curate art shows for artists and run the operations for the UK store. In the evenings Amar would go back to his apartment and experiment with different mediums and subject matters to try and find his voice in the art world. 

Music was and still is a driving force behind his work, Hip-Hop and Jazz in particular. After a trip to New York to visit the Metropolitan Museum of art, Amar came across Rembrandt and De Goya’s works. Whilst fascinated by these paintings he realized there was a lack of POC in these works of art. So “Hip-Hop Royalty” was born. An untraditional body of work that uses traditional mediums to celebrate POC. Hip-Hop icons like Biggie and Tupac portrayed as Royals and Wu-Tang Clan ready to go to Battle were painted in grand scenes. 

Amar moved to New York for several years to get inspired from the city and continued to create works that celebrate the culture that NY lives and breathes. Amar now resides in Asheville, North Carolina where he continues to paint things that inspire him. 

About the Painting

Black life often exists in a bubble, designed to create relatability and empathy in juxtaposition to what society has historically offered Black people in the United States. Taken at face value or worse, void of context, society can see these lives participating in unadulterated stereotypes, finding signs of self-hatred, or simply inexplicable. However, Black life, and the neighborhoods that encapsulate them, have dignity, dilapidation, and displacement all within its door step, especially here in Asheville. The redlining to gentrification pipeline that this community, and those across the United States, continues to face is the main cause of the attrition Black neighborhoods are experiencing. Yet, even these communities, entrenched in systematic denial, continue to produce beacons of hopes and dreams. Burton Street, Hill Street, Stumptown and others continue to say to those who’ve tried to bury them “stop and pay attention, there is beauty and value to be found in each of these places and with infinite possibility.”

Amar sat down with Mr. Clifford Cotton and learned many stories about his time living in Asheville as a person of color. One story that stuck out was about the times he would go to The Fine Arts Theater in downtown Asheville, where there was a separate entrance that would lead directly to the balcony area, sectioned off specifically for Black viewers. This was shocking to hear, but also the norm for the time period.

Feeling inspired, Amar wanted to capture Mr. Cotton sitting on the front row, on the ground level by himself, as it would be his first time. The color red which is strong in this painting represents “Redlining” that took place here in Asheville.

Whilst there are strides to improve, we need to do better about talking about the issues that still plague us today.

Thank you, Mr. Cotton!

Place Your Bid

The highest bidder will be announced on March 31, 2023. Place your bid today!

*Please make sure your bid is at least $7,500. The new minimum bid will update daily.