Featured Artist Pint Night brings a crowd to BAD Craft

Fred McCormick
Black Mountain News
Melissa Autumn Raines, right, greets customers at BAD Craft on April 25 during Featured Artist Pint Night at the Black Mountain business.

To the senses of those walking along Cherry Street on any given day, BAD Craft can act as a beacon of sorts.

Fans of local craft beer will find a wide variety available in colorful cans and on tap, while the work of local artists covering the walls provides endless visual stimulation. Those looking to enjoy a sweet treat can choose from a selection of goods, prepared by bakers throughout the Swannanoa Valley. 

On April 25, however, it wasn't just the beer, art or dessert that BAD Craft derives the first half of its name from that brought a crowd of people into the space, it was the monthly Featured Artist Pint Night. 

"We hold these the last Thursday of every month," owner Randy Giles said as he poured a beer for one of the customers in the jam-packed store. "We have a different local artist design a pint glass and when people come in and get a beer we give them a glass for free."

Randy Giles serves customers during Featured Artist Pint Night at his business BAD Craft, which features local craft beer, art and desserts.

The event began as a partnership with a brewery out of West Asheville. 

"It originally started when myself, a rep from UpCountry Brewing in Asheville and a local artist all happened to be here at one time," Giles said. "We started planning the first one out."

Giles hosted Alex Stevens, an Asheville artists whose work is featured in BAD Craft, in August of 2018. 

The glasses feature the BAD Craft logo on one side and a piece designed by the featured artist of the month on the other. 

"It's a cool way to showcase the artists' work," Giles said. "The pint nights are always a good time."

Melissa Autumn Raines discovered her passion for sketching relatively recently, but the featured artist for the month of April packed BAD Craft with the most well-attended pint night yet, according to Giles.

"My day job is that I'm a beer rep for Pisgah Brewing Co.," Raines said between questions about her work from interested buyers. "I'm also a musician; I sing in several bands here in town."

A few years ago she began creating artwork. 

"I wanted to try something different to express myself creatively," she said. "So I started doing these coffee sketches in morning, to a vinyl. I would give myself until the end of a record to finish."

Raines quickly sharpened her skills through that process. 

"I found out I really liked to draw and I ended up having a pretty significant hip surgery that left me bed stuck in bed for a few weeks and I needed something to help me get through that," she said. "I started drawing just for my own mental well-being and all that's really where all of this started."

Melissa Autumn Raines greets people at BAD Craft on Cherry Street on April 25, when she was the featured artist for the Black Mountain business's monthly Featured Artist Pint Night.

Raines was immediately impressed with BAD Craft the first time she visited the shop. 

"I was in here selling Randy beer and I loved the art that he has up," she said. "It's not your typical plein air pieces, there's a wide variety of expression happening in here."

After sharing some of her work with Giles, Raines was asked to be a featured artist at the event. She eagerly accepted the invitation, which motivated her to create more. 

"Every single piece I have is informed by a person in my life or nature, because nature is very healing," she said. "I'm also fascinated by the idea of impermanence, so a lot of my work lends itself to that."

Being the featured in the event was an "incredible" experience, Raines said. 

"In this room right now there are all of these people who are from differently places, and they all hold a special place in my heart," she said. "Events like this give us the ability to really bring our community together. I've never felt such a sense of community as I do in Black Mountain and Asheville."

While much of the evening focused on Raines' art, beer played a major role in "Hoptupus," her design for the pint glass. The image depicts an image of a hop with eight outstretched octopus tentacles.

"The night before Randy wanted me to give him the piece for the glass I had a dream about 'Hoptupus,'" Raines said. "I woke up at 5 a.m. and started drawing furiously. That's how we got the Hoptupus. I dream up a lot of my art."

Featured Artist Pint Night is just one of the regular events hosted by BAD Craft, Giles said. 

"We have beer and dessert pairing on the second Thursday of each month," he said. "Those feature three different beers and a dessert pairing for each."

Offerings from Hillman Beer and Ginger's Revenge were paired with mini pies from Four Sisters Bakery for the month of April. 

The space was set to host Annie Myers and its first open mic night from 7 - 9 p.m. on April 29. 

"We try to do things that feature some of the best of what this community has to offer," Giles said. "So far people seem to really be into it."