As Spring begins to awaken the Earth, we welcome March's Flavor of the Month, Wide Open Eyes, which benefits the Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center.  Wide Open Eyes, its flavor and name, is inspired by the first art teacher at the legendary Black Mountain College, Josef Albers. When, upon his arrival at the College, he was asked by a student what he would teach, Albers responded, "To open eyes." In honor of the Black Mountain College legacy and Josef Albers's goal to awaken perception, we at Ultimate humbly present to you Wide Open Eyes...Our pungent Cup of Joe Cream with Chocolate Chips folded in...

The Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center (BMCM+AC) preserves and continues the unique legacy of educational and artistic innovation of Black Mountain College. They achieve their mission through collection, conservation, and educational activities including exhibitions, publications, and public programs.

BMCM+AC was founded in 1993 by Mary Holden to honor the history of Black Mountain College as a forerunner in progressive interdisciplinary education and to celebrate its extraordinary impact on modern and contemporary art, dance, theatre, music, and performance. They are committed to educating the public about the history of Black Mountain College and spreading awareness of its extensive legacy through exhibitions, publications, lectures, films, seminars, and oral histories. Through our permanent collection, special exhibitions, publications, and research archive, we continuously provide access to historical materials related to the College and its influence on modern and contemporary artists.

BMCM+AC provides a forum for multifaceted programming in a dynamic environment. Their goal is to provide a gathering point for people from a variety of backgrounds to interact, integrating art, ideas, and discourse with an emphasis on process rather than product.

The story of Black Mountain College begins in 1933 and comprises a fascinating chapter in the history of education and the arts. Conceived by John A. Rice, a brilliant and mercurial scholar who left Rollins College in a storm of controversy, Black Mountain College was born out of a desire to create a new type of college based on John Dewey’s principles of progressive education. The events that precipitated the College’s founding occurred simultaneously with the rise of Adolf Hitler, the closing of the Bauhaus by the Nazis, and the beginning of the persecution of artists and intellectuals on the European continent. Some of these people found their way to Black Mountain, either as students or faculty. Meanwhile, the United States was mired in the Great Depression, and Franklin Roosevelt, committed to putting people back to work, established the Public Works Arts Project (a precursor of the WPA).

The founders of the College believed that the study and practice of art were indispensable aspects of a student’s general liberal arts education, and they hired Josef Albers to be the first art teacher. Speaking not a word of English, he and his wife Anni left the turmoil in Hitler’s Germany and crossed the Atlantic Ocean by boat to teach art at this small, rebellious college in the mountains of North Carolina.

Black Mountain College was fundamentally different from other colleges and universities of the time. It was owned and operated by the faculty and was committed to democratic governance and to the idea that the arts are central to the experience of learning. All members of the College community participated in its operation, including farm work, construction projects and kitchen duty. Located in the midst of the beautiful North Carolina mountains near Asheville, the secluded environment fostered a strong sense of individuality and creative intensity within the small College community.

Legendary even in its own time, Black Mountain College attracted and created maverick spirits, some of whom went on to become well-known and extremely influential individuals in the latter half of the 20th century. A partial list includes people such as Willem and Elaine de Kooning, Robert Rauschenberg, Josef and Anni Albers, Jacob Lawrence, Merce Cunningham, John Cage, Cy Twombly, Kenneth Noland, Vera B. Williams, Ben Shahn, Franz Kline, Arthur Penn, Buckminster Fuller, M.C. Richards, Francine du Plessix Gray, Charles Olson, Robert Creeley, Dorothea Rockburne and many others, famous and not-so-famous, who have impacted the world in a significant way. Even now, decades after its closing in 1957, the powerful influence of Black Mountain College continues to reverberate.

Interlude, co-produced by the Media Arts Project and Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center is a series of multidisciplinary  art events to be held in and around BMCM+AC’s galleries in downtown Asheville throughout the month of April.

Inspired by Josef Albers’ week-long “interlude” when everyone in the Black Mountain College community was expected to take a break from their studies and pursue activities unrelated to their course work, Interlude is a break with our own tradition and will be held in lieu of {Re}HAPPENING, our annual weekend art event at the former Black Mountain College site at Lake Eden.