feted for 40 years in business
hugs a friend at the surprise party at Blue Spiral
1 gallery celebrating Cram's 40 years in business in Asheville. / Colby Rabonfirstname.lastname@example.org
John Cram established the Blue Spiral 1 gallery on Biltmore Avenue at a time when downtown was still largely deserted.
John Cram established the Blue Spiral 1 gallery on Biltmore Avenue at a time when downtown was still largely deserted. / Colby Rabonemail@example.com
saw the marquee of the Fine Arts Theatre, a business he
Instead of advertising the current movies, it read, "Celebrating 40 Years in the Arts / Thank You John Cram.
first business, New Morning Gallery
, a high-end crafts shop, in Biltmore Village in 1972.
It was almost hidden above a clothing store.
enjoys telling about a state inspector coming to ask why he
hadn't paid sales tax for his
"Because I only took in $16.70," Cram told him.
From that inauspicious beginning, Cram
went on to buy his
own building in Biltmore Village and open a women's clothing boutique, Bellagio
, below New Morning
By 1983, the New York Times
reported that New Morning
was "one of the best art-craft shops in the Southeast," with sophisticated jewelry, glass, textiles and crafts that were "of museum quality."
In the 1990s, Cram
joined other pioneers of Asheville's downtown rebirth by buying and rehabing two run-down buildings on Biltmore Avenue and opening Blue Spiral
1, one of the city's first fine art galleries.
In 1996, he
refurbished a closed porno movie house next to Blue Spiral
and turned it into the Fine Arts Theatre, Asheville's only independent arts cinema.
opened another women's fashion shop, Bellagio
Everyday, adjacent to Blue Spiral
Along the way, Cram
created Biltmore Village's annual Village Arts and Crafts Fair, a two-day summer event now heading to its 41st year.
Jasmine Gentling, a founder of the Health Adventure, said her group was considering moving to the fledgling Pack Place from the MAHEC Building when Cram, a longtime friend, was planning Blue Spiral.
confirms that none of his
ventures has been a slam dunk.
It took him 10 years to pay off the mortgage on the Biltmore Village building.
"I was in business 18 years before I was debt free," he
"My mother was from the Depression, so my whole concept was to be debt-free."
added, "I would pay down my mortgage before I would pay myself.
I wouldn't go to the Biltmore House or the movies.
Now, I own a movie theater."
Artist Connie Bostic, a longtime friend who once owned a downtown gallery and knows the difficulties, agreed that Cram takes risks.
"The two words I would use to describe John
are courage and generosity," she
contributes to Asheville arts groups, including the Asheville Art Museum
and the Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center
, as well as to the Racine Art Museum
hometown in Wisconsin.
helped establish the Blue Ridge Society
, "a giving circle" that supports SAHC and the Conservation Trust for North Carolina
He also created the Will Henry Stevens Revolving Loan Fund to help the two organizations seize opportunities to acquire new land.
What does the 64-year-old Cram see coming next?
was setting up for the 38th Village Arts and Crafts Fair, he
was thinking of "pulling the plug" after the 40th year.
A friend said, "John
, if you can go to 50, you're going to be really old.
feted for 40 years in business