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ONE-OF-A-KIND: Appalachian State Students Team Up with Local Brewery for Art Project


When it comes to life in the mountains of North Carolina, few things are more enjoyable than an ice-cold craft brew at your favorite High Country hangout. Add work created by up-and-coming local artists to the ambiance, however, and you’ve found the perfect recipe for a good time.Spenser_Williams-5

That’s why Appalachian Mountain Brewery has teamed up with Appalachian State University to create an environment that reflects everything we love about our community.

One professor’s idea for a public art project has grown into a massive collaboration between the brewery and the ASU Art Department. His students have been working to transform the AMB patio into a one-of-a-kind work of art, and the results will be revealed to the community on Friday night.



As a “selected topics” course, the department’s “Contemporary Issues in Advanced Drawing” gives its professor the opportunity to develop course content around a topic of their choice. This time around, Professor Scott Ludwig was determined that his students would create something that could play an important role in the community.

“Public art, especially that which involves collaboration, is of interest to me. It also happens to be a topic that currently generates a lot of buzz in the contemporary art scene,” Ludwig said. “I wanted this course to provide a practical, “real-world” experience for the students — where they could truly collaborate, gain experience working with diverse clientele and make work that would be seen by a wider audience, set within a community-oriented, public space.”

In planning for the coursework, Ludwig’s research took him to Richmond, Virginia, where he found local artists making public works and playing a key role in rebranding the city. Inspired by his findings, he set out to establish a similar relationship between his students and a local establishment.

After searching for the perfect spot in town, Ludwig found that Appalachian Mountain Brewery would make the perfect canvas for his students’ work, and that they could contribute to its vision, too.

“When I started making inquiries, AMB was a top choice because of their overarching mission statement that embraces community, sustainability and philanthropy,” Ludwig said. “In the past, I worked with Tommy Lee, the creative director at AMB, on an exhibition project. So, I told Tommy about the idea, he pitched it to the management and the rest is history.”



Together, participating students and the folks at AMB decided to turn the outside patio into a unique work of art that would represent the artists, the university, the community and the brewery’s principles.

AMB Director of Retail Operations Danny Wilcox said the brewery was excited to bring the ASU students on board.

“AMB was founded on three main principles: community, sustainability and philanthropy,” Wilcox said. “We are always striving to find ways to bring new meaning to these words.”

With plans for the patio underway, the students hit the ground running. As they developed ideas for various components of the concept, they were required to conduct numerous presentations for their clients at AMB.

“These were visual presentations that included conceptual and finished studies of both individual and collaborative designs based on the needs of the clients,” Ludwig said. “Various proposals were enthusiastically accepted and teams were formed to execute the various components of the project. The result is truly an all-inclusive collaboration between students, AMB and Appalachian State University.”

The multi-faceted patio project includes a large-scale, wrap-around wall mural, a series of linoleum block prints on birch panels, custom-built tables and barrel tops fabricated with circular shadowbox frames for artwork display.

Wilcox said he was impressed with the students and their willingness to take on the challenges that often come with collaborative work.

“Working with many different artists at one time that all have different styles … could have proved to be difficult to accomplish with such a large-scale project. But this didn’t scare away any of the students,” Wilcox said. “Instead, they came at the project full force and presented ideas on how to transform the entire patio at AMB. It has been great seeing everyone work together to accomplish this project.

“I believe it has also given the students a great real world experience by being able to work first-hand with a local business in town. Cheers to Appalachian State University for continuing to find more ways to work with our Boone community.”



The hard work will soon pay off for participating students when their completed patio transformation is revealed on Friday night. Beginning at 5 p.m., AMB will host an unveiling celebration in conjunction with an ASU alumni fundraiser and the kick-off for Boone’s First Friday Art Crawl season. The evening will feature live music with Tony Bailey and a chance to check out the new patio environment.

ASU students participating in the AMB patio project included: Nick Osetek, Halley Sherrill, Rachel VanHoy, Elizabeth Shanahan, Gabriellia Lorezo, Patrick Bidwell, Spenser Williams, Benjamin Osborne, Jesse Lee, Hunter Hill, Rebecca Pitocco and Christin Surber.

Here’s what they had to say about the project:

  • “It’s been great to work with the people over at AMB. Working with real clients has been an experience that I don’t think many people in art school get to have. Going through the iterations of each idea and watching them develop as we communicate has been very interesting and informative for me and has positively influenced the way that I will interact with clients in the future.” — Spenser Williams
  • “When I first signed up for the advanced drawing class, I was expecting exactly that. I don’t think any of us in the class were expecting for this to be our curriculum, but our professor, Scott Ludwig, thought it might be more useful and fun to break the mold and toss us into a real world scenario working with Appalachian Mountain Brewery. The class is also teaching us how to work collaboratively, which can be difficult at times but is an essential tool that we will need once we’re out of school. As for the space, our class split into groups to work on various projects that are intended to renovate the space to match AMB’s ideals, as well as give the space a local, craft and community feel that is so prominent in Boone and the High Country. The group that I’m assisting is building new piping tables, barrel tops and installing a wider wrap-around bar, all built from reclaimed barn wood. Underneath the wrap-around bar we are also installing our original, hand-printed artwork of North Carolina- and brewery-inspired flora and fauna. Not only has it been a great opportunity to get out of the classroom and work on a unique project, but also to gain knowledge, confidence and experience of what it’s like to work with clients in a real world setting.” — Nick Osetek
  • “Working on a collaborative project of this scale has taught me the value in sharing ideas to create the very best outcome. Meshing together so many different styles and approaches was a challenge, and there were multiple stepping-stones to breach before we achieved a final design. Patience, perseverance and optimism were key elements to the success of this collaboration. Also, I can officially say I spent all semester in a bar!” — Rebecca Pitocco
  • “Working to develop the mural at AMB over the course of the semester has been a unique experience. As a junior BFA Studio art student at Appalachian State University, it has been really fulfilling to apply my knowledge of painting and composing images in not only a functioning business, but also a local brewery. I am really proud of what my classmates and I have accomplished: from the development process to execution of the mural design. Our class has worked extremely hard to transform the space with a mural design, barrel tops, tables and a wrap-around that fit the aesthetics of AMB while adding our personal touch as artists. We are looking forward to celebrating its completion this Friday!” — Christin Surber

Ludwig extended appreciation to the staff at AMB, Cheap Joe’s Art Stuff, the ASU art department and many others in the community who made this collaboration possible.

To learn more about the art department at ASU, visit art.appstate.edu.

For more information about AMB, visit the brewery online or check it out on Facebook.


Check out these photos to view the project’s progress from the beginning.

Photos submitted by participating student artists.







tables 1

barrel top




Painting the Mountain

Painting the Tree

Painting Grass