Steampunk Carnival Brings Music, Artwork & Brass Glasses To Asheville – The Blue Banner

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by Maeve Callahan – mecallah@unca.edu – Editor-in-chief

Photos by Ricky Emmons – Photography Editor

Free alcoholic drinks, live music and original artwork drew people to the downtown ZaPow Art Gallery on Saturday night for the opening reception of the Steampunk Carnival Art Show.

“Steampunk is a fusion of future technology with Victorian design,” said Asheville resident Iman Payne. “You see everything from corsets to old school glasses, but with an iPhone.”

Steampunk began as a fantasy literary subgenre celebrating the social and technological aspects of the 19th century. The name steampunk refers to a post-apocalyptic world where 19th-century steam engines are used extensively, according to steampunk.com, a news, costume and culture website for enthusiasts.

Steampunk fans have come to marry the fantasy world with reality by turning steampunk into everyday items such as computers, phones, and jewelry. An object becomes steampunk by decorating it with brass or copper and enhancing it with engravings or engravings, according to steampunk.com.

A steampunk dresses in Victorian fashion like corsets, top hats and trench coats. Asheville resident Mandy Shupe described the fashion as dark gothic.

“It started out as a hobby, but has grown into a lifestyle,” said Ashley Leckwold, assistant to The Extraordinary Contraptions. “My house is not steampunk with accessories, but I will definitely put on my jewelry before going out every day.”

ZaPow, which claims to be the Southeast’s only popular culture art gallery, has dedicated the first two walls of its 3,000-square-foot space to original steampunk-inspired artwork. ZaPow member artists, who pay a monthly fee for wall space to display their work, chose the steampunk theme for the show. Owner Lauren Johnson said each of the artists contributed a few original pieces inspired by the steampunk world.

Joshua Marc Levy created two works of art for the show. A flashlight photograph captures the image of his wife wearing the steampunk goggles he purchased on Etsy shortly after finding out about the show’s theme.

“There are different levels of steampunk. You have the die-hard steampunkers in full Victorian attire, speaking with accents, and playing a role. And then there’s the street-level steampunk, which is more punk with ripped clothes and gadgets, ”Levy said.

Images of top hats, metal fairy wings and 19th-century bicycles filled both walls of the gallery.

Steampunk elephants rode bicycles and steampunk puppies wore the old school glasses that Payne and Levy mentioned as being at the heart of steampunk fashion.

At the back of ZaPow, the French Broad Brewing Company poured free beer into red plastic cups while The Extraordinary Contraptions performed. The Atlanta-based quartet fits Levy’s description of die-hard steampunkers.

Dressed in corsets, wigs and velvet pants, the band performed their steampunk rock music with a theatrical twist.

Outside the gallery, Johnson was tending to the permanent line of customers waiting to purchase various works of art.

“It’s a good idea if they made the clothes, but instead they end up spending a lot of money,” Payne said.


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