WNC LEGACY: FINE ART &CRAFT- On a Personal Note: John Cram
By Jim Murphy in The Laurel of Asheville 2016
In the early 1970s, John Cram visited Asheville and says, “I fell in love with the place.” He moved here and found that Asheville was sitting squarely between the mountains and the doldrums. Beyond the town’s natural attractions, there was not a lot to love. And there was not a lot of demand for a 25-year-old holding a communications degree with a concentration in film. (John calls it “a bachelor’s degree in nothing.”) But just beneath that liberal arts background lurked the soul of an entrepreneur.
“I wanted to open a gallery. I knew I wanted to do it.” But what made him think back then there was a market? “Oh I didn’t think that. I just wanted to do one. And boy, was it a struggle.” He opened New Morning Gallery in Biltmore Village, and it was doing well enough by 1978 that he was able to borrow the money to buy a much bigger space across the street. It turned out to be just one of several major purchases that have worked out well for John—and very well for Asheville.
He claims he had no clairvoyant vision of a thriving downtown Asheville that was still at least a decade away. One early experience, however, gave him hope. “I noticed the people coming into my gallery, some of them were country people, and they bought handmade objects. They appreciated the objects because they, too, had a history of making things. They got it. They had a connection to it.”
As Asheville began its artistic and economic rebirth, John was instrumental in both aspects of the turnaround. He joined the Tourism Development Board, where he promoted the idea of tourism as a “product” eligible for state reimbursement of a one percent sales tax. CLICK HERE TO CONTINUE
Photo Credit: Jean Cassidy