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Jonas Gerard
Photo by PunkToad | Flickr

Asheville Citizens Raise Questions About Jonas Gerard

On Saturday, November 14, a live painting performance by well-known local artist Jonas Gerard was disrupted by a group of protesters. Gerard was participating in the bi-annual River Arts District Studio Stroll in his Riverview Station gallery. A crowd of about 200 was assembled to watch the artist create one of his abstract paintings, a lively performance accompanied by a DJ.

After the completion of the work, Gerard invited the audience forward to view it more closely. At that point about four protesters addressed him with questions regarding his upcoming court date for a sexual battery charge. Gerard is scheduled to appear in Buncombe County court on December 9 to answer to the charge, stemming from an August 22 incident.

The crowd was shocked when one protester first asked him for comment about the upcoming court date, and when Gerard declined to respond, two more protesters stood, one asking “Why do you have such a high turnover rate for female employees?” Another asked, “Approximately, how many women in Asheville have you assaulted?”

Gerard continued to refuse comment. Several individuals who said they were affiliated with the artist came forward and asked the protesters to leave the premises. One woman identified herself as the owner of the building and said she supported Gerard, and attempted to escort those questioning the artist to the door. In turn, a protester asked why she chose to support a predator. After a short exchange, protesters exited the building, after distributing small flyers with the hashtag #shutdownjonasgerard and containing information about the court date that Gerard is facing.

jonas gerard court date

According to a former employee, Ron Ogle, before moving to Asheville from Miami, the painter was previously known as Gerard Jonas Schlouch.

Protesters at Gerard’s event on Saturday vowed to continue to come forward with further information, saying that Gerard is known in the community to have assaulted numerous women.

The artist operates two spaces, on Clingman Avenue and in Riverview Station.

This protest comes on the heels of the closing of popular West Asheville coffeeshop Waking Life, due to a scandal in which owners disgraced themselves with their disrespectful treatment of women and others.

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29 comments

  1. Bob@gmail.com'

    Not surprising. A friend recently worked there and he def wanted more favors than the job required.

  2. allenbrasingtoniii@gmail.com'

    I think it is sad that a few won’t allow the justice system to do its job.

  3. thekingofbacon@yahoo.com'

    Thank you for posting this.

  4. mark@cates.org'

    Given the Asheville-Buncombe League of Women Voters kept a known pedophile on their board, nothing surprise me any more.

  5. saturatedsight@gmail.com'

    Unlike some recent high profile Asheville mysogynists, there is no proof here, only speculation and accusation. Gerard has no record of assault or harassment over decades, and has been an artist with employees since the 70s. As a feminist I find it disturbing that people are willing to go as far as to protest. Unless the protestors actually worked for him it’s all hearsay.

    • joshuaspiceland@yahoo.com'

      oh yes protesting really ruffles my feathers too. everyone just sit down. watch the monkey paint.

    • thkuhner@yahoo.com'

      I have known Jonas for over 30 years.Lets be fair.
      People want a witch hunt without really knowing the truth about something. Things can easily be blown out of proportion for ones selfish motives.Lets be civil in our actions and not try to destroy people unfairly. Who are we to take the law into your own hands anyway? I could present many testimonys of those who know and love this man.

  6. JC2258@COLUMBIA.EDU'

    Well if there is any merit to these accusations (and that’s a big “if”unless and until the victims themselves come forward and Jonas is investigated and charged), it would be the ultimate irony given that Jonas was the featured artist in the 2010 VOICE project, Asheville’s own organization raising awareness against sexual harassment/assault/abuse/violence.

  7. Stevejencks@gmail.com'

    What ever happened to the concept of innocent until proven guilty? So some people are protesting and making accusations, and now everybody is jumping on the bandwagon and convicting the man before the trial. Do protestors carry that much weight? Just because they protest, does that make them right? With that thinking, Planned Parenthood workers should be put in front of a firing squad because the protestors on the sidewalk say they are killing babies.

    Were you there? Did you see it? No??? But you’ve already made up your minds that he’s guilty because someone who interrupts a performance to ask leading and accusatory questions says so. God bless America.

  8. ceramicsong@gmail.com'

    This is for real. I’ve heard several stories from women, including my neighbor who worked for him and was in constant distress and had to quit. He would want her to pose naked, say things about her body, and when confronted laughs and says “that’s just how I am!” Don’t forget there is a imbalanced power dynamic between old male rich boss and young female worker especially in a town where its difficult to find jobs. And she had stories from other co-workers that were worse. When I brought it up with friends a couple already knew about him, he has a reputation. I’ve felt furious! We can’t do this to women any more! I’m glad those women had courage and anger enough to do something and this article posted about it.
    Also legally there are hurtles especially if there’s not solid evidence like a blog about your exploits – I think you have to have 14 other complainants and a solid case for a lawyer to take it on.
    As a former member of the Arts District (18 years and a founder) I am disgusted and angered by Jonas and support the women bringing this into the public eye.

  9. lzbthcampbell296@gmail.com'
    Elizabeth Campbell

    Also,he should be tried for bilking so many unsophisticated buyers out of lots of money for the garbage that he calls art.
    I hope they can get enough against him to make the assault charges stand.

  10. stevejencks@gmail.com'

    Wow! The mob mentality strikes again.

    What ever happened to “innocent until proven guilty”?

    How easily people with no first-hand knowledge jump to conclusions. “Oooh, someone made an accusation. I’d better choose a side!”

    Were you there? Did you see it happen? Did it happen to you?

    No?

    Then what you are doing is attempting to convince people that your opinion is fact, when you really have no idea what you talking about. Fox News does that all the time. Is that really who you want to model your life after?

    I thought Asheville was better than that.

    Personally, I’m leaning toward this being a case of extortion.

  11. gabriellejwhite@gmail.com'

    I have heard from 1 women who have worked for Jonas Gerard that he has has sexually harassed them. She commented he has sexually harrassed all women who have worked for him. I met another woman after the disturbing Waking Life disgraceful behavior hurting women, that he has sexually harrassed her friend that worked for him. I heard from more women that it is known in the community he is a predator, but no one has yet been able to prove a case, because it’s a he said she said game, and NC mandates you need 15 or more employees to create a suit against an individual like him..and guess what his employee number is. 14.His turnover rate for women is around 75% and up, depending on the year. Multiple women have quit because they were inappropriately touched, commented on, and generally made to feel uncomfortable as he is their BOSS and he has control over their jobs, which means their ability to take care of their families, so they literally can’t speak up. I’m disgusted by this case, I hope very much that there is enough women who have to risk so much to come forward to call out an injustice.

  12. Benjaminsreid@gmail.com'

    Wow! Is this what passes for justice in Asheville these days? With no facts regarding his case being presented and no first hand testimonials, this is garbage journalism and garbage activism. Can anyone posting here actually say definitively whether he is guilty or innocent? Let the courts decide or his accusors come forward. As for people bashing his art, it sounds like sour grapes, and I’m guessing it might be part of what is driving you to perpetuate this nonsense.

  13. adventure00@yahoo.com'

    Very, very interesting….thanks for posting this.

    @Steve- calm down bro. No one has hoisted a lynch to a tree…the Buncombe Co judicial system will do its thing. You sound like a person with a guilty conscience.

    Yea, of course people get jumpy about these things. Because we’re SICK OF IT! Practically monthly some dude somewhere gets caught engaging in something wrong or nasty related to women.

    Clinton, Spitzer, Weiner, Sanford, COSBY, Edwards, the US Military and other Govt agencies, dozens more individuals I don’t recall at this minute, Rutledge, Owens — and thousands more not caught who are getting away with it.

    WAKE UP!

  14. ron.ogle@gmail.com'

    When I was employed by Gerard in Miami [ 1987-88] he once saw me when I was out on a date. The next day, in his studio, he mimicked squeezing my date’s breasts and said to me: ” I’d like to f**k your girlfriend.” ”

    • Benjaminsreid@gmail.com'

      Um, what?! Is this supposed to be a primary account of sexual battery? Sexual harassment? Moderator, did you seriously agree to post this? Ogle is obviously a disgruntled employee with an axe to grind. This is looking more and more like defemation and this blog is complicit.

      • ashevilleblog@gmail.com'

        The only time a comment does not get published is if it threatens physical harm, posts identifying information about an individual, or is racist in nature.

  15. ron.ogle@gmail.com'

    Under common law, to constitute defamation, a claim must generally be false and have been made to someone other than the person defamed. What I wrote is not false.

  16. Benjaminsreid@gmail.com'

    I’m waiting for my first comment to be posted. It meets all of your criteria. Why is Ogle quoted in article? If Gerard has changed his name, that is for you to fact check and report. Why is half of Ogle’s latest post gone? If you are going to give the man a platform to rant, let all that he has said be read. By selectively editing his post, you lend him credibility while hurting your own. Your recent good work surrounding Waking Life does not give you a pass in this case. You publish a leading article, credit no author, and apparently tailor comments to achieve some unspecified goal. Are you journalists or aspiring journalists? If Gerard is guilty, you have done nothing to help the cause of his victims. If he is found to be innocent, you have contributed to his public persecution. Your tag line should either read “Asheville Citizens Question Jonas Gerard”or “AshevilleBlog Raises Questions About Jonas Gerard” if you want to be factual. You selectively reported what actually occurred, giving protestors more of a voice than his supporters, thus exposing your bias. I find these issues to be far more interesting then the painter’s guilt or innocence. If he is prosecuted, then let his reputation suffer. While we wait for the verdict, practice impartial reporting, unless you aspire only to be a rag.

    • ashevilleblog@gmail.com'

      You first comment has been posted. I do not edit comments, people who login to leave comments have the ability to edit them or delete as they feel fit. I’m sorry that a recounting of an event that happened has given you such a strong reaction but I am in no way shape or form skewing this – that is your perception. His supporters chose not to comment. The protestors barely gave comment. I’m sorry you disagree with the content as posted but not everyone can be happy all of the time. Such is the nature of the news.

  17. ron.ogle@gmail.com'

    Ogle immediately got some flack from Ben Reid when he mentioned another crime committed by Gerard, so he deleted that part of his comment so as to let this be focusing on incidents relating to the sexual battery charges. Ben Reid insists that this is supposed to be a primary account of sexual battery issues. Ben Reid now finds fault with this deleting. I imagine that if this blog subject was about someone accused of running a stop sign and colliding with a truck, Ben Reid would complain if I mentioned that the accused was driving a stolen car.

  18. Ssheldan@gmail.com'

    I am reading these comments regarding Jonas Gerard on June 13, 2016. I cannot find outcome of His court date for sexual assault. What happened and has has his behavior improved? Have there been any further complaints?

    I was thinking about making a long trip to see his gallery. Now I’m not so sure

    • ashevilleblog@gmail.com'

      The case is still actively being worked in court. No other information is available at this time.

    • Potter4@ptd.net'

      I visited Asheville for the first time several weeks ago. Great city, great art and craft and excellent food. The only thing that puzzled me was the apparent success of this artist.

  19. Nancymason@me.com'

    I just read enough comments to know that I want to comment and will read the others after I finish. I did work for Jonas Gerard ten years ago. I was hired and then he and his girlfriend left for art shows outside the area for six weeks. I loved working with the manager of the gallery at that time and even though I wasn’t a great fan of Gerard’s style, I had confidence in my own skills in marketing and design, having taught these subjects at the college level, and knew I could do the job well. When he returned, the energy was quickly sucked out of the workplace. He was demanding, condescending and plain rude. I don’t know if he is guilty of any crimes but I can say for certain that he is the most misogynistic man I have ever known. I left within a month after he returned, questioning my own work ethics. He is not a good ambassador for the Asheville art community. I’m grateful for this blog for I had not heard about these allegations. I will be interested to see what happens. Few people know him as the people who work for him know him. Today my daughter got a text message from a friend who was to meet with Jonas today to discuss a $27,000 corporate art installation. He wanted to know if she knew of him. She told him about my experience working for him. The friend said, “That’s too bad. Jonas Gerard just lost this client. I’m canceling the appointment and will seek out other local artists who are nicer to their employees.” After 10 years, I feel someone heard the truth today.

  20. emily29715@gmail.com'

    Has this case been heard yet? It’s near the end of 2017. Any news at all?

  21. brownjackson@gmail.com'

    It sounds like almost all of this is hear say along with disgruntled former employees using a real issue (sexual harassment) to promote their own sour behavior and attitudes. If you don’t like working somewhere then quit, it is not the employers job to make you happy with yourself and fulfill your dreams. No outstanding charges, no convictions. Find something real to protest about. The treatment of refugees in the world, the current administration, global warming, healthcare, pay equality for all persons, the environment. Attacking some guy over allegations with no charges is pretty damn lame. Just shows how lazy some folks are when it comes down to real protests movements. People marched and suffered and died for civil rights, against the Vietnam War, gay rights, the Equal Rights Amendment. You protesters are a bunch of lame, lazy, self congratulatory masked half asses that think you are making a difference. If you want to make a difference then find something that truly betters the world and people at large.

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