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.
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.