Art collector in Biltmore Park

Cassie Dillon has a penchant for collecting art, having turned her Biltmore Park home into an eye-catching backdrop.

A retiree who has traveled extensively, over the years she has amassed an extensive collection of paintings, photographs and other works from near and far, carefully arranging them on pastel-coloured walls.

“I kind of ran out of wall space,” she said with a smile.

Although it may not look like it from the outside, her two-story home, nestled in a housing estate just outside the town square, flows like an art gallery – an intimate home but tidy, that is, with carpeting and hardwood floors, wooden furniture, and a few wine cellars.

On a recent visit, Dillon, dressed in blue jeans, a green sweater and a headscarf, played docent, speaking at length from many rooms in her 2,400-square-foot living quarters. She described their styles, what they might represent, and how she came to own them.

Although she has collected works from around the world, from the Middle East to Central America to Ohio, many are by local artists, including Asheville.

On the first floor, in a hallway just beyond the lobby, a striking multimedia piece hangs at eye level, depicting a frightened Middle Eastern boy amid a mishmash of paint and other materials that look like to a scene of destruction.

“It’s striking,” Dillon said of the piece “Lost Childhood,” which was done by Asheville artist Sahar Fakhoury. “But it’s destabilizing.”

In the kitchen, amid wooden floors and pale yellow walls, four portraits of women hang above a sofa in a sitting area, facing a painting by an artist with intellectual disabilities.

The charcoal and oil portraits, a series called “Age of Innocence”, were done by fellow local artist, Marie Hudson, a long-time figure in the art scene here. Another of her portraits hangs in a neutral-toned guest bedroom on the second floor, that of a seated red-haired woman in an elegant evening dress.

At the far end of the kitchen, sitting on a small island with a granite countertop, are a pair of chairs handmade from wooden dowels that Dillon bought from the Grovewood Gallery. At the top of the island are ceramic salt and pepper shakers and a butter dish made by a Black Mountain potter.

In the dimly lit living room, beyond a door adorned with a rusty copper bell that Dillon bought from a northern California antique store and is believed to have come from a ship, are pale pink walls and a gas fireplace. Atop a wooden table are porcelain figurines wrapped in scarves and capes. The playful display, also by an artist from Asheville, is next to a repainted photograph of the underside of a pier on the South Carolina coast.

As for where Dillon sleeps, his bedroom is serene, with matching colors and a dreamlike painting of a tall, skinny house and a tree. On another wall is a colorful abstract painting of what looks like a face, with a Mardi Gras-esque twist.

“It’s very happy,” she said.

Dillon, who has two adult children, has accumulated much of her work since she bought her home about 16 years ago. She has spent nearly two decades working in the field of business management software.

She had a say in designing the floor plan of the house, removing a passageway in the kitchen and a window in the living room to make way for her art.

Although her home has remained virtually unchanged since then – the only major renovation has been to the first-floor bathroom, next to her bedroom, where she recently completed the installation of a glass-enclosed walk-in shower with a tiled floor – it became a kind of canvas.

One, of course, which is given to alteration.

“When I’m fed up, I just rearrange,” Dillon said of his works.

NUTS AND BOLTS

The House: An art-filled home in a Biltmore Park subdivision of approximately 2,400 square feet, with four bedrooms and 2 1/2 bathrooms.

The owner : Cassie Dillon, a retiree who has turned her home into something of an art gallery since buying it in the early 2000s.

Wow Factor: Dillon’s extensive collection of paintings, photographs and other works from near and far adorn the pastel colored walls.

NOMINATE A HOUSE

To nominate your home or a friend’s home for this feature, contact Bruce Steele at [email protected] Include your phone number and a phone number for the owner, if that’s not you.

PROUD OF YOUR GARDEN?

The Citizen-Times begins lining up home features of the week for spring and summer. If you are growing a garden or landscaping your property and would like to share your home, inside and out, with Citizen-Times readers, send a description of your home and property and a contact phone number to Bruce Steele at [email protected]

Norma D. Ross