Updated: Monday, November 25 2013, 08:46 AM ESTThe highest civilian honor the state of North Carolina can bestow is called the North Carolina Award.Our Person of the Week received the honor just yesterday from the governor, and he joins an elite group of people over the years, including Billy Graham, James Taylor, David Brinkley and Maya Angelou.John Cram got the honor for enriching lives in North Carolina with fine arts and public service. But for all he's received, he keeps finding ways to give back.In the New Morning Gallery, and like others owned by John Cram, you'll find works of art from just about every state in the country. The colorful, the creative, and of course the kooky images. He doesn't do much art work himself any more because when he moved to Asheville 42 years ago he got into the business of fine arts.John Cram, Person of the Week, "I think Eleanor Roosevelt who said, "the future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams." And I kept have these dreams."With $500 he opened new morning gallery in Biltmore Village. That was followed by Blue Spiral one on Biltmore Avenue in the 90's, "they've not been easy." Bellagio was next, in the same building as new morning. Then John Cram took an old porno theater on Biltmore Avenue and turned it into a fine arts film venue."It was scarey at times but you had to be brave"And finally, Bellagio Everyday. Five businesses dedicated to fine arts in a community of artists.Sarah Marshall, business associate, "he's a mentor to so many artists in the community. People come to him for advice."Liz Huesemann, friend, "he gives artists a place for their creations and he values them."And like a work of art that's transformed from a vision of what it can be, john cram has transformed old buildings into places to be preserved."Things started deteriorating after I moved here. They knocked down several old theaters downtown on Patton Avenue and I was just crushed, that they would turn these things into parking lots."He's also turned his good fortune to the benefit of others, helping museums and a number of causes."He gives toys every Christmas to the children at Irene Wortham" With the proceeds from art work sold at Blue Spiral One, he's raised $350,000 dollars to conserve land.He's an artists who has enriched the lives of a community that has served as the canvass of his greatest work. Now he joins a list of other North Carolina Award winners that include Billy Graham, James Taylor, David Brinkley and Maya Angelou."When you go to Europe and hear a performance. The performers turn around and applaud the audience. Asheville is the audience for the performance I've laid out. It's a symbiotic relationship. Both of us need each other."John Cram
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