Every gyro tells a story

The 16th Annual Asheville Greek Festival is more than a nod at Asheville’s melting pot — it’s a celebration of the Greek community that, this November, will celebrate 80 years feeling at home in Western North Carolina. “Most of the families who originally settled here are from a place in Greece that’s very similar to […]

Finding the pulse in avant-garde

Painter/assemblagist Allan Kaprow didn’t coin the art term “happening” until 1959 — but, according to some schools of thought, the first “happening” happened at Black Mountain College back in 1952. That year, composer John Cage presented his “Theatre Piece No. 1″ with a little help from his BMC artist friends, among them modern-dance pioneer Merce […]

Turning memories into movements

“This is the transitional season,” announces Deborah Scott with a dab of trepidation. Asheville Playback Theatre is changing its successful format this year, and Scott, the group’s artistic director, admits she isn’t completely sure how the new shows will play out. “Our overriding concern is [still] to honor each person’s experience,” says Scott. The company, […]

Growth vs. grace

“Everyone moved here and destroyed what they moved here for. … We’re loving it to death.” — developer Greg Phillips of Mayfair Partners It’s a Catch-22 of sorts. The Asheville area’s natural beauty is one of the reasons people love it here. So they move to the mountains in droves to be close to said […]

Toward good vibrations

On August 16, 1987, the prophecy of Quetzalcoatl known as the 13 heavens and nine hells was fulfilled. Hell ended and the Harmonic Convergence began the following day. For those who were too busy watching the Mets beat the Cubs, celebrating Madonna’s 29th birthday or catching “Miami Vice” to notice, the Harmonic Convergence was the […]

A face in the crowd

“We all pretty much dance the cosmos — for me, it’s more of an intuitive process.” — Anni Paisley You know the feeling. You’re walking downtown and you see a familiar face — someone you don’t know but recognize because he or she is a local fixture. Downtown Asheville’s streets and shops are buzzing with […]

Big-hearted business

“There’s more to this place than meets the eye,” promises Stephanie Coleman, owner of Issues International News Stand (32 Biltmore Ave.). Walk in the door and you’ll find yourself surrounded by books, CDs, artwork and gutsy stickers. It’s cozy, comfortable and inviting. “People come in here and think it’s pretty, which is great,” concedes Coleman, […]

Their roots are showing

“Part of the reason for the tour is to prove that Celtic rock is a huge genre,” says Keith Roberts, front man for the Young Dubliners. And why must something already huge be proven to be so? It’s all in how you choose to define the sound, according to Roberts. “It’s any blending of rock […]

Man-sized contradict­ions

“By the time Eustace Conway was seven years old, he could throw a knife accurately enough to nail a chipmunk to a tree,” begins The Last American Man, Elizabeth Gilbert’s tour de force about a controversial local citizen. “When he turned seventeen he moved out of his family’s home altogether and headed into the mountains, […]

The intentiona­l tourist

Going green means more than buying organic produce at the Co-op. It’s about minimizing environmental impact, supporting local economies, and keeping an open mind. Green travel, or eco-travel, is becoming an increasingly popular way to see the world — or even just the next town. In fact, the United Nations designated 2002 as the “International […]

Taking mime out of the box

“It’s not been easy to describe our work to people,” admits Silent Partners founder and Artistic Director Hilarie Burke. Maybe that’s because “mime” still brings to mind the old-school brand of that art form — the guy in white face trying to escape the invisible box, or maybe Charlie Chaplin tottering across a grainy screen. […]

The gospel according to Michelle Shocked

“My approach to music has always been about the live experience,” Michelle Shocked asserted in a recent interview. She’s on the road in support of her new release, the gospel-inspired Deep Natural (Mighty Sound, 2002). “I went to church for the singing,” she says, “but stayed for the message.” The gospel, any kind of gospel, […]

The frontiers of form

Ceramic work doesn’t have to be a bowl or a mug to serve a purpose. Consider the landscape-inspired wall treatments of ceramic artist Don Penny, a retired art teacher from Hahira, Ga., who smudges the boundary between the aesthetic and the functional. “Some of my work serves as markers or signs, though I’m not quite […]

Pioneering faith

“We believe ultimately everyone will be ‘saved’ — everyone will come to the same conclusion.” — Hare Krishna teacher Prithu Das Maybe it’s the energy vortex that’s rumored to hover above downtown Asheville’s Flat Iron Building. Maybe it’s the odd intersection of three mountain ranges. Whatever the reason, pilgrims of every stripe are cropping up […]

Grabbing a slice of post-Stevie Nicks pie

“Bohemian enraptured, tribal-styled, hippie-embellished,” reads the current issue of Elle magazine. And no, it’s not an article about Asheville. But it might as well be, because the season’s hottest trends reflect what this mountain town has known all along: Laid-back is where it’s at. “What about those hipster cowgirl skirts and Victorian tops that the […]

From Bojangles to the ball

Miss Piggy, not the average childhood hero, made an admirable attempt at a career as a starlet, actress and ballerina. Luckily, she had the Muppet gig to fall back on. But even though she never danced with Baryshnikov, she paved the way for future puppets to tie on toe shoes and take to the stage. […]

Urban legends

One recent, early-autumn day, I talked a friend into walking the Urban Trail with me. It was Saturday, sunny — a good day to be downtown people-watching while getting a little exercise in the bargain. Of course, I’d been aware of the Urban Trail for many years — its seemingly random, sweetly idiosyncratic sculptures and […]

Stage[d] right

(Lights up on audience. Doc Kelley sits in metal folding chair being used as director’s chair, shuffling papers. Reporter enters stage right, carrying picnic basket, blanket and black notebook.) Anyone who’s ever been to a play at the Hazel Robinson Amphitheater knows the drill: just pack a picnic, grab a blanket and find a place […]

Out on a limb

Sam Edwards is many things: eternal child, up-and-coming pop-culture icon, architectural innovator, writer. That last item, though, is what he wants to be known for. Edwards is the author of From Outhouse to White House to Treehouse (Parris Press, 1999), a memoir that includes his misadventures working for Jimmy Carter’s re-election and John Glenn’s presidential […]

Jovial ghosts

A century ago, the Chautauqua — a sort of high-brow Lollapalooza — was a not-to-be-missed event. These open-air, education-and-entertainment extravaganzas once rolled from town to town throughout the country, setting up tents for as much as a week in any given city (though, even during their heyday, Asheville enjoyed only one such event — and […]

Picture this

Of all days to visit the Asheville Art Museum, I choose field-trip day. Winding my way through a wobbly line of third graders, I head into the museum’s inner depths in search of its current exhibit, Making Pictures: Contemporary American Photography. But by the time I reach the museum’s third floor, the kids’ real-life merriment […]