Around Town: Great Pottery Throwdown raises money for arts nonprofit

THROWS OF PASSION: Gabriel Kline, the founding director at the Odyssey ClayWorks, will be among the local potters competing in the Great Pottery Throwdown. Photo courtesy of Kline

Wheel throwing pottery is not usually done blindfolded. A potter also generally has more than three minutes to, say, shape clay into a teapot. And there’s almost never gambling involved in the process.

All that will change during the inaugural Great Pottery Throwdown, when more than a dozen local potters face off in tests of speed, precision and creativity. The competition will be Saturday, Feb. 25, 6-9 p.m., at Odyssey ClayWorks. Admission is free, but donations, raffle ticket sales and auction proceeds will raise money for All Together Art, a new Asheville nonprofit dedicated to providing quality arts education and services to underserved communities.

“Asheville has an incredibly vibrant creative community, but art instruction is beyond the financial means of many people,” says Brandon Daughtry Slocum, the group’s board chair. “We want to make it accessible to them.”

The competition, which was inspired by the long-running British television show of the same name, will feature beer from Hi-Wire Brewing, as well as wine and light refreshments. Raffle tickets will allow audience members to bet on the competing potters and win prizes donated by local artists. There will also be a live auction of pottery, paintings and photography.

Slocum connected with Gabriel Kline, the founding director at Odyssey ClayWorks, when she was taking a class at the studio. All Together Art was born after Slocum discovered funding for Odyssey’s therapeutic pottery program for military veterans had been cut.

“Odyssey is a wonderful environment, an extended family of open and friendly people exploring their creativity,” Slocum says. “We want to introduce people to our organization and encourage them to participate in programs at Odyssey.”

Among All Together Art’s upcoming initiatives are a weekly ceramics course for LGBTQIA+ teens (Sunday, March 26-Sunday, May 21); 10 youth scholarships to Odyssey ClayWorks’ Summer Clay Camps; and a ceramics course for veterans in the fall.

With Odyssey firmly in place as a partner, Slocum hopes to start working with other arts groups as well.

“We have dreams and plans to offer free art classes for the visually impaired, women escaping domestic abuse and elders in long-term care facilities,” she says. “We plan to offer classes in Spanish. And we are launching a campaign to purchase wheelchair-accessible pottery wheels. For us, it’s all about access, inclusion and opportunity.”

Odyssey ClayWorks is at 236 Clingman Ave. Ext. For more information, go to

Peaceful podcast

The Tao Te Ching was written about 2,500 years ago, but Marc Mullinax believes the classic Chinese work remains a necessary resource in the 21st century.

With that in mind, the recently retired Mars Hill University religion professor has launched a podcast, “Power for the Peaceful,” an introduction to one of the fundamental texts of Taoism.

Tao Te Ching bears witness to the Tao, a creative, spontaneous and sometimes mysterious force,” he explains. “By learning to listen for Tao, I hope listeners will find practical wisdom for how they live their days, but also they may realize it is a deep resource for the necessary wisdom work we need for living harmoniously as one species among millions in our world today.”

Episodes of the weekly podcast will be about 30 minutes, Mullinax says. His plan is to address each of the 81 verses of the Tao Te Ching in order. Every episode will have a guest reading quotes about the verse from other sources or authors. “Put Your Roots Down,” a song by Asheville singer Molly Hartwell, is the podcast’s intro song.

Mullinax says the podcast is an extension of his 2021 book Tao Te Ching: Power for the Peaceful, a new translation that includes his own commentary and quotes from other sources about every verse.

“I have not yet found a good podcast on the Tao Te Ching,” he says. “I hope this will be a helpful remedy.”

“Power for the Peaceful” can be found on most podcast apps and at

Facing the music

Asheville, long lauded for its vibrant local music scene, will host a multiday music festival at more than 20 venues Thursday, Aug. 3-Sunday, Aug. 6. AVLFest will be produced by Wicked Weed Brewing and Worthwhile Sounds, which was formed in 2015 by former Grey Eagle owner Jeff Whitworth.

The festival will feature local, regional and national acts at concert halls, clubs and outdoor venues. Performance showcases will take place throughout the four days with wristbands granting pass holders entry to the venues, discounts at local retailers and restaurants, as well as presale access and discounts to separately ticketed AVLFest stand-alone events.

“Our music community is really unique and special … it deserves to have something like this to further put it on the national map,” Liz Whalen Tallent, manager of The Orange Peel, says in a press release.

AVLFest will partner with Asheville nonprofits, including RiverLink, Black Wall Street AVL, Homeward Bound and Campaign for Southern Equality. In addition to raising awareness for their respective missions, a portion of proceeds from ticket sales will go directly to benefit the nonprofits.

A national presale of tickets will be Wednesday, Feb. 22, through Wednesday, March 8. Prices will increase  March 8, and lineup announcements will begin shortly thereafter.

For more information or to get tickets, go to at

Somber anniversary

Local Ukrainian American artist Andrea Kulish has organized a peace rally and candlelight vigil to mark the one-year anniversary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on Saturday, Feb. 25, at Pack Square Park. The peace rally will be 2-6 p.m., to be followed by the vigil from 6-8 p.m.

“Continued support for Ukraine is important, not only for preventing further genocide, but also to deter [Russian President VladimirPutin from future territorial aggression in Europe,” says Kulish, whose parents were born in Ukraine. “The year ahead is decisive. The fate of not only the Ukrainian people but also the entire civilized world depends on us. The greater our unity, the faster Ukraine’s victory will come.”

Over the past year, Kulish says, she has helped raise more than $62,000 for the Ukrainian National Women’s League of America’s humanitarian aid fund through donations of the pysanky eggs she creates in her Studio A at Pink Dog Creative Collective in the River Arts District and other fundraisers, including an April benefit concert.

“Ukrainian pysanky artists and local artists have donated their work to me, and I give these artworks as a gift when someone donates,” she explains. “I had been creating all the pysanky myself but couldn’t keep up with the demand [so] I reached out, and the community has been so generous with their pysanky and monetary donations.”

To donate to the UNWLA relief fund, go to

Phoning it in

UNC Asheville English professor Lori Horvitz has released a collection of memoir essays, Collect Call to My Mother: Essays on Love, Grief, and Getting a Good Night’s Sleep. The book, published last month by New Meridian Arts, follows Horvitz’s experiences as a queer Jewish New Yorker living in the South, looking for love in the internet age.

“When she teaches a class of queer college students who look to her as a role model, what they don’t know is that she spent her 20s and 30s in the closet and leapt from one relationship disaster to the next,” reads a press release announcing the publication. “In these essays exploring themes of love, family and grief, Horvitz gradually embraces who she is and finds a healthy, long-term relationship.”

Horvitz’s first collection, The Girls of Usually, won the 2016 Gold Medal IPPY Book Award in Autobiography/Memoir.

For more information or to buy the book, go to

Poetry in motion

The annual N.C. State Poetry Contest is accepting submissions through Wednesday, March 1. The free literary competition is open to all North Carolina residents, including out-of-state and international students who are enrolled in North Carolina universities.

This year’s guest judge is award-winning poet Khalisa Rae and features The Dorianne Laux Prize for Poetry of $500.

All entries should be postmarked by Wednesday, March 1, and submitted to N.C. State Poetry Contest, Department of English, N.C. State University, Campus Box 8105, Raleigh, NC 27695-8105.

For contest rules and more information, go to


Thanks for reading through to the end…

We share your inclination to get the whole story. For the past 25 years, Xpress has been committed to in-depth, balanced reporting about the greater Asheville area. We want everyone to have access to our stories. That’s a big part of why we've never charged for the paper or put up a paywall.

We’re pretty sure that you know journalism faces big challenges these days. Advertising no longer pays the whole cost. Media outlets around the country are asking their readers to chip in. Xpress needs help, too. We hope you’ll consider signing up to be a member of Xpress. For as little as $5 a month — the cost of a craft beer or kombucha — you can help keep local journalism strong. It only takes a moment.

About Justin McGuire
Justin McGuire is a UNC Chapel Hill graduate with more than 30 years of experience as a writer and editor. His work has appeared in The Sporting News, the (Rock Hill, SC) Herald and various other publications. Follow me @jmcguireMLB

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.