Around town: A decade at Studio A

THINK PINK: Artist Andrea Kulish Wilhelm celebrates 10 years at her art gallery, Studio A at Pink Dog Creative. Photo by Clay Nations Photography

First-generation Ukranian American Andrea Kulish Wilhelm grew up making art at her mother’s shop in Hudson, N.Y. On Saturday, Sept. 2, the artist and Ukrainian advocate will celebrate the 10th anniversary of her own River Arts District gallery.

From 3-6 p.m., Studio A (the A is for Andrea) at Pink Dog Creative invites the community to celebrate with pink wine, pink lemonade, treats and a 10% discount throughout the day. Pink, says Wilhelm, is her signature color. “Pink adorns my studio walls and logo, and has been my favorite color for years,” she says. “Think hot pink. Borscht! Beets!”

Wilhelm says the successes have outweighed the challenges in her path to becoming a graphic designer and opening her own studio. One of her greatest achievements was raising over $70,000 in humanitarian aid for Ukraine. She specializes in making and teaching how to make Ukrainian pysanky eggs, which she learned from her mother. In 2017, Wilhelm and her pysanky were featured on an episode of HGTV‘s “House Hunters International.”

A visitor to Studio A can find pysanky eggs and supplies as well as T-shirts, stickers, original art prints, notecards and jewelry. Wilhelm is planning to expand her line of pysanky-related goods as well.

Since opening Studio A, Wilhelm has been marketing chair for the RAD for six years and has designed its studio guide since 2019. She says she has seen the district grow into a busy destination for both visitors and locals — with an increase in artists, businesses, apartments and hotels. “My biggest wish is to keep the art in the RAD, hoping the district can stay affordable for working artists,” she says. “I’m very grateful to our locals who support us and bring their visitors to see us. I hope we can keep what makes the RAD great while it continues to grow.”

Studio A at Pink Dog Creative is at 344 Depot St. For more information, visit

Scruggs style

A festival celebrating Cleveland County native Earl Scruggs will take place at Tryon International Equestrian Center in Mill Spring from Friday, Sept. 1-Sunday, Sept. 3.
The second annual Earl Scruggs Music Festival will feature luminaries of Americana, roots and bluegrass music such as Emmylou Harris, Greensky Bluegrass, the Del McCoury Band, The Infamous Stringdusters and more. The event will also include five free workshops organized by journalist and Scruggs biographer Thomas Goldsmith.
Produced by the Earl Scruggs Center, WNCW-FM 88.7 and Isothermal Community College, the festival supports education and community outreach in Scruggs’ home region — while carrying his legacy forward into modern culture.

Scruggs, known for his innovative “Scruggs style” three-finger banjo technique, was a key figure in transforming the course of American music.

“We believe it is imperative to highlight Scruggs’ importance to our region and his contributions to American music,” says Jeff Fissel, director of events and entertainment for the equestrian center. “Hosting fans and welcoming tourists from all over the world to Western North Carolina is a great opportunity for us to showcase our region as a unique place to visit, and to highlight our rich history and heritage.”

Tryon International Equestrian Center is at 25 International Blvd., Mill Spring. For more information, visit

In her bones

Local author Gari Carter grew up listening to family stories about relatives who served in the Civil War, expecting to pass them along to future generations. She shares the story of her great-grandfather in her new book, The Bone Ring: Civil War Journals of Colonel William James Leonard, which is based on writings handed down by Leonard.

Leonard served as colonel in Purnell Legion Infantry in Maryland. When he died in 1901, he left behind a journal and a jewelry box containing a ring engraved with his birth date and the year of his imprisonment during the Civil War. The ring was a birthday present made out of cow bones left over from food served to members of his infantry while they were all prisoners of war at Libby Prison in Richmond, Va. The men engraved the colonel’s birth date into the ring and rubbed it with ashes to make the letters stand out.

Both the ring and journal were passed down through Leonard’s descendants and eventually reached Carter, who had previously published the Civil War journals of another ancestor.

“My new book is from another branch of my family, with a firsthand account of life in a Civil War prison,” says Carter. “For someone with a family member or friend incarcerated, it would give hope. It is inspiring in today’s world to read of someone overcoming a dreadful experience, even in the 1860s compared to now.”

Carter came to Asheville in 1993 on a book tour with her first book, Healing Myself. She says she fell in love with the area and moved to Black Mountain, where she still resides.

For more information, visit

Sylva celebration

The second annual 4M, or Mountain Makers Mushrooms and Music Festival, will take place Saturday, Sept. 2, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., on Main Street in the heart of downtown Sylva.

The free festival, which celebrates mountain culture, art and nature, is hosted by the Jackson Arts Market, JAM Glass Gallery and the Jackson County Arts Council and will feature 11 hours of live music, 45 live art demonstrations and workshops, speakers, performances, food trucks and over 80 local artists. Attendees are also invited to visit the Sparkle Glass show, an exhibit by over 75 glass artists inside the JAM Glass Gallery.

Interactive workshops range from painting to steel forging to “backyard tea” foraging. The music stage at the Jackson Arts Market will host local musicians such as Old Sap, Woolybooger and Alma Russ. On the Courtside Stage, lectures on native plants, local history and legend, and Cherokee storytelling will take place from 10 a.m.-3 p.m.

“The event aims to inspire through education in the arts and nature of the Blue Ridge Mountains,” says Joshua Murch, event organizer. “4M showcases authentic traditional culture of the region — and connects our community and visitors.”

For more information, visit

Calliope contest

Calliope Stage Company is accepting submissions from established and aspiring local writers for its first full-length playwriting contest. First drafts are due Monday, Sept. 25, with the winner being selected in February. The winning script will be produced locally, and the winner will receive $500.

“We’re incredibly excited by the possibilities here,” says Maggie Ashley, producer, in a press release. “Producing a new, full-length show has been a goal of ours for some time now, and we’re ready to make it happen.”

For more information, visit


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 Andy Hall
Andy Hall graduated from The University of North Carolina School of Journalism and Mass Communication. After working at the United States Capitol for ten years, she has returned to her native state to enjoy the mountains — and finally become a writer.

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.