The final installation of Art in the Heart, Letters to My Children, will be on display in the median of Pack Square Park through Monday, Nov. 27.
The project, part of the Pack Square Plaza Visioning and Improvements Project, helped city planners explore ways to make the plaza more reflective of Asheville’s diverse community and history. The final report and recommendations were adopted by Asheville City Council on Sept. 6.
Letters to My Children features two 5-by-7-foot digital prints by artist and teacher Lara Nguyen, who was diagnosed with stage 4 uterine leiomyosarcoma in July 2018. Nguyen couldn’t sleep due to worrying about dying before her children, Atticus and Moon, were grown. She wrote letters to them, recording memories and their favorite recipes, and then decided to share her journey, hoping to help others cope, grieve and heal. She died earlier this year.
“I love that this project brings a difficult and very personal experience to a public, often politicized space,” says Karli Stephenson, urban designer with the City of Asheville. “I think this project breaks through … divisive thinking. … Standing in a very public plaza, reading Lara’s words overlaid on images of her beautiful children, and knowing that she is no longer physically here to speak these words to her children — it’s hard not to feel something.”
A chalkboard podium inviting community engagement will remain on display through Wednesday, Nov. 15.
Pack Square Park is at 1 Court Plaza. For more information, visit avl.mx/c6g.
Allen School receives historical marker
The Allen School, one of the first institutions that provided educational opportunities for Black women and other underserved populations, was dedicated with a historical marker on Oct. 21.
Established in 1887, the school was originally at 27 College Place, now the site of the Explore Asheville Convention and Visitors Bureau. Founded by Methodist missionaries L.M. and Ann Pinney Pease, it offered educational programs for both whites and African Americans in the area. It closed in 1974 as enrollment declined.
Among the graduates of the Allen School are musician Nina Simone and NASA’s “human computer” Christine Darden.
The marker is at 205 College St. For more information, visit avl.mx/d4t.
Exhibit highlights Black life during Jim Crow era
This month, three Asheville Parks & Recreation community centers are hosting Navigating Jim Crow: The Green Book and Oasis Spaces in North Carolina. The traveling exhibit features personal memories and information about Black travelers’ use of The Negro Motorist Green Book in North Carolina during the Jim Crow era of legal segregation.
The exhibit consists of eight panels showcasing historic and modern-day images of business owners, travelers and sites, as well as statements gathered from oral histories.
The Negro Motorist Green Book, published from 1936-66, was a guide to safe spaces for Black travelers. In North Carolina, 13 of the 327 businesses listed were in Buncombe County.
“Locally, businesses like the Savoy Hotel on Eagle Street, James Keys Hotel on Southside, Phyllis Wheatley YWCA and other Asheville establishments played an imperative role in creating safe spaces for locals and tourists,” says D. Tyrell McGirt, director of Asheville Parks & Recreation, in a press release. “Many elders have firsthand accounts of visiting these businesses and even using Green Books for travel. This is an opportunity for learning, critical thinking and discussion for them, as well as younger generations — and for people who’ve never known the vital importance of such a tool.”
Designed by the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, the exhibit was developed by the N.C. African American Heritage Commission and its Oasis Spaces Project, with funding provided by a 2017 grant award from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
The free, self-guided exhibit will be at the Grove Street Community Center at 36 Grove St. through Thursday, Nov. 9, 9:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. From Monday, Nov. 13-Friday, Nov. 17, 9:30 a.m.-8:30 p.m., the exhibit will be at the Dr. Wesley Grant Sr. Southside Community Center at 285 Livingston St. From Monday, Nov. 20-Wednesday, Nov. 22, 9:30 a.m.-8 p.m., the exhibit will be at the Linwood Crump Shiloh Community Center at 121 Shiloh Road.
For more information, visit avl.mx/d4u.
Voices of Peace
The choirs of Congregation Beth HaTephila and St. Mark’s Lutheran Church will hold an interfaith concert celebrating diverse musical traditions on Sunday, Nov. 12, 4 p.m.
Voices of Peace, held at St. Mark’s Lutheran Church, will feature songs of prayer and praise as well as new and old psalms. Vance Reese, associate professor of music at Brevard College, will play an organ piece composed by Elsa Barraine, a French Jew who fought with the Resistance during World War II.
The event will raise funds for the Jewish Federations of North America and Lutheran Services Carolinas.
St. Mark’s Lutheran Church is at 10 N. Liberty St. For more information, visit avl.mx/d4s.
A concert for healing
Womansong, Asheville’s longest-running and largest women’s community chorus, will mark its 36th anniversary with a fall concert series on Friday, Nov. 10, at 7 p.m., and Saturday, Nov. 11., at 3 p.m., at Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Asheville.
Titled “Healing Hearts,” the show features music ranging from choral anthems to contemporary pop songs that encourage self-care. The celebration will also recognize the healing powers of community.
The 75-member chorus, founded in 1987 by composer, music teacher and poet Linda Metzner, is composed of women of various ages, musical abilities and backgrounds.
Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Asheville is at 1 Edwin Place. For more information, visit avl.mx/d4r.
Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall comes to WNC
The Veterans Healing Farm in Hendersonville will host the Vietnam Traveling Memorial Wall beginning at 5 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 9. The wall, which is a 3/5 scale of the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, will be open for visitors around the clock until Sunday, Nov. 12, at 2 p.m.
Events will include readings from Brothers and Sisters Like These, a Vietnam veterans’ writing group, presentations from the Quilts of Valor Foundation and an art exhibition from Bullets & Bandaids featuring over 20 Vietnam veterans.
The Veterans Healing Farm is at 38 Yale Road, Hendersonville. For more information, visit avl.mx/d4q.
Second annual author fair in Black Mountain
Over 20 regional authors and illustrators will participate in the second annual Write Local, Read Local Author Fair at the Black Mountain Library on Saturday, Nov. 11, 9 a.m.-noon.
A new feature this year will be a reading series held in the library’s computer room. Jacqui Castle, founder and operator of Lit Local Books, will moderate the series, which will include illustrator Frank Remkiewicz and poet Clint Bowman.
“Write Local, Read Local is a wonderful way to meet and support local writers in our area,” says Bowman. “As our literary community continues to grow, we look forward to expanding this event in the years to come.”
Authors are encouraged to reach out to the library to be considered for next year’s event. Attendees are encouraged to bring cash.
The Black Mountain Library is at 105 N. Dougherty St., Black Mountain. For more information, visit avl.mx/d4p.
Folkmoot USA hosts holiday market
Folkmoot USA will host its first holiday bazaar Friday, Nov. 17, 3-9 p.m., in the field next to the Folkmoot Friendship Center in Waynesville. Inspired by European holiday markets, the event will feature a variety of local crafts and vendors, as well as food and beverage trucks.
Live music will be performed throughout the event, beginning with Celtic Road at 3 p.m., followed by country and rock musician Jerry Gaff at 4 p.m., bluegrass and Americana duo Asheville Junction at 5 p.m., and Americana artist Virginia Drake at 7 p.m.
Folkmoot USA, a nonprofit organization dedicated to celebrating cultures through arts and education, plans to hold the event annually.
The Folkmoot Friendship Center is at 112 Virginia Ave., Waynesville. For more information, visit avl.mx/cp9.
– Andy Hall, with additional reporting from Murryn Payne