Around town: Asheville Art in Action benefits nonprofits and creators, local actors land major TV roles and more arts news

PRODUCTIVE PATHWAYS: "Last of Light" by Phillip DeAngelo is one of the works by local artists featured in the Asheville Art in Action initiative. The platform seeks equal compensation for local artists and nonprofits — including April's partner, Pisgah Legal Services. Image courtesy of Asheville Art in Action

Civic-minded artists have long partnered with nonprofits to create works that are auctioned off to benefit the charitable organization. But current approaches often offer creations at prices far below their worth, raising minimal funds for the nonprofits at the cost of hardship to contributing artists.

“Artists spend their entire careers building the value of their work,” says Leslie Rowland, owner of Asheville-based L Rowland Fine Contemporary Art. “Having a work publicly sold at a greatly discounted rate devalues the work and is not beneficial to an artist’s career. Artists get repeated and frequent requests for work and, more often than not, the work is not treated with the respect it deserves.”

In an effort to reverse this troubling trend, Rowland has partnered with Mark Bettis Studio & Gallery on “Asheville Art in Action,” a plan that seeks to reward both sides equally. The collaboration began in December with the Center for Participatory Change as the beneficiary, followed by Asheville Strong’s Feed Our City initiative in February. April’s pairing is with Pisgah Legal Services, continuing the pattern of picking grassroots groups that are doing what Rowland calls “timely and much-needed work in this community.”

While each new partnership has raised more money than the last, the time and energy commitment for Rowland and Bettis on top of running their own galleries, full-time painting and managing additional businesses has prompted the founders to shift from a monthly to a quarterly approach. Fortunately, the creators who’ve agreed to work with them have been flexible in allowing the founders to see their vision through in a sustainable manner.

“We handpicked a group of artists not only for the outstanding quality of their work but for their willingness to allow us to work through the process, learn and make changes as we fine-tune the framework,” Rowland says. “Success goes so far beyond monetary gain. Setting an example for a more sustainable benefit structure for other nonprofits, getting the names and mission of nonprofits into the public eye and empowering artists to see the value of their work are some of the markers of success.”

To learn more about this month’s benefit, visit

By George!

Haywood Arts Regional Theatre in Waynesville eases back into normalcy with the one-man show Say Goodnight, Gracie, starring Pasquale LaCorte as legendary comic George Burns. The show opened April 8 and continues nightly from Thursday, April 15, to Saturday, April 17, at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, April 18, at 2 p.m. The production is being staged at HART’s home Fangmeyer Theater, which has a flat floor that makes it possible for patrons to attend in pods spaced 6 feet apart. Attendees are asked to wear masks unless they are eating or drinking items from the concession area, and distancing will be practiced throughout the facility. All seats are $20 and can be reserved by calling the HART Box office at 456-6322. For more information, visit

Riverside variety hour(s)

With temperatures growing consistently warmer, The Magnetic Theatre is bringing back its “Magnetic In The (Smoky) Park” outdoor variety show every Tuesday night through Oct. 26, at Smoky Park Supper Club. The series’ inaugural fall 2020 run included music, dance, comedy, storytelling, magic, fire-breathing and mime, and organizers say this year’s lineup will be “just as diverse and delightful.” Food and drink service will be available, though attendees are asked to bring their own chair(s). “Doors” open at 6 p.m., and the show begins at 7 p.m. Mask and social distancing protocols will be enforced, and there will be temperature checks at the gate. Tickets are $18 with discounts available for members of The Magnetic Theatre. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit

Stamps of approval

Terry Taylor’s latest collection, Postal Artifacts, is currently on display at Upstairs Artspace in Tryon. The Canton-based creator’s art involves taking vintage postcards of scenes in Western North Carolina and the Great Smoky Mountains, then transforming them into “quilts” by stitching them together on an antique sewing machine. The traditional quilt patterns frequently include pieces of handwritten messages and canceled stamps from each postcard’s opposite side. The show, Taylor’s first at Upstairs Artspace, opened March 27 and will be on display through Friday, May 7. Free to attend. For hours and other information, visit

Star power

Viewers who’ve been watching recent popular television shows may have recognized a pair of Asheville-based actors. Willie Repoley stars in the third season of National Geographic’s “Genius” series, which this time centers on Aretha Franklin, played by Cynthia Erivo (Harriet). Repoley has a recurring role playing noted Atlantic Records engineer and producer Tom Dowd. And over on Disney+, Repoley’s Frost/Nixon co-star Michael MacCauley makes a brief appearance in the third episode of “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier” as a prison warden. MacCauley can also be seen playing former NASA administrator James Webb in episodes six and eight of “The Right Stuff” on Apple TV+.


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About Edwin Arnaudin
Edwin Arnaudin is a staff writer for Mountain Xpress. He also reviews films for and is a member of the Southeastern Film Critics Association (SEFCA) and North Carolina Film Critics Association (NCFCA). Follow me @EdwinArnaudin

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