Around Town: Asheville artist opens studio space at Roots + Wings Creative Campus

A PLACE TO CREATE: Opening a new studio and workshop space at her Roots + Wings Creative Campus will allow Ginger Huebner to host Create + Connect workshops. Photos courtesy of Huebner

For Asheville artist Ginger Huebner, opening a new studio and workshop space at her Roots + Wings Creative Campus has been a dream come true — literally.

“I had a dream that my studio was in one of the classrooms,” she says. “It was so strange, but it kept coming back to me. I shared it with a few folks, and they all said, ‘Why not?’”

Huebner will celebrate the new space, Ginger Huebner Art, with an open studio Wednesday, June 22, 5-7 p.m., at Roots + Wings School of Art and Design, 573 Fairview Road.

Roots + Wings  offers preschool and after-school programming, semester classes and summer camps. Originally housed at The Cathedral of All Souls, the school began with programming for children ages 3-6 but now serves anyone 3 and older.

The new studio will allow Huebner to display her original artwork and host Create + Connect workshops and circles. In the past, she has had to borrow classrooms or share space with one of the school’s preschool classes or summer camps.

Under the Create + Connect process,  she facilitates workshops, weekly circles and keynote talks with individuals, families, schools, business teams, community organizations, nonprofits, college classes and more.

Huebner gave a TEDx Asheville talk in February on the topic of visual art as a means of communication. Being chosen by the event’s organizers, she says, helped her embrace the value of her own studio art and Create + Connect work.

“I realized I need to create a space that is more public, more visible,” she says. “I need to allow myself and this work to be seen.”

For more information, go to avl.mx/boe

And then there were three

In the 25 years Stephanie Hickling Beckman has lived in Asheville, she has seen only eight locally produced shows that were written by Black playwrights. That number reflects a reality seen throughout the national theater scene.

“We still have a long way to go toward solving for more equity and visibility for BIPOC theater artists, particularly playwrights,” says Hickling Beckman, founder and managing artistic director of Different Strokes! Performing Arts Collective.

With that in mind, Different Strokes has teamed with the Asheville-based American Myth Center for A Different Myth, a program designed to foster emerging Black playwrights in the development and production of new plays.

The inaugural cohort for the program, selected by Hickling Beckman and AMC’s Aaron Snook, includes three playwrights:

  • Melvin AC Howell, an internationally cultured choreographer and creative director who lives in Asheville.
  • Mildred Inez Lewis of Los Angeles, who writes and directs for theater, film and the digital space.
  • Lisa Langford, a Buffalo, N.Y.-based playwright based in Cleveland. Her play Rastus and Hattie received a Joyce Award and The Kilroys’ List honorable mention.

“We culled [the initial list of applicants] down to less than 10 applicants and invited them to a conversation with us about the program and about their pitch,” says Snook, who is also a playwright. “We especially wanted to hear how their work focused on the idea of Black joy, which is central to the mission of A Different Myth.”

A Different Myth will offer the playwrights a chance to develop their work with experienced mentors, directors, actors and, eventually, an audience. When the play is finished, the playwright will receive a $1,000 commission for their work, and it will move on to production with Different Strokes! Performing Arts Collective.

For more information, go to avl.mx/bog.

Goddess only knows

For most of Rachael Roberts Bliss’ adult life, she was busy supporting her family. The Asheville woman wrote a nonfiction book in 1996 but otherwise put her dreams of being a writer on hold.

“Now all my children are on their own, and I have time to take a chance on writing fiction and perhaps getting out the message of the importance of women becoming leaders and guides,” says Bliss, a 76-year-old grandmother. “Directing the business of how the world should be run has been left up to too many men through history. It’s now time to let women do what they do best.”

Bliss’ novel, The Goddess of the Promised Land: Genesis, was recently published by Jan-Carol Publishing Inc. of Johnson City, Tenn. The first of a planned four-part series, the book tells the story of the Spirit Goddess as a newborn who is found at her family’s old plantation pasture and her anarchist adoptive mother.

Subsequent books, including Lamentations and Revelation, will follow the story of the goddess and her message to the world.

“I’m a liberal Christian who’s often thought that when Jesus was incarnated as a human that humankind didn’t really take his message to heart and our patriarchal system was instrumental in misinterpreting his message,” she says. “Thus the Holy Ghost, who many early Christians saw as the feminine face of God, gets her chance to bring the divine feminine way of guiding the world to us.”

For more information or to buy the book, visit avl.mx/bod

Welcome, weary travelers

The city of Hendersonville recently unveiled a historical marker at 710 First Ave. W. to recognize the Landina Guest House that welcomed African American travelers during the Jim Crow era.

In 1960-61, the house was listed in The Negro Motorist Green Book, an annual guidebook for Black travelers immortalized in the Oscar-winning 2018 movie Green Book. The guide was published by New York City mailman Victor Hugo Green 1936-66.

The Landina Guest House was described in The Negro Motorist Green Book as a place where one could “rent a room with a private bath with meals to satisfy.” The guest house, located behind the main residence, was operated by Hollis and Ozzie Landrum.

Hendersonville’s City Council, Diversity and Inclusion Committee and Historic Preservation Commission approved the installation of the marker.

“The Diversity and Inclusion Committee are aware that there are a limited number of historical markers recognizing important African American historical sites in Hendersonville,” City Manager John Connet wrote in a letter to council. “Therefore, they believe installation of this historical marker is a positive step in recognizing the contributions of African Americans in our community.”

For more information, visit avl.mx/bot.

Smashing success

Do you want to dismantle systems of oppression, at least symbolically? Here’s your chance.

The Odditorium will host Smash the Cistem Saturday, June 25, 3-7 p.m. The idea behind the Pride event is simple: For $1, you can use a sledgehammer to take a swing at a junkyard-bound car. You can buy as many swings as you want or pay $10 to swing away for a minute.

Music will be provided by DJ Malintzin, and The Odditorium will have food and drinks for sale. A drag and burlesque show will follow the smashing event.

All proceeds will go to Tranzmission, an advocacy group for  nonbinary, transgender and gender nonconforming people in Western North Carolina.

To purchase ticket in advance or for more information, go to avl.mx/boj.

Helping Ukraine

Members of the Hendersonville music community will hold Concert for Ukraine Saturday, June 25, 7-9:30 p.m., at Trinity Presbyterian Church.

The benefit will feature guest speakers, along with performances by Aaron Burdett, Mare Carmody and Ellen Trnka, Tom Fisch, Jeff Michels Folkadelic Jam and special Ukrainian guest performer Yulia (Julia) Kashirets.

All proceeds from the concert will go to the International Rescue Committee, which is aiding Ukrainian refugees in Poland as well as the volunteer group Razom, which is working to get medical kits to people in need in Ukraine.

Trinity Presbyterian Church is at 900 Blythe St., Hendersonville. Tickets are $25 and can be purchased at avl.mx/boi.

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