Around Town: Asheville artists bring signs of hope to former Vance Monument site

NEW PERSPECTIVE: Casey Vandergrift was among several Asheville artists who created murals to display at the base of the former Vance Monument to encourage love, unity, hope and community. Photo by Vandergrift

The former Vance Monument has long been a source of conflict among area residents. Prior to being dismantled last year, many in the community viewed it as a symbol of hate, due to the racist views promulgated by Zebulon Vancethe Buncombe County native, former governor and white supremacist whom the obelisk honored.

With ongoing litigation over the ultimate fate of the Vance Monument, the column’s granite base remains intact at Pack Square. In response, a group of Asheville artists recently reimagined the space, hanging a series of murals around it with positive messages such as “2022 Our Dreams Come True.”

The display, however, did not last long. Just as the artists finished screwing in the final mural on Jan. 7, an Asheville city employee approached and informed them that they would have to take the pieces down due to the continuing legal dispute.

But according to participating artist Casey Vandergrift, she and her fellow creatives Dave and Amanda Anderson, Ernesto Borges and Tyler Ladd are in talks with the city about getting the murals back up as part of a public art program.

Though no decision has been made by officials, Vandergrift remains hopeful. “The controversy of this display in the middle of downtown made it a perfect place to display artwork that encourages love, unity, hope and community,” she says.

Welcome to ARTSVILLE

ARTSVILLE Collective, a joint partnership of Sand Hill Artists Collective and Crewest Studios/LA, is now open to the public at Marquee in the River Arts District.

The gallery, Booth D-11 at Marquee, features pop animation from artist Daryl Slaton and mixed media from Louise Glickman. It will also welcome three carefully curated guest artists each quarter, Glickman says.

ARTSVILLE will host small gatherings and discussions on art, architecture and film, and sponsor a podcast series featuring interviews with artists in the River Arts District.

“Bringing ARTSVILLE Collective to Marquee is very exciting, allowing us to have both gallery and meeting space in one safe and lively venue,” Glickman says. “Anyone coming here in the next few months can view all kinds of art and craft in a warm, inviting space.”

Among Slaton’s work at the gallery will be images of his newest character, Gallagher, a tiger cub inspired by 1930s cartoons and 1950s comic books. “In many ways, Gallagher is an extension of the artist, a caring and trusting character, pure of heart but also a risk-taker,” Glickman says.

Marquee is at 36 Foundy St. Gallery hours are Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., and Sunday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. For more information, go to

Looking for a sign

The Swannanoa Valley Museum & History Center will offer the workshop Planting by the Signs in Appalachia on Saturday, Jan. 29, 1-3 p.m. The Zoom event is one of three winter workshops held by the museum.

The session will examine the history of planting crops by the astrological signs in Appalachia. It will look at how the practice migrated to and fully blossomed in the region, and how people can employ the ancient gardening technique themselves.

“Though antiquated, this interesting historical practice held sway, and still does, throughout the mountain South,” the museum says in a press release.

The workshop will be taught by Rebecca Beyer, who writes about and researches Appalachian folk magic, traditional witchcraft, primitive skills, homesteading, foraging and more.

Tickets are $10-$15. Participants will receive an informative PDF from the instructor. To register, go to

Spring forward

The Asheville Gallery of Art’s February show, Time for Renewal, will run Tuesday, Feb. 1-Monday, Feb. 28, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. daily. The show will feature works by three new gallery members: Kathy Goodson, Margie Kluska and Johnnie Stanfield. An event to meet the artists will be held at the gallery on Friday, Feb. 4, 5-8 p.m.

“This show represents a seasonal reset,” the gallery says in a press release. “What is to come will be better. We have had our time to pause, and now it is time to refresh. For the earth, this is spring, a time for new growth. In February, the light begins to change, and shadows shift. Underlying it all is the promise of our renewal.”

The Asheville Gallery of Art is at 82 Patton Ave. For more information, go to

Barn raising

The Appalachian Barn Alliance was established in January 2012 when a group of community members met to brainstorm how to preserve local agricultural heritage for future generations.

The effort began modestly with the idea of documenting local historic barns and placing that information on a website. Over the last decade, it has grown to the point where the alliance has a relationship with the town of Mars Hill to restore and maintain barns on the Smith Farm Heritage Farmstead at the Bailey Mountain Preserve.

The Appalachian Barn Alliance will celebrate its 10th anniversary with a drop-in open house on Wednesday, Jan. 26, 5-7 p.m., at the Cooperative Extension Office, 258 Carolina Lane in Marshall. Also part of the anniversary commemorations will be a campaign to raise money to restore a second barn on the Smith Farm to be part of a public park.

Organizers are asking for donations of $10 or more. To donate, send a check to ABA, P.O. Box 1441, Mars Hill, NC 28754 or visit

Library love

Shamella Cromartie, associate dean of library services at Western Carolina University, is a winner of this year’s I Love My Librarian Award from the American Library Association. She was selected from more than 1,300 nominations from library users across the country.

“Cromartie has centered equity, diversity and inclusion in her programming and service efforts at Western Carolina University, notably in her development and implementation of the library’s Faculty Fellows program,” the ALA says in a statement. “Designed using a competitive application process, the program coaches faculty members in employing inclusive pedagogy in their courses through continuous learning and revision to their approach to teaching, and rewards successful applicants with a stipend for their work and funding for inclusive classroom materials.”

Cromartie and this year’s nine other honorees will each receive a $5,000 cash prize, a $750 donation to their library and complimentary registration to ALA’s LibLearnX. The virtual award ceremony will take place during the conference on Saturday, Jan. 22, at 2:30 p.m., and will be available to stream live at


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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

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