Around Town: Grovewood Gallery celebrates its 30th anniversary

HOME SWEET HOME: The Grovewood Gallery, which opened in 1992 in the building that used to house Biltmore Industries’ Homespun Shops, will mark its 30th anniversary with a two-day celebration. Photos courtesy of The Grovewood Gallery

During the heyday of Biltmore Industries, the Biltmore Homespun Shops were an important part of the company’s bustling weaving and woodworking operations near the Grove Park Inn.

“They were where people could purchase bolts of wool cloth, carvings and woodwork,” says Ashley Van Matre, marketing manager for Grovewood Village, which sits on the site that once housed Biltmore Industries.

By 1992, Biltmore Industries had long since ceased operations. That’s when Barbara Blomberg, Marilyn Patton and S.M. “Buddy” Patton established the Grovewood Gallery in part of the space.

The gallery, which features American jewelry, ceramics, textiles, furniture and more, will celebrate its 30th anniversary with a two-day event, Saturday-Sunday, April 9-10, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Cheers to 30! will include demonstrations by North Carolina artists, live music, food and drinks.

Asheville’s Andrea Kulish will demonstrate the ancient Ukrainian art of pysanky, a wax-resistant method of decorating Easter eggs. Other demonstrations will be by dollmaker Charlie Patricolo, oil painter Bryan Koontz and wildlife sculptor Roger Martin.

In addition, old-world Scottish instrumental trio The Tune Shepherds will play two hourlong sets each day.

“The building that houses our gallery was built in 1917,” Van Matre says. “Originally located in Biltmore Village and co-founded by Edith Vanderbilt, Biltmore Industries was an Arts and Crafts enterprise that played a significant role in the Appalachian Craft Revival during the early 20th century.”

Admission to the event is free. The Grovewood Gallery is at 111 Grovewood Road, Suite 2, in Grovewood Village. For more information, go to

A girl named Maria

When Jay Hardwig went searching for books that featured kids with disabilities as protagonists, he was disappointed by what he found.

“Most tended toward the sentimental or mawkish,” says Hardwig, who works with Buncombe County Schools as a teacher for the blind and visually impaired. “I wanted to write a book that had a character who was blind but also flawed — one who makes mistakes at times and gives in to her baser impulses.”

The result is Hardwig’s first novel, Just Maria, which was recently published by Fitzroy Books.

The novel, which is aimed at fourth through sixth graders, tells the story of a blind 12-year-old girl who wants to be known for what she does, not for her disability. It centers on her friendship with her neighbor JJ, who challenges her to stretch herself.

“My experiences with students who are blind inform every page of Just Maria,” says Hardwig, who first entered the education field in 1996. “In many ways, Maria is a composite of the students I’ve taught for most of my adult life — and many of those students will recognize something they said or did.”

Hardwig says he hopes readers will come away with a subtler and nuanced understanding of what it’s like to live with blindness. “More than that, I hope the reader sees something of themself in Maria. Hopefully they will identify with her competing motivations and conflicting feelings, her struggle to do the right thing.”

To learn more, visit

Artistic climate

The Black Mountain Center for the Arts presents Synthetic Naturals, a show focused on climate change and featuring the work of Alabama artist Wanda Sullivan, through Friday, April 29.

Sullivan is a professor at Spring Hill College in Mobile, Ala., and is the director of the college’s Eichold Gallery. She photographs natural elements, predominantly flowers, through a kaleidoscope app on her iPad.

“Technology is changing our climate and our landscapes,” she says in a press release. “I contrast the perfect, measured symmetry of my computer-assisted designs with painterly, atmospheric layers of paint. I see these paintings as visual metaphors for climate change. Climate change is often invisible, but it is very real.”

The show will be in the the Upper Gallery at the Black Mountain Center for the Arts, 225 W. State St., Black Mountain. The Upper Gallery is open Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. For more information, visit

Court is in session

The Magnetic Theatre’s Mainstage Season opens with Court of the Grandchildren, which will run Friday, April 8-Saturday, April 23. Performances of the play will be on Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m. and Sundays at 4 p.m. Additionally, there will be a show on Thursday, April 14, at 7:30 p.m.

Written by Australian playwright Michael Muntisov, Court of the Grandchildren explores themes of responsibility and generational change through the stories of climate activist Lily and her great-uncle David, who is facing trial for decisions that advanced climate change and destroyed coastal North Carolina.

The play is directed by Jason Williams and stars Stan Baranowski, Morgan Miller, Sonia D’Andrea, Scott Fisher,  Zachary Hamrick, Emily Tucker and Aaron Ybarra.

The Magnetic Theatre is at 375 Depot St. For tickets and more information, visit

Sounds good

The Great Smoky Mountains Association’s podcast miniseries, “Sepia Tones: Exploring Black Appalachian Music,” recently won the e-Appalachia Award at the Appalachian Studies Association Conference.

The award is given annually in recognition of an outstanding media source that either provides insight on Appalachia and its people or provides a vital community service to its residents.

E-Appalachia Committee Chair Sophia Enríquez praised the podcast as “an invaluable step toward more truthful, just and complete stories of Appalachian music in which we understand Appalachian music history as first and foremost Black music history.”

“Sepia Tones” is co-hosted by William Turner and Ted Olson. It is produced by Great Smoky Mountains Association and is funded through the African American Experience in the Smokies project in collaboration with Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

The podcast is distributed through GSMA’s existing podcast, “Smoky Mountain Air,” which is available on Apple, Google, Spotify, Stitcher and most other major streaming services. You can also find the podcast at

Getting festive

Tickets are now on sale for the inaugural Gathering at Paint Rock Farm, a weekend festival featuring live music, arts, camping and more, Friday-Sunday, June 3-5, at Paint Rock Farm in Hot Springs.

The event will be headlined Saturday by Asheville instrumental band Toubab Krewe and also will feature Natti Love Joys, Roots Grown Deep, Wandering Hours, Lazy Birds, Clover & The Sunman, Greg Olsen and Chris Rosser.

Paint Rock Farm is at 1295 Paint Rock Road, Hot Springs. For more information or to purchase tickets, go to


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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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