Around town: Local painter featured on PBS exhibits new collection

EXPRESSIONIST EXHIBIT: Local painter Onicas Gaddis will present a new collection of works in his “spiritual expressionist style.” Photo courtesy of Gaddis

Asheville painter Onicas Gaddis will exhibit a new collection, The Spiritual Expressionism Paintings of Onicas, at Sunnyside Trading Co. on Sunday, June 30, 2-5 p.m.

Gaddis was recently featured, along with two other artists, in a PBS special titled “Origin: Creators of the Carolinas.” In the special, Gaddis discussed his discovery of painting while growing up in a series of Alabama group homes. Onicas notes that painting sustained him through years of hardship, eventually leading him to his mentor, Sarah Carlisle Towery, a Black Mountain College alumna. The time Gaddis spent with Towery at the Alabama Art Colony informed the “spiritual expressionism” Gaddis says characterizes his work.

Connection to ancestry is another recurring component of his work, and Gaddis mentions the influence of a DNA test a friend gifted him in 2017. “A good portion of my DNA comes from Benin, Africa. When I saw the Benin art from the 1400s, it gave me a connection. I saw their sculptures and thought that it looked like me, ” says Gaddis. “After spending my entire childhood in foster care and not having a connection to family lineage, that opened something up in me. I’m also Irish!”

Gaddis’ work is featured as part of the permanent collection at the Black Mountain Center for the Arts.

Sunnyside Trading Co. is at 27 Foundy St. No. 80. For more information, visit

Heart of Brevard plans multiple events

Heart of Brevard will host Shindig on Main, a celebration of Independence Day, on Thursday, July 4, 4-9:30 p.m.

The celebration will take place on East Main Street, kicking off with a flag-raising ceremony at 4 p.m., followed by local elected officials reading the Declaration of Independence. There will be two musical performances on the courthouse lawn, the Cody Hale Trio at 5 p.m. and Steve Simon and the Kings of Jazz at 7:15 p.m. Main Street will be closed to automobile traffic for street dancing. Several food trucks will be available on-site, including Milk and Honey, Brevard Pizza Works, Kernel Mike’s Famous Kettle Corn, Cosmic Cotton Candy and Jenny’s Minis Donut Bus. The Brevard social district will also be available for those looking for adult beverages at the event.

Fireworks will begin at 9:30 p.m., launched from Brevard College. The fireworks will be visible from Main Street and Jailhouse Hill, and Brevard College has welcomed the community to view the fireworks from campus.

Heart of Brevard will also host an Old Time Street Dance on Tuesday, Aug. 6, 6-9 p.m., in downtown Brevard, with Whitewater Bluegrass Co. performing live music. The Old Time Street Dance is a Brevard tradition that began in the 1940s and ran through the 1960s. After that, the dances happened irregularly until 1998, when Bill Tinsley and Rob Ewen brought the tradition back.

“Brevard’s Old Time Street Dance has become a cherished tradition in the hearts of the people of the community,” says Nicole Bentley, executive director of Heart of Brevard. “We’re proud to provide opportunities that bring people together, celebrate our rich heritage and enhance the vibrancy of downtown Brevard.” This year’s street dance takes place in conjunction with National Night Out, a police-led community-building campaign.

Shindig on Main will take place at 7 E. Main St., Brevard. For more information, visit

Voting rights exhibit at Mountain Gateway Museum

The Mountain Gateway Museum has unveiled A Place at the Polls, an exhibit covering the history of voting rights in North Carolina.

The exhibit explores the wars, protests and social changes that led the federal government to create constitutional amendments protecting voting rights. It also looks at the impact of the 15th Amendment, which granted African American men the right to vote, as well as the women’s suffrage movement in North Carolina.

“I believe learning about voting rights, regardless of where you are from, is important,” says Brittany Joachim, historic interpreter for the museum. “Seeing how the law impacted those in the past, who didn’t have a say in who makes those laws, helps remind us why it is so important for all of us to vote today. Showing the national and state impact, and what that looked like on a regional level, helps to dispel the myth that Western North Carolina was not isolated from these issues, nor did it have a passive role.”

The exhibit will have campaign buttons and old voting machines on display, with many artifacts coming from the Asheville Museum of History, the Swannanoa Valley Museum and the Western Regional Archives.

The Mountain Gateway Museum is part of the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources, which manages over 100 locations across the state, including a diverse array of museums, zoos, libraries and parks as well as 27 historical sites. At the end of June, the museum will feature a traveling exhibit about architect Douglas Ellington and his impact on Asheville.

The Mountain Gateway Museum is open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 2-5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free, and the exhibit will be on display until February.

The Mountain Gateway Museum is at 24 Waters St., Old Fort. For more information, visit

SART establishes new endowment

The Southern Appalachian Repertory Theatre, a theater company in Mars Hill that specializes in second-run productions, has announced the formation of the SART Endowment.

The endowment continues the theater’s nearly 50-year commitment to supporting the arts. As a nonprofit, the theater relies on support from local small businesses, community organizations and the general public to meet its yearly fundraising goals. The SART Endowment will ease financial pressure on the theater and possibly reduce the number of individual donations the theater will have to solicit each season.

The SART endowment is long-term-focused, accumulating over time to fund projects in the years ahead. “The eventual goal of this new endowment is to provide funding for one main-stage production every year,” says Jack Womack, director of public relations. “A main-stage production can easily cost thousands of dollars, and Southern Appalachian Repertory Theatre is also one of just a few theaters in WNC committed to paying its actors and staff a fair wage, making our expenses higher.”

The Southern Appalachian Repertory Theatre will perform Charlotte’s Web: Theater for Young Audiences from Friday, July 5-Sunday, July 14 at 2 p.m. The play adaptation was written by Joseph Robinette.

The Southern Appalachian Repertory Theatre is at 44 College St., Mars Hill. For more information, visit

Q&A focuses on immersive installation

Tryon Arts & Crafts School will host a Q&A with Janet Orselli to discuss her installation Precious Things on Wednesday, June 26, 2 p.m.

The installation, sponsored by New View Realty, is an immersive experience that Orselli hopes will alter the participant’s frame of reference, evoking illusions of intimate rooms and voyeurism. “For me, an installation is all about creating an environment where the audience is entered into a physical space of memory, of reference,” says Orselli. “A lot of the materials I use are natural, some are man-made, and I use them in a way to highlight the fact that we’ve lost our connection to the natural word and even man-made items which were precious and passed down.”

The arrangement is site specific, using found-object assemblages and movable walls. Orselli constructed the project during a one-month residency at the craft school. “We worked nonstop for 17 days,” Orselli says of the experience. “I got to do something a lot more extensive than what I would normally do.”

In addition to receiving multiple grants from the N.C. Arts Council, Orselli has also received a Pollock-Krasner Foundation fellowship and has taught drawing classes at several South Carolina colleges. The installation will remain on display until Friday, July 19.

Tryon Arts & Crafts School is at 373 Harmon Field Road, Tryon. For more information, visit

Swannanoa Gathering names new director

Jim Magill, the founding director of the Swannanoa Gathering, will step down after 33 years of service. Kevin Kehrberg, a musician and professor at Warren Wilson College, has accepted a two-year appointment as the new interim director.

The Swannanoa Gathering was founded in 1991 by then-President Doug Orr, offering an educational program of folk music workshops on the Warren Wilson campus. The weeklong programs are taught by expert folk artists and include fiddle week, mandolin and banjo week, traditional song week, Celtic week, old-time week, contemporary folk week and guitar week.

“Anyone who has attended a workshop or a concert will agree that the Swannanoa Gathering provides consistent excellence in music,” says Damián Fernández, current president of Warren Wilson College, in a press release. “We are thankful to Jim for his immeasurable impact on American musical tradition, and we look forward to the ways Kevin will build on Jim’s legacy to advance the Swannanoa Gathering in its mission to preserve, promote and pass on the traditions of folk music.”

Magill will continue to serve as Swannanoa Gathering director emeritus to aid in transitional fundraising efforts. Full leadership changes will go into effect following the summer season. Kehrberg’s vision for the future of the Swannanoa Gathering includes closer collaboration with the music department at Warren Wilson College.

Warren Wilson College is at 701 Warren Wilson Road, Swannanoa. For more information, visit


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