Around Town: New art exhibit focuses on rituals of death and remembrance

FACING DEATH: Jose Saïd Osio, left, will present Come Honor Your Dead: A Ritual of Remembrance, along with fellow artist Maria Epes. At right is a death mask Osio created using his own face that will be part of the exhibit. Photos courtesy of Osio

Growing up in an east Los Angeles barrio, Jose Saïd Osio was surrounded by the iconography and murals of Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), a holiday celebrated Nov. 1-2, in which family and friends gather to pay respects to loved ones who have died.

Those images were a vivid influence on the Asheville visual artist and helped inspire Come Honor Your Dead: A Ritual of Remembrance, an exhibition he and fellow local artist Maria Epes will stage at the Nadazul Gallery in the River Arts District Friday, Nov. 5-Monday, Dec. 6, noon-6 p.m., daily.

The installation will include original artwork, shrouds, a coffin and an ofrenda (or home memorial altar) for Osio’s daughter Eva, who passed away in 2013. As visitors leave the gallery, they will be encouraged to write a few lines about their own experiences with loss.

“The impact on our collective consciousness of over 600,000 lives lost in this country to COVID, the Black Lives Matters movement and the insurrection of Jan. 6 add up to a huge avalanche of suffering and fear,” says Osio.

As an activist in the death positive movement, Osio says he hopes his latest exhibit will encourage local conversations about death, healing, compassion and community.

The Nadazul Gallery is at Foundation Studios, 27 Foundy St., Suite 6. For more information, go to

Life and how to paint it

Emil Holzhauer was an Asheville resident for just a few years in the 1940s, but the German American artist found plenty of inspiration in everyday life in Western North Carolina.

“His portrayals of ordinary homes and especially African American neighborhoods … document a part of local history that’s often overlooked and, in many cases, lost to urban renewal and other development,” says John Horrocks, owner of BlackBird Frame & Art.

BlackBird’s Holzhauer exhibition concludes Monday, Nov. 15. The show had originally been set to end Oct. 16, but interest was so strong the gallery decided to extend it, Horrocks says.

In addition to urban settings, the paintings in the exhibit show rural homes, downtown Murphy, the pottery shop in Penland and the Asheville School for Boys, where Holzhauer taught.

BlackBird Frame & Art is at 365 Merrimon Ave. The shop is open Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., and Saturday, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. For more information, visit  

Ready for their close-up

Local filmmaker David Weintraub has signed a deal with PBS to distribute four of his feature-length documentaries to public television stations around the country.

“My films have appeared on local PBS stations for years, but given COVID and the need to slow down the filmmaking process and limit the number of interviews and oral histories I was doing, I had more time to pursue expanding the audience I was reaching,” says Weintraub, executive director of the Center for Cultural Preservation in Hendersonville.

Films in the PBS deal include A Great American Tapestry: The Many Strands of Mountain MusicGuardians of Our Troubled Waters, Call of the Ancient Mariner and They Who Overcame. The latter may be particularly relevant to viewers these days as it explores how Appalachian people historically have dealt with pandemics, famine and floods.

“I was fortunate to be in contact with scores of families whose people overcame the great floods of 1916, 1928, 1940, 1961,” he says. “They lived interconnected lives. Their first responders were their neighbors who worked together to rebuild barns, homes and broken lives together. This applied to surviving floods as it did surviving the 1918 pandemic and to frequent difficult times when food was scarce. What I learned is that there’s a real difference between living your life as part of a community versus just living in a community.”

Weintraub hopes his movies, which begin their national run by the end of the year, will help destroy the stereotype of Southern Appalachian residents as stupid, lazy and unable to hold a job. “In the over 400 oral histories I’ve done over the years, it’s clear that the opposite is the case,” he says.

For more information, visit

Queen of the classroom

Delighted Tobehere is ready to share some of the wisdom she’s gained in her more than 20 years as a drag queen. The former “America’s Got Talent” contestant brings Drag 101 to the Magnetic Theatre Thursday, Nov. 4-Sunday, Nov. 7, at 7:30 p.m. The musical/comedy show will feature personal stories, audience participation, gossip and more.

The Magnetic Theatre is at 375 Depot St. Tickets are $25, with limited seating. For information and tickets, visit

Going on a safari

The Weaverville Art Safari fall studio tour will be held on Main Street Saturday-Sunday, Nov. 6-7, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. The biannual event is celebrating its 20th year.

The self-guided, free event features 28 studios with more than 60 participating artists specializing in various disciplines, including handmade pottery, glass, photography, sculpture, jewelry, furniture, painting, drawing, mixed media, fiber art and wood art.

Maps and brochures are available at numerous Asheville and Weaverville locations and also will be available at an information booth on Main Street during the tour.

For more information, visit

Between the covers

Author Dick Domann, who splits his time between Asheville and Florida, recently published The Arakniv Deception: A Pharmaceutical Thriller.

The novel is set in North Carolina’s Research Triangle Park and is inspired by his experiences working in the pharmaceutical industry. It tells the story of a man who is head of security for fictional Valhalla Pharmaceuticals.

“As he struggles with personal demons, he discovers a devious plot that, if unchecked, will unleash a devastating wave of illness in the United States and around the world,” Domann says.

To purchase the book, 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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