Around town: RAD gets a new gallery

ARTIST ARRIVES: Jaime Byrd has opened the Jaime Byrd Art Gallery in the River Arts District. Photo courtesy of Jaime Byrd

Local artist Jaime Byrd will unveil a new gallery dedicated to her work in the River Arts District on Friday, May 3, 4-7 p.m.

The Jaime Byrd Art Gallery will be in the recently renovated Aura Arts building, a 2,000-square-foot gallery that showcases over 70 regional artists and has a cafe in the works.

Byrd is a contemporary oil painter and Emmy Award-nominated film editor who has been creating art in Western North Carolina for over 25 years. Her landscapes are known for their rich colors and textures, as well as their prominent subterranean features.

The gallery opening marks a milestone in Byrd’s journey as an artist. “We’re really excited to now have our permanent home in the River Arts District,” says Byrd’s husband, gallery manager and artistic collaborator Adam Cohen.

“In addition to having a fabulous large space with natural lighting to showcase Jaime Byrd’s artwork, we are now working with a fabulous landlord that is incredibly supportive, which allows Jaime to focus more on creating her art instead of wondering if we’re going to have to find a new space again,” Cohen continues. “Jaime finally feels like she has a gallery and studio space that will keep her creative for years to come.”

The grand opening will be an interactive artistic experience. Attendees are encouraged to bring their cellphones to download the augmented reality app for an immersive exploration of Byrd’s multimedia artwork. The event is free, and food and wine will be available.

The Jaime Byrd Gallery is at 375 Depot St., Suite 105. For more information visit

New Wilma Dykeman children’s book

On April 16, Reycraft Books released Of Words and Water, a children’s book about the life of Wilma Dykeman written by Shannon Hitchcock and illustrated by Sophie Page.

Dykeman’s life as an environmentalist and her ability to tie environmental protection to economic development made her an important voice in the Appalachian region she called home. The educational book highlights Dykeman’s love for the French Broad River and her efforts to protect it. Written for all ages, it emphasizes Dykeman’s legacy as a woman who stood up for what she believed in and memorialized the region with her words.

“Reading Of Words and Water reminded me of the times Ms. Dykeman, and later her sons, would carry boxes of her books into our bookstore,” says Linda-Marie Barrett, executive director of the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance. “I wish I’d known more about her then and am grateful to Of Words and Water for reminding me of her quiet strength and environmental advocacy.”

Hitchcock resides in Asheville and graduated from Appalachian State University. Of Words and Water is the fourth book in her nonfiction storyteller series, which chronicles the lives of various influential figures and artists from Appalachia, including Ray Hicks and Jean Ritchie. She is also the author of many award-winning children’s books, including Dancing in the Storm, Flying Over Water, Ruby Lee & Me and The Ballad of Jessie Pearl, among others.

For more information visit

Baszile named Dykeman writer-in-residence

Speaking of Wilma Dykeman: UNC Asheville announced Natalie Baszile as the Wilma Dykeman writer-in-residence for fall 2024. The residency offers selected writers two months in the historic Dykeman homestead in Weaverville.

According to a press release, Baszile lives in San Francisco and looks forward to the gift of time and space the residency provides. A graduate of Warren Wilson College’s MFA Program for Writers, she has written both fiction and nonfiction, and her novel Queen Sugar was produced as a miniseries for the Oprah Winfrey Network.

Baszile’s latest novel, Good People, is forthcoming from Pamela Dorman Books, and she hopes to adapt this work for the screen as well. She is also planning to refine Harvest, a documentary she’s been working on that follows a pair of fourth-generation African American farmers in Louisiana to explore “African Americans and land from Emancipation to the present.”

For more information visit

UNCA professor writes play 

A God in the Waters, a new play by award-winning playwright, poet, memoirist and fiction writer David Brendan Hopes, will run Thursday-Saturday, May 9-18, 7:30 p.m., at the Bebe Theater.

Hopes teaches literature at UNC Asheville and is known to theatergoers for his plays Washington Place and Ben & Angela, which ran at the Bebe Theater last fall.

A God in the Waters follows an egocentric maestro whose family life is upended at the reception for his final performance, exploring themes of family and the making of art. “I’d been working with the Asheville Symphony for a while, and the two things blended together,” says Hopes. “What surprised me most was to discover, through the course of writing, that I really do have strong opinions about what makes good art and bad art. I’d thought that doing it and having opinions about it were somehow inimical.”

Hopes has been an Asheville resident for over 40 years, and the region is responsible for his turn as a writer. “I never wrote plays or prose until I came here, but whether that was in the air here or just a natural progression is difficult to know. My recent novels The Falls of the Wyona and The One with the Beautiful Necklaces have a fully Appalachian setting, so certainly in the sense of scenery it has made a whole lot of difference.”

A God in the Waters is produced by the Sublime Theater. Seating for the six performances is limited.

The Bebe Theater is at 20 Commerce St. For information visit

Artists take their skills to market

A Craft in the Courtyard meet-and-greet will be held in a Biltmore Village courtyard on Thursday, April 25, 5-7 p.m.

Artsville USA, Wink Salon, Further Boutique and Fig restaurant are coming together to offer local craftmakers a space for exposure and collaboration. The function, which is part of Artsville’s Virtual Gallery of Artists initiative, will feature jewelry artists Tiffany Payne and Elizabeth Walton, ceramicist Kurt Ross, glassblower Sarah Garrard and weaver Emelie Weber Wade.

The artists at Craft in the Courtyard have received a three-month intensive in marketing and branding as part of the VGA mentorship program. The program equips artists with the business skills and relationships that are essential to building an artistic career.

“Being an artist can be very isolating,” says Artsville USA founder and Executive Director Louise Glickman. “We work with these artists to help them create a sustainable business by engaging with and talking to other artists. They need colleagues, and to come out of their studios, and we’re helping them to do that.”

Further Boutique will present Michael Kors’ spring ’24 runway collection with a collection of vintage pieces, and Wink will have a team of experts available to discuss hair products and care. Artsville representatives will be present to discuss their artist initiatives and to provide refreshments.

Craft in the Courtyard will be held at 18 Brook St. For more information about the event or Artsville mentorship programs, visit

Gallery hosts reception for Lubelski exhibit

Tracey Morgan Gallery is hosting an opening reception for Things We Think We Know, a solo exhibition by visual artist Nava Lubelski, on Friday, April 26, 6-8 p.m.

Lubelski’s latest collection is mixed-media, primarily composed of stitching and collage pieces, incorporating damaged and unused fragments and materials from other projects. The collection gives a nod to other art forms such as paper cutting, graffiti and kintsugi, celebrating the everyday imperfections of the modern world.

Lubelski lives in Asheville, though her work has been exhibited nationally. She has received grants from the Pollock-Krasner Foundation, the New York Foundation for the Arts and the N.C. Arts Council.

Tracey Morgan Gallery is at 22 London Road. For more information visit

Leicester musician featured on NPR

Bayla Davis, a 16-year-old banjo player from Leicester, will be featured on NPR’s “From the Top,” a nationally syndicated radio program, on Monday, April 29.

The episode was recorded at Asheville’s Echo Mountain Recording Studio as part of the program’s Where Music Lives initiative, which discusses rural musicians who invest in learning classical music without access to the resources provided by larger cities. Davis will also participate in the program’s Learning and Media Lab, which provides young musicians with opportunities to collaborate with and learn from a network of industry professionals.

Davis’ clawhammer playing style has already earned her recognition through the International Bluegrass Music Association Foundation’s Fletcher Bright Memorial Grant and Béla Fleck’s Blue Ridge Banjo Camp.

For more information, visit

Home concert raises funds for RiverLink

Simeon Hickman and Louly Peacock are hosting a concert on Sunday, April 28, with 100% of proceeds supporting RiverLink. The concert will be the final performance in a nine-week series that has seen over 70 musicians perform.

Over the past three years, the couple, who are local musicians themselves, have hosted a variety of charity events out of their Montford living room, which they named Peacock Palace. The concert series was designed to spotlight local musicians while supporting important causes and has raised over $13,000, according to Hickman. Recipients include Brother Wolf, Asheville City Schools Foundation, the Ukrainian Red Cross Society, Our VOICE and Helpmate.

Peacock Palace is at 301 Pearson Drive. To learn more about the event, contact Hickman at


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