Around Town: Refraction Holiday Art Market returns to River Arts District

ARTS AND CRAFT (BEERS): The Refraction Holiday Art Market, which returns to Wedge at Foundation on Sunday, Dec. 5, is meant to be an immersive experience. “You come with the intention of knocking out your holiday shopping and end up running into a friend who you spend the afternoon catching up with,” says co-founder Amy Massey. Photo courtesy of Massey

Come in for a beer, head home with a new painting.

That’s one of the ideas behind Refraction Holiday Art Market, which returns to Wedge at Foundation in the River Arts District on Sunday, Dec. 5, noon-6 p.m. The event first launched in 2019 but was canceled last year due to COVID-19.

“The experience reads somewhere between an art market, a gallery opening and a community hang,” says Amy Massey, an Asheville artist who founded the event with her husband, Andrew. “It’s not structured in the typical art market rows of 10-by-10 booths arranged in clean lines. The layout is organic, with artists spread throughout the bar itself as well as the outdoor patios.”

The gathering will feature more than 15 local creatives working in mediums such as ceramics, handcarved wooden spoons, silversmithed jewelry, paintings and prints, macramé and embroidered fiber art, as well as wreaths made with homegrown and harvested flowers, and wearable botanicals. Meanwhile, DJ Malinalli will provide the day’s entertainment.

With shipping woes anticipated this holiday season, Massey believes it’s important to support local artists and shop small. Many of the participants at this year’s event, she continues, work at Wedge Brewing Co. or are longtime regulars.

“Asheville has grown so much in the last few years, and the Wedge has grown, too, but that artist community still sits at the heart of it,” she says.

Wedge at Foundation is at 5 Foundy St. For more information, visit

A day of infamy

Tuesday, Dec. 7, marks the 80th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, the event that led the United States to enter World War II.

John Gripentrog, department chair of history, political science, religion and philosophy at Mars Hill University, thinks the attack has lost some of its cultural significance.

“Pearl Harbor is important because it’s a reminder that democratic institutions, so easily taken for granted, were at stake after Dec. 7, that self-government is fragile and that foundational principles like the peaceful transfer of power were dearly paid for in World War II,” he says.

Gripentrog’s recently published book, Prelude to Pearl Harbor: Ideology and Culture in US-Japan Relations, 1919-1941, traces the escalation of hostilities between the two countries across the 1930s, leading up to the outbreak of war in 1941. Specifically, it looks at how visceral tension between Japan’s regionalist ideology and the American emphasis on liberal internationalism was at the heart of the conflict, says Gripentrog.

“The standard ‘road to Pearl Harbor’ narrative typically reduces the clash to one about resources and economic security,” he notes. “I don’t dismiss that interpretation, but I find it incomplete. It’d be like talking about 19th-century American expansionism without talking about the ideology of manifest destiny.”

For more information on Prelude to Pearl Harbor: Ideology and Culture in US-Japan Relations, 1919-1941, visit

Christmas tours at Historic Johnson Farm

Henderson County’s Historic Johnson Farm, built by hand 1876-80, will host a number of Christmas events throughout December.

“For any of the tours, visitors will learn how the Johnson family celebrated Christmas while enjoying the time-period decorations,” says Mandy Gibson, executive director of the Historic Johnson Farm Foundation.

Candlelight Christmas Tours will be held Friday, Dec. 3, and Saturday, Dec. 4, at 5 p.m., 6:15 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. The first two tours each evening will be geared toward families with children. Reservations and prepayment are required for the candlelight tours.

The farm will also host Daytime Christmas Tours at 10:30 a.m. Monday, Dec. 6- Friday, Dec. 10, and again Monday, Dec. 13–Friday, Dec. 17. The daytime tours also have a self-guided option, with or without audio, each day, 1-3 p.m.

Historic Johnson Farm is a heritage education museum owned by Henderson County Public Schools; the tours provide a significant portion of its operating expenses. Tickets are $20 for adults, $15 for students and seniors (65 and over), and free for those under 5. The farm can be found at 3346 Haywood Road, Hendersonville. For more information, go to

It’s no secret

Asheville author Robert McGee was one of the winners in the 2021 NC State Fiction Contest. McGee’s short story Secrets was the honorable mention selection in the category for unpublished works of 1,200 words or less.

“Very broadly, the story has to do with an incident at a lake,” McGee says. “An elderly woman tending a small boy leaves him in the car alone, and the car rolls toward the water. She has to run to stop the car and save him.”

From that point, the story looks at the many secrets held by the woman and other characters and how they could be exposed depending on her actions.

McGee says being recognized in the contest, which was judged by award-winning novelist Gabriel Bump, provides him motivation to keep writing and not give in to the despair many authors feel.

He has submitted the story to a few literary journals, a process that he says requires patience. “I’ve had magazines hang onto my work for 10-12 months before acceptance in the past, but I have a feeling that this one will find the right home,” he says.

For more information and to see a full list of the winners, go to

Holiday revelry

The Blue Ridge Orchestra will be joined by bluegrass trio the Krüger Brothers for its annual holiday concert at UNC Asheville’s Lipinsky Auditorium on Sunday, Dec. 5, at 3 p.m.

The first half of BRO Revels! 2021 will feature the full orchestra ensemble performing a mix of classical and holiday songs. During the the second half, the full orchestra and the Krüger Brothers will play a blend of traditional tunes and original compositions for full orchestra by Jens Krüger.

Originally from Switzerland, the Krüger Brothers began playing North American folk music at an early age and were inspired by recordings of Arthel “Doc” Watson, Flatt and Scruggs and the Foggy Mountain Boys, Bill Monroe and others.

Lipinsky Hall is at 300 Library Lane on the UNC Asheville campus. Tickets are $15 for general admission, $10 for members and $5 for students. For more information or to buy tickets, visit

Oh, the humanities

Western Carolina University and the Bob Moog Foundation were among 10 cultural organizations to win community engagement grants from North Carolina Humanities, an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

The organization grants the awards to nonprofit groups that use the literature, history, philosophy and other humanities disciplines “to deepen human connections, broaden perspectives, equip communities with empathy, understanding and respect and inspire community across differences,” it says in a press release.

WCU was granted $3,500 for its 2022 Spring Literary Festival. Attendees of the annual event will consider issues of immigration, power, gender, femininity, race, religion, disability, identity and more.

The Bob Moog Foundation was awarded $3,500 for  Patching Sound: Understating Modular Synthesis, a display at the Moogseum, 56 Broadway.

For more information, visit  



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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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