Around town: Say Their Names

VOCALIZED: Acrylic paintings by Heather Tolbert are among the featured works in the latest “Say Their Names” series, which opens May 7 at Oak Street Gallery. Image courtesy of Tolbert

Following a successful collaboration in summer 2020, the YMI Cultural Center and First Congregational United Church of Christ Asheville open the next installment in their Say Their Names series on Friday, May 7, at the church’s Oak Street Gallery, 20 Oak St. The newest exhibit features acrylic paintings by Heather Tolbert that address her personal quest for liberation and equality, and that of Black America at large. Also on display will be photographs by Kai Lendzion, which capture moments during Black Lives Matter protests last year in Asheville and at the 50th anniversary march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala.

The opening reception (5-8 p.m.) features performances by gospel singer Kia Rice on the Oak Street Gallery patio. Festivities will conclude with a short walk to the YMI Cultural Center Gallery, 39 S. Market St., where thematically complementary creations by Micah Mackenzie will be on view. Alexandria Ravenel, YMI’s equity director, says Mackenzie’s work — on display through Wednesday, May 12 — “illuminates and tackles issues of police brutality, social injustice and racial inequity,” and challenges viewers to help “bring about true citizenship and sincere civil rights recognition” for all Black people. The three featured artists are based in Asheville.

“The two galleries have been in regular dialogue about how art can change and is changing the minds of communities and the policies and practices within them,” Ravenel says. “[This latest show is] a public invitation to celebrate each of these artists, their contribution to our community through their art and the sister galleries’ endeavor to work together as connected spaces.”

Masks are required, and social distancing will be practiced. The Oak Street Gallery works will be on display each Thursday, Friday and Saturday in May, 1-4 p.m. Free to attend. To learn more, visit

The show goes on

Asheville Pizza & Brewing Co. reopens its movie theater on Friday, May 7. While company President Mike Rangel waits for blockbusters like Godzilla vs. Kong to make their way to second-run houses, he’ll program such classic fare as The Princess Bride, The Dark Knight, Back to the Future and The Fifth Element. He also plans to book special screenings, including Kubo and the Two Strings in 3D, the singalong version of The Greatest Showman, plus Mrs. Doubtfire on Robin Williams’ birthday (July 21).

Attendance will initially be limited to 60 people, who will be seated by a host on a first-come, first-served basis on the venue’s 22 rows with 9 feet between each party. As long as the reduced capacity is in place, tickets will be $5 each instead of the usual $3, and there will be no 10 p.m. screenings. Patrons are required to wear masks except while seated and eating or drinking. A zero-contact ordering and pickup system will be in place for food and beverages.

To accentuate the thrill of being back at a theater, nostalgic treats — including giant Pixy Stix, candy necklaces and a popcorn bar with eight different toppings — will be on the menu. Outdoor dining on the venue’s patio is currently available, and Rangel tentatively plans to reopen the indoor dining space in June. For more information, visit

Mom time

Families looking to celebrate their matriarchs are invited to the Historic Johnson Farm near Hendersonville on Saturday, May 8, for a Mother’s Day Market. The outdoor craft fair runs 10 a.m.-4 p.m. and features over 20 local vendors specializing in jewelry, greeting cards, ceramics, leather items, wooden décor and more. Refreshments will be available to purchase, and all North Carolina COVID-19 health and safety protocols will be followed, including required mask wearing. Free to attend. Learn more at

Little Lorax

Local author Robert Beatty, creator of the popular Serafina series, is back with Willa of Dark Hollow. Published on May 4, the Great Smoky Mountains-set juvenile fiction novel continues the adventures of series starter Willa of the Wood, which centers on the eponymous 13-year-old orphan, one of the last members of the ancient Faeran clan. This time, Willa must figure out how to save her people and the forest from humans who start cutting down large groups of trees. For more information, visit

Please be seated

Black Mountain College Museum + Arts Center’s newest exhibition, I Am a Citizen of the World, features historic works from BMC artists that address global influences, plus contemporary responses from local artists and others from around the world. Among the pieces is “Building a Better Table” by Asheville-based Southern Equality Studios artists Liz Williams and Al Murray. The multimedia piece has viewers take a seat in front of a printed work and video, and encourages them to acknowledge labor performed for their benefit and feel invited to partake in ongoing efforts for social change. The show will be on display through Aug. 14. To learn more, visit

Mini pop-up craft fair

The Southern Highland Craft Guild hosts its inaugural Mini Pop-up Fair on Saturday, May 8, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., in the lower-level parking lot of the Folk Art Center. Twenty booths will be set up and carry a variety of media crafted by guild members, representing bladesmithing, glassblowing, wheel-thrown and hand-built ceramics, woodturning, metalsmithing, leatherwork and furniture making. The fair aims to help artists recover from a year of shop closures and canceled markets. Free to attend. For more information, visit

Black cat rock

Among the first indoor shows at The Orange Peel in over a year is a headlining gig by local rockers Jeff Santiago & Los Gatos on Friday, May 7. The evening starts at 8 p.m. with an opening set by Spartanburg, S.C.-based quartet Lovely World, which has recently been making good use of Asheville’s music offerings — tracking an album at Echo Mountain Recording, pressing tunes via Citizen Vinyl and filming a music video at The Peel. Tickets are $60 per pod, which seats up to six people and ensures proper social distancing between other pods. All state-mandated regulations to help deter the spread of COVID-19 will be followed. To learn more and purchase tickets, visit


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About Edwin Arnaudin
Edwin Arnaudin is a staff writer for Mountain Xpress. He also reviews films for and is a member of the Southeastern Film Critics Association (SEFCA) and North Carolina Film Critics Association (NCFCA). Follow me @EdwinArnaudin

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