Around Town: Story Parlor residency program debuts with ‘Dirty Laundry’

AIRING IT OUT: Dirty Laundry, which includes filmed performances, was choreographed and directed by Vanessa Owen and Gavin Stewart. Photo by Josh Fink

When Gina Cornejo first conceived of Dirty Laundry, she intended it to be a solo show about pivotal moments in her marriage, divorce and dating life.

“I [imagined] it in a theater — bare bones, one mic, one chair, just focused on the stories,” says the Asheville artist. “I knew it could be a bigger entity, but I really had no idea — especially in a pandemic — how to even entertain the thought of creating beyond just myself.”

After meeting Gavin Stewart and Vanessa Owen of Stewart/Owen Dance in summer 2020, Cornejo began to transform her idea into a multidisciplinary, immersive show that combines film with original choreography, live spoken-word performances and a haunting soundscape.

The completed Dirty Laundry will debut at Story Parlor, a cooperative arts space that recently opened in West Asheville, for three straight Thursdays, July 14-July 28, 7-9:30 p.m. Cornejo is the first artist-in-residence for Story Parlor’s Story/Arts Residency, which is dedicated to showcasing work of local storytellers from BIPOC, LGBTQIA+ and other historically marginalized communities.

“We wanted to create a program that celebrates the intersection of art and community, while also providing a platform for underrepresented  voices,” says Story Parlor founder Erin Hallagan Clare.

Moving forward, Story Parlor will offer two or three monthlong artist-in-residence spots per year. The application process is now open for the next residency, to be held the first three Thursdays in November.

In addition to the three-week performance run, residents will receive dedicated rehearsal time in the space, a $400 artist stipend, two creativity coaching sessions, marketing and promotion, and professional headshots.

“It’s a bonus to go first and set the tone for the next artist,” Cornejo says. “There’s always room for more truth, and storytelling will never be branded as obsolete, especially if we invest our resources into the discovery and presentation of diverse and marginalized emerging artists within the Asheville community.”

Story Parlor is at 227 Haywood Road. Tickets are available on a “pay what you can” sliding scale. For more information or to buy tickets, go to For more information about the residency program, visit

Art that grows

Continuum Art in Hendersonville will present Journey Home, an exhibition of works by local sculptor Nina Kawar, Saturday, July 16-Monday, Sept. 12. An opening reception with a talk by Kawar will be July 16, 5-8 p.m.

Kawar, a Palestinian American native of Wisconsin, says moving to the mountains of Western North Carolina in 2014 inspired the show, which will feature sculptures resembling pieces of nature, such as trees, antlers and mushrooms.

“These past seven years … [were] an awakening to the stillness within and a desire to live from the heart and connect with this beautiful world around us,” she says in a press release. “A deep love for immersing myself in nature … ignites my passion to create and desire to speak to the silent reminders that nature has for us and our evolutionary growth.”

Continuum Art, 147-C First Ave. E., is open daily, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. For more information, go to

Let me hear your balalaikas ringing out

The Balalaika & Domra Association of America will help raise money for Ukrainian relief efforts with a Slavic folk music concert at Hilton’s DoubleTree hotel at Biltmore Village Saturday, July 16, at 7:30 p.m.

The concert, the culmination of the group’s annual convention, will feature an 80-piece orchestra performing Ukrainian, Eastern European, Romani and klezmer music on authentic folk instruments – the balalaika, domra and bayan. Also performing will be Tetiana Khomenko on balalaika and the Alexandrov-Skliar Duo on domra and mandolin.

“Music has the ability to invoke change in the world,” says BDAA President Kirill Chernoff. “We hope [our] music will inspire desire to support our friends and families in Ukraine.”

The multiethnic group has collaborated for 45 years, and this is its first in-person concert since 2019 due to the pandemic. The theme is “Music brings people together.” Part of the proceeds from ticket sales will go to Ukrainian relief groups. The BDAA also will collect donations to support Ukraine during the performance.

“The war is not only destroying Ukraine’s buildings and its innocent inhabitants, but also its culture,” Chernoff says. “We want to share a part of what the world is striving to maintain.”

The DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Asheville-Biltmore is at 115 Hendersonville Road. Ticket prices range $18-$25; children 12 and under enter for free. For more information or to purchase tickets, go to

Flooding the zone

The Swannanoa Valley Museum & History Center will present  the exhibit Rising Waters: The Past and Future of Flooding in the Swannanoa Valley, Thursday, July 21-Sunday, March 26, 2023, 10 a.m-5 p.m.

The free exhibit will explore the history and present dangers of flooding in the region, highlighting over 200 years of flood history, along with examining causes and describing ways to prevent them. Large-scale photographs of major floods will be displayed alongside banners from the N.C. Department of Natural and Cultural Resources about the Great Flood of 1916.

A free reception with drinks and refreshments at the museum takes place Thursday, July 21, 4-6 p.m.

At 7 p.m., visitors can attend a screening and discussion of Come Hell or High Water, a documentary by award-winning filmmaker David Weintraub about the Great Flood of 1916. Musician David Wiseman, whose tribute song is featured in the film, will perform. The screening will be at White Horse Black Mountain, 105 Montreat Road in Black Mountain.

Tickets for the screening are $15 for museum members and $20 for the public.

The Swannanoa Valley Museum & History Center, 223 W. State St., Black Mountain, is open Wednesdays-Saturdays, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. For more information, go to To register for the film screening, go to

Read the room

Local novelist Thomas Calder and poet Luke Hankins will participate in Punch Bucket Lit, a free reading series at Cellarest Beer Project, on Tuesday, July 19, at 6:30 p.m.

Calder, who is also managing editor for Mountain Xpress, will read from his debut novel The Wind Under the Door, which was published by Unsolicited Press in 2021. Hankins, the founder and editor of Orison Books, will read selections from his 2020 poetry collection Radiant Obstacles.

Punch Bucket Lit is organized by Rachel Hanson, a writer and visiting assistant professor at UNC Asheville.

Cellarest Beer Project is at 395 Haywood Road in West Asheville. For more information, visit

Arts and crafts

Downtown Dillsboro will host the annual Front Street Arts & Crafts show on Saturday, July 16, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

The festival will feature over 40 booths along Front and Church streets. Among the regional artists and creators offering their wares will be Webster’s Pamela Judson with jewelry and upscale art, Henderson County’s Lori Wright with candles, Sylva’s Don Wood with sourwood honey products and Cullowhee’s Mickey Sizemore with handmade brooms.

Entertainment will include the J. Creek Cloggers at 11 a.m., vocalist Suzie Copeland at noon and 1 p.m., and We Three Swing, a jazz collective from Sylva, at 2 p.m.

The festival will offer traditional fair food as well as food from local restaurants. The arts and crafts show is free, with a small parking fee that includes a shuttle from nearby Monteith Park.

For more information, go to

With additional reporting by Flora Konz 


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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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