Around town: The latest history talks, art exhibits and poetry contests

Mars Hill Anderson Rosenwald School students
CLASSMATES: Students pose outside the historic Mars Hill Anderson Rosenwald School circa 1947. The photo is one of several on display at the Rural Heritage Museum's latest exhibit, Opening the Door to Change: Educating Rural Appalachia. Photo courtesy of the Rural Heritage Museum at Mars Hill University

Opening the Door to Change

The Rural Heritage Museum at Mars Hill University recently debuted its latest exhibit, Opening the Door to Change: Educating Rural Appalachia. “This exhibition presents a focus on the dynamic relationship between community values and education,” says Les Reker, director of the Rural Heritage Museum. “It explores how rural students have had to navigate the various economic, geographic and racial challenges they have faced while pursing an education in rural Appalachia, especially Western North Carolina.” Examining the time period between the mid-19th and the late 20th century,  the virtual presentation includes videos, rare photographs and detailed historical panels. To learn more about the free, online exhibit, visit

Lunch & Learn with historian Steve Nash

Steve Nash, associate professor of history at East Tennessee State University and president of the Mountain History and Culture Group, will host a virtual Lunch & Learn at Pack Memorial Library on Tuesday, Feb. 16. Nash’s presentation will focus on the Freedmen’s Bureau, a government agency brought in to help the South adjust from slave to paid labor, following the Confederacy’s defeat during the Civil War. Running noon-1 p.m., the event is free to attend. To learn more, visit

Art & Design Faculty Biennial

Every two years, Western Carolina University’s Fine Art Museum invites faculty members to share their latest works at the Art & Design Faculty Biennial. This year’s theme is water. According to a description on the university’s website, the show asks viewers “to consider our physical and psychological relationship with water, as well as its spectrum of impact on our lives and ecosystems, as both a destructive force and sustainer of life.” Currently on display, the virtual exhibit runs through Friday, May 7. Learn more at

The Creative Well

Local artist Nate Barton’s new exhibit, The Creative Well, is on display in the Upper Gallery at the Black Mountain Center for the Arts. Comprising various mediums, the collection features oil pastels, watercolors and ink. “In the past few months, I have experienced a bit of an explosion of creativity,” says Barton in a press release. “My creative well is overflowing, and I have been channeling it into making art.” The exhibit is free to attend and runs through Friday, Feb. 26, at Black Mountain Center for Arts, 225 W. State St., Black Mountain. Hours are Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. To learn more, visit

Asheville Mardi Gras

In response to COVID-19, the annual Asheville Mardi Gras is changing course, opting for its first-ever house float parade instead of its traditional downtown Mardi Gras celebration. Over 20 homes are participating with outlandish decorations capturing the spirit of the festival, which takes place on Tuesday, Feb. 16. For details, including a map of participating homes, visit

Calling all poets

N.C. State University’s annual poetry contest is accepting submissions from all North Carolina residents, including out-of-state and international students enrolled in North Carolina universities. Published writers, tenured/tenure-track professors in the University of North Carolina system and previous contest winners are ineligible. It’s free to enter, and contestants may submit up to three poems. Deadline to enter is Monday, March 1. For more details, visit

Still time to submit

Moog Music is accepting submissions through Sunday, Feb. 28, for a new vinyl mural that will span the width of the Moog factory building in downtown Asheville. Proposals should be emailed to with the subject line “Moog Factory Artwork Submission.” For more information, visit


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About Thomas Calder
Thomas Calder received his MFA in Fiction from the University of Houston's Creative Writing Program. His writing has appeared in Gulf Coast, the Miracle Monocle, Juked and elsewhere. His debut novel, The Wind Under the Door, is now available.

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