Around Town: Village Art & Craft Fair marks 50th anniversary

VILLAGE PEOPLE: The Village Art & Craft Fair draws thousands of customers to The Cathedral of All Souls each year. Photo courtesy of the Village Art & Craft Fair

The late John Cram, an Asheville entrepreneur and gallery owner, started the Village Art & Craft Fair in 1972 with two simple goals: to bring business into Biltmore Village and to create a place for local artists to showcase their work. Five decades later, his vision is still going strong.

“The fair has evolved from a few dozen local and regional artists to over 100 from around the country,” says Leah Chang, office manager at New Morning Gallery, one of the sponsors of the event. “It’s gained a reputation over the years; many visitors plan their Asheville trips around the fair.”

The 50th annual Village Art & Craft Fair will be held at The Cathedral of All Souls Saturday, Sept. 10, 10 a.m.-6 p.m., and Sunday, Sept. 11, noon-5 p.m. The free event encompasses the block between the 1896 cathedral and New Morning Gallery and Bellagio Art to Wear in Biltmore Village.

“Strolling through the fair on the grounds of All Souls Cathedral is part of the aesthetic experience of the event,” Chang says.

Prior to COVID-19, the fair traditionally took place in early August. But in 2020, the event was canceled, and the following year, organizers pushed it back to the second weekend in September due to ongoing health concerns. Given the more pleasant weather, customer response was positive, and the fair’s leadership decided to make the move permanent.

The gathering will feature works from artists in a variety of mediums, including painting, ceramics, glass, wood and metal.

“People have come to expect a particular quality at our event, and they look for their favorite artists and are excited to discover new ones,” Chang says.

The Cathedral of All Souls is at 9 Swan St. For more information and to see a gallery of art that will be for sale, go to avl.mx/bwf

Dance like everyone’s watching

Come as you are. And bring a lawn chair.

That’s the message The Asheville Ballet has for anyone who attends Fall Into Dance: An Artistic Harvest, the company’s first performance of the 2022-23 season. After all, there’s no need to wear stuffy formal attire to an event held outdoors at Pack Square Park.

“We have a professional production at an accessible price and a location that’s not intimidating to an audience,” says Ann Dunn, the ballet’s artistic and executive director. “Our fall performances have a family-friendly vibe.”

The season opener takes place Friday, Sept. 9, 7:30-8:30 p.m., at the Roger McGuire Green stage in Pack Square Park.

Dancers Eden Landgrover and Eleazar Montgomery will perform Dunn’s “Seen/Unseen,” a four-movement contemporary duet based on sculptures by Black Mountain College artist Leo Amino. The work is set to music by Washington, D.C., composer Erin Snedecor, with costumes by textile artist Kristin Pondy. “It’s a meditation on opacity, transparency and deep color, on the self we present and the hidden self that often even we don’t even see,” Dunn says.

Jennifer Wilenta will perform Dunn’s “Betty,” also with music by Snedecor and costumes by Pondy. The piece was inspired by movement images of Elizabeth Schmitt Jennerjahn at Black Mountain College. “She doesn’t leap, she floats,” Dunn says. “Her lines are curves. Her overlapping, multilayered weavings fold and fold.”

Pack Square Park is at 80 Court Plaza. Tickets are $15 and may be purchased at avl.mx/byg

Secondhand news

A year ago, Asheville Pizza & Brewing  Co. followed the path of many fellow second-run movie theaters across the U.S. and became a first-run business, ending programming that made it a community favorite among film buffs for the past couple of decades.

Now, second-run movies are back.

The restaurant/brewery has transformed its game room into a second-run theater, complementing its main theater’s first-run screenings. Two movies, one at 5:30 p.m. and one at 8 p.m., will be shown on Wednesdays for $3. The theater has a seating capacity of 60.

Movies showing in September will be Shrek and Kung Fu Hustle on Sept. 8; Kubo and The Two Strings and The Fifth Element on Sept. 15; The Iron Giant and The Dark Crystal on Sept. 22; and Despicable Me and Dirty Dancing on Sept. 29.

Asheville Pizza & Brewing Co.’s North Asheville location is at 675 Merrimon Ave. For more information, go to avl.mx/byc.

Healing through poetry

Fairview’s Lee Stockdale doesn’t want to scare people away from GORILLA, his new collection of poems. But he knows it will be a tough read for some.

“It’s not a pretty subject — suicide,” Stockdale says. “And it’s still a stigmatized subject, and it’s painful. People don’t like to talk about it.”

Stockdale was 11 when his father, Grant Stockdale, killed himself 10 days after the 1963 assassination of President John F. Kennedy. The elder Stockdale was a friend of JFK’s and had served as the president’s ambassador to Ireland.

In the collection, Lee Stockdale traces the trajectory of his life from that childhood trauma to his adult life as a New York City cabdriver, U.S. Army military police officer, Judge Advocate General officer and public defender in North Carolina. He took on the project due to the encouragement of his mentor, Morri Creech, as well as a fellow student while he was earning his Master of Fine Arts degree at Queens University of Charlotte.

“It was pretty damn painful to look into this stuff,” he admits.

But he says it was worthwhile because he can talk about his father’s death now in a way that he couldn’t for many years. “People I knew didn’t even know my father was an ambassador, or that I’d lived in Ireland or that there was any connection with Kennedy. And they certainly knew nothing about [my father’s] suicide because that was layers behind. But now I believe I’m as healed as I can be at this juncture in my life.”

GORILLA was recently published by Main Street Rag Publishing Co. of Charlotte. Stockdale will read from the book and discuss it at Pack Memorial Library on Tuesday, Sept. 13, 6-7:15 p.m.

For more information about the library event, go to avl.mx/byi. For more on the book, visit avl.mx/byj.

Setting sail

Tracey Morgan Gallery will present Uncharted, a joint exhibition by multidisciplinary artists Georgia Deal and Tom Ashcraft, Friday, Sept. 9-Saturday, Oct. 29. A reception with the artists will be held Friday, Sept. 9, 6-8 p.m.

The exhibition will include wooden and cast bronze boat sculptures, prints on handmade paper and photographs, all centered around ideas of physical and psychological transitions. Individual works by the artists as well as pieces they created together will be featured.

“For Deal, the pandemic afforded time to examine ideas of solitude and anticipation, and her work echoes the imagery brought on by that period of stasis,” the gallery notes in a press release. “Ashcraft’s sculptures, selected versions from his collection of 200-plus handmade wooden boats, gather ideas of migration, observation, scale and object-making.”

Tracey Morgan Gallery is at 188 Coxe Ave. Hours are Tuesdays-Saturdays, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. For more information, go to avl.mx/byb.

Bless the ‘Beasts’

Western Carolina University graduate Craig Buchner recently published Brutal Beasts, a collection of short stories written over nearly 15 years. The science fiction stories explore how humans operate in their most sacred relationships.

“I learned to write when literary genres stayed in their own lanes,” he says. “Literary fiction was one thing, sci-fi was another. I love to break those rules … a story should make you laugh, make you cry, make you question things, make you think, ‘How would I really protect my family during a zombie apocalypse?’ and most of all, make you want to read the next page and the next in a breathless race to get to the end.”

Buchner, who studied under award-winning novelist Ron Rash in WCU’s Master of Arts in English program, will also celebrate the publication his debut novel, Fish Cough, in January.

For more information or to purchase Brutal Beasts, visit avl.mx/bwc

All’s fair

The annual N.C. Mountain State Fair will run Friday, Sept. 9-Sunday, Sept. 18, at the WNC Agricultural Center in Fletcher.

New to the 10-day agricultural fair will be an otter water show, an alligator show and a high-wire act featuring the High Flying Pages aerial troupe. A dozen new food and merchandise vendors also will be on hand.

The clogging competition, a mainstay of the event, will be held on Friday, Sept. 9, and Saturday, Sept. 10. Other competitions include the N.C. Mountain State Fair Pageant, an ice-cream eating contest and a gospel singing contest.

Also featured will be agricultural exhibits, handmade crafts, music, rides, antique farm equipment and various entertainers.

The WNC Agricultural Center is at 1301 Fanning Bridge Road, Fletcher. Admission tickets are $5-$9. For more information, including hours of operation, go to avl.mx/bya.  

With additional reporting by Flora Konz. 

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