Local artists and influencers recount their favorite happenings

ROM-COM: Scott Keel stared as Will Shakespeare, and Trinity Keel played Viola de Lesseps in this year’s Montford Park Players production of ‘Shakespeare in Love.’ Photo by Rodney Smith/Tempus Fugit Design

• “I loved the vibrant, beautiful, uplifting On the Cusp contemporary art exhibit by Youth Arts Empowerment students Gloria Estrada, Brenda Estrada, Trinity Harper, Jubilee Morrell, Eden Mosley, Zion Mosley, Evie Thomas and Max Curtis. I enjoyed seeing and hearing each young artist present their insight and inspiration, medium and technique to the diverse community members who came out in support. The exhibit was hosted by Pink Dog Creative in the River Arts District and the Asheville Area Arts Council at Refinery Creator Space in the South Slope and thrilled viewers from near and far.” — Cleaster Cotton, artist and educator

• “I guess my favorite moment of 2019 would be the release of the new Empire Strikes Brass album, Brassterpiece Theatre. [The band] really raised the bar with this project and left me wanting more. ESB, along with The Fritz, creates art that always inspires me to step up my game, musically.” — Ryan RnB Barber, musician

• “Written by Asheville’s Jamie Knox, The Education of Ted Harris (produced by Different Strokes! Performing Arts Collective) was a unique and important look at the often-blurred lines of sexual consent. Filled with humor and humanity, in the end, it was up to the audience to decide how Ted’s broken family might move forward and heal.” — Barbie Angell, poet, playwright and actor

• “Shakespeare in Love, presented by Montford Park Players. I loved the show because it was funny and creatively staged, with truly heartfelt performances. That, coupled with being outside on a beautiful May evening, made me feel at least a little connected to the Bard himself. It was a wonderful reminder that this work is still relevant, even 400 years later.” — Katie Jones, artistic director of The Magnetic Theatre

• “My top pick of 2019 is the fresco mural that Chris Holt did for Haywood Street Congregation. It’s my top pick because, as a social realist painter, I appreciate that Chris addressed the social/political issue of indigents. The models he used are real people, and he depicted them with the dignity they deserve.” — Joseph Pearson, artist

• “White Reaper on June 26 at The Mothlight. Ahead of their latest album, You Deserve Love, the Louisville-based band delivered a filler-free set of anthemic garage rock. [The band has] been sharing dates with the likes of The Killers [and] Jimmy Eat World, receiving international acclaim and selling out venues all over the country. [At the Asheville show], several of the local musicians [and I] were arm-in-arm in the crowd singing along and will look back on it and say, ‘I saw them when.’”  — Andrew Scotchie, musician

• “[Lauren Harr and I] are superpsyched that 2019 marked the well-deserved profile elevation of local horror writer Nathan Ballingrud. Nathan’s book Wounds launched at Malaprop’s in April, a short story from this collection was made into a feature film, and a TV series based on his short story collection North American Lake Monsters is in the works. We are longtime fans of Nathan’s, as a writer and as a person, and are delighted that he is getting more and more recognition.” — Caroline Christopoulos, Gold Leaf Literary


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About Alli Marshall
Alli Marshall has lived in Asheville for more than 20 years and loves live music, visual art, fiction and friendly dogs. She is the winner of the 2016 Thomas Wolfe Fiction Prize and the author of the novel "How to Talk to Rockstars," published by Logosophia Books. Follow me @alli_marshall

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