Verve Magazine, the local, monthly publication devoted to “covering Asheville’s most fascinating women,” will cease publication with its June issue, Publisher Rimas Zailskas confirmed June 26.
Launched in May 2008, Verve dished up lively features accompanied by striking photos. “So even though it is a little sad, it is an opportunity as well,” Zailskas said, mentioning that he and co-publisher Mary DiOrio have “a lot of different things” they want to do.
Verve submitted this statement about the closing:
Since Planet Zeus Media publishers Mary DiOrio and Rimas Zailskas founded Verve in 2008, the magazine has had a great run. Its contributors have included internationally published authors and Pulitzer Prize-winning photographers, alongside established and emerging local talents.
“I set out to create a smart, fun, stylish, stereotype-defying magazine that covered local women doing great things, big and small,” says DiOrio. “And we did. Everything from CEOs and judges to taxi-cab drivers and body builders.”
Verve was printed with the highest production values, and content-wise, original editor Jess McCuan (2008-2012) and Melanie McGee Bianchi (2012-2014) never had to look far for fascinating story subjects.
In the last two years, Verve discovered and interviewed celebrities who had quietly turned into WNC residents, including Kelly McGillis of Hendersonville and Patti D’Arbanville of Tryon. “As part of the first feature I wrote as Verve’s editor, we resurrected a star from the past, Zelda Fitzgerald, revealing new details about her later years and tragic death in an Asheville mental hospital,” says Bianchi. Verve even made over a local Zelda lookalike to eerily resemble the ill-fated flapper.
The magazine broke important environmental stories and showcased the personalities behind the buzz: the four women, whom Verve collectively dubbed the “Box Creek Brockoviches,” who helped save an imperiled wilderness area in Polk County; young climate-change activist Anna Jane Joyner of the WNC Alliance, featured in a Showtime special; and climatologist Ahira Sánchez-Lugo with Asheville’s National Climatic Data Center, who was invited to present findings at a global climate-change conference in Geneva, Switzerland.
Bianchi says: “I have a particular fondness for women doing interesting things out of the spotlight, in the mountains though not necessarily in the heart of Asheville. One of my favorite Verve subjects was Elizabeth Baird Hardy, a widely respected fantasy-lit scholar who publishes national papers and books on the trend, all while leading a reclusive life in tiny Newland, N.C. Or Vicki Cruz and Roseanna Belt of the Qualla Boundary — a craft-cooperative manager and college administrator, respectively — whose mission is to make Native art traditions and the ancient Cherokee language the passion of new generations.”
Adding photographer Zaire Kacz and stylist Sara Fields to the masthead resulted in unprecedented fashion editorials. Retro, upcycled, fantasy-chic: This style dream team put together lavish spreads that celebrated the area’s top designers.
“I’m going to guess that the future of artful print journalism is in lifestyle reporting — food and drink, music, regional culture, green building and interiors, outdoor adventure, fine craft, niche agriculture,” says Bianchi. “Asheville tops almost every buzz list in these areas. With Planet Zeus Media’s other two publications, Bold Life and Carolina Home + Garden, we’re excited to move forward with this in mind. We’re committed to print, despite the industry’s inherent challenges. Don’t be surprised to see something new from Planet Zeus Media sometime in the future.”