Ghosts of vanished Asheville
“It’s debatable,” says Felicity Green, talking about whether the extensive renovation of Southside Avenue in the 1960s was altogether a good thing. “You look at the community of people in these photographs; it’s very poignant to think that this whole community has vanished and is now South Charlotte Street.”
Green is communications manager for the Asheville Art Museum, where the exhibit Forgotten Asheville: Kent Washburn Photographs is on display through Sunday, May 16.
In the 1960s, the city embarked on an extensive urban-renewal project along Southside Avenue between College Street and Biltmore Avenue. Once the heart of Asheville’s African-American community, the area changed dramatically — even losing its name.
Kent Washburn worked for the Asheville Redevelopment Commission in 1966, taking photographs to document the prevailing conditions in two rundown neighborhoods: Southside and West End/Clingman.
And though his photographs amply demonstrate the dilapidated state of many of the buildings (some of them literally sitting within the shadow of City Hall), they also capture the two neighborhoods’ vitality and strong sense of community.
The exhibit is particularly timely now, notes Green, as public debate rages over assorted downtown-development projects — including an ambitious plan for revitalizing The Block. “These photos … examine the very nature of urban development,” she observes.
Born in Nashville, Tenn., Washburn graduated from Belmont College and did graduate work at Vanderbilt University before finding employment in Asheville. Initially, the museum had no idea what had become of Washburn once he’d left this area. They were finally able to track him down (he’s now a judge in Alamance County), and he and his family attended the opening reception, held earlier this month.
The photographs were donated to the museum by longtime supporter Helen Gumpert.
The Asheville Art Museum is located in the Pack Place Education, Arts and Science Center, 2 South Pack Square in downtown Asheville. Museum hours are 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday (until 8 p.m. on Fridays), and 1-5 p.m. on Sundays. Admission is $6 for adults, $5 for seniors, students with ID, and children 4-15 (kids under 4 are admitted free). For more information, call 253-3227, or visit the museum’s Web site (www.ashevilleart.org).
— Lisa Watters
It’s a touchdown, girls!
When a football clinic was offered for the first time at last year’s local celebration of National Girls and Women in Sports Day, “It was really interesting,” recalls organizer Allison Dains with a laugh. “Not very many people preregistered for it, but after they got there and saw it, we had people skipping other clinics to go to it, because they had so much fun and it was so different and new and exciting.”
This year’s event, scheduled for Saturday, Feb. 28 at UNCA, will give girls (ages 6 and up) and women a chance to try new sports or hone their skills in one they’re already playing.
The football clinic will be back, as will clinics in swimming, basketball, running, cheerleading, soccer, volleyball, aerobics and weightlifting (the latter two for women only).
The event, which starts at 8:30 a.m., is co-sponsored by UNCA, the Pisgah Girl Scout Council, Asheville Parks and Recreation, Girls on the Run, On a Roll, the Asheville Assault, the Asheville Splash and the local YWCA and YMCA.
“One of the reasons that it’s such a great event is because we have all these organizations that are in the city that work together on it,” Dains observes. “We’re not competing with each other; I think that’s kind of unique.”
FOR a $15 fee, participants can take part in the clinics, get a T-shirt, enjoy a healthy lunch, and even attend the UNCA Lady Bulldog basketball game that afternoon. A $5 nonparticipant fee covers lunch and admission to the game. There’ll also be lots of door prizes.
The National Girls and Women in Sports Day grew out of Title IX — landmark federal legislation that, among other things, required schools to give females equal opportunity to participate in sports.
When Title IX was enacted in 1971, only 1 in 27 girls participated in high-school sports, according to the Women’s Sports Foundation. By 2002, that figure had jumped to 1 in 2.5. For boys, the figure has remained constant at 1 in 2.
“As girls and women nowadays, you can become professional players of basketball and football and hockey and soccer,” says Dains. Such opportunities, she notes, didn’t exist until fairly recently.
[For more information or to register, call Molly deMattos at 252-4442, ext. 317.]
— Lisa Watters
Money in the bank(s)
Asheville City Council took a gander at the Wilma Dykeman RiverWay plan last month (See “Looking Ahead: Council Hears Big Plans for Asheville’s Future,” Jan. 14 Xpress). Now it’s the public’s turn.
During the first week of March (Monday, March 1 through Friday, March 5), RiverLink will host a series of lunchtime presentations in its offices in Warehouse Studios (170 Lyman St.) from noon to 1 p.m. Members of the public are encouraged to make comments and give input. This is a bring-your-own-lunch affair, though RiverLink will provide coffee and soft drinks.
The RiverWay plan is the fruit of nearly two years of effort by area residents working in conjunction with architects, landscape architects, transportation planners and economic-development consultants to link the French Broad and Swannanoa rivers in a continuous, 17-mile greenway. The plan, says RiverLink, incorporates opportunities for mixed-use development, mixed-income housing, recreation and tourism while protecting air and water quality, encouraging “smart growth” — and expanding the tax base. The current tax base of all land and buildings in the river corridor (not including the former Sayles-Biltmore Bleacheries property) is $24 million. According to the nonprofit, the RiverWay plan would cost an estimated $34 million to implement — and could boost the tax base to more than $214 million.
[For directions or more information, call RiverLink at 252-8474, ext.110, or visit their Web site (www.riverlink.org).]
class=”attrib”>– Lisa Watters
Pause for the cause
Asheville resident Jenna Bryner has been accepted as a member of a peace delegation traveling to Israel/occupied Palestine for two weeks at the end of March. Organized by the Fellowship of Reconciliation (an interfaith, international peace movement founded in 1915), the delegation will spend time living in the homes of both Israelis and Palestinians and collecting information and perspectives from both sides of the continuing conflict. To help defray her travel costs, Bryner will be holding a fund-raising party on Sunday, Feb. 29 from 6-9 p.m. at 96 Bartlett St. (near the YWCA on South French Broad Avenue). Tax-deductible donations can also be made out to FOR/Interfaith Peace builders and mailed to Jenna Bryner (P.O. Box 17083, Asheville, NC 28816).
In celebration of its third anniversary, The Future of Tradition Center for Folkloric Arts will be hosting an evening of multicultural performances. For a suggested donation of $7, supporters will be treated to demonstrations of flamenco dancing, ancient swordplay, the rhythms of Guinea with African ballet, the dazzling acrobatics of Brazil, the melody of traditional sea songs, fire spinning, poetry, belly dancing and lots more. The event will be held on Saturday, Feb. 28 at the center’s studio (129 Roberts St. in the River District). Doors open at 6:30 p.m.
— Brian Sarzynski