Build your own outdoor oven

Ah, the smell of fresh-baked bread — especially if you just baked it in your own outdoor, wood-fired, earthen oven!

Culture’s Edge can teach you how (to build the oven, that is). On Monday and Tuesday, July 6 and 7, the organization is offering a hands-on oven-building class in Black Mountain, for a sliding-scale fee of $125 to $160. Austin-based natural builder Daniel Baugh and Earthaven’s Janell Kapoor will lead the class.

Call Culture’s Edge at 298-2399 for more information, or check out their Web site:

Escape from Affluenza

Yep, you read it right: Escape from Affluenza — not to be confused with Escape from Alcatraz (Clint Eastwood and all that), nor with a nasty bout of the flu.

Affluenza, it seems, is “the epidemic of rampant consumerism and materialism” that’s making Americans ill, according to a press release from Seattle filmmakers Vivia Boe and John de Graaf. The two co-produced Affluenza, a prime-time special that ran on PBS last year, identifying the 20th-century illness and its symptoms: record levels of personal debt and bankruptcy, fractured families, chronic stress and overwork.

Their sequel, Escape from Affluenza, will air on Tuesday, July 7, at 9 p.m. on local PBS channels. The film features Mount Airy, N.C., native Frank Levering and his wife, Wanda Urbanska. Both “escaped” affluenza by leaving the rat race to run a U-pick-’em cherry orchard in the Blue Ridge Mountains, near Mt. Airy.

“People are tired of keeping up with the Joneses,” says de Graaf.

“We declare the first week in July as Independence from Stuff Week,” says Boe. “In many ways, the American Revolution was a rebellion against materialism, and seeking independence from stuff is entirely within the spirit of Independence Day.”

The original Affluenza program will be aired on Thursday, July 2 at 10 p.m.

Friends of the River

The Land-of-Sky Regional Council presented its annual Friends of the River awards recently. The following organizations and individuals were recognized for their significant contributions toward enhancing restoring the French Broad River as a cultural, economic, natural or recreational resource:

• the North Carolina General Assembly

• the UNCA Environmental Quality Institute

• the Brevard College Voice of the Rivers Program

• Bob Carter

• Rick Morgan

• Wilma Dykeman Stokely

American Heritage rivers named

No surprise here: Without support from U.S. Rep. Charles Taylor, the French Broad River failed to make the top 10 — the rivers chosen for the first-ever American Heritage Rivers designation.

The winners were: the Connecticut, the Detroit, the Hanalei, the Hudson, the New River, the Rio Grande, the Potomac, the St.John’s, the Upper Mississippi and the Willamette.

Taylor objected to the program, citing some property owners’ fears of government intervention, an alleged lack of approval of the program by Congress, and questions about funding.

But the scores of local organizations that supported the river’s bid for designation by the program insist that those concerns are groundless. “The rivers selected will receive preference for existing federal programs and the assistance of a federal employee, known as a ‘river navigator,’ to identify those resources [available] to help revitalize their rivers and clean up pollution. The American Heritage Rivers program does not involve any new regulations and is entirely voluntary.” These groups include RiverLink — an Asheville-based nonprofit seeking to preserve and enhance the French Broad — and assorted other nonprofit organizations, public officials, politicians, business owners and chamber of commerce leaders from both North Carolina and Tennessee.

Wyeth in Greenville?

Have you no faith that culture exists in the Southeast? Consider this: Two dozen paintings by watercolor master Andrew Wyeth now belong to the Greenville County Museum of Art — making it the only American museum to own an extensive collection of his works.

The museum recently borrowed $6 million to purchase 17 Wyeth watercolors from the collection of Dr. C. Richard Epes — who donated an additional six works. That brings the Museum’s total Wyeth collection to 24 paintings, including “Cranberries” (1966), “Last Light”(1988), “Barefoot” (1992) — an “intriguing treatment of Wyeth’s notorious model, Helga,” say museum officials — and “Whale Rib” (1993).

The new Greenville collection will be on display until Aug. 30, when it will be temporarily moved, to allow for gallery renovations.

So make the trek down to Greenville, and check out these watercolor gems: The only other places in the nation where you can see Wyeth paintings this summer are the Whitney Museum of American Art (in New York) and the Wyeth Center of the Farnsworth Musuem (in Maine).

Greenville’s a whole lot closer, and the museum will offer free guided tours of the Wyeth exhibit on Saturdays and Sundays at 3 p.m., throughout the summer. The public is also invited to a free Family Day celebration from 2 to 4 p.m. on Sunday, July 12 — Wyeth’s 81st birthday.

For more info, call the museum at (864) 271-7570. It’s located at 420 College St. in downtown Greenville.

— dutifully compiled by Margaret Williams

About Margaret Williams
Editor Margaret Williams first wrote for Xpress in 1994. An Alabama native, she has lived in Western North Carolina since 1987 and completed her Masters of Liberal Arts & Sciences from UNC-Asheville in 2016. Follow me @mvwilliams

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