The road less driven
Back before the Blue Ridge Parkway was completed, tourists had few choices for a leisurely panoramic drive. But they did have Old Toll Road. In the early 1920s and ’30s, tourists would caravan up the narrow pass that ran from Black Mountain to Mount Mitchell’s Camp Alice. The round trip could be done in a day, with time for a leisurely lunch to boot. But that era passed with the opening of the parkway, and Old Toll Road is closed to the public today.
However, on Saturday, Aug. 7, travelers will be able to take a trip back in time with the help of the Swannanoa Valley Museum — and some sturdy four-wheel drive vehicles. The museum will sponsor its second “Old Toll Road Caravan” along the historic roadbed to help raise funds for their endeavors. The drive is rugged, and ticket holders will be placed with volunteers driving off-road vehicles. Reservations are a must.
“Last year’s caravan was hugely successful,” notes Wendall Begley, the chairman of the museum’s board. Begley also promises a bumpy ride that’s chock full of stunning scenery. A hot dog lunch will be provided and travelers will have the opportunity to take a short trip to the ruins of Camp Alice while at Mount Mitchell.
Travelers will gather at 8 a.m. in the parking lot of the Black Mountain Savings Bank, where they’ll be assigned to a vehicle.
Tickets are $75 for museum members and $100 for non-members. Volunteers with four-wheel drive vehicles are also needed, and will be able to participate for free. For more information, please call the museum at 669-9566.
— Brian Sarzynski
Putting the pieces together
A horrific auto accident in March 2001 crushed the legs of local artist David Zane, putting him in a wheelchair for nearly a year. (Seven surgeries later, he’s now walking again.)
“My world was dark during that time,” he recalls. “I somehow had to find a way to be happy.” Zane had long produced art as a hobby, so he now looked to his creative impulses to help him through a crisis.
Inspired to create mosaic art, Zane began ransacking his home in search of stuff he could bust up and glue back together again. Soon he was doing this feverishly, he notes, “often 10 to 12 hours a day — smashing plates, glasses, ceramic tile, marbles, anything that would break.”
Finally, some visiting friends offered to take Zane out to buy some real mosaic supplies “before I started bustin’ up the furniture!” as he puts it.
Early on in the process, Zane zeroed in on making mosaic mirrors.
“This work saved my sanity,” he says now. “Art is powerful; it heals, soothes, and makes you smile…. That power sustained me and brought a profound joy and sense of purpose to my life.”
With the mirrors, notes Zane, “You become a part of the piece — adding to it, changing it, making it personal and unique.”
Zane will share his passion and techniques in a three-day workshop (Aug. 7-9) at the Black Mountain Center for the Arts. Participants will meet on Saturday (10 a.m. to 5 p.m.), Sunday (noon to 5 p.m.), and Monday (3-5:30 p.m. — to add the finishing touches). The cost is $50 plus $35 for materials, which include a pair of nippers, a filer, a board and mirror, china pieces, grout, mounting hardware, paint and hammers.
For more information or to register, call the Black Mountain Center for the Arts at 669-0930 or visit www.blackmountainarts.org. To see more of Zane’s work, visit www.shambhalamosaics.com.
— Lisa Watters
How to get a grant
Grant money is often key to helping nonprofit groups survive. It may be the seed money that gets a good idea up and running or the nut that sustains an organization from year to year. We all know grant money is out there, but how many know how to successfully apply?
The Community Foundation of Western North Carolina (see “Gifts That Keep on Giving,” Dec. 10, 2003 Xpress) not only provides funding for projects throughout our region, but offers free workshops to help nonprofits navigate the application process. Two new programs now offer grants up to $25,000 (substantially larger than those offered by the Community Foundation in the past) and boast a streamlined application process for smaller grants of up to $7,000. To be eligible for consideration, an organization must hold a 501(c)(3) tax exemption, meet specific guidelines, and serve one or more of WNC’s 18 counties.
Workshops will be held as follows: Aug. 9 at Mayland Community College in Spruce Pine; Aug. 10 and 18 at Pack Memorial Library in Asheville; Aug. 12 at Tri-County Community College in Murphy; Aug. 16 at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee; and Aug. 17 at Isothermal Community College in Spindale.
Registration (which can be done by phone) is required for all workshops.
For more info, visit www.cfwnc.org or phone (828) 254-4960.
— Cecil Bothwell
Art for the heart
If you’re strolling around downtown Asheville on Friday Aug. 6, you might want to check out the store windows on the Page Avenue side of the Grove Arcade.
Selected windows will feature painting, poetry and art cards created by artists in the Goodwill ArtWorks program. In addition, ArtWorks cards will be available at the Warren Wilson College store inside the Grove Arcade.
Now in its fifth year, ArtWorks is a part of Goodwill Industries of Northwest North Carolina’s Community Access Program. The program offers help with communication, personal finance, academics, health and safety, independent-living skills, leisure and recreation, vocational and social development, and mobility.
For more info about ArtWorks, contact Dell Fleming at 298-9023, ext. 163 or firstname.lastname@example.org. To learn more about Goodwill, check out www.goodwillnwnc.org.
— Tracy Rose
Grading the news
Newsman Ted Koppel devoted the April 30 edition of Nightline to reading the names of the U.S. soldiers killed in Iraq since the March 2003 invasion. But Sinclair Broadcast Group, which owns WLOS TV-13, refused to air the show on any of its stations, prompting sharp criticism from both ABC news and many area residents. The non-event raised general awareness of corporate censorship of the media and of Sinclair’s editorial policies in particular.
In response, concerned viewers formed Sinclair Media Watch, a grassroots effort to monitor WLOS news coverage. The group, sponsored by Citizens for Media Literacy (a local nonprofit), will hold a meeting for volunteer watchers on Thursday, Aug. 5 in Asheville’s Pack Library’s Lord Auditorium (67 Haywood St. in Asheville), starting at 6 p.m.
The meeting includes a demonstration of Grade the News, a citizens’ guide and scoring sheet for evaluating local news media. Volunteers will use the guide (developed at Stanford University’s school of journalism) to assess the extent of the Baltimore-based Sinclair Group’s influence on WLOS’ news coverage.
“WLOS has a proud history of serving our mountain region for half a century, but local viewers have seen a marked change in the station’s news coverage since it was taken over by Sinclair,” said CML Director Wally Bowen.
“We are using Grade the News to quantify these changes — and, we hope, to pressure Sinclair to restore local editorial control to the WLOS news staff, who live and work in the communities they cover,” Bowen explained.
For more information, visit www.sinclairwatch.net.
— Cecil Bothwell
Spinning WNC craft into the spotlight
Western North Carolina has become one of the top spots in the country for crafts. And even more attention was focused on the area’s craft scene when six Haywood Community College students were selected to participate in the Schacht Spindle Company Student Showcase in Boulder, Colo. (The company manufactures hand weaving looms and spinning wheels.)
HCC students Cindy Hall, Sally Patton, Elisabeth Reed, Julie Stefano, Brenda Tuckey, and Susan Zakanycz shared their work at the showcase, which highlights how hand weaving is evolving in new directions. Hall and Zakanycz both received category awards (plus $200 gift certificates from the Schacht Spindle Company). Tuckey received an honorable mention and a special edition weaving shuttle.
The showcase featured 60 students from 18 schools across the country. Haywood Community College had most students participating from a single school.
Extensive work went into the pieces on display at the showcase. Hall, for example, spent 40 hours designing a black shawl using a “collapsed” technique — which involves wetting the fiber so it twists back on itself to create a unique pattern.
There are still slots available for this fall in Haywood Community College’s professional crafts fiber program. The program covers weaving and textile design along with business skills, says HCC fiber instructor Catherine Ellis. Registration takes place on Wednesday, Aug. 11, and Thursday, Aug. 12 from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
For more information on Haywood Community College’s professional crafts fiber program, call 627-4500.
— Jason Lauritzen