Buzzworm news briefs

The art of making money

Most artists would probably prefer to spend all their time at their easel, pottery wheel, laptop or loom. On the other hand, a lot of them would probably love it if they could make their art pay well enough that they could give up their day jobs.

The second annual Artist Seminar Series is designed to help both emerging and established artists get a better handle on the business side of art. Last year’s series “was an overwhelming success and underscored the continuing demand for professional development and business expertise within the arts community,” says Dana Davis of the Asheville Area Arts Council. “It also served as an opportunity for artists to share their experiences and provide suggestions and feedback for future seminar topics and issues.”

This year, the arts council is partnering with UNCA, enabling the series to be held in the school’s state-of-the-art Owen Conference Center. The seminars will take place on three consecutive Thursdays in November.

The first offering, “How to Make the Web Work for You,” happens Nov. 6 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Facilitated by Web designer Heather Gordon of Meridian Design and True Blue Art Supplies, the seminar will cover such topics as planning your Web site, how to create Web traffic, search-engine optimization, viral marketing techniques, and protecting yourself from Internet fraud.

Next up is “Legal Issues for Artists” (Nov. 13, 4-7 p.m.). Asheville attorneys George Saenger and David Carter will discuss copyrights, contracts and other issues pertinent to artists, and Christopher Clark of North Carolina Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts will make participants aware of this valuable resource.

Rounding out the series will be “Print” (Nov. 20, 4-7 p.m.), which will focus on grant writing and putting together an artist’s statement, bio and resume. Pamela Myers of the Asheville Art Museum, Wendy Outland of the Asheville Performing Arts Center Development Group, and UNCA art instructor/artist Robert Tynes will talk about promotion for artists. Jeff Pettus of the North Carolina Arts Council, Angie Dunfee of the Asheville Art Museum, p.o’connoer puppets director Pamella O’Connor and Davis will address the nuances of grant writing. Finally, a panel of professionals — Scott Smith of 1250 Design, Susan Rhew of Rhew Designs, John Cram of Blue Spiral 1, and Don Sinclair of SCORE — will review and give feedback on participants’ brochures, fliers and other printed materials.

The cost for all three seminars is $60; individually, the Web workshop costs $35, and the other two are $15 each. Participants are encouraged to register beforehand, though registrations will be taken at the door as space permits.

To register or for more information, call Davis at the Asheville Area Arts Council (258-0710) or visit their Web site (www.ashevillearts.com).

— Lisa Watters

And then there were nuns

“What I’ve learned from the sisters — many of whom remain mentally robust after a century of life — is that The Who had it exactly backward. I hope I get old before I die,” wrote University of Kentucky researcher Dr. David Snowdon, who spent 15 years tracking the health and well-being of 678 members of the School Sisters of Notre Dame in a long-term research project on Alzheimer’s disease and aging.

Besides such diverse factors as adequate folic acid, good genetics and early intellectual ability, Snowden found that intangibles — such as a positive outlook, a sense of community, and personal faith — were also linked to an individual’s prospects for leading a longer, healthier life.

Snowden will discuss his findings at an upcoming conference in Hendersonville titled “Aging with Grace — New Frontiers: Research to Practice.” The conference happens Monday through Wednesday, Nov. 3-5 at the Kanuga Conference Center; Snowden will be the keynote speaker.

Begun in 1986, the Nun Study, as it came to be known, focused on a group of women who were then between the ages of 60 and 91. Participants agreed to undergo annual cognitive and physical assessments and blood tests, to give researchers access to their medical and personal records, and to donate their brains to the research team upon their deaths.

Snowden published his findings in Aging with Grace: What the Nun Study Teaches Us About Leading Longer, Healthier and More Meaningful Lives (Doubleday, 2001).

Aimed at the elderly and those who serve them, the conference will offer strategies for reducing age-related illness and preserving independence. Topics to be covered include: positive attitudes and mental health, social engagement, acts of kindness/generativity, spirituality, structured lifestyles, understanding health maintenance and wellness, addressing risk factors and preventing illness, physical fitness, appropriate nutrition, avoiding falls, cognitive maintenance/memory, laughter, adaptability/flexibility, and civility and aging.

The conference fees are as follows: $400 single occupancy, $275 double occupancy, and $175 for commuters. All meals are included, and continuing-education units are available on request.

To register or for more information, call Western Carolina University’s Division of Continuing Education and Summer School at (828) 928-4968, or visit http://cess.wcu.edu/aging.

— Lisa Watters

Stumping for democracy

Jim Hightower is not afraid to tell it like he sees it — and what he’s seen over the last few years has left him hopping mad.

Beginning with what he and many others regard as a stolen presidential election, Hightower cites a wide range of grievances against the Bush administration: environmental deregulation, tax breaks for the rich, the constitutionally challenged USA PATRIOT Act and a war he sees as having been built on fabrication leavened with corporate greed.

In response, the indefatigable populist created the Rolling Thunder Downhome Democracy Tour, which is thundering around the country (it stopped in Asheville last May) leaving grassroots uprisings in its wake. Now Hightower’s on the road again, promoting his new book (Thieves in High Places: They’ve Stolen Our Country and It’s Time to Take it Back) and urging Americans to put themselves — and the fun — back in politics.

The book is classic Hightower, full of folksy tale-spinning, taunts, wry humor and footnoted facts. After laying out a damning case against the Bush administration for gutting environmental protection and showing utter disregard for the working poor, this equal-opportunity gadfly then takes aim at what he calls the “Wobbleycrats,” quoting a Louisiana senator who says: “One Republican Party is enough. Two Republican parties is almost unconstitutional.”

Particularly noteworthy is the author’s chapter on Wal-Mart, which maintains that for every two jobs a Wal-Mart creates in a town, it eliminates three. Hightower’s carefully documented report should be required reading for anyone who touts big-box retailers as a boon to the local economy.

Beyond his riffing and dissing and pointed humor, however, Hightower’s latest book is also a tool kit for political activists, full of organizing ideas, contact information and Web links.

It’s also full of hope. Everywhere he travels, says Hightower, he meets people who have made the shift from passive acceptance of the status quo to a high-gear high dudgeon. PTOs and unions, environmentalists and anti-globalizationists, farmers and small-business owners, students and professors, career soldiers and pacifists … everywhere, he’s encountered folks who say they feel ripped off, lied to, cheated and mistreated. And Hightower believes they’re not going to take it anymore.

On Thursday, Oct. 30, the author will be in Asheville for a new Rolling Thunder event: Halloween with Hightower. The spirits indicate that costumed attendees will get a $2 discount at the door. And whatever transpires inside seems sure to haunt the White House.

Halloween with Hightower happens Thursday, Oct. 30, beginning at 6 p.m. Admission is $10 adults, $5 students with ID. For more info, check the local Web site (http://main.nc.us/rollingthunder).

— Cecil Bothwell

The soul of a miracle

“When you begin seeing coincidences as life opportunities, every coincidence becomes meaningful. … Every coincidence becomes an opportunity for you to become the person the universe intended you to be,” proclaims mind/body physician and author Deepak Chopra in his latest work, The Spontaneous Fulfillment of Desire (Harmony Books, 2003). The book carries the rather daunting subtitle, “Harnessing the Infinite Power of Coincidence.” To a reader unfamiliar with Chopra’s theories and teachings, it could come across as either way too complex or way too New Agey.

The book’s premise is that coincidences are more than mere random occurrences — they’re miracles by which the universe reveals to each of us our deeper purpose. If that sounds rather airy-fairy, just turn to the first chapter, wherein Chopra immediately launches into a highly scientific discussion of the physical world versus spiritual existence, couched in the language of quantum mechanics.

Perhaps most remarkably, the author manages to pull it off with such warmth and openness that it’s as if he reached out from the pages of his book and personally took the reader by the hand.

The most important word in this book may be “synchrodestiny,” a higher avatar of coincidence that, the author explains, happens when “we consciously participate in the creation of our lives by understanding the world that is beyond our sense, the world of our soul.”

Desire comprises two parts: In the first, Chopra investigates the workings of coincidence, synchronicity and synchrodestiny. Early on, he cautions readers — especially those familiar with his writings — not to skip chapters in a mad dash for the lessons outlined in part two. Chopra also encourages those new to the theory of synchrodestiny not to get bogged down in the scientific banter, as each chapter builds on the last. “I have tried to make this my most accessible book to date,” the author reveals.

With more than 35 volumes to his credit, not to mention more than 100 audio and video titles, Chopra writes in a confident and polished style. And despite the immensity of the subject — I mean, we’re talking about the nature of the soul here — he manages to impart both understanding and a sense of (dare I say it?) fun.

The last part of Desire serves to anchor the book, presenting the “seven principles of synchrodestiny.” The daily lesson plans (one for each day of the week) are designed to help readers manifest miracles in their own lives. Each one includes a reading, an exercise (the fifth principle, “Harness Your Emotional Turbulence,” draws on Marshall Rosenberg’s Nonviolent Communication techniques), and a sutra — which Chopra defines as a mantra with meaning.

The author also offers instructions on how to meditate, how to make use of archetypes, and other practical information for spiritual seekers. And though Chopra doesn’t represent himself as a New Age guru, he does present accessible, interactive practices that make Desire not only a fascinating read but also an effective, nondogmatic workbook for promoting daily growth.

Ticket to ride

Deepak Chopra will read and discuss his latest book at Jubilee! (46 Wall St. in downtown Asheville) on Saturday, Nov. 1, starting at 7 p.m. People buying The Spontaneous Fulfillment of Desire at Malaprop’s Bookstore (55 Haywood St.) will receive one free ticket to the reading.

— Alli Marshall

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