Buzzworm news briefs

The art of local art buying

If your holiday shopping list is still uncomfortably long, this Saturday, Dec. 17, provides a handy means to shorten it in one fell swoop — and pump some money into the local economy along the way. From 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., the members of the Mountain Microenterprise Fund’s Artist Alliance will host a special sale, the first annual Buy Local Holiday Bazaar.

The sale, which will be held at the Asheville Area Arts Council’s Front Gallery (11 Biltmore Ave.), will feature arts and crafts by local fiber artists, jewelry makers, metal workers, painters, photographers and potters.

The Artist Alliance has spent the past year training artists in the finer points of marketing their work, one of the many functions performed by the nonprofit MMF, a Western North Carolina-based small-business incubator. “Creating is easy for an artist, but selling is hard,” says Laura Klein, a member of the alliance’s steering committee. “This bazaar gives us a good opportunity to practice selling art.”

And, of course, it gives the rest of us a good opportunity to chip away at that gift list.

— Jon Elliston

Task force juggles apples and oranges

A survey of civic, convention and performing-arts centers in various Southeastern locations was the focus at the third meeting of Asheville’s Civic Center Task Force on Dec. 4. But the information in the report left the panel with more questions than answers.

“Looks to me like we have some apples and oranges,” commented Sidney Powell, the task force member who represents the Asheville Center for the Performing Arts.

“I think what it points [out] to me — there are just many ways communities approach the situation,” said Asheville City Council member Jan Davis, who chairs the task force. The document, he noted, gives a “quick-and-dirty” look at what other communities have done or are doing.

The report compares the focus, size, ownership and financing of the Asheville Civic Center with those of eight “aging” and newer regional centers and six other N.C.-based facilities. Included were the Peace Center (city-owned land, nonprofit-owned facility) and Bi-Lo Center (district-owned, privately managed) in Greenville, S.C., as well as such N.C. facilities as Hickory’s Metro Convention Center (owned by the local Tourism Development Authority), the Fayetteville Convention Center (county-owned), and the planned Wilmington Convention Center (which will be city-owned). But disparities between uses and funding, in particular, made the comparisons difficult to assess.

One thing the report does seem to document, said former Asheville Mayor Charles Worley, is that facilities with a primary focus on the arts tend to rely largely on private funds, while multipurpose centers with arenas and/or exhibit halls rely basically on local governments and special taxes for funding. Most of the 12 multi-use facilities considered in the report have relied on bonds, certificates of participation and/or taxes on lodging, car rentals and food/beverages. (One, the Roanoke Civic Center, instituted a facility fee — in lieu of a parking charge — that’s added to each ticket.)

Task-force members requested a revised report for their Jan. 4 meeting, with additional details regarding the facilities’ size, funding, the potential for competition with Asheville’s facility, and the economic impact of their functions.

During a concluding public-comment session, Dwight Butner, a downtown restaurateur who recently made an unsuccessful run for City Council, stressed the need for a credible economic-impact study. His own business, said Butner, is “much more impacted” by weekend events at the Civic Center, such as home shows and the Southern Highland Craft Guild’s fairs, “than it would ever be by concerts and those sorts of things.” Without the proper economic study, he declared, “You’re not going to have the information you need to justify investment for decades into the future.”

An economic impact study is being considered, according to City Manager Gary Jackson. Initial contact has been made with Dr. Inyhuck “Steve” Ha with the Center and the Department of Economics at Western Carolina University regarding the scope and cost of such a study. “We need to report back with the supplemental info gathered and gauge task force interest in authorizing and funding,” said Jackson.

The next task-force meeting will be Wednesday, Jan. 4, 5:30 p.m. in the Civic Center Banquet Hall. The public is encouraged to attend.

— Nelda Holder

Champagne and chocolate

The Grove Arcade seemed to get off to a slow start when a handful of businesses opened their doors going into the 2002 holiday season. Some early contenders fell by the wayside, but Anntony’s Caribbean Cafe, Fresh Quarter Produce, the Grove Arcade Copy Shop, the Grove Corner Market, Kamm’s Kustard, Morningstar Gallery, Mountain Made, Natural Selections, Oliver & Annabelle’s, Patty’s, Pie in the Sky, Sprig, Sunny Grove, True Confections and the Warren Wilson Store have survived, while newcomers have swelled the occupancy rate to 90 percent.

The Grove Corner Market will celebrate its third anniversary with an open-house wine tasting and party Friday, Dec. 16, 4-7 p.m. The party, to be held on the newly upfitted “Perch” loft area, will feature a preview of recent additions to the grocery’s offerings and services: Grab & Gourmet (prepared dinners), GCM catering, sandwich delivery and cooking classes.

Storekeeper Rosanne Kiely promises that the event will include her market’s finest wine tasting of the year. She told Xpress, “In conjunction with the recently opened shop Oh! Chocolat and Fine Wine Trading Company, we will be pouring Champagne Duval Leroy and hearty Napa Valley red wines. These wines were selected to accompany a tasting of the exquisite creations of renowned French chocolatier Michel Cluizel.”

— Cecil Bothwell

Like Fifth Avenue, with soul

The month between Thanksgiving and Christmas is a bit of an anomaly: It seems as though it should stretch on for about, say, four weeks. But instead, if you blink, you miss it. This glitch in the time-space continuum can leave shoppers feeling more “bah, humbug” than “fa-la-la-la.” Happily, however, your friends on Lexington Avenue have a solution: Do your shopping downtown after hours during the two-day Late Nite on Lex event. And while you’re at it, get a little holiday cheer for no extra charge.

Here’s how it works: Participating businesses in the Lexington shopping district (including stores off the main drag, such as Mountain Lights and Rags Reborn Eco-chic Boutique around the corner on Walnut Street) will keep their doors open until 10 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 16 and Saturday, Dec. 17, so even if you’re chained to your desk all day, you’ll have plenty of post-sundown hours to give your credit cards a workout.

“This [event] is to give everyone a little taste of Lexington as far as our arts culture and the shops we have,” explains committee member Rebecca Hecht. “Each business will have their own interesting festivities happening.”

Stop by the Shady Grove floral shop to check out their Christmas trees, for example, and you can also enjoy roasted chestnuts. UNCA graduate Liz Pofus exhibits her art work at Adorn salon, and the Indian restaurant Mela will be showing Bollywood films. Looking for traditional activities? Local doo-wop group the Dorchesters will be roving the area performing carols.

Among the shops getting in on the action are Artemisia gallery, fabric supplier Piece Gardens, decor stores Natural Home and Terra Nostra, and clothing boutiques Lava and Minx. Visit eateries like Izzy’s Coffee Den and Rosetta’s Kitchen for specials, and check out the grand opening of Cornerstone Minerals, a new hot spot for fossil and mineral fanatics.

For more information about Late Nite on Lex, call Rebecca Hecht at 225-8828.

— Alli Marshall

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