Blog :: 06-2012

Asheville goes greener with natural gas vehicles

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6/28/2012 - Asheville goes greener with natural gas vehicles
by Dale Neal - Asheville Citizen Times

 ASHEVILLE -- Aiming to become the greenest city in the Southeast, Asheville boosted the number of vehicles in the municipal fleet that can run on cheaper and cleaner-burning compressed natural gas.

 City officials along with Land-of-Sky Regional Council staffers and Mission Health Systems celebrated the reopening Wednesday of the city's CNG-filling station on McCormick Place and the addition of new vehicles that will mean less greenhouse gas emissions and better air quality for the mountains.

"This is what it looks like to become the greenest city in the Southeast. You need the people with commitment and the clean local technology," said Maggie Ullman, the city's sustainability director.

The new vehicles and station improvement were the region's share of federal stimulus money obtained through the Carolina Blue Skies and Green Jobs Initiative.

Spearheaded by the Triangle J Council of Governments, the project has spent about $12 million for more than 40 alternative fuel projects in North and South Carolina that should save 3 million gallons of gas each year.

The Asheville area has become a leader in the use of CNG vehicles, with two-thirds of the vehicles reported in operation in North and South Carolina, said Kathy Boyer of the Triangle J Council. "You guys have done a really good job," she said.

The city station was originally built in 2005, but the renovations have doubled the station's capacity. The city used $1.5 million including more than $800,000 in stimulus money for the improvements and to add 23 new CNG-fueled vehicles. Currently, 37 of the city's 600 vehicles, or about 7 percent, run on the compressed natural gas, which typically costs a dollar less than a gallon of gasoline.

The CNG infrastructure is expanding around the region, making it easier for drivers to refuel vehicles converted to run on compressed natural gas.

Other sites include Alltec Eco Energy's station on Hendersonville road and a new station in Hendersonville. PSCNC, the area's natural gas utility, plans to open a filling station on Brevard Road later this year.

"We have the largest concentration of CNG filling stations than in any other part of the state," said Bill Eaker, who heads the Land-of-Sky Regional Council's Clean Vehicles Coalition.

Mission Health Systems workers will also use the station to fuel the five new CNG vehicles added to the nonprofit's shuttle fleet. Mission received about $100,000 in grant money for the purchases. Using CNG fuel the past six years has reduced Mission's greenhouse gas emissions by 276,000 pounds, saving some 14,000 gallons of gas.

Mission is committed not just to the health of individuals but improving the health of the environment for all, according to Dr. Ronald Paulus, Mission's CEO.

"We can do right by doing good," Paulus said. "The quality of our air impacts the health status of our community, whether it's kids with asthma or adults with COPD."

Natural gas is cheaply abundant in the U.S., which has greater reserves of the gas than Saudi Arabia has oil, Paulus said.

"It's a lot easier to budget for natural gas as a fuel than for diesel," said Keith Bamberger with the state Division of Air Quality in Swannanoa. With the move toward cleaner-burning vehicles as well as the smokestack improvements at the Progress Energy plant, "our air quality is getting noticeably better in recent years," he said.

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Asheville's free summer family fun

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6/25/2012 - Asheville's free summer family fun
by Susanna Barbee, WNC Parent contributor

 Now that summer is in full swing, many parents are looking for a variety of ways to keep their kids' budding minds and busy bodies in motion. The Asheville area provides many stimulating activities for children of all ages and many at little to no cost.

 "It's a must to find free things to do each summer," said North Asheville mom Jenn Gardner. "Spending less money on a daily basis allows us to save up for bigger trips and vacations." 

Tailgate markets

 Tailgate markets are an integral part of our Appalachian heritage. For decades, local farmers have loaded up their trucks with food and wares and set up shop in town to sell to the public. Though it's easier and sometimes cheaper in today's world to visit the grocery store for produce, meat, eggs and other necessities, children gain little in the way of a fulfilling experience.

In contrast, a stroll through a tailgate market allows a young mind to learn about nearby farms, regional foods and sustaining the local economy. The atmosphere is friendly, often with live music and endless smiles and hellos. Vendors will offer tastes of sausage, honey and cheeses, among many other items.

Most tailgate markets run from April to October, but days and hours of operation vary. Information regarding specific tailgate markets can be found at www.mountainmarkets.com.

N.C.Arboretum

The North Carolina Arboretum is a backyard treasure. It includes 65 acres of cultivated gardens, one of the nation's most unique bonsai collections, and numerous indoor and outdoor exhibits. Admission is always free, and parking is free the first Tuesday of each month. On other days, parking is $8 per vehicle.

The destination is a favorite for Gardner and her two children, Annie, 7, and Waylon, 4.

"The arboretum is very kid-friendly," Gardner said. "The welcoming area gives the kids binoculars and a net to catch bugs. They also have great trails. It's just a neat place to take your kids."

Also free at the arboretum: geocaching. Pick up a kit at the Baker Education Center and head out in search of hidden treasure.

Pack Place museums

Pack Place, on Pack Square in downtown Asheville, is home to two museums, Asheville Art Museum and the Colburn Earth Science Museum.

Each museum offers free admission from 3-5 p.m. the first Wednesday of each month. At the Colburn, children younger than 6 are always free. At the art museum, children younger than 3 are free.

Head to the movies

An option for families with older kids, Cinebarre at Biltmore Square Mall will host free outdoor movies at 7 p.m. Tuesdays. Bring a chair or a blanket. The theater will sell grilled foods an d offer its full indoor menu, too. Offerings include "Talledega Nights" on July 17 and "Ghostbusters" on July 24. Visit www.cinebarre.com for details.

For the younger set, head to the Carolina Asheville theater for the free movies at 11 a.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays. Visit www.carolinacinemas.com.

For only $1, Regal Cinemas offers kid friendly movies at 10 a.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays through the summer. The Biltmore Grande at Biltmore Park and Beaucatcher cinema in East Asheville are participating. Visit www.regmovies.com for a schedule.

Shindig on the Green

Shindig on the Green is another free favorite. On Saturdays during the summer months, Pack Square Park is transformed into a mini-bluegrass festival. From 7-10 p.m., the Bascom Lamar Lunsford stage features bands and dancing while informal jam sessions are scattered about the green.

"Because music is such a big part of our lives, Shindig on the Green is a summertime ritual our entire family looks forward to," said Aimee Bumgarner, a Weaverville mom and member of husband-and-wife band Calico Moon. "If you have little ones who aren't inclined to sit still, it's nice to be able to wander around and still enjoy great music. Shindig is a wonderful way to bring multiple generations together to participate in the musical heritage that is so deeply rooted here in the mountains of Western North Carolina."

Shindig dates for the summer are June 30; July 7, 14 and 21; Aug. 11, 18 and 25; and Sept. 1. Visit www.folkheritage.org.

Robert Lake Park

Frequenting the park every day gets old. It's the parents' job to change things up a bit. A few ways to do this are to visit a park away from your own neighborhood, bring along a picnic lunch, or meet friends who aren't regular play date buddies.

Kids get sick of the same old swings and slides, but there are parks that offer much more. Robert Lake Park is located in the quaint town of Montreat. Nestled among trees and a flowing creek, the area stays cool and shaded even on the hottest of summer days. There are swings and jungle gyms specific to babies and toddlers, and others specific to older children.

The creek itself is part of the fun. Kids in bathing suits and water shoes spend more time playing in the creek and hopping rocks than on the swings and slides. There are also a number of benches and picnic tables for families to enjoy lunch and snacks.

Splashville

Splashville is a summertime kid favorite. In front of the Buncombe County Courthouse and City Hall is a flat area with fountain valves that spray water intermittently. Kids have a blast running in and out of the water and cooling off on a steamy day.

If you visit Splashville, be sure to put water shoes, Crocs or flip-flops on your child. It can get slippery, and to maintain traction when running about, kids need shoes. Also, bring towels and a change of clothes. Your child will be sopping wet and silly after hours of running about in the water.

"We like to make a day of downtown," Gardner said. "We'll first visit Pack Library's kid section, grab some lunch, then cool off at Splashville before going home."

Indoor fun

As much as kids love being outside during the summer, those afternoon thunderstorms often disrupt plans. On other days, the mere heat is too much to bear, and parents are looking for a cool, indoor activity.

Lowe's Build and Grow clinics offer free hands-on workshops for kids ages 5-12 where they build wooden projects. The clinics are offered at 10 a.m. every other Saturday. Parents can view the full schedule and register their children online at www.lowesbuildandgrow.com. Workshops last one hour, and kids walk away with a completed project, an apron, goggles and a patch.

Home Depot offers similar workshops where they aim to teach children do-it-yourself skills and tool safety while providing a sense of pride and accomplishment.

Libraries

A visit to the library is another wonderful option. A family can keep it simple by perusing the stacks and checking out a week's supply of books, but the libraries of Western North Carolina offer much more than that.

Libraries in Buncombe, Haywood and Henderson counties offer story times and toddler times for kids ages 4 months and up.

Summer reading programs are in full swing at area libraries, too. Visit the website for your local library system to find upcoming programs, or check the WNC Parent Calendar on Page 48 for July events.

Buncombe County Public Libraries offer activities for teens such as Rant and Rave, a newsletter featuring book reviews and recommendations for teens, by teens. Kids ages 11-18 are encouraged to submit book reviews, which may appear in the next Rant and Rave.

"When my kids were little, entertaining them at home wasn't so hard." Gardner said, "They're now at an age where they need a lot of outside stimulation. Asheville has plenty of that, especially for a mom on a budget."

 

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Asheville's French Broad Chocolates opens factory and tasting room

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6/25/2012 - Asheville's French Broad Chocolates opens factory and tasting room
by Carol Motsinger - Asheville Citizen Times

Dan and Jael Rattigan aren't just sweet on chocolate.

The husband-and-wife duo behind French Broad Chocolates are in a committed relationship with the decadent dessert.

"Most confectioners buy chocolate and use it as an ingredient," said Jael Rattigan. "We feel like we do better and really commit to the ingredient."

They have kept their promise: From 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Friday, they will celebrate the grand opening of French Broad Chocolates Factory & Tasting Room on Buxton Avenue. The event will feature tastings and tours.

The factory will produce a new line of artisan, bean-to-bar chocolate bars, including single-origin dark chocolates, milk chocolate and chocolate bars made with such ingredients as organic coffee, salt, organic nuts and malt powder from Asheville's Riverbend Malt House.

The nibs -- the center of the bean used for chocolate -- and shells are inspiring others as well. They're being used by local brewers, including Pisgah and Green Man. The opening will feature a Green Man chocolate milk stout made from French Broad Chocolates nibs.

The Rattigans also plan to use the bars to make truffles, which, according to the couple, will make French Broad Chocolates one of the handful of confectioners in the country making bean-to-bar truffles.

The chocolate will be used in the couple's French Broad Chocolate Lounge menu on Lexington Avenue. Busy nights at the hot spot prompted the Rattigans to seek a dedicated chocolate-making space.

"The lounge kitchen is just packed all the time," Dan Rattigan said. "We've got seven full-time pastry chefs. We weren't able to get a moment in edge wise to make chocolate."

And it's not just the chocolate that's handmade at the factory. Rattigan designed and built a winnowing machine (it helps separate the bean from the broken shell), as well as a prototype parabolic trough solar cacao roaster housed on the roof of the factory. It's the only cacao bean roaster of its kind, they say.

The opening comes about a year after the duo traveled to Peru, meeting with farmers and cooperatives to source the cacao beans and brown sugar they use in their new chocolate bars. When the 88 bags of beans (weighing more than 5 tons) arrived in Asheville, "that was a big moment," Jael Rattigan said.

"It was a lot of work to get it off the truck and into the shop," she added. "We worked for it, but it was definitely the moment when we felt like OK, this is really happening."

In the fall, the Rattigans hope these beans ship from Costa Rica: Eight years ago, they bought a cacao farm and have been restoring the abandoned farm since, as well as help a Costa Rican build a fermentary to prepare the beans for roasting. The first cacao harvest should be this fall, they say.

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Cool off at Mount Mitchell State Park

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6/21/2012 - Cool off at Mount Mitchell State Park
by Karen Chavez - Asheville Citizen Times

What: Hiking and nature programs at Mount Mitchell State Park.

When: Park is open 8 a.m.-9 p.m. daily.

Details: When it's hot down in Asheville, a quick, cool, close-by getaway can be found in the high elevation of Mount Mitchell State Park.

The park, about an hour's drive northeast of Asheville, is home to the highest peak in the Eastern United States. The Mount Mitchell summit -- easily accessible with a wheelchair- and stroller-ready ramp -- sits at an altitude of 6,684 feet.

The park in the clouds can often feel more like a Canadian forest in the Asheville summer.

The park is usually about 20 degrees cooler at any time of year than it is Asheville, rangers say. So even if you're heading up there this weekend, pack a jacket and some hiking shoes.

Trails include the short 3/4-mile Balsam Nature Trail near the summit, and longer ones including the 4.5-mile round-trip Old Mitchell Trail from the park office to the summit and back.

There is also an interactive museum, a campground, picnic area, gift shop and restaurant open 8 a.m.-8:30 p.m.

The park offers ranger and naturalist programs, hikes and talks each weekend during the summer. All are free and there is no need to register. Following are the programs this weekend:

o The Towers of Mount Mitchell: 2 p.m. Friday. Meet a ranger at the Educational Center to look at all of the past towers that have stood on top of Mount Mitchell.

o Wildlife, Weather and What's Happening to the Trees: 3 p.m. Friday. Meet a ranger at the Education Center to learn about the wildlife, weather and what's happening to the trees of Mount Mitchell.

o Winter on Mount Mitchell: 10:30 a.m. Saturday. Talk to a ranger about what it is like to live at Mount Mitchell State Park in the winter. The video, The Longest Season; Winter on Mount Mitchell will be played. Meet at the Education Classroom.

o The Life and Death of Dr. Mitchell: 2 p.m. Saturday. Meet a ranger at the Education Classroom to learn about the life and death of this important figure in Mount Mitchell history.

o Tower Talk: 10 a.m. Sunday. Meet a ranger at the observation tower to ask questions and learn about the Black Mountains and beyond.

o What's Happening to the Trees? 2 p.m. Sunday. Join a Park Ranger for a talk at the Education Classroom to learn about Mount Mitchell's high-elevation spruce-fir ecosystem and why it is in danger.

Directions: From Asheville, take the Blue Ridge Parkway north for about 30 miles to Milepost 355 and turn left onto N.C. 128, which leads into the park.

Information: Call the park at 675-4611. For more information on Mount Mitchell and other state parks in North Carolina, visit www.ncparks.gov.

For updated road and weather conditions on the Blue Ridge Parkway, call 298-0398.

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Asheville native brings his Motion Dance Theatre back to WNC

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6/20/2012 - Asheville native brings his Motion Dance Theatre back to WNC
by Caitlin Jenkins - Asheville Citizen Times

ASHEVILLE -- Stand up straight, point your toes, turn your feet out and get ready for a new kind of ballet experience.

That's the promise of the Motion Dance Theatre company, now in the middle of a three-week residency in Western North Carolina. The group will be performing new works twice this week -- and hoping to turn the traditional notion of ballet on its head.

"Ballet can be raw, edgy and meaningful," said Motion founder and Asheville native Nick Kepley. "It's not just tutus and tiaras."

As the culmination of the troupe's visit, Motion will be premiering three original pieces that combine modern and traditional dance techniques Thursday in Tryon and Saturday at Asheville's Diana Wortham Theatre.

The show promises "a spectrum of dance," Kepley said.

This year, Motion's production will also feature live music, and one of the musical pieces was commissioned from Bruce Tippette, a musician in the master's program at the UNC School of the Arts in Winston-Salem.

Kepley hopes to engage his audiences and educate people about ballet. "Dance is still on the periphery of people's cultural landscapes," he said. "Ballet can be something very current."

He also wants them to talk about it: A question-and-answer session follows each performance.

Kepley founded Motion in 2010 as a summer outlet for dancers who are between seasons and for up-and-coming choreographers. He wanted to create an environment that "allows choreographers to get better at what they do," he said.

Each year, Kepley picks two guest choreographers. The choreographers are given no restrictions or guidelines. "All they have to do is create," he said.

Kepley believes bringing his dancers and choreographers to the Asheville area for a few weeks each summer helps amp up the creativity.

"It makes the artists feel like they're on a retreat," he said. "They can escape the pressures that go along with a big city."

This is the second year that Motion has performed in WNC. "I wanted to bring dance back to where I'm from," Kepley said. "We'll definitely be back again next year."

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Get ready for summer heat in Asheville

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6/20/2012 - Get ready for summer heat in Asheville
by Sabian Warren - Asheville Citizen Times

ASHEVILLE -- An unexpectedly mild spring should give way to highs reaching into the upper 80s by Wednesday, the first official day of summer.

So far this month, Asheville has recorded 12 days with below-normal high temperatures -- and only five days with highs of 80 or more, according to the National Weather Service. Average highs and lows for this time of year are 82 and 60.

The city has marked no 90-degree days. By this time last year, Asheville already had recorded seven days with highs at or above 90 degrees.

The mild weather, along with along with timely rain, has been a blessing for gardeners and farmers like Mike Fortune, whose vegetables, fruits, flowers and herbs have gotten a huge boost heading into the warmest months.

"It's been pretty ideal so far," said Fortune, who runs Green Hill Urban Farm in West Asheville and another larger farm in Madison County.

"We've been getting consistent rain. And it's been just warm enough for the summer stuff and just cool enough for the spring stuff. I'm having the best year I've ever had," Fortune said. "I've had no hail, no freeze, no flooding. It's been just perfect."

Fortune hasn't had to use his irrigation system so far, though that may change soon with the onset of warmer weather, he said.

Unexpectedly mild

After two straight summers of record heat -- and following a mild winter and warm spring -- many in the area, including Fortune, wouldn't have been surprised to see another blistering summer.

But it just hasn't happened -- so far, at least -- evidence of just how fickle the weather can be, meteorologist Pamela McCown said. Temperatures have been cooler than normal for weeks during a period that already was sweltering in the summers of 2010 and 2011.

"If common sense ruled in weather forecasting, we'd have had this nailed years ago," said McCown, coordinator of the Institute for Climate Education at Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College.

The region has seen a northwest air flow over the past few weeks, McCown said, which has kept temperatures cool.

The Weather Service's long-range forecast for June through August calls for the summer to be slightly warmer than normal, with average rainfall.

"I don't think we'll have too many folks complaining about a summer that is only at or slightly above normal," McCown said.

Rainfall has been fairly good this year. Asheville has recorded 19.09 inches since Jan. 1, which is 1.76 inches below normal, according to the Weather Service.

Above-average temperatures this week are the result of a high-pressure system setting up over the area, bottling up warm air.

For Fortune, even if this week marks the beginning of a summerlong heat wave, his gardens will produce a bounty of produce because of favorable spring weather. A Community Supported Agriculture farmer supplying food to 40 families, he also donates 10-20 percent of his crops to area food pantries.

"We always have extra , and this year will be especially good for that," Fortune said. "We're hoping to give them 2,000 pounds (of produce) this year."

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Asheville's Tupelo Honey set to publish 2nd cookbook in 2014

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6/19/2012 - Asheville's Tupelo Honey set to publish 2nd cookbook in 2014
by Asheville Citizen Times

ASHEVILLE -- Tupelo Honey Cafe, Asheville's iconic eatery, has signed on to produce a second nationally distributed cookbook with publisher Andrews McMeel Publishing, scheduled for spring 2014.

Author Elizabeth Sims and executive chef Brian Sonoskus, who co-wrote "Tupelo Honey Cafe: Spirited Recipes From Asheville's New South Kitchen," published in 2011, will team up again.

"We are grateful for the opportunity not only to work with Andrews McMeel again but to do so with a project that is so meaningful," said Tupelo Honey Cafe owner Steve Frabitore.

"We are passionate about the food, culture, heritage, traditions and beautiful natural resources of the Appalachian region."

The new cookbook will be more regionally focused with a nod to the culinary and historic traditions of the Mountain South. It will utilize the geographic spine of the southern Appalachian mountains: the Blue Ridge Parkway.

The broader regional approach is in part a reflection of the restaurant's plan to open a new restaurant in Knoxville, Tenn., later this year, as well as in Tennessee's Tri-Cities area around Johnson City.

In its first year of publication, Tupelo Honey will donate $2 from every book sold through the restaurant or its online store to the nonprofit Friends of the Blue Ridge Parkway.

"Friends of the Blue Ridge Parkway is one of the largest friends groups nationally with a membership of over 9,000 members," said Friends director Susan Mills. "We are thrilled for this new national cookbook, which will be a part of our organization's 25th anniversary of service to the Blue Ridge Parkway."

"We are proud to give back to the area through flavorful recipes that encourage families and friends to gather around their respective tables," Frabitore said.

The upcoming cookbook will feature approximately 125 recipes, full-color photography of both food and landscapes, and some historical and culinary tradition information.

For more information about Tupelo Honey Cafe, visit www.tupelohoneycafe.com For more information on Friends of the Blue Ridge Parkway, go to www.blueridgefriends.org.

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'State-of-the-art' veterans home to open near Asheville

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6/19/2012 - 'State-of-the-art' veterans home to open near Asheville
by Joel Burgess - Asheville Citizen Times

A state-of-the-art nursing home for elderly and disabled mountain veterans could open in the the next couple of months, officials are now saying.

State Division of Veterans Affairs officials had hoped to open the 100-bed Swannanoa facility by May or earlier but faced a range of minor construction delays and opposition from residents over traffic concerns.

On Monday, Veterans Affairs Assistant Secretary Tim Wipperman said the $20.7 million home, which features "neighborhood"-style quarters and therapy pools with treadmills, could open in as soon as two months.

Wipperman didn't want to put an exact date on the opening because of past delays, but said the facility is important because of North Carolina's large number of elderly World War II and Korean War veterans.

"We have about 77,000 World War II veterans in this state, then you have another 85,000 Korea veterans ... and they are getting to the point where they really need this level of care," he said.

Some of the former service members needing that kind of help live at a shelter for homeless veterans.

The Asheville Buncombe Community Christian Ministry Veterans Restoration Quarters specializes in helping homeless veterans find stability, get medical help and get work, program director Michael Reich said.

But some of the older residents need a different kind of facility, Reich said.

"We have men that come here initially that have some pretty significant health issues that might have contributed to them being homeless.

"Over time, due to their age and how severe their physical illnesses are, we see the point where they need to be in skilled nursing assisted living," he said.

Other skilled nursing facilities for veterans are in Salisbury, Fayetteville and Durham.

Each has from 100-120 beds.

The home will be less expensive than private care homes and will take veterans with private insurance or government-subsidized care, such as Medicaid.

The facility could also serve younger veterans who were disabled during their service. To be eligible, residents must have been on active duty and been honorably discharged.

The home could also take up to 25 percent nonveterans who are widows or other relatives.

The state received $13.5 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 to cover 65 percent of the total cost of $20.7 million.

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Asheville area art openings, classical concerts and gallery events

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6/18/2012 - Asheville area art openings, classical concerts and gallery events
by Asheville Citizen Times

Flowers reveal their secrets

 "Allure: The Secret Life of Flowers" opens Thursday at West One Salon with a reception with Asheville photographer Julie McMillan of Silver Birch Studio Photography.

 The free event is 7-9 p.m. at the salon, 372 Depot St., in the River Arts District. The exhibit runs through Aug. 15. 

A portion of sales from this installation of all-new original photography -- printed on metal to provide clarity, luminescence and image quality -- will benefit the Hope Chest for Women, a nonprofit assisting Western North Carolina women with breast or gynecological cancers. A fundraising auction will be held at the opening.

McMillan's commitment to the Hope Chest's cause stems from family experience, having lost her mother, Denise McMillan, to ovarian cancer two years ago.

"My mother supported the Hope Chest for Women and their work, so I hope sharing my photographs through this show will continue that legacy," McMillan said. "If this can help one woman in need in WNC or educate one woman to detect her cancer early enough for effective treatment, then I'm thrilled."

McMillan's photographs explore aspects of flowers with a macro lens, revealing details not usually seen at a casual glance. To learn more, call 606-4086 or visit www.silverbirchstudio. com.

2 concerts at St. Matthias June 24

Two concerts are set for June 24 at St. Matthias Church, 1 Dundee St., off South Charlotte Street at Max Street:

o The 41-piece Land of the Sky Symphonic Band will perform at 3 p.m. under the direction of Dave Wilken.

o Aaron Brown and Kimberly Cann, double-bassist and pianist-organist will perform at 5 p.m. The married musicians will play works by Bach, Piazzolla, Faure and Vaughan Williams, among others.

Both concerts are free, although a free-will offering will be collected for the artists and the restoration of the historic church. To learn more, call 285-0033.

Tryon Gallery Trot next weekend

The Tryon Downtown Development Association will present the next Tryon Gallery Trot 5-8 p.m. Saturday in the scenic Polk County downtown. Join 11 participating galleries, businesses and restaurants for opening art receptions, music and special events.

Participating are Richard Baker's Studio, The Book Shelf, Bravo Outdoor Marketplace & Interior Design, Green River Gallery (featuring works by Charles Harpt and Michael Bedoian), Kathleen's, New View Realty, The Pine Crest Inn, Skyuka Fine Art, Tryon Painters & Sculptors (hosting a recpetion for artist Joan Murphy), Upstairs Artspace and Vines & Stuff.

To learn more, find Tryon Gallery Trot on Facebook, visit downtowntryon.org or email Kim Nelson at info@skyukafineart.com.

'Aqueous' opens in Black Mountain

The Black Mountain Center for the Arts, 225 W. State St., will hold an opening reception 6-8 p.m. Friday for "Aqueous," a collaborative exhibit exploring movement and transition from artists at Asheville BookWorks. The show will be up through July 27.

The exhibit focuses on handmade paper and the topic of water -- things that contain, are dissolved in or consist primarily of water, or to rocks and deposits that are formed from material carried by water.

To learn more, visit ashevillebookworks.com and www.blackmountainarts.org or call the center at 669-0930.

Crossnore presents Daniel Ambrose

The Crossnore Fine Arts Gallery is exhibiting new work by Daniel Ambrose through the end of the month and will host a free public reception with the artist 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday.

"His work in oil and egg tempera is exceptional, and we are elated that Daniel has chosen to showcase his work in the gallery to benefit the Crossnore children," said Heidi Fisher, manager of the gallery.

The Crossnore Fine Arts Gallery is at 205 Johnson Lane on The Crossnore School campus, occupying the upstairs in Crossnore Weavers: A Working Museum. The gallery supports the school's Stepping Stones program, which helps students transition from foster care to independent living. To learn more, visit www.crossnoreschool.org or call 733-4305.

Paintings invoke ancient ceremony

Now on exhibit at the Conn-Artist Studios & Art Gallery in Atha Plaza, 611 Greenville Highway, Hendersonville, is "Deeper Than Dreams: Archetypal Visions and Healing," featuring works by Rowan Farrell.

The show will be up through Sept. 15. "Rowan's vivid paintings embrace the depth of the nurturing, sacred and spiritual wisdom of our foremothers," the gallery said in a statement. "These images of healing and soul retrieval remind us of our spiritual place in the world and our connection to all that is."

Farrell is a recipient of a Regional Artist Project Grant from the N.C. Arts Council, administered by the Arts Council of Henderson County. To learn more, visit: www.Conn-Artist.com or call 329-2918.

Café now open at Stecoah

The Schoolhouse Café at the Stecoah Valley Cultural Arts Center is now open in the main building and serves lunch, fresh baked goods, coffee and snacks 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesdays through Saturdays and noon-5 p.m. Sundays.

Café patrons can enjoy free high-speed wireless Internet and outdoor seating on the deck or grounds. The Artisan Gallery at Stecoah is open 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday-Saturday and noon-5 p.m. Sunday and features hand-crafted items from more than 135 local artists.

The center at 121 Schoolhouse Road in the Stecoah Community between Bryson City and Fontana Dam. To learn more, call 479-3364 or visit www.stecoahvalleycenter.com.

RiverLink seeks vendors for RiverFest

RiverLink is now accepting applications for vending space at the 13th annual RiverFest and Anything That Floats Parade on Aug. 11 at French Broad River Park on Amboy Road in Asheville.

RiverLink is seeking vendors with an emphas is on local products, services, foods and traditions and a "shared love of our natural resources." RiverLink is a nonprofit working to revitalize the French Broad River as a place for everyone to live, work and play.

The festival will feature live music, variety acts, the Anything That Floats Parade on the river, kids area, food, beer, other beverages and vendors. An estimated 1,500 river lovers will attend.

The application deadline is July 27. Booth fees are $300 for food vendors, $200 for a commercial business, $100 for arts and crafts and $50 for nonprofits. To learn more, contact Curt Crowhurst at 400-4541 or crowhurst2@gmail.com.

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