An Eventful Week near Black Mountain

Over the past several days we have been busy all over this area.  We started off by returning to Pack Square Park for the Goombay Festival.  Celebrating the African and Caribbean culture of Asheville, the event featured an eclectic mix of music, but the day we attended the focus was on gospel choirs.  Vendors displayed a wide variety of goods, including African carvings and drums, but what drew you in, aside from the soulful music, was the heavenly smell of jerk chicken and sauteed onions on the grill. 

Ken Abbott
Next to the park, we wandered into the Asheville Art Museum.  While the Museum's permanent collection offers a view of art in the southeastern U. S. through the late 19th century to the early 21st century, perhaps the most important portion is the Black Mountain College Collection.  From 1933 until 1957, the college was an experiment in education and a center for artistic innovation.  The faculty and alumni reads like a who's who in art during the 1940's and 1950's.  Unfortunately, the college closed due to financial difficulties, but they had an enduring influence on the importance of art in a liberal arts education.  We were also intrigued by the Hickory Nut Gap Farm photography exhibit by Ken Abbott.  Having visited the farm on a couple of occasions to purchase their grass-fed meat products, we were vaguely aware of its historic relevance, but Ken's photography brings the farm to life beautifully.  Ken's photos also became his first, and recently published book, Useful Work: Photographs of Hickory Nut Gap Farm.  More on this next time, as I join Ken out on the farm.

Fishing has been on our minds a lot, and we finally made it out to the Broad River along Hwy. 9 just south of Bat Cave, and
later in the day climbed into the kayaks to try our luck at Lake Lure.  Neither location provided success from a "catching" perspective, but it was wonderful to be back out on the water again.  There were numerous hits and one bite while on the river, and a single small crappie from the lake (catch and release), but then fishing is more about communing with nature.  Not that we would mind actually catching something we could bring home for dinner, it just doesn't seem that luck (or skill) is with us on most of our outings.

Alan met with the Asheville Urban Landscape Project for their weekly Plien Air Paintout, this time held along the French Broad River in West Asheville.  We followed this outing with a walk around the Asheville River Arts district.  Even though we have visited here a few times in the past, there are a total of 25 building and 185 artists covering several blocks, so in couple of hours, you get an overview.  Since this district is a transforming industrial area, many of the studios are in converted warehouses.  The talent of the artists represented here is impressive, and you'll find everything from basket weavers to potters, glass-blowers to textile arts, and painters and jewelers with a wide diversity of styles.  A well-organized map, available at most studios or online, can help guide you around the area and parking is free.

With art, it seems, as our theme this week, we made a visit to the Black Mountain Art Center.  Currently, they are hosting a month-long event on bee awareness, What's the Buzz about Bees?  The works of 25 artists all feature a bee or bees in their creations.  By hosting this event, they are hoping to bring awareness to the decline of bee populations and other pollinators around the world.  Use of pesticide and loss of habitat are the primary reasons for the decline, but roughly 85% of the world's plants depend on pollinators.  So, in essence, our survival is dependent on their survival.  Swarms of 3rd graders from local schools have visited the exhibit.  Native flowers are a primary food source for bees, so all of the children were given a pack of bee garden seeds to plant (along with bee puppets and a kazoo to buzz with.)

Thursday, we drove to Hendersonville, in part just to check out the town, but also to enjoy their final Rhythm and Brews Concert for this year.  Historic downtown Hendersonville, features a wide boulevard, lined with art galleries, specialty shops and restaurants.  Currently in the midst of their Bearfootin' Art Walk and upcoming auction in October, there are 20 bears "searching for a winter home."  Sponsored by local businesses, the bears raise money for local charities.  In the interim, the bears provide a whimsical flare to the walk along Main Street.

Starting at 5 P.M. and running until 9 P.M., the concert consisted of the music of local singer and
songwriter, Desiree Ricker, followed by Aaron Burdett with a blend of folk-rock, bluegrass and blues, and then ending the program with guitarist Eric Congdon, with a finger-picking style showing off his skill, whether he was playing blues or bluegrass.  Sponsored by local businesses, several local breweries were on hand selling their products to a grateful and thirsty crowd.

In the Art District
Headed to our fishing site

In the Art District

Along the Broad River

On Lake Lure

On Lake Lure

At Black Mountain Art Center

Vendor at the Goombay Festival

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