Friday, November 26, 2010

Local is the New Black .. Friday

One of the many things I am thankful for this Thanksgiving Season is to live in a community that has a vibrant local economy and with people who support that.  And I think it's catching on ... yesterday at dinner, with the Saints/Cowboys game in the background (Geaux Saints!), I was surprised and delighted to see a promotion for Small Business Saturday at least twice during the game!

On this 'Black Friday' you'll find me at Echo Gallery at Biltmore Park, which is an artist-run gallery showing the works of Asheville area artists.  Today I'll be there in my "Shop Local" best, and in the good company of many other fine locally-grown businesses.  I have to say that even the larger chain stores that are located in Biltmore Park are very community oriented and involved in many events and programs that benefit the Asheville area, so if you come down 26 and get off at the Long Shoals exit, you have a win-win in many areas - here's just a taste of what we've got and who else you'll find:

At Echo Gallery:  We've got our holiday lights out, a beautiful wreath on the door (courtesy of local artist Tonia Allen - you can get her info inside the gallery if you want to order one) and the windows filled with ornaments made by local artists - ceramic, glass and gourds, and we plan to keep adding to them!

Inside we also feature incredible gift options, and we'll be happy to help you find that perfect gift for friend, family, co-worker, teacher.  Ceramics from cups, mugs and bowls to large service ware to tiles and whimsical sculptures. Textiles including beautiful wall quilts and gorgeous silk scarves in an array of hand-dyed and painted colors. Bold metal sculptures to adorn a large entry way or accent a dining room table with candles.  Pencil drawings, paintings and encaustics in all sizes and styles to please the seasoned or beginning collector.  Button flowers, Beetles-a-go-go, prints for the bike enthusiast and Monsters ... we've got monsters!!  And if you're not too late, you might still find some of the limited edition 'Wizard Monsters' for the wizards in your life.  And we'll be adding more artists and more incredible work throughout the month, so stop by often! For a full list of artists currently represented at Echo Gallery, visit our webpage and scroll down to the bottom of the home page.

And while you're at Biltmore Park, be sure to visit these other fabulous Asheville-grown neighbors (big pardon if I forget anyone!) ...

For cool fashion and accessories, try Moda Boutique, Bette and Shades of Green.

For treating yourself or others with incredible organic products, soothing facials, massages or just to take a mani/pedi break in your shopping day, try Sensibilities Day Spa or Sparrow Spa.

For the new holiday 'do', try Natural Impressions Salon.

For custom make-up consultation or make-over, try Lavender Fields.

For beautiful jewelry for a special gift or 'that' special gift ... Marthaler Jewelers.

For lush bedding and other home accessories, try The Natural Home.

For holiday flowers and arrangements for your home or to send ... Blossoms at Biltmore Park.

Want a cool place to take the kids or maybe to plan a special event?  Check out Dino Kinetics.

Need to print off the 'end-of-the-year' newsletter, mail that big stack of cards (print that big stack of cards?) or help shipping to various corners?  Visit Printville.

For anything from holiday family portraits to event photography, try Melissa Markis Studio.

And we have many others - Asheville grown of a regional parent and independently owned franchises:

O.P. Taylor's, Talloni Shoe Salon, Bon Bebe, Woof Gang Bakery, REI ...

And you won't starve!  Brixx Pizza, 131 Main, Travinia Italian Kitchen, Roux in the Hilton, Hickory Tavern and PF Changs are in the Park!

I know I must have forgotten somebody (my apologies - add yourself in the comments!), but I should get ready to head down to the gallery - come by and say hi!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Holiday Home Show - Sunday, November 14!

Updated the address, and wanted to let anyone coming know that parking is best along Cumberland Drive.  The end of the driveway will be marked - hope to see you there!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Empty Bowls - 20 years of fighting hunger!

Empty Bowls event at John Hartom's studio
Asheville Empty Bowls 2009
Next Thursday, October 14 is the annual Asheville Empty Bowls Luncheon at the Doubletree Biltmore Hotel (tickets available online via MANNA FoodBank, through me if you can find me, or at the door ... but I wouldn't wait that long!).

Two days later, October 16 is World Food Day, and that marks the 20th Anniversary of the very first Empty Bowls event.  What started in a Michigan school as a modest lesson about hunger has turned into one of the finest examples of grass roots social justice activism.  Communities coming together to help each other .. individuals finding ways to help each other and their greater community.  

The beauty of the Empty Bowls program is that anyone can do it.  Sure, you can get your whole school, community center, church, studio, etc. to join forces.  Much like the Empty Bowls Project class that meets at Odyssey Center for Ceramic Arts.  

members of the 2010 Empty Bowls Project at Odyssey Center for Ceramic Arts
Odyssey and Highwater Clays owner Brian McCarthy has donated tremendous resources in clay, glazes, firings and support staff for the past four years to help experienced and beginner potters make and provide the bowls for the annual luncheon.  

bowls by Asheville potter Paul Frehe
We have people from all around our community, some traveling an hour each way just to take part in the class.  We have guest instructors from all disciplines come to share their knowledge and passion for both pottery and fighting hunger.  We all do together far more than any of us can do alone.  That's the AnyONE.  Each of us doing our little part, added up makes a big ol' difference.  Whether you raise $60 or $60,000.  Each step is an important step.

So here we are 20 years down the road from that small school luncheon.  A few words on hunger stats, and a simple request that when the guests take their hand made bowls home and enjoy them, they remember the number of empty bowls still out in the community.  A quiet hush that you still hear now just telling the story.  Yes, hunger still exists at obscene levels in all communities.  
But the more the Empty Bowls Project is talked about, the more people learn how they can do very simple things to make very big changes and differences in the lives of those in their community who may need a little or a lot of help.   One little event in a Michigan school, and now there are events around the world.  

And that's well before the time of an idea 'going viral'.  There are many Empty Bowls events that happen year-round, and many, like the one here in Asheville, that are scheduled to coincide with World Food Day. 

Becca Floyd & John Hartom in the Empty Bowls studio

Next Thursday we will have the annual luncheon, where for a $25 ticket you can select from hundreds of beautiful, handmade ceramic bowls, enjoy a delicious lunch and learn more about what MANNA FoodBank does for the many counties it serves and how easy it is to help.  

We have a growing selection of specialty pieces in the Collector's Corner that will be for sale, and all proceeds will benefit MANNA FoodBank.

 (far L&R): Lisa Blackburn & John Hartom
Then on Sunday, October 17, Blue Spiral 1 Gallery will host a special auction event to commemorate the 20th Anniversary, and Empty Bowls founders John Hartom and Lisa Blackburn will be honored.  At Blue Spiral, you can see the auction items on display now in the gallery, and you can also see and bid on them online, even if you can't attend the actual event.  Some of the items are bowls and other art pieces in ceramics, wood and glass that have been donated by area artists.  


In addition, we have an eclectic selection of 'celebrity bowls'.  Flat Rock potter David Voorhees made each bowl, which was then signed by celebrities, including Paula Deen, John Glenn, Henry Winkler, Jeff Gordon, Roy Williams and more (go look and see!).  Odyssey again hosted a special event where Asheville area artists (not just potters!) were invited to decorate the bowls.  At the auction site, you can learn a bit about the celebrity as well as the artist who decorated the bowl.  Tickets to the auction event are also available through MANNA FoodBank.

Olympic Peninsula
So as we approach World Food Day, why not check in your own community and see if there's an Empty Bowls event.  Attend it, volunteer to help run it, or if you can't find one, go to the Empty Bowls website and learn how you can start one for your community!  It doesn't have to be a huge city-wide event.  You can make a pot of soup, host an event at your house and sell 10 tickets.  That makes a difference to a Food Pantry.  


Here in Asheville, our event is larger than that sure. MANNA FoodBank has a very large area it serves, and the need has been greater in the past year or two than ever.  The statistics that come out with recent Hunger Reports are overwhelming, and it's easy to just curl up and cry 'what can I do?!'. Well for me, I can make a bowl.  And that bowl will be sold for $25.  And with each dollar raised, MANNA can provide three meals.  I can't personally feed 75 people or write a check to cover that expense.  But I can make a bowl.  Heck, I can make a few.

I have a friend and colleague in Wisconsin who I know because of Empty Bowls.  We haven't met (yet), but we certainly share a passion for pottery and for this cause.  After her first Empty Bowls event, she went back to her studio and wrote on her wall: "It is an honor to make dishes for people to eat off of, but it is a greater honor to make dishes so that others may eat...".  Indeed.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

summer reading: Craft Corps: Documenting the Craft Revolution

Summer reading is something I've kept up even though I've been out of school longer than I was ever in it ... although I usually have a book going at all times, I do go through more during the summer.  Perhaps it's the extra hours of daylight - who knows?  But this one came with the assignment of talking about it, and so I will.

I received a copy of Vickie Howell's Craft Corps (published by Lark Books) a couple of months ago, and through the recent moving, production, shows and all of life's distractions, it's been a fun little retreat to read about all kinds of crafty folk, how they got started, what motivates and inspires them, etc.  It's been an interesting read too as I am in a city and region that is brimming with crafty folk of all kinds, and when I saw the title I expected I'd know most if not all of the names in the book ... not so!

Vickie Howell, author of Craft Corps
Part of that could be that many are from or based on the west coast or in Texas, and I know from my own travels and addresses in various cities that each city and region has its own flavor in arts and crafts, much like varying neighborhoods in each of those cities - each city's Chinatown or Little Italy will have the very best of what it has, which may be very different from those in the next city.  And while several of the talented people profiled have had or currently have shows on cable, I'm cable-free so except for a few nationally known names, these were all new people to me (and most of the well-known crafters, being outside the medium/materials I work in, were also new to me), so I got to 'meet' a lot of cool, crafty folk!   And you know that every review is given through the perspective of the one doing the review, so you'll see I can't help but constantly refer back to the craft community around me as I go through this book - don't get it or not get it based on what you read here, this is my own conversation with myself about it. You should read it too and join the conversation!

It's always fun to read about other artists and how they work - what moves them, what scares them, what  blows their skirts up.  And of course if we artists don't love talking about ourselves, we do love talking about our work, which is the next best way to get us to talk about ourselves.  I know this is how I felt when I did an interview myself for Big Fat Art Cloth, which is the blog of art therapist and textile artist K. Crane in Lexington.
Big Fat Art Cloth recently
got some blog love

She's developing a series of interviews with artists in all disciplines, and she's asking artists the questions I think she asks herself, and seeing different artists answer similar questions is always illuminating and entertaining (well at least for other artists).  I think we artists always want to know how it is for others around us, and the cool thing about the crafting community is that it includes every form of art you can find - if there's an artist, there's a craft involved, and we all want to know what the other is doing, how they're doing it, and what they go through in the process.

See how I relate back to my own craft community?  It'll keep happening - that's the glory of the craft community I think, the global appeal and local connection.  That and I tend to ramble... oh look, something shiny!

At the Crafty Chica's blog site
(she's featured in the book),
you can learn how to make a wall sconce
out of a plastic shopping bag - awesome! 
The questions asked in Craft Corps are fairly general among all the artists with some more specific for those with more specific areas, and that same entertainment level is there in learning about a first craft memory or first 'break' into the business of craft.  If you've ever had any crafty tendencies, you can't help but ask yourself the questions as you read along.  Without exception, everyone in the book had a crafty childhood of some sort, some with artistic and supportive families, others crafting in spite of their surroundings.  Some had more traditional and/or corporate lives before they decided to dive into the craft world full time, and some dove in with the cushion of the former life helping them, others merely with the belief that only by jumping would the net then appear (I can relate to those folks).  They all started with a great love of making things, and along their paths in life they found themselves eventually drawn back to a base calling to create.  It's always inspiring to hear those stories!

Project Runway winner and master crafter
Jay McCarroll is also profiled...
DC peeps will find him and his cool designs
 at the Oct. 2 Crafty Bastard.
Many of the folks profiled are somehow related to each other, either geographically or through their media work on cable stations with their own crafting shows or in various crafting groups.  Working in a region of indie crafters and self-starters, it's an interesting study to compare the paths of those I read about with those around me.  I do know some local crafty folk who have put together shows for the local cable station, some who have produced shows with growing popularity, those who meet under the umbrella of various crafting groups, and some quite frankly who I'm shocked to find absent from the national stage.  And yet there is a thread of connection throughout the craft community here as in the book - I think if you find two crafters who don't know each other, you'd find a connection in less than six degrees.  Then again I think that's true of any two people in Asheville, so it's all relative to your environment, and I guess to me that also means there are many more chapters to this book that could be written.

I know in every corner of the planet there are volumes' worth of people who are crafting from the most quiet level of basement/bedroom tatting to indie-designer to Lady GaGa's personal stylist (ok that's not my medium but how crazy fun would that be?!).

Lady GaGa is working with
some very crafty people...
So overall, while I was reading the main interviews and profiles of these very talented, creative and crafty individuals, I was enjoying the personal stories, but being a crafty person who plays with clay, I had hoped for more than the one featured artist in my medium.

Garth Johnson
'art masquerading as craft, craft masquerading as art'
And then there is an underlying question throughout the interviews about the age-old question of 'art' vs. 'craft'. For me, every art is a craft, while whether craft is art is decided subjectively, which is another question for another time. Garth Johnson, profiled in the book, runs a very fun blog that literally gives the finger to anyone taking that argument too seriously.  I love that, but I also found myself reflecting on another comparison within the clay world.  I've seen and heard the opinion in many cities and in many variations that 'if it's sculpture, it's art; if it's functional; it's craft' which also should determine the worth and value.  Refer to my comment on art vs. craft to know where I stand, and then go read Garth's blog.   Sometimes it's hard to eschew labels and semantic constraints when it just swims all around you.  While I know the image of 'crafters' has widely been with the indie/underground artists and is accepted to include whimsy, shock, unexpected pairings and any other number of 'odd' assemblages, I wonder...if a beautiful pair of earrings is crafting, and if a lovely and very cool hand sewn apron or dress is crafting, cannot a beautifully decorated, hand made plate also be crafting as much as the beautifully decorated, hand made plate with an accent of astro turf and baby teeth (not seen in the book, just an extrapolation on the question)?   hmmmm.... including this particular clay artist in the interviews is a good statement on that very question.

RetroCrafts, by Suzie Millions
As I said, there are many more chapters, and as I read each interview,  I was also kind of writing the version in my head that would include the folks I know (including but certainly not limited to):

incredible artists/crafters like Brooke Priddy, exquisite designer and owner of Ship to Shore, Suzie Millions of .. just about every cool craft known (and who has written books of her own),  Carol Motley of Bury Me Naturally, making the most personal kind of craft imaginable, each of the dedicated artists and crafters who sat in the rain for this weekend's 2nd Saturday Artist Market hawking their wares, and of course clay crafters like ... well, ok, me if I'm writing the book, Becca Floyd who creates layers of texture with stamps and glaze in her functional ware, The Button Florist Celia Barbieri who makes bouquets that never die...

potter heather tinnaro with
Empty Bowls founder John Hartom

crafters who spread the love like the artists and crafters involved in the annual Asheville Empty Bowls Project, including Empty Bowls founders John Hartom and Lisa Blackburn, everyone at the newly minted Dry Goods Shop (home of the United Craft Front) where you can either bring your craft for guidance and community or go learn it from the start, Laurie Corral of Asheville Bookworks, where letter press and hand made books come alive for the experienced and the newly smitten...

ubiquitous Chocolate Lounge plug...
this is the Theros, Orange & Fennel Truffle.
Seriously crafty little nugget of bliss.

and how about Dan and Jael Rattigan of French Broad Chocolate Lounge (seriously, can she write a post without a ChoLo shout out?, no.),  Jody  Rhoden of Short Street Cakes (who is also on a tour of Cake Ladies for her own book),  Suzy Phillips of Gypsy Queen Cuisine, potentially Zeytoon and hopefully soon the coolest mobile kitchen serving the best hand-crafted savories you've ever tasted (you think craft can't be edible? why do they call it craft services?)

Like I said, there are many more chapters to be written and new ones in development every day, and each interview I read made me think of ten more crafty folk I know - I bet you know some too.  And those I listed above merely scratch the surface and that's just here in Asheville.  I could come up with equally long lists for Atlanta, Chicago and DC (my former resident cities), and don't even get me started on what's going on in my home state of Vermont - the craft movement is indeed alive, growing and thriving.  If you don't see it all around you, you're just not paying attention.

actually, click here
Meanwhile, back at Craft Corps (oh right, we were talking about the book!) a lovely compliment to the conversations with crafters is the inclusion of "Words to Craft By", which fills in the pages between interviews with mini profiles of crafters from around the continent.  These tidbits were gathered at the Craft Corps blog site, where crafters of every size, shape, color and material come to share their crafty selves, and where Vickie Howell has amassed a true army of crafters.  This is a good place to go to see and feel that ground swell of craftiness throughout the country.  A reclaiming of the term Hand Made as a badge of honor, not a quiet excuse for lacking a mass-marketed label or factory stamp 'as seen on tv'.  Long live the crafters!

Pick up a copy of Craft Corps and get your own crafty mojo bubbling!  And...if you come see me at Echo Gallery at Biltmore Park next Friday or Saturday (September 17 or 18) and are the first one to say you saw it here, you can have my dog-eared copy to read yourself!  And in the spirit of true craft-hood, I'll just ask you to pass it on to the next crafter you see after you finish. Unless of course you use it to create an incredible work of craft ... like a chandelier (no, too martha...), or perhaps a yurt for your dog (now that's a good thing!).  Go get yer craft on!  peace.

Friday, July 30, 2010

Lisa's Tile Weekend - the lost pictures!

Well there have been a number of things keeping me busy these past weeks, but always on my mind has been to share some pictures from my tile workshop weekend with Lisa .. but where are the pictures?!  Well I finally remembered that my camera was battery-tired and/or not with me, so I took many with my telelphone.  Great discovery, now to get them off the phone!  Sometimes bluetooth likes me, sometimes it doesn't, but I eventually charmed it to work for me and got the pictures onto the computer.

Usually the phone takes as good a picture as my camera, but we were often in dimmer light, so some of these are a bit fuzzy.  What was abundantly clear, however, was the fun we were having, and I can't wait to hear about and see what Lisa does when she goes home to take over Matt's studio! ;)

Lisa & Matt - Matt did a workshop with me last year,
and Lisa wanted a turn this time!

Lisa, sketching out a tile design

fuzzy but good look at several techniques we played with:
slabbing, stamping, slip inlay

lots of techniques, lots of tests, lots of fun!

Lisa's final project was based on a set of tiles she found
in a magazine.  #1 was a bee...

I think our visit to Holly deSaillan's studio inspired this beetle tile...

...and the firefly.  I love how she used many of the techniques
we played with in each of the tiles

On an extra piece of slab, Lisa first rolled a piece of lace into
the slab, then when it set up, she stretched it out, then
gave it a nice push into the foam with a block.  The lace had some
slip on it which also adds some nice texture.

And no workshop is complete without a visit to the
French Broad Chocolate Lounge.  It was a late
birthday celebration, so we all had the Theros Chocolate Cake,
and we each got our own little piece of edible art!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Happy Independent's Week!

ha!  You thought I was going to say 'Independence Day' now, didn't you?!  Well what better holiday to surround with a celebration for true independence in being a small business owner! 

Indie, mom & pop, brick & mortar, how ever you name it, Asheville is filled with so many creative, delicious, inspiring, uplifting and oh-so-useful small businesses.  The news lately has been that the best way for the economy to begin an upward flourish is for people to get out and do a bit of spending, so why not see how many small, local independent businesses you can find to do your business with over the next week, and grow our own local economy at the same time! 

For my own touting, I invite you to service your fine art & craft needs by visiting Echo Gallery at Biltmore Park, where I am an owner/gallery member, along with several other fine independent business owners.  Pick up a lovely gift, or make plans to meet with us about future design needs, be it installation wall pieces, furniture, service ware or custom design in any medium.  

And while you're out there, you can get a great outfit for the holiday weekend at Moda or Constance Boutique, buy something sparkly that can go on a finger or wrist to compliment the fireworks in the sky at Marthaler's Jewelers, pamper yourself royally with incredible spa treatments at Sensibilities Day Spa or Sparrow Spa in the Biltmore Park Hilton.  Been meaning to have the family portrait done or finally booking a photographer for a special event, you'll find Markis Studios right there, and if you've got the kids (young and old) with you, make sure to stop at Dino-kenetics and experience John Paynes incredible interactive sculptures (yes, it's an experience!).  Every one of the businesses I mentioned are local, Asheville-Grown businesses, and that's just in one place!

Yes, I know the holiday is often about the food (actually, pretty much any occasion is about the food!).  Need burgers and veggies for your 4th cookout?  Hit one of the tailgates and get it directly from the farm, or find those same local options at the French Broad Food Coop or the West Village Market & Deli.  Go fill up your growlers or even spring for a kegger at one of the local breweries (no favorites, they're all that good!).   Don't feel like doing all the cooking?  I hear you can pick up some kick-butt 'tater salad and other good stuff in east-West Asheville at 444 Gallery Cafe (go early - they're closed to let their local-grown families enjoy the holiday).

And if you're headed downtown, there are just way too many incredible local-grown businesses in the downtown area for me to list before lunch.  I'm strolling up to 444 to see if they still have that cooling fruit soup today.  You guys take over and list all the indie's downtown that should not be missed (ok, I'll start you off because as you know I absolutely cannot do a post about local grown and not mention the home of one of my favorite food groups:  The French Broad Chocolate Lounge ... now you go!)

Have a wonderful holiday weekend, and where ever you are - go check out your own home-grown businesses and give a little love to the local economy! xo

Monday, June 21, 2010

The longest day of the year...

I'm firing today, and it just occurred to me that I've described many a firing day as the longest day of the year, but today it is literally so.  And starting the longest day of the year at 5am hopefully means I'll have a whole lotta day to get a whole lot done.

Charles & Bennie after a good walk

Unfortunately, I didn't get the kiln started quite so early as I'm tending two very sweet pups and one was up and down last night with some digestive challenges (he on the left), so we got up early just to make sure he'd be ok for me to leave.  He seems to be just fine, and the kiln got started shortly after 6:30, so still a good start.

Firing day is always a nice combination of things.  The crazed pace of getting those last pieces bisqued, then everything glazed and loaded suddenly stops and now the kiln sets the pace.  Still plenty to do - the studio is in dire need of a good shoveling out, lots of admin recovery, prep for next month's 2nd Saturday Market, other applications, and I really should jump back in and start making work for that one last cone 7 load before the Big Crafty.  And I'll likely tackle parts of everything but right now as I'm in the early 'turn-up' phase of the firing, I'll take a cue from the kiln and work into it slowly.

Some of what's in the kiln will be unloaded just in time to go to the Arboretum for Handmade in America's Design Expo.  Last year, the event was held at The Ramble, and various rooms and areas were designed and decorated in a designer/artist/craft maker collaboration.  This year the event will be at the Arboretum, and the Artist Showcase will be under a big tent on the grounds, with various rooms represented in the tent by their design.

beautiful textile art by Susan Webb Lee

I was invited by textile artist (and co-Echo-gallerina) Susan Webb Lee to join the efforts for the 'Sunroom & Sleeping Porch' of the Artist Showcase, and am very pleased and excited to join Susan and some other very fine, talented folk: Becca Floyd (also clay), Howard Atwood (wood), Lang Hornthal (furniture), Joe Cooper (metal), Charlene Cook (interior decorator) and Leo Monahan (paper).

The event is Friday and Saturday, June 25 & 26 (ticket info HERE).  I'll be there both days, so if you come please stop by our booth and say hello!

Time to turn up the kiln ... and maybe another cup of coffee, it's gonna be a long day.

Friday, June 11, 2010

So much to do in the neighborhood(s) this weekend!

We're in that time of year in Asheville when there's always something happening, and this weekend is a perfect example!

My apologies in advance for what I'll inevitably leave out - feel free to comment and add your event to the list - here's a sampling of what's happening ... you'll find me at some and wishing I could go to others:

You'll find me tomorrow at the Rocket Club for the 2nd Saturday Artist Market.  This month we've got a couple of new artists and for the first hour or so you'll also find live music at the door!  We'll also be collecting as usual for MANNA FoodBank - check out the Market Blog for details.  And I think I've mentioned that you can get the best bloody mary in town here.

Those who follow me on Facebook may also know that I'm having a little 'Lori needs a new car' sale at this month's Market.  Yes, my faithful volvo, George Bailey, has gone to the great volvo farm where he can run free.  You'll meet his heir, Harvey George, in a future post.  For now, you'll find deals on all sorts of pretty potteries as I try to create a budget from which I may fund Harvey's addition to the family.  Come by and check out the premium gifties available with certain purchases!

Right down the street from the Rocket Club, the E-W-A's newest member, 444 Gallery Cafe, will celebrate their Grand Opening.  In addition to the great deli sandwich menu, featuring house-roasted meats, breads from West End Bakery, coffee from Dynamite Roasting in Black Mountain and wicked good cake from Short Street Cakes, they also offer the work of more local artists on an ongoing basis.  And, word has it that a certain musician who will play in front of the Rocket Club may also play at the cafe.  You'll just have to come see to find out!  444 Gallery Cafe is also having drawings all day for great prizes - food, coffee, gift certificates toward the purchase of some of the art and more!!

Backing up a bit, on Friday, you would have found me at Echo Gallery at Biltmore Park, where the show "Threads" closes this weekend. Some of the guest artist work has already been taken down, but you've still got time to see fabulous work by Jen Swearington and Libby & Jim Mijanovich.  And mark your calendars because next Friday Echo Gallery will open a new show featuring and celebrating the work of member artists Genie Maples, Barbara Fisher, Susan Finer, and Cindy Walton.  It's called 'Paint'. :)

If you don't want to wait to see new work by Genie and Barbara, then head down to the River Arts District for Studio Stroll - everybody's been working hard, making new pretties and cleaning up their spaces.  You'll find demonstrations, performances and some mighty fine hand crafted work in just about every medium imaginable!  Not playing favorites, but Echo Members Genie Maples, Barbara Fisher, Laurie McCarriar, Anna Koloseike and Dawn Dalto all have studios in the RDA.  As well, you'll find current and former guest artists Heather Tinnaro, Alex Stevens and Barbara Zaretksy in their respective studios and/or galleries too!

Now if you're bugging out of town to avoid the heat, you should head up to the Toe River Studio Tour - follow the link and go for me, I'll be basking in the warmth of east-west-asheville artist love but I'm already making plans for the fall Tour!

So that's a lot to do and I've only mentioned a few possibilities - there's also a great event tonight at Harvest Records, then over the weekend you'll also find Art in the Park, the Downtown Market ... and more to be sure.  Don't let the heat slow you down - you know you can refresh yourself greatly if you find your way to the EWA - cool bevvies, great sammies for the body and an array of beautiful hand crafted goodness for the soul (and the wall, the shelf, the cabinet, the arm, the ears....).