Editor's Note: Got My Pencil...

by Melanie McGee Bianchi

Back-to-school time signals new beginnings. Cue the requisite mention of crisp fall leaves and collegiate sweaters. But let’s get real: Classes in WNC start in August, and it is typically the area’s hottest month. So it’s more about seeing one’s way through the dog days with a path cleared for greatness, spirit intact.

With the economy still squirrelly, more and more women are returning to school — physically or online — to finish up degrees, pursue alternate careers, and explore new dreams (or at least probe fresh approaches). VERVE found three of them embarking on curricula this season at local schools. We plucked them out of their crazy-busy lives for a day and gave them new looks to carry with them, along with their backpacks.

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Posted on Wednesday, August 1, 2012 at 03:48PM by Registered CommenterVerve-acious | CommentsPost a Comment | References5 References

Laurel and Hardy… Mary and Rhoda… Scheve and Rowland?

Kelly Rowland (left) and Michele Scheve (right) are creating a comedy scene one homemade-lanyard-strung press pass at a time.Charismatic duo is nurturing the local comedy scene to greatness

by Melanie McGee Bianchi
portrait by Matt Rose

Asheville didn’t use to be a funny place. Sure, it’s been beautiful since way back — 400 million years or so — and always quirky, happily thriving on the lee side of “normal.” But trip back even just a decade, and despite the presence of determinedly campy bands, visual artists and street performers, a sort of crunchy earnestness prevailed: We’re cool, damn it, and you’d better like us for just the right reasons.
It wasn’t a town that could take a joke.

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Posted on Tuesday, July 31, 2012 at 02:32AM by Registered CommenterVerve-acious | CommentsPost a Comment | References15 References

Rock, Paper, Scissors, Magic

Leslie Walker NoellPerfecting the art of mixed media, one scrap at a time

by Ursula Gullow
portrait by Matt Rose

A prominent wall in Leslie Walker Noell’s breezy Asheville studio is covered in genteel detritus. Cardboard scraps, gilded leaves, tissue paper from a gift, a drawing made by her son, and scribbles in Sharpie on rice paper are some of the things attached to her wall with delicate pins, much like specimens in a research laboratory.

For Noell, 43, the wall is her sketchbook — an arena to hash out color combinations, textural relationships and visual interactions. Later these “sketches” are reincarnated in Noell’s meticulously composed mixed-media art.

“I’ve always had a very pared-down aesthetic,” says Noell. “It’s all about refinement and taking out anything that is unnecessary and reworking and reworking until you get something down to its essence.”

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Posted on Tuesday, July 31, 2012 at 02:23AM by Registered CommenterVerve-acious | CommentsPost a Comment | References3 References

Head of the Class

Candice Maliska of West Asheville A fresh start requires a fresh look.

by Melanie McGee Bianchi
portraits by Matt Rose

It seems that everyone and her third-cousin-once-removed is going back to school these days. That’s thanks to the jittery economy: Layoffs still loom large, and certain careers that soared in the mid-’00s are stalled out, with only a glimmer of resuscitation in sight. When work disappears, working on one’s degree helps buy time for a better future.

But finding someone going to actual, physical classes is trickier than it used to be. A couple months ago, VERVE sought candidates for back-to-school makeovers, and many requests came from women pursuing higher education online.

Any degree seeker should be applauded. Still, unless one’s final exams involve presentations to professors via Skype, there’s not much need to get “fixed up” to take Internet courses.

Our three featured women, however, are attending local institutions in person. All mothers, they are sometimes working, too, equaling one heavy hat trick of responsibility. Nevertheless, they pried time out of their packed schedules to get fresh looks to go with their fresh starts.

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Posted on Tuesday, July 31, 2012 at 01:50AM by Registered CommenterVerve-acious | Comments1 Comment | References6 References

They Fought City Hall

Designs on Downtown Asheville Ambiance Interiors owner Kathryn Long celebrates 35 years in business — and a mythical milestone for downtown Asheville. Photo by Naomi JohnsonA giant shopping mall in downtown Asheville? It almost happened.

by Naomi Johnson

Kathryn Long isn’t one to gloat, but if she were, it could be forgiven. After all, she’s got irrefutable evidence that she was right and her opponents were wrong.

It comes in the form of a news interview with UNC-TV from 1980, in which young entrepreneur Long lays out the potential she sees in Asheville’s downtown, then under threat from a developer who would have razed the entire area and replaced it with what was then considered the height of modern convenience: a gigantic indoor shopping mall.

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Posted on Tuesday, July 31, 2012 at 01:43AM by Registered CommenterVerve-acious | CommentsPost a Comment | References23 References
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