Magnetic South

The Magnetic Field, a sleek new bar and theater space in the River District, opens this month.

by Mick Kelly . photo by Rimas Zailskas

It’s the jolt of energy the River District has been waiting for. This month, after two years of plotting and planning, Chall Gray and a gang of Asheville creatives are unveiling The Magnetic Field, an unusual combination of bar, restaurant and theater space on Depot Street in Asheville’s River Arts District. The bar is the main tenant in the Glen Rock Depot, a Mountain Housing Opportunities project that includes 90,000 square feet of commercial space and 60 apartments for those who qualify for affordable housing through MHO. Glen Rock, likely the first LEED-certified multi-use building in Asheville, will hold a ribbon-cutting on December 2. Tenants have started moving into the apartments, which leased up well before the building was completed. The Magnetic Field’s first show, The Bernstein Family Christmas Spectacular, opens December 8.

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The Exhibitionist

This month marks Pam Myers’ 15th year as director of the Asheville Art Museum. The native New Yorker took a leap when she left The Guggenheim for Asheville. Now, she can’t imagine being anywhere else.

by Ursula Gullow . photo by Matt Rose

Since 1974, not a week has gone by that Pam Myers hasn’t set foot inside a museum. She works eight hours a day in one, hangs out in them (her own and others’) for fun, and visits museums large and small when she travels. Truly, after 15 years as executive director of the Asheville Art Museum and previous career stops at places like The Guggenheim in New York City, the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh and the de Young museum in San Francisco, it’s hard to argue that anyone has spent more time in museums than she has. Museums, it turns out, are Myers’ life.

Her lifelong dedication to them helps to explain why she’s so excited about the Asheville Art Museum’s recent ArtWORKS expansion project. Depending on funding for the $24 million project, the art museum would double in size and expand into Pack Place as early as 2013. The plan for a glittering, modern 52,000-square-foot building, designed primarily by Ennead Architects of New York, was officially unveiled last December. It got unanimous approvals from the Pack Square Park Conservancy and the Asheville Downtown Commission. Myers won’t say how much the museum has raised so far toward its financial goal (“We’re in the quiet phase of the campaign,” she says), but she did say she and the museum board are working with major donors.

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Posted on Sunday, November 28, 2010 at 07:14PM by Registered CommenterVerve-acious in | Comments Off

Women on a Mission

A massive earthquake put Haiti in the world spotlight earlier this year. Now, a cholera outbreak looms. Through Mission Manna, a dedicated crew of Ashevilleans have been reaching out to Haitians for a decade.

by Cassady Sharp . photos by David Bourne

Chris Rhoades felt she was mentally in Haiti well before she visited the country in October. But for all her pre-trip visions, nothing could prepare her for the images that would live in her mind for weeks after she returned: worm-infected children whose bellies were distended and swollen; people whose hair had an orange-ish tint because they were so malnourished.

Rhoades, a former OB/GYN nurse at Mission Hospital, first visited Haiti this fall with Mission Manna, an Asheville-based nonprofit that provides medical treatment and health education for Haitians living near the town of Montrouis. When a devastating magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck near Haiti’s capitol, Port-au-Prince, in January, world aid organizations, military groups and TV cameras poured into the country. But Mission Manna, founded in 2001, has been taking a team of Western North Carolina doctors, nurses and helping hands to Haiti biannually for nearly ten years now. They often go to Montrouis, about 50 miles from the capitol, and the team consists of around a dozen volunteers who stay for eight days and pay for their own airfare and hotel rooms. They drive cars piled with supplies down narrow backroads and hike into remote areas with medical equipment. “In a way, [this work] has nothing to do with the earthquake,” Rhoades says. “There are issues that are bigger than the earthquake there. The earthquake is the unfortunate rotten cherry on top.”

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Posted on Sunday, November 28, 2010 at 07:08PM by Registered CommenterVerve-acious | Comments Off

One Smart Cookie

What’s a pizzella? Ask three generations of Masci women.

by Cassady Sharp . photos by Matt Rose

A gated golf community in Flat Rock may not be where you’d expect to find an Italian bakery. But the kitchen of Maggie Masci’s spotless home in Kenmure is exactly where the Masci women started a cookie-baking operation, Mama Christina’s, back in August, selling pizzelles, traditional holiday Italian cookies.

When she first started baking pizzelles, Maggie Masci and her daughter, Michelle Masci Jones, were placing orders for 10 pounds of chocolate at a time. Now, it’s 60 pounds, and they can crank out hundreds of cookies each day.

Masci, who’s 64, is originally from Pennsylvania. After living in south Florida for several years, she moved to Flat Rock with her husband three years ago, and Jones followed. Masci does all the baking, using her mother-in-law’s recipes, while Michelle, 42, runs the numbers—and sells pizzelles like your neighborhood girl scout. (Most sales so far are online, but about a quarter go to locals, who get a special shipping rate or pick cookies up at the Mascis’ house.)

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Photo Shop

A group show this month, Salon 2010, highlights some of Castell Photography’s best photos yet.

by Ursula Gullow . portrait by Anthony Bellemare

With its black walls, red floors, industrial fixtures and neoclassical furniture, Castell Photography Salon and Gallery is something of a metaphor for the range of photographic processes it represents. The earliest forms of photography—wet plate collodions and daguerreotypes—are shown, as are cutting edge digital photographic processes and mixed media work. “There is a major misconception about photography—that it is heavily reproducible and therefore not valuable,” says Brie Castell, the 34-year-old gallery owner. “Everything we have shown and will show is in small editions, and much of it consists of one-of-a-kind imagery”

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Posted on Sunday, November 28, 2010 at 07:06PM by Registered CommenterVerve-acious in , | Comments Off

ARC Angel

This summer, Asheville Mayor Terry Bellamy took the reigns of the ARC of Buncombe County. That’s a boon to longtime volunteers like Barbara Pettigrew.

by Mick Kelly . photo by Matt Rose

For years, Barbara Pettigrew found that she needed to explain what the ARC of Buncombe County is and does. But Pettigrew, a 62-year-old Florida transplant who is co-chair of development for the Arc, thinks she’ll be doing less of that these days. In July, Asheville Mayor Terry Bellamy took a job as executive director of the ARC of Buncombe County, which provides services to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. (The acronym ARC once stood for Association for Retarded Citizens, a national group that still has hundreds of regional chapters. Most now retain the name but describe their services differently.) Bellamy’s move has been a huge publicity boost for a group that has kept a relatively low profile since its founding in 1957.

The majority of the nonprofit’s clients suffer from Down Syndrome, autism, Prader-Willie Syndrome and chromosome disorder, among others. Pettigrew, a stay-at-home mom, has always done volunteer work, including delivering food for Asheville’s Meals on Wheels for three years. Sometime in 2002, the ARC of Buncombe County lured her in to help with their annual fundraising bash, the Bella Sera.

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Posted on Sunday, November 28, 2010 at 07:06PM by Registered CommenterVerve-acious | Comments Off

Stars In Her Eyes

Christi Whitworth sets her sights on getting young women into the sciences.

by Janet Hurley . photo by Matt Rose

Christi Whitworth feels responsible for the entire universe. And as far as she’s concerned, you should be too. “It’s important for everyone to be scientifically literate,” says Whitworth, 39, education director for the Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute (PARI) in Pisgah Forest, northwest of Brevard. “We all are responsible for how the world and the universe works.” That includes middle school girls, who are often overlooked in the sciences, according to Whitworth. To engage them, PARI has just launched a new program, SciGirls, as a museum affiliate of the popular PBS series and website of the same name. The PARI program, one of just ten in the nation, offers girls the opportunity to learn about science with each other and from adult science experts. It’s not just astronomy—programs have included stream ecology and the chemistry of food—and each is linked in some way to the current TV episode. Sci Girls is just one of many programs Whitworth coordinates, for all ages and genders, at the 200-acre campus, a dark-sky location for astronomy. The facility includes huge radio and optical telescopes, and a full-time staff oversees research in science, technology, engineering and math.

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Posted on Sunday, November 28, 2010 at 07:03PM by Registered CommenterVerve-acious | Comments Off

Don't Be Shy

But do remember the rule of the Serta: only one man should break your springs.

by Susan Reinhardt . photo by Rimas Zailskas

People can be a wee bit shy about love or relationship woes. Please, y’all, send them in, and I’ll help dig you out of the trenches. No question is too embarrassing or dumb to ask. And your name will forever remain confidential.

This month, a successful local businesswoman in her early 40s had a few scorching comments and a question on her mind:

Mountain bikers make me hot. There are two bike shops around my house, and the guys who work there are afraid to come around the corner or I’ll attack them. My question: is it okay for a woman over 40 to date one man her age and also keep some 20-something-year-old on the side?

It sounds delicious, honey. Like something Vanessa Williams from Desperate Housewives might pull. But it’s dangerous turf if you don’t use the right fertilizer. Meaning you must let your old dude know things aren’t exclusive. If you’re sexting the geezer and wearing thongs in his presence, that’s exclusive. If not, then nothing’s wrong with a yummy young treat on the side. Just let both men know where they stand. You can only sleep with one unless you want to be a total slut pup. Secrets are for politicians and cheesy celebrities—not regular folks’ relationships. By the way, I’m sure quite a few women envy being in your shoes. Jimmy Choos? You’re such a cougar. Just remember the rule of the mighty Serta: only one man should break your springs. 

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Posted on Sunday, November 28, 2010 at 07:00PM by Registered CommenterVerve-acious | Comments Off

Pumps Iron, Plumps Portfolios

Give Abby Cain a few minutes, and she can whip your body—or your bank account—into shape.

by Cassady Sharp . photo by Matt Rose

Abby Cain may like her exercise “super slow,” but her life is anything but. A financial consultant three days a week and a personal trainer for two, Cain, who has a three-year-old and a newborn, admits she sometimes takes on too much. “I just call it what it is—insane,” says Cain, 35. “I had a cookout on Halloween, and I thought to myself—when I had one screaming child on the floor and another on my hip—‘You’re insane!’”

Originally from Wilmington, North Carolina, Cain moved back to the state with her husband in 2008 after working in private banking with J.P. Morgan in Los Angeles and New York City. While living in New York and waking at 4am to exercise before work, Cain knew she had to do something different to burn calories. Through a colleague, she discovered “Super Slow” exercise, a weight-lifting routine in which the participant lifts as slowly as possible until the muscle is fatigued. Originating as a University of Florida study on women with osteoporosis in 1982, Super Slow quickly gained popularity among trainers. “My body was changing drastically,” Cain says of her experience with the unusual workout, which is only usually done once or twice week. “I felt like Superwoman.”

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Posted on Sunday, November 28, 2010 at 06:59PM by Registered CommenterVerve-acious | Comments Off

A New Look, But Not By The Book

A Hendersonville bookstore owner steps out.

by Mick Kelly . photos by Matt Rose

When Valerie Welbourn first wrote to us about why she needed a makeover, we giggled. “The other week someone asked if my 11-year-old daughter was my GRANDDAUGHTER!” she wrote. “Please help. I’m only 42, for Pete’s sake.”

Welbourn, now 43, sounded like she could use a little sartorial sizzle. She also seemed to have an excellent sense of humor about the whole situation. Yes, her hair started graying early (during her makeover, she admitted she couldn’t even remember what her natural color was). And yes, you might describe her everyday look as plain. Welbourn, who spent 15 years as a land surveyor and recently opened Fountainhead Bookstore in downtown Hendersonville, spends most of her days in simple sweaters and pants. She’s a mother of two and a voracious reader. The only time she really needs to dress up is when big-deal authors swing by the store for readings, in which case she wears a black skirt with a grey tank top. “My mother and my daughter both said frumpy is my style,” she says.

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Posted on Sunday, November 28, 2010 at 06:58PM by Registered CommenterVerve-acious | Comments Off

Don't Judge Judy

interview by Jess McCuan . photo by Rimas Zailskas

Name: Judy Ricker

Age: 57

Where do you get your sense of style? I like to look different all the time. I like to look casual and fun.

And what do you do for a living? I’ve had different jobs at different times. I’ve never had a career in anything. I’ve been a domestic engineer my whole life.

Domestic engineer. I like it. So you have kids? I’ve raised three children.

And what’s the toughest part about being a domestic engineer? Creating a meal or a house where everything is running well. That’s it. And, I guess just making sure I haven’t left a child at the Y or a baseball game. Now, it’s figuring out that I have a life too. The kids are gone. I’m enjoying not having to be on call for rides in 12 different directions. 

Posted on Sunday, November 28, 2010 at 06:56PM by Registered CommenterVerve-acious | Comments Off

Decked Out

interview by Jess McCuan . photo by Anthony Bellemare

Name: Sarah Bradford

Age: 26

Is that a walking stick? It’s actually called a trekking pole. When I’m backpacking with a heavy pack, I carry two of them. They save my knees.

What’s the most exciting thing you’ve ever done with your trekking poles? I’m going down to Argentina soon. I’ll be backpacking and rock climbing and exploring and seeing what happens once I’m there. I’m going with a friend.

Do you ever get scared out in the woods when you’re by yourself? Yeah. At North Carolina Outward Bound, we were meeting a group of students for a 14-day climbing trip. A huge storm came in and we weren’t at a safe place to stop. So we were all just out there in this major lightning storm and we had to force the students along. It was definitely scary. They didn’t know we were scared.

For all the outdoorsy stuff you do, you seem really stylish. I love clothing and wish that I could always afford to dress impeccably. I like dressing up but going for a more classy look. 

Posted on Sunday, November 28, 2010 at 06:54PM by Registered CommenterVerve-acious | Comments Off

Hot Wheels

interview by Jess McCuan  .  photo by Anthony Bellemare

Name: Sandra Campagna

Age: 28

Do you go by Sandra or Sandy? Sandy sometimes sounds like a cheerleader to me. I introduce myself as Sandra and let people make the decision.

And where did you get the great bike? I grew up around bikes. My dad has always had one—since he was 17. His first bike was like a 1970-something Harley… He still races, and he still wins first place.

Is riding as dangerous as everyone says? You are so vulnerable… The first time I got on I-40 by myself—I live out in Candler—I thought it was a little scary. People drive 70, and you have to cross four lanes of traffic. But you go in increments. It’s thrilling.


Posted on Sunday, November 28, 2010 at 06:54PM by Registered CommenterVerve-acious | Comments Off

Saved By The Bells

A remarkable handbell group, the Blue Ridge Ringers, performs at area churches this month.

by Jonathan Rich . photo by Matt Rose

When the 14 members of the Blue Ridge Ringers get together, it is a festival for almost all of the senses.

Clad in identical blue-hued garments and wearing matching black gloves, these Western North Carolina women shake and strike their shiny instruments with such grace and careful control that all five octaves of Malmark handbells seem to both soothe and excite the group’s listeners.

Connie Engle of Hendersonville, who has been ringing handbells for 30 years and helped founded the Blue Ridge Ringers in 1995, says bringing this music to the masses is one way she gives back to the community. “Most of our concerts have no admission charge, and when we perform, every audience has a very large portion of people who have never seen or heard handbell music,” Engle says of the Ringers’ benefit concerts for the Flat Rock Playhouse, local schools and churches.

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Posted on Sunday, November 28, 2010 at 06:52PM by Registered CommenterVerve-acious | Comments Off

Chair With A View

The new board chair of the Community Foundation of Henderson County talks about Hendersonville’s young people and philanthropy in tough times.

by Jess McCuan . photo by Rimas Zailskas

Finally, young people have arrived in Hendersonville. Jana Humleker can see them now when she’s out for dinner downtown. But they weren’t always there, she says. Humleker, 52, has lived in Hendersonville with her husband Bill since 1983, and they’ve seen the city through many changes. Among them is an influx, in the past ten years or so, she says, of young people and families. Now, the challenge for her organization, the Community Foundation of Henderson County (and all organizations and businesses, really), will be to reach out to those young people and help them take leadership roles.

Humleker, who took over as chair of the Community Foundation’s board in July, has been a board member since 2004. The foundation, which funds everything from scholarships to food pantries to public art, has a total of about $66 million in assets, which dipped to a low of about $50 million after the recent market downturn.

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Posted on Sunday, November 28, 2010 at 06:49PM by Registered CommenterVerve-acious | Comments Off

Fully Fern-ished

Look for Fernworks and other nature-themed artists at this month’s Big Crafty.

by Mary Ellen Phillips . photo by Carrie Wagner

Among cows, endless tobacco fields, abandoned apple orchards and the dirt roads of southern Appalachia, a young girl filled her pockets with moss, bones and other “small powerful things,” says Faryn Davis.  

Now 33, the Statesville, North Carolina, native is still collecting tiny natural ephemera and incorporating it into ethereal resin paintings and a line of resin jewelry. Davis, who grew up in Waynesville, was a UNC-Asheville art student but also studied in France, Italy and Nepal. It was in Nepal that she first encountered small ritual objects encased in resin or enshrined in temples by the side of the road. When she later became enamored with the misty, dreamy landscapes of the Pacific Northwest, she embarked on a ten-year residency in Seattle and later Portland with $800 in her pocket. She had no idea what would happen next. After months of saving, she rented a shared studio, where she began experimenting with resin and selling work.

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Posted on Sunday, November 28, 2010 at 06:48PM by Registered CommenterVerve-acious | Comments Off

Em-barking On a New Endeavor

A former bank marketing manager has big plans for the Blue Ridge Humane Society.

by Mick Kelly . photo by Matt Rose

Terri Thompson isn’t exactly switching careers. The Hendersonville resident says she is simply a marketer, so whether she’s a marketing coordinator for Carolina First Bank (her most recent gig) or running the Blue Ridge Humane Society (where she became executive director in September), both could use her big vision and marketing savvy.

At Blue Ridge Humane, a 60-year-old Hendersonville animal welfare agency, one of her goals is to get cute photos of adoptable dogs and cats out in public. She’ll be revamping the humane society’s website, making better use of Facebook and teaming up with local businesses for adoption days. And this year, for the first time, Blue Ridge Humane Society doggies had a booth at Hendersonville’s Apple Festival—at least their faces did. “It’s amazing. Someone sees the face of an animal and they just have a connection and that’s the pet they want,” she says, explaining that, a few days after the humane society put large framed photos of dogs and cats up at the Labor Day festival, people came in and adopted seven animals. She’d like to start showing images of Blue Ridge dogs and cats at businesses that have large TV banks.

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Posted on Sunday, November 28, 2010 at 06:46PM by Registered CommenterVerve-acious | Comments Off

Editor's Note

It’s been an amazing year at VERVE.

At year’s end, I always feel like it’s a good time to take stock. In July, the magazine completely reinvented itself when we started publishing monthly and in a larger format. The new paper, size and stepped-up frequency have all been smash hits.

To kick the year off, we rolled out a buzzy “Ten Women to Watch” list, which our readers loved. So in January 2011, we’ll be running a “30 Under 30” roundup, profiling some of Western North Carolina’s most accomplished young women. Stay tuned.

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Posted on Sunday, November 28, 2010 at 06:43PM by Registered CommenterVerve-acious | Comments Off