Not A Hair Out of Place

Adrienne Antonson makes sculptures out of hair and dresses out of rubber bands. And generally turns fashion on its head.

by Ursula Gullow . photos by Matt Rose

Repurposing the scraps of everyday life into meticulous items of elegance comes naturally to Adrienne Antonson. The 29-year-old once stitched together a mass of rubber bands to create a dress bodice, and fashioned a knotted necklace from used teabags. She has even incorporated the hides of shoes into her clothes, and used human hair as sculptural lingerie. “I’m a damn good thrifter,” says the Florida native, who moved to Asheville via Seattle last fall. “The closer something is to being waste, the more attracted I am to it.”

Antonson insists she uses only reclaimed materials in her clothing line, State, and she collects fabrics from thrift stores nationwide. Describing her tailoring process as “making origami,” Antonson says: “I like to cut everything apart and save it or reuse it in an unexpected way.” So far, she’s doing a fairly convincing job of recycling: The hem of a skirt becomes a breezy scoop of a collar; a denim dress is reimagined as a smock with suspenders. Holding up a basket of cuffs she’s been collecting over the years, she laughs, “I’ll probably sew them all together one day, I don’t know.”

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Posted on Tuesday, January 31, 2012 at 04:02PM by Registered CommenterVerve-acious | CommentsPost a Comment | References23 References

This V-day, Love Yourself  

Meet three women who are single and loving it.

by Susan Reinhardt . photos by Matt Rose

Happiness: it’s an inside job. So says Hendersonville psychotherapist Shirley Nicholson, who counsels women frequently. Lookin’ for love? Start by working on yourself first. “An intimate relationship can add to one’s life, but it alone is not a guarantor of happiness,” she says.

For starters, don’t spend your time pining. Use your alone time for self-improvement, or for things you find challenging—like dance classes, carpentry or photography. Try to find activities that involve both sexes, Nicholson says. The relationship may come in time.

Therapists aren’t magicians, and neither are boyfriends or spouses. If you happen to find yourself alone during this month of love, first, take a step back: Who cares? Valentine’s Day is a made-up holiday anyway. And if you do find yourself pondering love, take a therapist’s advice: Use your alone time to deepen your knowledge of who you are, develop the capacity to identify your needs and meet them. “Accept responsibility for your own happiness,” Nicholson says. We found three women who are doing just that.

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Posted on Tuesday, January 31, 2012 at 04:00PM by Registered CommenterVerve-acious | CommentsPost a Comment | References15 References

Today, Butter. Tomorrow, World Peace

Empowerment through home dairy.

by Ashley English . photo by Naomi Johnson

The first time I made butter, you’d have thought I’d transformed iron into gold. For me, watching as the cream morphed from a fully liquid state into thick, stick-to-the-spoon butter was like witnessing first-hand a form of alchemy in my standup mixer. When I graduated to making my own yogurt, I felt like a card-carrying kitchen wizard, practically capable of turning water into wine. Once mozzarella worked its way into my homemade dairy repertoire, I began to feel pretty much like the culinary version of King Midas.

Some time ago, I read Barbara Kingsolver’s chronicle of her family’s year of eating locally, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle. A passage in the book details her own foray into the world of home dairy-making. Kingsolver said something along the lines of, after telling friends and family she intended to make homemade cheese, their reaction was akin to her informing them she’d decided to begin practicing witchcraft. I can’t quite argue with their reaction. Before I begin whipping my own butter and stretching curds of mozzarella, I might have found those endeavors exotic, esoteric and perhaps even a waste of time, too. Once I started dabbling, though, these culinary pursuits buttered me up (forgive me) right out of the gate.

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Posted on Tuesday, January 31, 2012 at 03:58PM by Registered CommenterVerve-acious | CommentsPost a Comment

Taylor Made

The owner of Fig gets the glamour treatment.

by Mick Kelly . photo by Matt Rose

You’d expect nothing less of a restaurant owner and longtime foodie. We caught Traci Taylor, the co-owner of Fig Bistro in Biltmore Village, just as she was headed out of town for a restaurant tour of New York City. “We basically eat and museum,” she says of she and her husband (and Fig co-owner) Treavis Taylor. “We’re in a food and art coma for five days.”

But just after she returned in mid-January, and before she dug back into the hard work of running Fig, Taylor let us give her a style makeover.

Growing up in Hendersonville, Taylor says she was a bit of a prep. “We wore loafers with pennies in them, and those duck and whale belts,” she says. But that gave way to her adult style of dressing, which can be summed up in one word: simplicity. Taylor is 45 and, until recently, she ran two bustling food businesses. (She sold Everyday Gourmet catering last year to focus on Fig). “I used to work 120 hours a week, now I only work 50,” she says. Her hairstyle reflects that—she has not blow-dried her hair since sometime in the mid-’90s—as does her wardrobe, since she must wear pants and tops that can get messy. She and her staff of 25 spend their days cooking up seasonal, French-style dishes like macaroni gratin with applewood bacon.

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Posted on Tuesday, January 31, 2012 at 03:57PM by Registered CommenterVerve-acious | CommentsPost a Comment

Pass the Salt

Can salt therapy shake things up? A look inside Asheville’s first salt spa.

by Jess McCuan . photos by Matt Rose

You should take Ines Clark’s new treatment with a grain of salt—or, perhaps, a few hundred million of them. The German immigrant just opened Asheville’s first salt spa, Saltasia Wellbeing, in December in a South Asheville building decked out in five tons of fancy salt. The idea is this: you sit in a peaceful, warm room breathing salty air while surrounded by glowing red hunks of ancient salt from the Himalayas. It will sound unusual to Americans, but apparently, salt rooms and salt caves (both manmade and naturally occurring) are common treatments in Eastern Europe for people with immune dysfunctions, respiratory ailments and other disorders. The salt spa is an increasingly trendy American phenomenon, too, with salty retreats popping up in the last few years in cities with large populations of Eastern Europeans (Chicago) or crowds of New Agers (Boulder).

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Posted on Tuesday, January 31, 2012 at 03:57PM by Registered CommenterVerve-acious | CommentsPost a Comment

Grains of Sandy

interview by Jess McCuan  .  photo by Matt Rose

Name: Sandy Clark

Age: 24

Occupation: hair stylist at Studio Chavarria

Lives in: Leicester

What do you do to keep warm when it’s so cold out? I just moved here from Florida, and before that, I was in L.A., so I don’t like the cold. I bury myself under 25 blankets and overuse the heater.

What could downtown Asheville use more of? It could use more coffee shops that stay open later. In fact, it could use more everything that stays open later. Wandering around here, it’s like 8pm and everybody’s sleeping. It’s sad.

And are you reading something, all bundled up under all those blankets? I just got a Kindle Fire.

But doesn’t it have wi-fi? I would think the Internet would be distracting when you’re trying to read. It is so distracting! I end up playing Scrabble. I’m reading Frankenstein right now, and it will take me a year to get through it because of Scrabble.

Posted on Tuesday, January 31, 2012 at 03:56PM by Registered CommenterVerve-acious | CommentsPost a Comment

Clowning Around

interview by Jess McCuan  .  photo by Matt Rose

Name: Julie Wishart

Age: 48

Occupation: owner of Indahchi, an importer of products from Indonesia; and co-owner of the startup Green Bamboo, a manufacturer of biodegradable cleaning supplies

Lives in: West Asheville

Did you make your outfit? It’s from Royal Peasantry on Lexington Avenue. When I want to treat myself, I go in there.

Tell me who you were in high school. Believe it or not, I was voted Class Clown. It was an all-girls private Catholic school in Boston, but I hung out with everyone. I just love to laugh, and I think life is pretty funny.

How does having a good sense of humor help you get through your days? Well, starting my own businesses, it helps to have a sense of humor.

How so? Laughing at things takes some pressure off somehow. I really think humor gives you that. If you don’t take things too seriously—you’re like, if you fail, it’s okay. 

Posted on Tuesday, January 31, 2012 at 03:56PM by Registered CommenterVerve-acious | CommentsPost a Comment | References1 Reference

(Anna’s) Hope Springs Eternal

A Hendersonville family lost a daughter, but they’ve started a fund to help treat teen addicts.

by Jess McCuan . photos by Tracy Turpen

Early on, they thought she was just moody. Anna Huneycutt, the third of four children, started acting differently once she wound up with a stash of prescription opiates after dental surgery around age 15. Her parents, Julie and Don Huneycutt of Hendersonville, noted the change and wondered if she was self-medicating. But Julie, an Asheville native with a psychology degree, says she thought they could work through the problem. “We were thinking and hoping that she would grow out of it,” Julie says.

But Anna did not. In fact, by 18, she was caught in a cruel cycle of drug dependency that had her parents checking her in and out of hospitals and other detox facilities in Western North Carolina and around the country. At 20, Julie says, Anna was sent to an Arizona rehab facility that cost more than $40,000 a month. “It was a constant rollercoaster,” says Julie Huneycutt, who was, until recently, the director of annual giving at Hendersonville’s Children and Family Resource Center. “We were scared to leave home, scared to take a vacation. I was exhausted, mentally and physically.”

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Posted on Tuesday, January 31, 2012 at 03:55PM by Registered CommenterVerve-acious | CommentsPost a Comment | References6 References

Poetry and Pose

A marathoner makes her first foray into the Asheville theater scene.

by Jess McCuan . photos by Matt Rose

She’s run 11 marathons. That includes the 26-mile Maratona d’Italia Memorial Enzo Ferrari in Italy in 2007, where Monika Gross was the only American, male or female, to win first place in her age group. But more intimidating than any foot race is Gross’s current project, directing young Asheville actors in a Shakespeare play. “The only marathon I’m doing this year is King Lear,” Gross says.

At first glance, you’d think her two endeavors—running and acting—were worlds apart. But there is a technique that unites the two, and Gross, who moved to Asheville in 2010 from New York City, is an expert in teaching it.

The Alexander Technique was invented by an Australian actor, Frederick Matthias Alexander, who kept straining his voice on stage. Basically, he taught himself the physiology of poise, which helped him manage his nerves and muscles better under stress. Since he invented the technique in the 1890s, it’s been taught in all sorts of circles, to athletes and executives and seniors. Gross now teaches Alexander Technique to music students at Appalachian State University in Boone. Her partner, Tom Dessereau, teaches Pilates, and both do running coaching through their Asheville company Form, Fitness and Function.

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Posted on Tuesday, January 31, 2012 at 03:55PM by Registered CommenterVerve-acious | CommentsPost a Comment | References3 References

Walk This Way

Now that she’s broken records and published books, what’s next for super-hiker Jennifer Pharr Davis?

by Mick Kelly

In late January, Jennifer Pharr Davis was in the running for the National Geographic People’s Choice Adventurer of the Year award for 2012. But she still had her feet planted firmly on the ground. “Sometimes I laugh that I’m in the same category as these adventurers,” says the 28-year-old Hendersonville native, explaining that her competition for the prize was an American climber, Cory Richards, who nearly died in a Class 4 avalanche on an 8,000-meter Pakistani peak. Oh yeah, and two Nepalis who launched a paraglider from the top of Mount Everest before kayaking the Ganges River. “Maybe I can go for the most-likely-not-to-die award,” she jokes. (Technically, even if she doesn’t win People’s Choice this month, Davis is still a 2012 National Geographic Adventurer of the Year.)

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Posted on Tuesday, January 31, 2012 at 03:54PM by Registered CommenterVerve-acious | CommentsPost a Comment | References4 References

Doing the Truffle Shuffle

Foodies will flock to Asheville this month for a national truffle fest.

by Melanie McGee Bianchi

Some folks might hear about the National Truffle Festival and assume it’s chocolate. And while the foodies headed to town this month may like chocolate just fine, they aren’t confused: they’ll be busy cosseting their palates for a savory, underground fungus that’s one of the world’s most worshipped delicacies.

“It’s the most unique culinary ingredient there is,” says Chef Adam Hayes of Red Stag Grill, the house restaurant in Biltmore Village’s Grand Bohemian Hotel, which is sponsoring the fete. The three-day National Truffle Festival unites farmers, experts and epicureans for a win-win stretch of feasting and wine-sipping. (The event is a benefit for the Frankie Lemmon Foundation in Raleigh, which supports the school by the same name, a center for special-needs kids.)

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Posted on Tuesday, January 31, 2012 at 03:54PM by Registered CommenterVerve-acious | CommentsPost a Comment | References7 References

Leading the Change Gang

One of WNC’s oldest green groups turns 30 this year. Its director talks birthday plans and warns of the “sinister 17.”

by Jess McCuan . photo by Corky Gallo

Whatever else goes into your garden this spring, don’t plant oriental bittersweet. Julie Mayfield, director of the Western North Carolina Alliance, says the climbing vine is one of the most ubiquitous invasive species in the region and one that tops her organization’s Do Not Buy list (aka, the “sinister 17”). That’s a catalogue of popular landscaping plants that displace and overtake native species, thereby upsetting our region’s delicate ecosystems and starving some animals of food.

Mayfield, a 44-year-old former environmental attorney, came to the Alliance in 2008 after stints at the Georgia Conservancy and Emory University School of Law in Atlanta. She and six other employees now make it a point to educate both consumers and nurseries about invasive plants, which haven’t gotten as much press or public attention as invasive bugs like the hemlock-killing wooly adelgids.

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Posted on Tuesday, January 31, 2012 at 03:53PM by Registered CommenterVerve-acious | CommentsPost a Comment | References1 Reference

Editor's Note

Love and happiness? They’re inside jobs.

I hadn’t heard it spelled out in quite this way before. But I think Hendersonville psychotherapist Shirley Nicholson sums it up nicely when she explains, on page 42, that happiness is a DIY project. Yes, falling in love can be tremendous. But long-term happiness starts with yourself. Her advice for the lovelorn: take time to get comfortable in your own skin. Do things you like—play, sing, hike, learn to fly a plane or swing from a trapeze. People around you will sense that you’re flying high, and a relationship will come in time.

In this issue, I hope you come across something you love. There’s a truffle fest in town this month (see page 38), and we found all sorts of titillating and amusing things to do in February, from a book event with agoraphobic comedian Sara Benincasa to a hula hoop party at the Montford Community Center (see Calendar, page 14). Other stories and events we liked: hiker Jennifer Pharr Davis’s humility about being recognized as one of the world’s most elite adventurers (page 22) and the fact that Hendersonville mom Julie Huneycutt is turning her family’s loss into a worthwhile nonprofit and programming that will help teen addicts around the country (page 34).

Things at VERVE are humming along in 2012, and we’re thrilled to welcome a new salesperson, Saundra Lemaster. Saundra is someone who seems to have things sorted out in the happiness department, and she’s been a delight to be around. When you see her in downtown Asheville or elsewhere, do take a minute to say hello. 

Love to you and yours,

Jess McCuan

Posted on Tuesday, January 31, 2012 at 03:52PM by Registered CommenterVerve-acious | CommentsPost a Comment