With a little help from her admirers, Zelda Fitzgerald rises above her sketchy local legacy
by Melanie McGee Bianchi . portrait by Rimas Zailskas
They go together like peanut butter and jelly. Or, more appropriately, like Bourbon and bitters. “When you talk about F. Scott Fitzgerald, you always think of Zelda,” says Bruce Johnson of Fairview, who will write about the pair in Tales of the Grove Park Inn, due in spring.
“If you wanted to know the name of the wife of another famous male writer of the period, like Hemingway or Faulkner, you’d probably have to look it up on Wikipedia,” says Johnson. “But you can’t separate the legacy of Scott and Zelda.”
It would be an unsavory stretch to peg the Fitzgeralds as the Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes of their day, although in terms of beleaguered celebrity coupledom, they surely fit the TomKat bill. They also fit their era, the so-called Roaring ’20s, as smoothly as a flapper’s shimmying arm in a long silk glove.
Our model, Roberta Mattson of West Asheville, is the stay-at-home mom of two little girls, ages 15 months and 5 years, an avid gardener, and a fiber artist who sells hand-dyed hemp garments and needle-felted dolls on her ETSY shop Piece Blossom.
Besides her high-and-wide cheekbones, heart-shaped facial profile, thoughtful eyes and small, vulnerable mouth that mark a strong physical resemblance to Zelda Fitzgerald, Roberta can also claim other similarities to the Jazz Age icon. She relocated here from Alabama, Zelda’s home state. Roberta is 36 — the same age as Mrs. Fitzgerald when she entered Highland Hospital in Montford.
Doctor “sees” families both in and out of the examining room
by Kate O’Connor
“The doctor will see you now.”
It’s such a familiar phrase: part euphemism, part wishful thinking. When we step into the examining room there’s an inherent desire that our caregiver will “see” us as a complete person — as something more than just our physical condition. And that’s certainly the case for the children who are tended by Dr. Carmen Arkansas Nations, a pediatrician at Cherokee Indian Hospital.
It makes sense that Dr. Nations has a particular affinity for her work. Carmen is a home girl. Born in Asheville, she lived in Cherokee from the time she was four. “My family is Ute and Cherokee,” she explains. “I did my Pre-Med undergraduate studies at Appalachian [State University] and attended medical school at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City, but my intent was always to come home to Cherokee and work here.”
Loan officer’s standard of service recalls banking of a bygone age
story, photo, and illustration by Naomi Johnson
If Mary Kate Rikard isn’t the most heartfelt banker in the world, she’s got to be close. In an industry not generally known for its ebullient idealists, Rikard, a loan officer at HomeTrust Bank’s corporate headquarters in downtown Asheville, is both — as well as an enthusiastic cheerleader and life coach who is willing to go way beyond the call of duty to see her clients in a home of their own.
Consider this story she tells: after working with one client, a single mother, for a period of years, laboriously getting her finances in shape, they finally got her into her own place. But the woman’s son didn’t have a bed of his own — so Rikard went with them to the furniture store and helped them buy a bed. That’s a lot more than most people expect from their loan officer, but for this Asheville native, who specializes in “out of the box” loans for non-standard clients, it’s just another day on the job she’s passionate about.
Royal Peasantry’s Daniella Miller has a responsibility to eco aesthetes
by Melanie McGee Bianchi . photography by Zaire Kacz
With her unblinking cat’s eyes, shawl of dark hair and husky voice, Daniella Miller emotes like some bewitching mix of Angelina Jolie and Angel Heart—era Lisa Bonet. But she might resent any maudlin A-list comparisons.
Her vision with Royal Peasantry Design House is too edgy for that. Simultaneously ancient and utopian, it embodies a dreamy but fierce mystique — think a restless tribal traveler power-napping in Shangri-La.
Miller has designed and sewed clothing since she was a child, but when she studied at the prestigious design school Parsons, in NYC, she majored in fine arts and philosophy, not fashion. An outgrowth of More Than Mammal, Inc., a company she started in 1998, Royal Peasantry bloomed from a grotto behind BoBo Gallery to its current atmospheric boutique on Lexington Avenue, opened in 2010.
With a cadre of student interns, professional seamstresses and paid apprentices, including noted leatherworker Tim Jeffery, Miller toils old-world style to achieve an epic ecological dream, diverting an incalculable amount of goods from the landfill. Fighting against what she calls the “vast devastation wrought by pop-culture fashion,” Miller makes sure every item of clothing and every accessory created by Royal Peasantry — and she and her crew are prolific — uses prime, preworn materials.