The Last LAAFF?!?

2014 – Is this the Last LAAFF for Lex Fest?

Hopefully not! Although is has been declared over and done and this year will be the “Last LAAFF” there will be metamorphosis to the project with a larger group of directors and organizations including the businesses along Lexington Avenue, the very source of the fest itself.  I believe LAAFF proved in the shadow of its final bow, that it is a festival Asheville wants. Even though I didn’t get to stay as long as I wanted to it was as much fun as ever! Particular favorites for me were The Water Temple, Bike Races with a Dunk Tank finish, Asian Teacher Factory and of course all of the great artists, performers and just folks that dress up and come out to LAAFF. The people watching is always par excellence and this year was no exception! Here are a few choice looks from the day. You can find more photos from LAAFF on my facebook page here.

[*And a note to the future organizers, please don't scrap a good thing because of one bad year. There's no such thing as a last LAAFF.]

 

 

Saturday Afternoon – Asheville

I’ve been doing some traveling for work this week.  I’m always glad for the change of perspective, but so completely happy to be back in the mountains. It was a gorgeous late afternoon to be back with the family. Looking around on a typical Saturday afternoon in Asheville it’s not hard to see why I love it here!

Mmmmmwuh!

Saturday Afternoon in Asheville

Blind Pig: Beggar’s Banquet

Beggar’s Banquet, Sam Etheridge’s Homage to the Rolling Stones

It was an A-List evening that was all about the music Sunday for Blind Pig‘s Beggar’s Banquet in support of  the Asheville Music School.   Sam Etheridge, Owner/Chef of Ambrozia in North Asheville,  created 8 courses of Rolling Stones inspired dishes, truly a rock-n-roll feast, for his homage to the band.

Around 80 guests queued up before 6 pm on the side walk in front of the Asheville Music Hall, waiting for doors to open for the show, while inside kids from the Rock Band Ensemble of AMS ran through their sound check and warm ups.  Then it was show time! Doors opened, folks flowed in to find their seats and plugged in, amped up and rockin’ out, the kids from the Rock Band Ensemble filled the stage and delivered an excellent performance with an impressive and challenging set list including, Get Off of My Cloud, Paint It Black, Jumpin’ Jack Flash & Sympathy for the Devil, as well as several other classic rock favorites. Meanwhile Sam and his entire staff from Ambrozia worked seamlessly backstage to prep and plate their side of the show.  By the time the kids had gotten their standing ovation it was time to eat.

Here’s the menu for the evening:

Start Me Up. . . You’ll Never Stop – Foie Gras Flan, Duck & Fig Spring Roll,Duck Chicharones

Goat’s Head Soup – Slow Braised Cobrito, Coconut Curry, Goat Cheese Roti

Jumpin’ Jack Flash – Amberjack Crudo, Radish, Jerk Spiced Mango, Radish Sprouts, Habanero-Moonshine Gastrique

Paint It Black – Black Grouper, Seaweed, Forbidden Black Rice, Black Truffle, Squid Ink, Kewpie Aioli, Tobiko

Sticky Fingers – Pistachio & Blue Cheese Baklava, Honey Comb, Green Apple – Jalepeno Cotton Candy

Beast of Burden – Braised Oxtail, Plantain& Benton’s Bacon Fufu, Hazelnut Gremolata

Satisfaction. . . I Can’t Get No – Mick’s Cherry Limeade, Miracle Berry

As a long time performance and concert photographer I can attest to how similar it is to watch a show or an underground dinner come together since I occupy this odd middle ground between the front and back of the house.  I know I’m not alone in this opinion, Steven Goff made reference to it in his guest column this week on Jonathon Ammon’s food blog The Dirty Spoon:

“Really, cooking was just what funny looking guys with criminal records do for a living.  That or construction… but as a degenerate, very frequently vagrant punk rocker, cooking had it all!  The fast paced “rock n roll” ness of the kitchen, free beer and late nights.”

Load in starts early in the afternoon, hours before dinner is supposed to begin, while prep and practice have been going on for days in advance of the actual show to make sure everything sounds/tastes right.  There’s warm ups, and like sound check, last minute menu changes and menu details to run through and server instructions so guests’ questions can be answered intelligently. Once guests start arriving the show is ON and it’s a ‘Wheels Up, Don’t Crash’ form of controlled madness that I’m certain would look familiar to any roadie or venue tech.  It’s often in the dark, on the edges, with no net and balls to the wall action in the wings to make it look smooth out front with a rolling procession of plates, prep, server pick up, plates come back, get scraped down and stacked for wash, repeat.  Like music in the air, beautiful plates are created again and again, enjoying their whole existence as a realized concept for maybe 5 or 6 minutes tops, including travel time to the table, before they are a consumed memory. And then, after the last plate has been pushed away it’s another mad rush to break it all down and pack it up on the truck because there is another show booked for the late night crowd with doors at 10.  Yeah baby! That’s Rock-n-Roll!

 

Asheville Mardi Gras Parade 2014

Fun downtown at the Asheville Mardi Gras Parade!

Oh Asheville, I love to see you shake your furry, freaky, sparkly, happy selves down the middle of the street!  Gone are my February blues, chased away with bright colors like pink, purple  and orange, cheetah prints, amazing costumes and wide grins from this weekend’s parade revelers.   This year’s theme, ‘Where the Wild Things Are’ seemed like a natural fit for a place like Asheville. There were every sort of beastie, creature and creative interpretation of the theme along with a lot of bead throwing and fun.  I just posted 75 photos on my Facebook Page  but here are a few of my favorites from the day:

 

 

 

 

 

Valentine’s Day Blues

Valentine’s Day was cancelled on account of snow.

Valentine Blues

Last year’s Valentine’s Day festivities were radically different from this year’s. This year, it was snowy, slushy and cold, my honey had to work and it was just another day of the February Blues so I froze my little blue heart and tossed it out in the snow.  Last year I was at the Anti-Valentine’s Day Pillow Fight downtown in Pritchard Park and it was about 55 degrees.  This year I was sad to miss it although it happened on the 15th instead of the 14th. I heard it turned into a huge snow ball fight at the end and went on for hours. Boo!  It’s my fault for hibernating a little to deep.  Oh well, here are shots from last year’s Anti-Valentine’s Day Pillow Fight as a reminder to not mis out NEXT year.

 

TOAST! at the Asheville Art Museum

 Taking a break from the Feb. blues for a day to share photos from the Asheville Art Museum‘s winter fundraising event TOAST! The evening featured sips and tastes from a wide range of craft made cider, wine, beer and cocktails, delicious food catered from Valet Gourmet and Havana, a silent auction loaded with art, and music performed by the fantastically talented Jamar Woods. Guests strolled the length of the main floor sampling wine from local vineyards like Addison Farms Vinyard from Leicester, local cider from Urban Orchard , and a little something called a Covington Crimson with Mary Rich Hill of Spirit Savvy.  And of course there was beer. All the usual suspects were present, which is a long and wonderful list since this is Asheville,  but I was especially happy to see Hi-Wire Brewing featured.  Here are a few photos from the evening or see the whole album on CLicKs facebook page.

Asheville Pinball Museum

Asheville Pinball Museum

Asheville Pinball Museum

Confession time, I married a pinball junkie.  Yes I did. He’s been hooked on them since he was a kid. When we lived in Virginia our neighbor across the street (and suddenly his new best friend) had a regular rotation of machines in his man cave that Cass had almost limitless access to. Then we moved to Asheville and his hookup became more sketchy. I would catch him hanging out around dodgy looking, wobbly legged machines in the back corner of an arcade, or sneaking out to DeSoto‘s for a quick game or two since they have the nearest decent group of machines to the house. Then last summer the Asheville Pinball Museum opened and now I am well on my way to being a pinball widow again.

Just kidding, the whole family loves to play pinball so we went there last night!  It’s true that our old neighbor fed our habit and since we moved it’s been hard to find a consistent place to play. But that really isn’t a problem any more with the Asheville Pinball Museum open downtown across from the Grove Arcade.  It’s not exactly an arcade or a museum, but a sublime mixture. It’s like a huge living room with a lounge area, big flat screen t.v. and a collection of over 25 pinball machines from the 1930′s right on up to now. Many of the machines are available for sale and have information listed on them about the year they were made, the designer/manufacturer and some interesting facts about their history.  The older ones are just gorgeous, with delicate wooden details, enticements to play competitively and  luscious pinup girl artwork. The machines from the 60′s and 70′s, are a literal trip, loaded with mirrors, lights and Tommy references.  The newer ones are FAST, flashy (epilepsy warning) and super cool with all of my favs like Mars Attacks and The Addams Family. You can even buy cans of ABC beers there, but heads up there is a 3 drink limit and obviously, no cans on the machines along with some other good rules like no swearing and don’t be a table hog. They are also lining things up for team competitions and weekly pinball tournaments every Wednesday night at 6:30 for more details check their Facebook page. So what’s the catch? Pretty much none, you can have unlimited play all day for the price of admission there’s no tokens or quarters necessary, $10 for adults, $7 for kids or if you’ve got a pinball habit, get the gift card which is the best value for $50 that gets you 10 visits.

1.14.13 – The Electronic Medium

I spent an hour yesterday afternoon watching a piece from Robert & Ingrid Weigand’s The Electronic Medium at the Asheville Art Museum‘s Media Gallery. It is essentially an artistic time capsule of  the bare beginning of personal recording technology and experimentation with captured footage.  Reverberated feedback, overlapping audio and stacked video tracks reveal a pair of  artists exploring the perimeters of a, then, brand new technology.   Personally, I got it. I could see where play, and the novelty of being able to instantly record and view footage, overlapped with experimentation but is also mixed with more mundane scenes from the early 70′s of their everyday lives, eating breakfast, walking on the sidewalk, talking about future art projects and collaborations, etc.  My favorite part includes footage of a dancer, filmed simultaneously with a pair of cameras and a switcher, which overlays the two tracks to create a space much like I do in my radiants or a Rorschach ink blot, where the layers meet and overlap and a new image is created.  Overall an interesting exhibit that at the very least, provides a flashback to a time before personal media exploded when the documentation of a personal timeline was still a novelty.

The Electronic Medium

1st Friday Downtown Art Walk

Very proud of my oldest daughter for choosing and purchasing her first true piece of local art at Zapow during the 1st Friday Downtown Art Walk. It is now framed and hanging in a place of honor in her room. Awesome!

Thanks for the show!

Just took down my show of framed prints at 1st Congregational United Church of Christ in downtown Asheville.  I was the featured artist for the month of March in their gorgeous atrium gallery.  It was an honor and privilege to share my art with this fine congregation!  Thank you so much for the opportunity!

 

My husband Cass did the framing for all of these using weathered tobacco stakes and reclaimed barn wood.  He and I created this series of agricultural and rural scenes as the featured artist project for Blind Pig Underground Supper Club‘s November 2012 dinner “Preserve”. [See photos from the event here.] The entire series can be viewed here: Preserve Series

There are still several matted and framed prints available as well as a few smaller matted prints from my Asheville CLicKs series.  I am always looking for new spaces to hang my work if you’re a small business in the Asheville area who would like to host a show please feel free to get in touch!

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