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Moda Opens at Biltmore Park in Time for the Holidays

Monday, November 30th, 2009

ASHEVILLE, NC – From bangles and bags to classic tops and chic denim, the fashionistas among us understand the thrill of discovering the perfect addition to our closets. The search can oftentimes be exhausting, so when we find a gem of a dress or an inspired pair of shoes, we know how to appreciate them. And if we are the admirers of all things stylish, then Moda, the newest locally-owned boutique to open in Biltmore Park Town Square, is the artist that brings our favorite pieces together in a collage of sophisticated and modern apparel and accessories.

Just in time for the holiday shopping season, Moda, located on Town Square Boulevard next to children’s boutique Bon Bébé, opened on Friday, November 20th much to the delight of Asheville’s fashion-forward women. Whether dining downtown or working at the office, anyone can see that the region is brimming with unique styles, and Moda promises to be a great place for discovering your new favorite article of clothing to warm up with during winter.

Of course, we don’t want to leave the men out as there are plenty of options for holiday gifts that the women in your life will love. From jewelry and perfume to elegant outfits that are sure to flatter, Moda ensures that there isn’t room for error when selecting the perfect present. So, consider Town Square for your holiday excursions, and say “Thank You” to Asheville this Thanksgiving by supporting local retailers.

Other gift ideas include gift certificates to Sparrow Spa or Sensibilities, new furnishings for your home from Dwellings, handcrafted art from Echo Gallery, and more. Visit Moda Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Newly Founded Echo Gallery Opens in Biltmore Town Square

Monday, September 21st, 2009


ASHEVILLE, NC – It’s undeniable that Asheville is inundated with talent, and the arts are the heart and soul of the city. From Appalachian crafts that have been carried down through generations to contemporary and novel creations, the galleries in the area host world-class offerings with a unique hometown twist. Biltmore Park Town Square is now adding to the mix as host of the newly-founded cooperative Echo Gallery, which opens on Friday, September 18th.

Founded by seven artists whose studios are currently headquartered in the River Arts District, Echo Gallery is a welcome expansion into South Asheville. While each artist is different in medium and style, each piece complements the other by showcasing skill, perspective, and method. Whether eager to observe a sample of what makes Western North Carolina such an appealing destination or shopping for your home, the quality of the paintings, ceramics, sculptures, textiles, and photography are sure to inspire.

The artists are excited about gaining more visibility in their new location, and Town Square couldn’t be more excited about their contributions to the area. Asheville is one of the Southeast’s most popular arts destinations, and Biltmore Park is glad to feature local culture and talent among its unique mix of national and local tenants. The founding artists of the Echo Gallery include Anna Kolosieke, Barbara Fisher, Susan Web Lee, Laurie McCarrier, Lori Therault, and Heather Tinnaro.

Echo Gallery is located in Suite 160 at Eight Town Square Boulevard across from the newly opened Barnes & Noble. The hours are Thursday-Saturday from 12 p.m. – 8 p.m. and Sunday 12 p.m. – 6 p.m., making it a wonderful destination for restaurant and movie-goers in Biltmore Park. Learn more at www.echoasheville.com

Asheville’s River Arts District: Galleries and Restaurants Abound

Monday, March 30th, 2009


ASHEVILLE, NC – The neighborhood has that wrong-side-of-the-tracks feel about it, and sure enough, the railroad runs right through the middle and sometimes backs up traffic. Great hulking warehouses look slightly shabby; from a distance, the barbecue joint across the narrow road looks less than appetizing.

But appearances are deceiving. The ramshackle warehouses and factories comprise Asheville’s up-and-coming River Arts District, and the ‘cue shack is the famous 12 Bones Smokehouse that earned top honors in “Good Morning America’s” “Best Bites” competition a while back.

It’s not that the arts are a new thing in this mountain city. Since early railroad days, Asheville has drawn people with wealth, talent and style.

In the 1890s, George Vanderbilt purchased 125,000 acres and built his palatial Biltmore Estate here. In the 1900s, the great art deco architects created an extraordinary collection of flashy buildings. In the 1930s, F. Scott Fitzgerald used the clubby Grove Park Inn as his base. For decades, the area has been known for its crafts; the Southern Highland Craft Guild’s Folk Art Center is just outside of town, on the Blue Ridge Parkway.

But the hard times that hit much of America after the 1929 stock market crash lingered here, and it’s only in the past 10 to 15 years that the downtown has filled with antique shops, funky boutiques, gourmet restaurants and a dozen galleries showcasing contemporary painting, glass, pottery, quilts and jewelry.

Along the French Broad

Still, Asheville isn’t “too” cute – at least not yet – and the burgeoning River Arts District helps keeps things that way. From downtown Asheville, it’s about a five-minute drive, or 11/2 miles, due west. Just take Patton Avenue west to Clingman Avenue, turn left and you’re there. It’s a warehouse area up against the French Broad River and serviced by six or seven streets tied one way or another to the Norfolk & Southern tracks.

We’re talking banged-up curbing, weed patches and an abundance of corrugated metal and institutional brick.

As downtown Asheville gentrified over the past 15 years, upper floors in buildings on Broadway and other central city streets went to lofts and condos. Artists with studios there faced higher rents, and increasingly restrictive zoning made it harder for artisans to pursue their crafts. Some pushed out to nearby places such as Weaverville and Black Mountain, establishing artistic satellite communities. And many just shifted west to the warehouses to create the River Arts District.

A 2008 directory lists people working in 10 venues, in fields ranging from pottery, ceramics and paint to photography, fabric, wood, metal, stone and more. Leonard Lopatin builds flutes. John Murphy makes stuffed toys and monsters.

Eileen Black, a potter who moved here from Greensboro, is president of the area’s association. In her five years in town, the district has grown from 30 artists to about 115 – people such as Genie Maples, who moved here from Atlanta with her teens 21/2 years ago, and Laurie McCarriar, a photographer who moved here two years ago from Northern Virginia.

Says Black, “You get the young hippies and the old hippies.” Her husband, Marty, a former electronics engineer sporting a “Need a little pot?” T-shirt, has joined her in the pottery business.

“It’s hard to find us; that’s one of our biggest challenges,” she says. That’s the downside of a district that’s physically off to the side

The group sponsors two annual Studio Strolls, in June and November. Most studios are open to the public on weekends, and even on a Monday, you’ll find a few busily working at their craft or packing up orders for shipment. Many of the buildings are artist-owned, says Black – meaning they won’t be chased out by high rents as the district becomes more popular

Helping raise the profile is artist Jonas Gerard, whose bright paintings and tiles appear in collections including the Bass Museum in Miami Beach. Gerard moved here from Florida about a year ago, taking over 5,000 square feet of a furniture factory-turned-storage warehouse-turned-clay-making shop. “It was time for me to move on, to make a fresh start,” Gerard said.

“We drove in and saw the art galleries, the cafes, the hippies, the drumming circle on Friday night. I didn’t see any Victoria’s Secret or McDonald’s. It was a nice homey feeling. Everyone seemed to be grooving.”

New restaurants

In recent years, the district has spruced up and two restaurants have opened. The Clingman Cafe – which serves gourmet coffee, biscuits and sandwiches – serves breakfast and lunch six days a week. On the other side of the tracks, in a former diner, 12 Bones dishes up chicken, sliced brisket, pulled pork and its signature slow-smoked ribs – full or half rack – that patrons smother in sauces flavored with blueberry chipotle, horseradish, strawberry and rhubarb, chili and ginger, mango and jalapeno, or mocha, stout beer and cherries.

Be warned: It’s only open weekdays at lunch. And despite its humble appearance, the line is always out the door.

Thirsty? The district also has a micro-brewery, The Wedge.

By Jane Wooldridge

McClatchy Newspapers