Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

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More of what’s going around:

-A new Crossfit gym is opening at 217 Coxe Ave. on Asheville’s South Slope, a block south of the Funkatorium. SouthSlope Crossfit is looking for a group of both veteran and beginning CrossFitters to attend training classes as it instructs and educates coaches. Send an email to [email protected] or [email protected] for more information. The target date for opening is Aug. 21. The gym is the work of Scott Mirkin, Dan Hartley and their SouthSlope Crossfit colleagues.

Spellbound Children’s Bookshop hosts a book launch event from 6-7 p.m. on Aug. 1 for Alexandra Duncan’s new stand-alone young adult novel Blight (Greenwillow/Harper Collins), according to a press release. More:

The book and event are appropriate for ages twelve and up, and there is no purchase necessary to attend. There will be free refreshments and fun giveaways related to the novel’s plot, including tomato seeds.

Blight is a thriller inspired by current environmental issues, specifically the genetic adjustment of seeds to resist blight and the risks of not allowing natural seed diversity. When an agribusiness facility producing genetically engineered food releases a deadly toxin into the environment, seventeen-year-old Tempest Torres races to deliver the cure before time runs out in this dystopian action-adventure story that is Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake meets Nancy Farmer’s House of the Scorpion. Blight has been chosen as one of twelve seasonal Okra Picks by the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance.

The first 200 copies of Blight pre-ordered from Spellbound Children’s Bookshop come with a free pack of three art prints by Linus Curci featured in the book’s interior illustrations. Spellbound ships anywhere in the United States and can have books signed and personalized. You can watch a video trailer and read the first two chapters, as well as pre-order the book, at

-If you’re in the market for a cool dog bed, check out this one made by Asheville-based Astral. It’s called the AstroPad and it’s made out of sustainable hemp and scrap PFD foam pieces left over from the company’s footwear and PFD production process. The full bed composition is:
-Shell: 77 percent hemp, 23 percent recycled poly
-The1050D nylon bottom made with reclaimed PFD fabric
-Bed filling: 50 percent scrap PFD foam and 50 percent poly
It comes in three colors and sizes small, medium and large and costs $170.

-Looking Glass Creamery has hired Sean Stanley as retail manager for the growing, and soon to be expanded, Cheese Shop at the company’s original Fairview location, according to a press release. Also, effective July 13, the Cheese Shop hours at Looking Glass Creamery are being expanded; it will be open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday through Sunday. And beginning in August, the renovated loft of the creamery will open for additional seating, as well as an educational and special event space. Starting in August, a regular series of classes will be held in the new space, revolving around cheese education, pairings, and beyond. Classes in the “First Friday” series will be held on the first Friday of every month from 6-8 p.m. Buy tickets for LGC events at: or visit the Store section of the company’s website.

-The Penland School of Crafts 32nd Annual Benefit Auction will take place on Aug. 11 and 12 on the historic Penland campus, north of Asheville, according to a press release. More:

The gala weekend event includes live and silent auctions, food, receptions at the Penland Gallery and the studios of Penland’s resident artists, and displays of work donated by Penland’s current and former instructors, resident artists, and core fellows. Absentee bidding is available. All proceeds benefit the programs of Penland School.

The featured artwork this year, by Vivian Beer, is titled Anchored Candy #7. It is a metal bench featuring Beer’s characteristic swooping lines and gleaming automotive finishes. The piece is a prime example of the innovative design work and superb craftsmanship that made Vivian the winner of last year’s HGTV show, Ellen’s Design Challenge with Ellen DeGeneres.

Also part of the auction are works by glass artists Dean Allison, Alex Gabriel Bernstein, and Kenny Pieper, furniture makers Annie Evelyn and Brian Boggs, potter Warren MacKenzie, ceramic sculptor Eric Knoche, photographers Mercedes Jelinek and James Henkel, and jewelers Tara Locklear and Ashley Buchanan. Along with these works are more than 200 pieces in books, clay, drawing, glass, jewelry, metals, photography, printmaking, textiles, wood, and mixed media. The table centerpieces, which will be sold during the weekend, are handwoven runners made by six different North Carolina textile artists in honor of Penland’s early history as a weaving school.

During the weekend the school will honor Cynthia Bringle and Edwina Bringle as the 2017 Penland School of Crafts Outstanding Artist Educators. These twin sisters have been closely involved with the school since the late 1960s. Cynthia Bringle is a potter and a renowned teacher of ceramics workshops. Edwina Bringle is a weaver, a workshop teacher, and professor emerita from University of North Carolina-Charlotte, where she taught for twenty-four years. Both of them have shown their work widely and they have received many honors, including the North Carolina Award for Fine Art for Cynthia.

The auction begins on Friday, August 12 with a preview of the auction work, a tribute to Cynthia and Edwina Bringle, a silent auction, dinner, and a live auction. Saturday’s festivities will start at 9:00 AM with coffee and pastries and an open house at the studios of Penland’s resident artists. This will be followed by a silent auction, luncheon, and a live auction. The weekend finishes up with a reception at the Penland Gallery. The auctioneer is Matthew Haley of Bonham’s auction house in London.

All events take place on the Penland School campus in Mitchell County, North Carolina, near Spruce Pine, 52 miles north of Asheville. Weekend tickets are $395, Friday tickets are $255, and Saturday tickets are $285. Absentee bidding is available for a $25 fee, which includes a color catalog. Reservations are required, and the event often sells out. For more information or to make reservations, call 828-765-2359, ext. 1204, send e-mail to [email protected], or follow the auction link at, where you will find a complete schedule, registration information, and a PDF of the auction catalog.

Jason Sandford

Jason Sandford is a reporter, writer, blogger and photographer interested in all things Asheville.

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