New Asheville River Arts District gallery will marry pottery, pastries

Jason Sandford

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

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gallery mugen photoPress release here:

Gallery Mugen and Yuzu Patisserie Bring Global Influences, Food And Art to Asheville

Mugen means “infinite” in Japanese, and that’s the sense of limitlessness artists Akira Satake and Barbara Zaretsky and pastry chef Cynthia Pierce bring to their new collaboration, Gallery Mugen, opening March 1 in Cotton Mill Studios in the River Arts District. With an aesthetic of simplicity and intentionality expressed in ceramics, textiles, and pastries, the three aim to bring Asheville’s art and food cultures together, creating an atmosphere that invites visitors to linger, indulge their senses, and appreciate the beauty of the handmade objects and the sophisticated flavors of the pastries.

The 1800-square-foot gallery will include the space that currently houses Zaretsky’s gallery and studio, extending it to encompass the new gallery, patisserie, and working studio space for Akira Satake Ceramics. “There’s a natural fit between pastry and pottery,” says Satake, and a shared visual sense between his work and Zaretsky’s. Satake and Pierce are husband and wife, and Zaretsky and Satake are frequent artistic collaborators. In 2009 and 2012 they presented an exhibition entitled “Ma–the Space Between” at the Asheville Area Arts Council ( “Gallery Mugen is a natural extension of what we’re already doing,” says Zaretsky.

Zaretsky–named one of the top five designers in Asheville by Southern Living magazine—is founder of Cloth Fiber Workshop, a textile arts learning center, and owner and creator of BZDesign wearables and home furnishings. Satake’s work is included in the collection of the Mint Museum and was honored at the Philadelphia Museum of Art Craft Show with the National Award for Excellence in Contemporary Clay. Pierce’s medium is pastry, both sweet and savory. Although her baking style is French and German-influenced, she frequently incorporates Japanese flavors in the mix. Selections such as galettes and tarts might include green tea, ginger, or yuzu–a fragrant Japanese citrus fruit. Her pastries are not overly sweet, she says, and are made with local, organic ingredients whenever possible.

Gallery Mugen will showcase Satake and Zaretsky’s work and will occasionally host concerts and exhibitions featuring guest artists. The patisserie will occupy a corner of the gallery, with tables for eating in, and guests will be able to order coffee and tea along with their pastries.

Gallery Mugen and Yuzu Patisserie will be open Monday through Saturday, 11 am to 4 pm. An opening party on March 15 from 5:30 to 8:30 will feature sweet and savory small bites and music by Satake who is also well-known as a composer/musician. For more information, contact Akira Satake at 828-275-7612 or see

Jason Sandford

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

  • 1

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1 Comment

  1. Rebecca February 21, 2013

    Sweet to eyes and taste buds. Can’t wait!


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