It’s been ten years now since Asheville was named — or rather misnamed, or maybe inadvertently labeled, or perhaps prophetically or tardily branded — the Happiest City in America. There’s not enough space here to address that loaded topic, but if it’s true at all, then that gladness and gratitude seem to be super-concentrated in the small town of Weaverville, 15 minutes north of the city proper. In Asheville Made’s inaugural issue, we talked to textile artist Bea Lothrop of Bee’s Crossing Studio, who left life in the Hamptons to settle in Weaverville and informed us, “I’ve never been happier in my life than in the four years I’ve been here.” This month, we profile Rob and of bustling Mangum Pottery on Main Street, an anchor of the scene. Raising kids and being working artists in Weaverville, says Beth, “is all about freedom and joy.” Heck, even Kay Smith, one of the guest multimedia artists at the upcoming Weaverville Art Safari — an event started by the Mangums — calls her business “Happy Art.” The two-day driving Safari features around 50 artists from the microregion’s galleries and home studios (including rural, scenic Barnardsville nearby), making it one of Buncombe County’s largest self-guided art tours, as well as one of the longest established. Sculpture, painting, ceramics, jewelry, fiber, glass, and woodworking are all represented in the three-day event. A quick overview of the work shows paper butterflies, woven butterflies, and quilted butterflies. From three different artists. Just try to call it a coincidence.
Weaverville Art Safari, Weaverville, Jupiter, and Barnardsville. Friday, April 27: Preview Party, 6-8pm. Saturday, April 28 and Sunday, April 29: Spring Studio Driving Tour, 10am-5pm. For a map and more information, see weavervilleartsafari.com.