Around here, June means summer. And summer means beach. And beach means bring your lawn chairs to the Brooklyn Arts Center for the coolest, local bluegrass show of the year. Yep, that’s what all that means. Look at the pictures (taken by stellar BAC intern Gabby Plumez). The Lawn Chair Bluegrass Blowout was a sell-out sensation. Sponsored by our excellent next door neighbor, Edward Teach Brewing Co., we had three of the most incredible bluegrass bands in the region take the stage—End of the Line, Massive Grass, Into the Fog—plus the fabulous Chris Frisina. I have to tell you, no town anywhere has more talent than we do. These guys weren’t good, they were off the hook. And bringing your own lawn chair into the BAC turned out to be a huge winner too. Guess what? We’re going to do it again. Stay tuned…
Saturday, March 24, marked the Full Belly Project’s first gala at the Brooklyn Arts Center, and it included a new look, a new mission statement, and a new goals to go with the new location! The result was an extraordinary evening to benefit one of Wilmington’s most popular nonprofit organizations. There was a sensational silent auction that featured fine art, catering by the brilliant Milner’s Café and Catering, adult beverages supplied by the BAC Cash Bar, and a live soundtrack to the proceedings provided by the fabulous Phantom Playboys. (Did someone say dancing?)
The Full Belly Project is a wonderful, Wilmington-based nonprofit that designs and distributes income-generating devices to improve lives in rural communities. Jock Brandis, the founder of the Full Belly Project, first visited a small village in Mali in 2001 to fix their water treatment system. A woman there told him that it would be a great help to their village if he could help them find an affordable peanut sheller. After a year of prototypes and tweaking the designs, the Universal Nut Sheller was born—the Full Belly Project’s first device. In addition to the Universal Nut Sheller, which can shell a 100-pound bag of peanuts in just an hour, the Full Belly Project and its volunteers have created five other products: the rocker water pump, a hand-washing station, a soap press in collaboration with Soap for Hope, a solar water pump, and the bag board desk.
“We’ve been big on technology and making that more efficient,” said Brandis. “But we’re starting to realize that economic justice for farmers is more important. The products of their labor are still essentially going to be stolen from them by food cartels. If we’re supporting small farmers around the world, we can support them in more ways than [giving them] gizmos that make their land more productive.”
To that end, the Full Belly Project is putting into motion a new way for food to be tracked from farmer to buyer. “At the village level, it’s the safest, healthiest, and most organic food,” said Brandis. “But then it lands in the hands of cartels that completely ruin it.” Creating a record of the chain of custody for food products will ultimately make the process safer and more reliable. “We’re teaching people to test food for safety in the villages and the co-ops, and then everything is being barcoded for quick scanning so that as this food moves through the system, it can be tracked,” said Brandis. “Africa is the land of anonymous bags of food. Some of them might be two, three years old—no one knows. The quality has been so disastrous at the export level that eventually the European markets were shut off.”
“We’ve always targeted any farmer or community that needs our help,” said Full Belly Project Executive Director Amanda Coulter. “We design for developing countries, but it makes so much sense to use the products here [in the US] as well. We’re giving Wilmingtonians the opportunity to make a global impact directly through making the machines that are going to end up in the hands of people who need them all over the world.”
Friday, March 16 saw the Très Bleu fashion showcase for the boutique’s Spring and Summer suits and coverups—centered around a “Midnight in Mykonos” theme and proceeds benefitting the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, JDRF. Here’s an interview with Candace Lea, the mastermind behind the fashion show.
Did you choose the theme for the show or the suits first?
The theme first! When we were in Miami for swim week, they had all this Grecian decor throughout the convention center and it just hit me.
Where do you find your models?
Some were in it last year and some [were] reached on social media. We try to get local girls!
How many seasons of shows have you done?
Personally that was my eighth show. For Très Bleu, it was my second.
Do you choose a different charity every year?
We didn't this year, but moving forward we will.
How did you select JDRF for this year?
Lots of our customers support them.
Do you have any ideas already about next year's show?
I do, but you guys will just have to wait and see. (;
Two of the shows models, Tyler Moore and Kelly Tada, stopped after the show to answer some questions as well.
“I modeled a blue Tavik [brand] two-piece, a green two piece, and a black one piece, both by L Space. My favorite design was the black one piece,” said Moore. “I got the chance to walk in the show through Donna Taylor, an independent L Space retailer who I am family friends with. This was my second year walking and I would absolutely walk in the next show!”
Kelly Tada showed four suits: a black cut-out one piece, a red palm-print one piece, a reversible cream bikini, and a slate gray L Space two piece. “It’s so hard to choose a favorite suit,” said Tada. “I was very into the one pieces being cut high on the leg, but that slate gray bikini was probably my favorite overall. This is my fourth year walking for the show. If they’d have me back, I’d do it every year!”
Thank You Ian Leatherwood for the photography for the show.
Art for All 8 ran from Saturday, February 17, to Sunday, February 18, and was once again an amazing showcase for more than 50 local artists, sculptors, photographers, metalsmiths, and more. The church and both floors of The Annex were packed with original artists, all of whom offered up their art for prices everyone could afford—art for all!
Laura Saddlemire, the “L” in D&L Weathervanes, has participated in three Art for All shows. “My favorite part of vendor events like Art for All is the general atmosphere. I feel very lucky to be able to ‘work’ at events where people attend to have a good time. I love the opportunity to talk with both customers and other artists—to exchange and share ideas, and to discover renewed enthusiasm for what we do.” Saddlemire and her husband, Don, began working with copper when they decided to try making a weathervane as a gift for a family member. “I did the design, and he made it happen,” says Saddlemire. Ten years later, Don and Laura love working with copper purchased from local recyclers. “We came to appreciate the natural beauty of the colors and character created by time and weathering of the copper…taking advantage of the natural patinas that keep each piece unique.”
Mike Steele of Computer Rocks, a new vendor at the Brooklyn Arts Center, has been working with some kind of drawing style his entire life, though he just recently began working with the techniques that he showcased at Art for All 8. “I tried a new approach which uses digital and hand-drawn mark making in a new way,” says Steele. “I seem to need some kind of untested new challenge to keep it interesting.” Since he’s been working more with the new technique, Steele only brought his newer pieces to Art for All. “From the time I found out that I was in the show, right up to the last minute, I created as much of the drawings using my new process as I could.”
Also new to the Brooklyn Arts scene was food truck Port City Puffs n Stuff, serving up local sliders and crab puffs that were perfect handheld snacks while patrons shopped on Saturday. Sunday featured Vittle’s, a crowd favorite at the BAC, and their amazing bacon burgers and veggie quesadillas. Spoonfed Kitchen & Bakeshop provided handmade baked goods, fresh coffee, hot teas, and more in The Annex.
Each vendor generously donated jewelry, a painting, a print, or some other sample of their work to be included as a prize in the event-long raffle, which sent many shoppers home with a one-of-a-kind piece of original art.
Ready for another BAC community marketplace event? Made In NC happens the last weekend in March. You don’t want to miss this one! More information about upcoming shows can be found on the Brooklyn Arts Center website, brooklynartsnc.com.
On Sunday, January 28, the Brooklyn Arts Center was packed wall-to-wall with gorgeous handcrafted jewelry, sculptures, and more from the region’s top creators for the third annual Precious Metal show. More than 400 shoppers came through to support Wilmington’s local community of metalsmiths, a wonderful turnout on a rainy Sunday! With more than 30 vendors in the church, there was truly something special for everyone.
Melissa Manley, who has been a vendor at all three Precious Metal events, offered jewelry, enamel pieces, and metal creations. “It’s an honor to be in this show,” said Manley. “This is not your average show! I talked with many people who were stunned at the level of craftsmanship and quality. I heard lots of people talking about what a phenomenal show it was.” Manley has been an artist for 25 years, and her experience shows. After taking a jewelry-building class, Manley “fell in love with the solitary crafting, manipulating a hard material, bending and shaping it to my will, to manifest a beautiful object that can serve a function.”
Another metalsmith, CJ’s Sea Shop, owned by Cameron Johnson, featured coastal-inspired handcrafted jewelry made with sea glass, copper, brass, sterling silver, and glass enamel. Johnson has been making jewelry her entire life, but turned it into a business just six years ago. “I started out beading, then I took classes to learn how to work with metal and enamel,” said Johnson. “I really love bright colors, so I was very attracted to enamel. I also really love stones, and I love setting them in silver, sometimes pairing them with sea glass.” While Johnson presented plenty of one-of-a-kind pieces at the show, her favorite was a Chrysoprase and sea glass pendant, which she knows went to a good home with one of her customers. “My favorite part about vendor events is getting out and meeting the people that come to the shows,” said Johnson. “Many want to know your process, what the materials are, what the stones are…”
The silent auction, featuring donated pieces by many of the vendors, benefitted Skywatch Bird Rescue and was a super success. Skywatch’s resident rooster, Sparky, enjoyed attention and snacks from show-goers as they placed their bids. The raffle drawings running all day made for some very happy shoppers—many asking for next year’s show date on their way out the door. We promise, you’ll be the first to know when next year’s details are finalized.
The Port City Ping Pong Throw Down 9 on Friday, January 26 was a smashing success, breaking the participation records for the previous eight Throw Downs with more than 100 players in the big bracket—and another 150 who came to cheer them on. The Wilmington Table Tennis Club has been hosting these Throw Downs at the BAC since 2013. They’re not getting any smaller! Or less popular!
Players began arriving to register and start warming up around 4:30 on Friday. Once registration closed, Wilmington Table Tennis Club member Phillip Nadeau “ran the 102 person double elimination bracket flawlessly, which is nearly an impossible feat!” according to a post by the WTTC after the event. Club President Laurance Nadeau was amazed by the turnout. “The record number of attendance was 96. This is the biggest Throw Down ever,” said Nadeau. “We’ve had the President of the USATT [USA Table Tennis] say that nationwide, this is a truly unique event, and he’s never been to an event as fun as the ones we hold here.”
While Nadeau says that the WTCC hosts the tournaments just to bring the table tennis community of Wilmington and surrounding areas together to play, it never hurts to sweeten the pot with prize money. This year, first place winner Yi Wong took home $250, second place winner Matt Worrell won $150, and third place winner walked out with $100. If you’re a player and want to get in on the action at next year’s Throw Down, you can start practicing with the WTTC right now. Just check out Wilmington Table Tennis Club on Facebook for scheduling and news updates.
On January 14, the Brooklyn Arts Center was one of the featured venues in Wilmington’s most fabulous wedding event, Courtyards & Cobblestones. C&C highlights the most popular wedding venues in downtown Wilmington by assigning a unique team of creatives to each location with each team styling each venue differently to allow guests to browse through live portfolios.
Kickstand Events covered design and floral arrangements at the BAC, filling the room with bouquets so fresh you could smell them from the front doors. Brent’s Bistro provided sweet and savory snacks while guests were treated to live music by Uptown Easy. The church’s baker and cake decorator, One Belle Bakery, is a C&C veteran. “I actually launched my business at C&C 2013,” said One Belle’s owner, Anna Echols. “I remember printing business cards and launching my website 24 hours before my very first C&C. The event put me in front of so many brides and helped me get my name out.” 2018’s event was Echols’ sixth go ‘round, and she definitely has the preparation down to a science. “We always bring our most popular cake flavor, an Amaretto cake with Amaretto custard,” says Echols. “Our mini caramel apple pops are a huge hit with dessert bars at weddings, so we brought hundreds of those for people to sample as well.”
Another vendor—who you might remember from a “Say Hello to” in our September newsletter—videographers Luke and Christiana Brown of Light Cannon Films, said their favorite part of Courtyards & Cobblestones is always the people. Light Cannon has participated in five C&Cs, but this year was their first set-up at the BAC. “One thing that gets us really excited is meeting clients who have already booked us for the upcoming season,” said the Browns. “After emailing back and forth, it’s always fun to put a face to the name and interact in person.” Light Cannon Films now offers drone technology. This year, Luke brought the drone to leave on display, which attracted more male visitors than we usually get!”
The BAC’s creative team couldn’t have done a better job. With live music, fresh flowers, incredible cake pops, and excellent food by Brent’s Bistro, nobody in town had a better night than the guests at the Brooklyn Arts Center. One woman say this to her husband: “Is there such a thing as a two-year vow renewal? Let’s get married again at the BAC!”
Let’s face it: when L Shape puts their mind to it, nobody rocks the house like they do. And to prove that point, Wilmington’s very own L Shape Lot hosted their sixth annual Toys for Tots fundraiser at the Brooklyn Arts Center and blew the BAC away. There were 700 people in the church, and they came to party. They also came with toys. How many toys? More than 1,300 brand new toys for children who otherwise weren’t getting gifts this year. There was a big pile of cash for the kids too. Do we live in the best town with the best people? We definitely do. Do we have the best band? We definitely do. Check out these pictures and then mark your calendars for next year—December 15—because L Shape will be back and lots of kids are going to need your kindness.
On Thursday, December 7, the Brooklyn Arts Center hosted the retro-inspired rock and roll sounds of JD McPherson supported by honky tonk celebrity Charley Crockett with a show that brought the house down.
Honky tonk celebrity? Yep. Crockett is a direct descendent of Davy Crockett, except Charlie plays way better honky tonk. Crockett opened his set with a selection of songs from his newest record, Lil G.L.’s Honky Tonk Jubilee, and played a few cuts from his earlier albums. “People ask if I just play the blues,” Crockett said on stage. “I mean, I live in the country. I have the blues. And I do play music.” Crockett made the audience laugh out loud and dance like crazy. He finished his set to thunderous applause.
JD McPherson’s newest album, Undivided Heart & Soul, featuring the single “Lucky Penny,” was released early October 2017. Although JD and the band love making records, they’ve built their fan base by getting out on the road. “We’ve sort of built our reputation on the live show,” said McPherson. “So, we’re really proud of that. It’s a lot of energy and a pretty eclectic mix of songs that have appeared across three records.” McPherson’s previous albums, Signs & Signifiers and Let the Good Times Roll, combine strong rhythm with rockabilly notes to create a listening experience you don’t want to miss—both live and recorded.
McPherson’s set list included songs from the new album and featured highlights from his two previous releases. “The more tours we do, we figure out what flows better together, so we’ve got it pretty well down pat now,” McPherson said. “Lucky Penny” from the new album, Undivided Heart & Soul, has more than 1,000,000 hits on Spotify. Highlights from the previous albums that made it into the set at the BAC included “Let the Good Times Roll” from the album of the same name, “Head Over Heels,” “Firebug,” “A Gentle Awakening,” and an encore featuring “North Side Gal.”
This combination of artists created a unique audience—the youngest attendee danced with a sippy cup in hand—and while some guests danced out of the BAC as soon as the set was over, others lingered until well after the lights came up.
More than 50 North Carolina vintage vendors took control of the BAC Church and both floors of The Annex during the first weekend of December for the 2017 Holiday Flea at BAC. For the sixth year in a row, the Flea lived up to its name as the best vintage shopping event of the holiday season. Best holiday shopping anywhere? No doubt about it.
Fan favorites Susan’s Garden and The Coastal Succulent came to please with creatively potted succulents and cacti in containers ranging from tiny ceramic skulls to hand-painted bowls to colorful plastic dinosaurs. “The Flea is our favorite event of the year,” said co-owner Thurston Pope. “Every year we’re so impressed with the hospitality and great selection of other vendors.”
Paty Rivas, creator of beautiful handmade jewelry and other trinkets, has been participating in the Holiday Flea at BAC for years. “People are entering with the holiday spirit and shopping for Christmas gifts,” said Rivas. “It’s ideal.” Rivas has more than 18 years of experience with jewelry techniques such as glass fusing and metalsmithing and finds inspiration for new pieces when she travels.
This year’s coffee shop was created by Spoonfed Kitchen & Bakeshop, a fabulous new outpost near Wrightsville Beach. These kind and happy professional folks served up coffee, scones, giant cinnamon rolls, muffins, and more to vendors and shoppers alike. “We’ll definitely be doing more events at the BAC in the future,” said co-founder of Spoonfed, Matt Lennert. “We loved meeting all the vendors and got a lot of our own Christmas shopping done.” Thanks to Spoonfed, shoppers had the caffeine they needed to take on all three days of the event. And sugar too. They had plenty of sugar.
The raffle, which kept BAC Executive Director Rich Leder running from the prize table to the stage every 15 to 20 minutes the entire weekend, was an overwhelming success. Raffle items were donated by the vendors and included a bowling pin from Smitty’s Vintage, a 1970 Schwin bicycle from Curiosity Collectors, a hand-crafted bird house from Siggy Parker’s General Store, and much more.
As the magic of the holidays winds down, sending us into the colder, quieter months, there’s one thing keeping us going: the promise of BAC’s incredible, 2018 slate of community marketplace events starting in January with Precious Metal: one of a kind handmade jewelry by North Carolina most amazing metalsmiths. Did someone say Valentine’s Day gifts?
Thank you Matthew Ray for these images
This year, 48 vintage vendors filled the church and The Annex with wonder and magic and treasures galore at The Spring Flea at BAC. Just about 900 folks came to play with us, there was shopping aplenty, Bloody Mary and mimosa specials, Wilmington’s fabulous food trucks, Redeye Bakery, and the weather held out because, well, because it was The Spring Flea at BAC. Check out the pics. We had a blast!
Click to view full photo gallery!
Photography by Rebecca Harrelson
Photography by Drechsel Photography