Courtyards and Cobblestones 2019- The Annex

On Saturday, January 19, the Brooklyn Arts Center was one of five featured venues in Wilmington’s most anticipated—and coolest—wedding event, Courtyards & Cobblestones. C&C puts a spotlight on some of the most desired wedding venues and vendors. Each venue is assigned a specialized team of creatives to work with and each location is stylized to showcase the beauty and diversity available to the nearly 700 brides in attendance.

Design Perfection designed the church for this year’s event and decorated and transformed the church with gorgeous pink and red peonies, hanging vines, and glamorous red candles in stunning candelabras. While guests were admiring the amazing décor (and amazing may not be a strong enough descriptor), they snacked at the Asian Noodle Station provided by A Thyme Savor, the catering company assigned to the BAC. The fabulous One Belle Bakery was also at C&C, sweetly situated beneath a colonnade constructed just for C&C by Jeff Bryant and DP. Anna Echols, proprietor of One Belle Bakery, was participating in the wedding show for the seventh year in row.

Charyl Williams, owner-operator-coordinator extraordinaire of Social Butterfly Events, was the designer and planner-in-charge of The Annex. Williams was thrilled by the overwhelming number of guest who came to the event. “It gets bigger every year,” she said. Her biggest passion is seeing couples in love finding the perfect vendor in each vendor category for their wedding. Guests enjoyed ice cream outside from the Boombalitti’s ice cream truck, a converted VW Bus, and talked about how excited they were for the gift card giveaway, which was announced after the event on the C&C Facebook page.

The BAC’s creative team went above and beyond this year. The live music, provided by the 919 Band, Trey Hamlin, and Active Entertainment was fantastic.  Jeff Bryant and DP (in the church) and Eco Chic Blossoms, owned by the talented Kristy Holt (in The Annex) created flower arrangements beyond beautiful.  The legendary Pine Valley Market (Annex) and A Thyme Savor (church) fed the crowd impossibly delicious food.  Treebird Photography (Annex) and The Story Creative (church) captured images of the entire affair. Light Cannon Films put it all on film, and the Brooklyn Arts Center has never looked better. One groom, who already booked his wedding at the BAC, took one look at the church and said, “The only other decision I’ve felt more confident about was getting married.”

Written by: Sophia Ficarrotta

10 Port City Ping Pong Throw Down

The Port City Ping Pong Throw Down celebrated its 10th anniversary at the Brooklyn Arts Center on Friday, January 25. The church was packed with players and spectators. This year more than 128 players turned out for the tournament, the largest bracket yet. The Wilmington Table Tennis Club has been presenting their Throw Down at the BAC since 2013, and the tournament has grown bigger and better every year.

President Laurence Nadeau (one of the best players in the region) was thrilled with the turnout this year. By 4:30 p.m. on Friday, the BAC was filled with players signing up and warming up at the eight professional tables on the main floor of the church. “This is a generational game,” Nadeau said, pointing to a grandmother playing against an eight-year-old boy. “It doesn’t matter if you’ve never played before or if you’re an Olympic-level table tennis player. We’re just doing this in the spirit of fun, in the spirt of community.”

Twelve-year-old Carson was excited to play in the tournament for the first time. Marisa, 18, has played ping pong all of her life for fun and couldn’t think of a better way to spend her Friday night than to play in the Throw Down, where she met Tim, 63, who has won 115 table tennis tournaments. Tim is too good to play in the Throw Down but offers beginners, young and old, tips to help them improve their game. “It’s the best sport in the world,” Tim said. “Everyone is here. You’ve got old people, young people. You’ve got women and children and men. Everyone likes to play. Everyone has a blast.”

If you’re interested in participating next year—or want to join and play with the Wilmington Table Tennis Club next week—then check out Wilmington Table Tennis Club on Facebook for times, locations, general information, and updates.

written by: Sophia Ficarrotta

Edward Teach Brewery Presents Karl Denson with Andy Frasco & The U.N.

Is there a more fabulous way to kick off the new year than to see Karl Denson at the BAC? Definitely not. So Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe and opening band Andy Frasco & The U.N. made Wednesday, January 23, a musical night to remember.

 Everyone had a blast and a half. Guests got to participate with The U.N. by lifting lead singer and keyboard player Andy Frasco, seated precariously on a flimsy stool, into the air in the middle of the big crowd and dancing the Hora...of all things. After touring the world selling merchandize for a different band, Frasco decided that music was his passion and learned to play the piano. He opened once for Karl Denson but hadn’t officially met him until he accidentally drank one of his beers. “He’s so buff, I was scared for my life,” Frasco said. “I started apologizing to him, and we’ve been friends ever since then.”

 Frasco and his wildly talented band play 250 shows a year and travel to 13 different countries. “I feel like in the twelve years that I’ve done this, I’ve learned the most about being on the road from Karl,” Frasco said. “I mean, he looks like he’s twenty-five and he’s sixty. It’s unbelievable.” The band is used to being on the road and living off fast food wherever they stop. “We’re driving for eight hours every day, just grinding it out,” Frasco said. “Karl taught me to go to the grocery store before we get on the road so I can start my day right.”

The U.N. call themselves “a party band.” Their main goal every night is to bring energy into the venue. They consider themselves “the match” and Karl Denson—the Rolling Stones sax player, when he isn’t fronting his own crazy-great band—is the spark to set the crowd on fire. They did, too—pumping the crowd into absolute musical ecstasy. After playing an hour-and-a-half, rocking set, Denson and his band bounded back onto the stage and played a high-energy encore. But this, Denson says, is just who he is by nature. For him, the music is what keeps him going.

 Gnomes and Badgers, Denson’s newest album, releasing March 8, is his response to combatting negativity. “I feel like we just don’t talk to each other anymore,” Denson said. “I try to understand the way people think. I think at the end of the day, if we’re just more ‘people’ people, then we’ll figure it all out.” Gnomes and Badgers is about communication and reflection about the way people treat each other in our current day and age.

 When asked what he was trying to instill in the diverse generations that listen to his music, Denson said his biggest hope was that people tried to think more critically. “I don’t want people to be set in their bias. I want them to be more self-reflective. People talk to each other, but they don’t listen.”

 Unless they’ve got Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe on the turn table.  Then, they’re listening.

Written by: Sophia Ficarrotta

First Annual Port City Jerry Day for the United Way

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Edward Teach Brewing and The City of Wilmington presents the first annual Port City Jerry Garcia Day for The United Way!

Come enjoy an amazing night of Grateful Dead music at the beautiful Brooklyn Arts Center for only $10, which goes 100% to local charity. Traveling in to headline the event is the amazing Grateful Dead cover band WAVY TRAIN and Wilmington’s own premier Dead cover band THE POSSUMS will get the party started.

Vendors will be on hand selling locally produced shirts and accessories with BAC cash bar, including your favorite beers from Edward Teach Brewing. ATM on site with tons of free parking in the north 4th neighborhood.

Let’s fill the BAC with good vibes and show our love for the music of Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead. Remember that not only will you get to shake your bones to the best music there is but also your ticket purchase will make a difference in the lives of others in our community through the United Way of The Cape Fear Area. See you there!

Edward Teach Brewing Presents: Lawn Chair Bluegrass Blowout

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…

Full Belly Fest 2018

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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.”

Tres Bleu Presents: Midnight in Mykonos

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

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.

Precious Metal 2018

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 9th Port City Ping Pong Throw Down

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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.