Tell us about what you do. How did you learn what you do? What are your duties day-to-day? What about your job do you wish people better understood and why? How can people help you do your job better?


DeWitt: I have 25 years experience working as a fine art museum director and curator in higher education and in community non-profit sectors. In addition, I am a studio artist and have been maintaining a studio and exhibiting my work for... for quite some time. I cannot believe that my involvement in the arts spans nearly half a century – at least 45 years!

My interest and passion for the arts began when I was just a boy, being inspired by my two older brothers, one now an architect, and the other one a professional artist. My family and my art teachers in high school also supported my interest in becoming an artist. As a high school art student, I got involved in my local art league and helped start a grassroots art gallery in an empty storefront downtown in my hometown of Galesburg, Illinois.

My true formal education in Fine Arts began at the university where I studied all forms of art and art history. I earned a Master of Fine Arts degree in painting from Illinois State University. During grad school, I got involved with fellow art grad students and faculty and we started a co-op gallery where I learned on-the-job plenty about gallery needs, e.g., budgets, working with artists, grant writing, marketing and promotion and community involvement. Also as an MFA student, I applied for and received a Max Beckmann Fellowship in Painting at the Brooklyn Museum, New York. In New York, I met many artists from all over the world who were doing all kinds of art work, and spent hours in museums and galleries viewing and studying art work of cultures from throughout the world.

When I completed my Master of Fine Arts degree, I started looking for a teaching position in painting. While art teaching jobs where far and few between at that time, I applied for a position as Museum Director for a small Midwestern art museum. I got the job! My early involvement in grant writing and community arts development no doubt helped me get the job.

As founding director of the Fine Arts Museum at the Fine & Performing Arts Center, Western Carolina University my primary responsibilities are to create a vision for the new art museum, plan and implement a plan for artistic excellence and service to the university and regional communities. My arts administration duties as well as artistic leadership involve strategic planning, budget management, arts advocacy for creative expression, promotion of artist creativity and business of arts, economic development, grant writing and fundraising, fine art collections management, public art programs, interdisciplinary and multicultural program collaboration, fine art exhibition planning, new building and program planning implementation and on-going museum facility management.

Being a staunch arts advocate and educator, I always encourage community members to take a closer look at the positive impact the arts play in community development, and in the basic education of children and adults of all ages and backgrounds. The arts, like reading, writing, and arithmetic, are basic to learning and human development. Not only do we learn how to express ourselves through the creative process, we learn critical thinking skills that can be used throughout life in whatever path we take. Creativity takes on many forms in our daily lives, mostly how we see the world around us. Cultural awareness, being mindful of diverse traditions and values, encourages tolerance and well being, from one individual to another, as well as on a global scale.

All art forms have intrinsic value, of course, viewing a painting or dance performance solely for its beauty, its challenging ideas and images, adds to our collective unconscious, to our humanness, and really strengthens our ability for each and every one of us to be a meaningful member of the world community in the midst of a very complex global society.

As people learn more about what the role of the art museum is in the community and about its potential as a diverse community resource, my job continues to be a challenge, though much more personally encouraging. I can do a better job, if members of the university, local and regional communities support our programs, attend a gallery exhibition, whether the art work of an invited professional artist, student or emerging local artist, attend an artist lecture, or special event.

I also encourage supporting the arts with a financial commitment, small or large, it makes a huge difference as to the level of public programming that is available for children and adult learners, since only a very small percentage of our budget comes from the state for public or outreach programs, such as exhibitions, workshops, visiting artist lectures, or for art purchases for the museum permanent collection.

Fine Art Museum exhibitions and programs are to date free and open to the public. I would like to see that admissions policy remain the same.

Duncan: I work as an artist, a painter to be exact. I also own and operate a gallery/home accessories and custom picture framing business.

I have been inclined to paint since an early age. I attended a commercial art school and studied fashion illustration. Later in life I studied with a nationally known artist, William Leon Stacks. I basically apprenticed with him and learned my craft through working with him; he was also a master framer of the old school and did art conservation as well, which he taught to me. I studied with him for probably eight years. I then studied in workshops with many other artists whose work I was drawn to.

Some people think of art as a hobby, but for some of us it is our job. Yes, you must have a certain level of talent to begin with, but you also must pay your dues with hard work and study. There are many people out there who one day decide they want to paint something, go to one or two classes and behold they are transformed into artists. Many others can’t understand why they go to a workshop and haven’t learned in one or two days everything the artist teaching knows. They don’t know why they haven’t come out with a finished painting or more and are disappointed they are not now artists.

I don’t know how people can help me to do my job better except if they appreciate what I do, and want to purchase something maybe they should just do it and not try to haggle over price. Do you ask your doctor or attorney for a discount? Seems we are becoming a society of “how cheap can I get this?” You get this a lot with framing, and as an artist I can see both sides of that question. Why is this so expensive? Well, it isn’t because the framer is making a huge profit, it is because just like everything else today being relative, it costs more to produce and yes, it is expensive, the framer just like everyone else is only trying to make a living wage.

Heath: I am a multi-media artist who works in oils, acrylics, pastels, pen and ink, and photography. I have also owned and operated Heath Creations Studio and Gallery since its inception in 1996.

On the artistic side of things I was blessed to be born with my talent. My parents discovered it around the age of 6. They encouraged me by placing me in art lessons so that I was exposed to all the different mediums. I did not pick up photography until my late 20s. I learned most of how to use the camera from the manual that came with it.

During my teens I worked for a local fine art gallery that exposed me to the art of archival custom framing. I graduated from East Carolina University with a degree in marketing. This degree has enabled me to handle the business side of being an artist and running a retail gallery.

Being a gallery owner/artist you must be flexible in your duties, as you will wear many hats on any given day. I handle everything from buying supplies to taking out the trash. Most people that come in the gallery see the romantic side of being a professional artist. Some are unaware of what it takes to keep the business successful. As with any job or career choice, one will face many challenges to grow in their field. For me it has been a very delicate dance to stay creative and paint while keeping all the wheels turning. A lot of artists want to become professional but are not willing to “dance.”

Martin: I am a songwriter-singer. I say songwriter first, because I believe what Dylan says about the words being the most important part of songs. I consider the actual music and the delivery or the singing to be secondary to my focus.

I loved anthemic rock songs as a child, and I still do. I would sing along to the songs in secret and would become paralyzed with embarrassment when someone heard me doing this. I took up guitar around the age of 10 with a teacher who couldn’t teach me, then subsequently came across a good one who taught me some songs I liked by bands such as the Beatles and Led Zeppelin. Learning how to play these rock songs taught me how to structure music and words into songs of my own.

These days, I write songs and then work to get them heard. As a do-it-yourselfer, with this business of being your own booking agent, promoter, and administrator, it requires a tremendous amount of time and very different energy than the work of writing the songs. I suppose the way I live is more like hermitage than what many musicians are experiencing. I garden and conduct my life as an armchair naturalist requiring swathes of uninterrupted mornings in order to create. Otherwise, I can become desensitized. I don’t use a cell phone or get television for similar reasons. (However, I watch films on DVD’s and I could be compelled to use a cell phone if I were touring.) The loneliness of the mountains is very good for sharpening the senses so that your perceptions and expressive faculties can rise, reasonably free of psychoses.

Administering one’s own creative works is a strange practice to switch over to, adjusting yourself, back and forth from the person that creates, to the person that promotes. But the independence or freedom of movement this allows my musical direction would be difficult to give up should I begin to work as a part of a larger music organization.

I wish people would pause to realize how we are losing the grit and circumstance of live music in our new digital world. It’s too rare to experience original music performed live, this side of Asheville. There simply are not enough venues that support original music, but I think this is improving.

Osondu: I am a bookseller, often I am a bibliotherapist, a compassionate listener, and reading advisor. I choose books, I plan events, I plan space, manage accounts, etc.

I have loved books since I was old enough to hold them. In my family I was rather a sport, one who is different than the others. I loved to stay in and read, read, read. Books became a passion, a destination, and a way to meet new ideas.

Perry: I am currently involved in several productions at the moment, including Western Carolina University’s upcoming production of “The Music Man,” which will be directed by Terrence Mann. I will also be appearing in Haywood Arts Regional Theater’s upcoming production of “Showstoppers,” which is a 10-year celebration of their musicals. I recently appeared in HART’s production of the “Full Monty” as well as in a local production “Dreamgirls.” which I also co-directed.

I started to become interested in theater during my senior year in high school; however it wasn’t until my sophomore year at Western that I actually began to peruse theater and to learn my craft. I then spent the next four years at Western working exclusively with the talented faultily as well as several Broadway composers, directors, singers, and choreographers.

My day-to-day duties include going to rehearsal prepared and ready to work. I’m the kind of person that never likes to go into a rehearsal and make the same mistake twice so I spend all of my free time perfecting my rehearsal materials.

One thing that I wish people better understood about theatre is that it’s not easy. It’s hard to step onto a stage and to allow yourself to become new person and to express that character’s insecurities and vulnerabilities. One thing that people can do to help me do my job better is to support the arts.

Rash: I hold the John Parris chair in Appalachian Studies at Western Carolina University. Besides teaching classes in creative writing, I work with the Appalachian Heritage Center to present programs about our region.

rudolph: I am a self-taught drummer, conga player and vocalist. It would be helpful to all professional musicians if music were taught more in schools so more people could enjoy good music instead of making heroes of the millions of guitar players who know three chords and make millions of dollars playing rock and take jobs away from professionals who need work.

Beadle: I am a part-time contributing writer and copy-editor for the Smoky Mountain News, a teaching artist and performance poet. After earning a bachelor’s degree in journalism from UNC-Chapel Hill in 1994, I’ve worked for community newspapers across the state and taught high school English and creative writing from 1999-2004. Now, as an artist-in-residency, I tour across the state teaching writing workshops at schools, institutes, and conferences. I also perform poetry for schools, elderhostels, festivals, special events and private parties. For me, there is no typical day or week. I may be teaching seventh-graders one week, interviewing a Dillsboro potter the next week, writing a sonnet one day, editing a magazine the next. While it can prove challenging juggling multiple jobs (and keeping up with the paperwork that goes along with being self-employed), it keeps life exciting, and I get to meet some amazing people


What are you most proud of accomplishing this year?

DeWitt: I am especially proud of the success of the Fine Art Museum during its inaugural year. As founding director, I have no doubt been at the helm, but this success could not, of course, be happening without the interest and support of the university and the community.

During this first year of operation, Fine Art Museum attendance has included nearly 10,000 university students, and children and adults of all ages and backgrounds. Also during this first year, the Fine Art Museum 16 featured exhibitions celebrating 482 works of art created in all media by 192 artists locally, regionally, nationally, and internationally.

I am especially proud that we implemented the contemporary Native American Artist Exhibition Series to celebrate the creativity and offer greater understanding of these artists and their unique art forms in traditional and experimental media – featuring Cherokee artists and Native American artists with tribal affiliations nationwide to include, Ojibwe, Lakota, and Navajo. We could not have done this without the help of the Cherokee Preservation Foundation.

The Fine Art Museum intends its mission to serve the campus and the community as a cultural catalyst to celebrate the creativity and preserve the artistic legacy of the Western North Carolina region with a developing focus to collect, interpret and showcase innovation in fine art and craft in all media by regional, national and international artists. It also functions as a teaching resource by facilitating scholarly research in the visual arts, interactive art education, and curriculum support across disciplines, enrichment and life-long learning for children and adults of all ages and backgrounds.

The Museum advocates for awareness of the creativity and innovation of cross-cultural and interdisciplinary collaboration, promoting artistic expression and economic impact of cultural tourism and the arts industry of the region, nation and world. And it promotes traditional art forms, diverse cultural heritage, folk ways, using conventional tools and processes as well as new modes of creative expression and state of the art technology.

Duncan: That I finally had the guts and opportunity to close a successful business, sell everything and move to North Carolina. I did this in order to get back to a slower pace of life and also to be able to work as an artist as close to fulltime as possible. I have hung myself out on a limb here and can only hope to make a success of it.

Heath: I am most proud of successfully making it through another year.

Martin: I performed live on three NPR radio stations, WNCW, WPVM and WUGA, which was incredibly fun. Public radio is doing a good job of supporting the efforts of truly independent musicians. I also completed new material for a future CD.

Osondu: I am happy to say that there are many things that I feel good about.

The most important accomplishment I have made is connecting with others in the community, working together to accomplish literary events of which the biggest event was the second big book fair, Haywood Book Mania, which was no small feat.

Organizing authors, publishers, spaces, rooms, food, programs, parties, bags and books is an enormous task. I am thrilled that I had the opportunity to work with so many wonderful volunteers to make this event a great one. It is a privilege to work with the great writers who willingly come to discuss their books, sign them, and read from them.

Also, I was asked and accepted positions on both the board of the literacy council and the friends of the library.

Perry: “The Full Monty” at HART is probably the thing that I am most proud of this year. It took a lot of strength and determination for me to actually go through with the show because the role required me to come to terms with a lot of body issues. However, I’m glad that I did this show because it was the most challenging show that I have ever done and I think that it has helped me grow as a performer.

Rash: I have finished a book of short stories. The collection, titled Chemistry and Other Stories, will be published in May of 2007.

Rudolph: This year I was fortunate to have played jazz music with Bill Gerhart on piano and Mike Holstein on bass, at Pheasant Hill in Waynesville. Thanks to proprietors Steve Chambliss and Lynn, who have the taste for good music and jazz and have been most supportive of us.

Beadle: The year 2006 has been full of new discoveries and travels. In addition to writing more than a hundred articles for the Smoky Mountain News and developing a manuscript for my second poetry book, I taught teachers in Kalamazoo, Mich., worked with young writers from all over the country at a Duke University camp, gave a reading at the Sam Regan Poetry Festival in Southern Pines, and got several poems published on the NC Arts Council’s webpage.



Tell us about a new artist/program/place for the arts that you’ve discovered this year. This doesn’t have to be someone/something new to the scene, just new to you. What about this person/ program/place is appealing to you and why?

DeWitt: Working closely with LIFT Contemporary Gallery in Cherokee this year has been incredibly rewarding. Owners and founders of the gallery, Natalie Smith and Leon Grodski have made a commitment to establish a vital arts resource center not only for Cherokee but also for the region.

While both Natalie and Leon are talented artists in their own right, they have brought talented contemporary artists in, exhibiting the work and challenging not only our sensibilities but also just what we thought art could be and again, the arts role in community development. Because of LIFT, I have become aware of some very talented Cherokee artists, who are challenging their own creative process, what it means to be a contemporary artist.

I recommend and encourage everyone to visit LIFT Contemporary gallery and Tribal Arts Coffee Shop in Cherokee — be ready to be challenged by the art and to savor some exceptional coffee options and creative food options.

Duncan: I was thrilled to discover the Southwestern Community College Heritage Arts Program. What a great idea not only to teach the arts but how to actually keep the books and make a living at being an artist. I can’t wait to sign up for some of the clay classes.

Also to discover the extensive arts programs available to the public thru WCU. There are lots of exciting things happening in the arts in North Carolina and I hope to drink in as much of these activities as possible.

Heath: I have had the pleasure of befriending an up and coming artist from Bryson City named John Speier. He attended Swain County High School and is a recent graduate of Western Carolina University’s Art program. Unlike myself John has been formally trained in the arts. Being exposed to his creativity and knowledge has helped me to grow as an artist. He has helped me to explore methods that are outside of my creative comfort zone. It is always a pleasure to see him come in the gallery.

Martin: I didn’t know about the poet Jonathan Williams until this past year. He lives in the area and he is fairly famous. I was perusing the poetry at the Macon library when, An Ear In Bartram’s Tree: Selected Poems, 1957-1967 jumped out at me with its cover art of a franklinia blossom. What I have so far read is very grounded in the natural world, putting forth highly original work.

Thomas Rain Crowe, who I met on an environmental history panel at Brevard College this past year, is another literary treasure of these mountains.

And my husband, who’s also a writer, and I were just given an advanced copy of Jim Kautz’s new book, Bartram’s Trail Revisited, which we’re very excited about because the history of this area is so compelling.

We also have a new artists’ cooperative in Franklin called the Art Quarter. With this, I am very encouraged about artists becoming more respected as stakeholders in the future of our county and also the conservation of the beauty and history of our region.

Speaking of Macon County, I was very humbled by The Franklin Folk and Heritage Association inviting me to perform at their annual festival last summer. It was a hopeful and strong indication to me that original music is important to the people of this area. For instance, I received a great amount support from local people and our local press when I debuted my EP, One Dark Vine, a year ago. Looking back, I had probably underestimated my community. I had planned to have one CD release party in Franklin and one in Asheville and was incidentally a little hurt that the venues I approached in Asheville had no interest. I was completely shocked by the hundreds of individuals that came out over the course of that evening to show their support in Franklin. I didn’t feel the need for another release party needless to say. I shouldn’t have been surprised by the turn out and it didn’t hurt that it was prominently featured in the local, grassroots online newspaper, The Burningtown News.

Osondu: The Big Read is a program of the National Endowment for the Arts. The NEA creates opportunities for the community to experience literature in different formats. The 2007 Big Read is To Kill a Mocking Bird by Harper Lee. Our region applied for a grant, and we were awarded monies to provide venues in our community that will engage readers and would be readers.

I believe that the arts and literature enrich our lives in ways that we often take for granted. Introducing different ways to make a book come alive may be a way to reach some non-readers. In Haywood County we are planning to do a reenactment of the courtroom scenes in To Kill a Mocking Bird. Watch for more info on this event.

Perry: I recently discovered the HART theater and that was probably the best thing that I could have done. HART provides a fantastic work place for young actors like myself to hone their crafts in a professional environment. The people there are also so friendly and welcoming and always so eager to help. Not to mention HART is also not afraid to do a show that causes the community to think and push the boundaries.

Rash: Catherine Carter’s first book of poetry, The Memory of Gills, is a remarkable achievement. Western Carolina University is fortunate to have two such talented poets as she and Mary Adams.

Rudolph: Derel Monteith is a pianist who played jazz with Mike Holstein and me at Pheasant Hill a few times. Although he is not new to this area, he is very exciting to perform with. Derek is a patent attorney in Asheville as well.

Beadle: The Great Smokies Writing Program at UNC-Asheville has been a fabulous help to my writing this year. While taking three separate poetry classes under the direction of Cathy Smith Bowers, I was able to develop a manuscript, meet some wonderful writers and learn more about the process of editing and revising. I highly recommend the Great Smokies Writing Program for any kind of writer to learn more about the craft and develop a sense of community with fellow writers in the region.


What arts stories are we at Smoky Mountain News not covering? How can we improve?

DeWitt: Smoky Mountain News is doing a great job at paying close attention to the incredible bank of talented artists and arts organizations in the region. Now what? Continue to build your interest, and highlight the region’s artists and art organizations of all disciplines as it continues to grow.

Duncan: I am glad to find such an interesting small town paper as the Smoky Mountain News here. Still has more local news than ads, what a relief. I think if the paper will just continue to work in congress with the chamber and galleries/artists in the area, coverage of events will only improve. I have found out about all the events I have attended since moving here in August through your paper. Keep it up.

Heath: We are very blessed to have The Smoky Mountain News in Western NC. It is a very valuable resource for the arts community.

Martin: I suppose I would like to see more review/coverage of local musical performances and venues. But the SMN really does a tremendous job of covering and reviewing music on the front end of the region’s musical events.

Osondu: I think the Smoky Mountain News does a great job of covering most events. I hope you will consider doing some highlights on the authors that are coming in 2007. Our Haywood Book Mania will be Aug. 4. There will be some new authors attending. We have lots of events that I think the community would be more interested in if there was more coverage. I have a dream of becoming a great literary bookshop, one that is inviting to people of all ages and all cultures. I need help getting the word out so that folks know what we are up to. I would love a heads up on books you are about to review, often your readers come in the day your paper comes out looking for the books reviewed. If I know ahead of time, I can order and get a couple in on time.

Perry: Maybe there can be more stories about the theatre community and as well as up coming auditions and theatrical events in the surrounding areas.

Rash: You all are doing a great job.

Rudolph: The Smoky Mountain News has not done much press regarding jazz music to my knowledge, although there is not a great deal of jazz in this area.

Beadle: There are so many talented young people in Western North Carolina. I would like to see more students get recognition as budding artists contributing to the local arts scene.


What are your hopes for 2007, for yourself and the arts community?

DeWitt: Hopes for 2007? As noted above, I hope the community will take full advantage of the great cultural resources of the region. Attend exhibitions and performances, send your children to art classes or art camps; support art programs in area schools, because arts organizations cannot replace these great programs or teachers; take an art class yourself; and finally, if at all possible, make a financial commitment, to help support these valuable arts programs in our region.

Duncan: I hope that I can entice art enthusiasts to come up the hill off the beaten path and visit my gallery that will open in April as well as enjoy the downtown galleries and shops. I hope the art community of Bryson City will continue to grow and prosper with more artists/new shops etc. coming into the area. Seems the town is on the brink, I don’t think it was that long ago that Waynesville was a sleeply little place. You have a captive audience of tourists and visitors and it’s always fun to shop and look at places that don’t have the same old big box stores we all know. Handmade is always something special, it is a part of an artist’s soul and therefore a treasure to enjoy and pass on. Can you say that about the bowl you bought at Wal-Mart last week for $4.99?

Heath: To continue to grow and learn spiritually and professionally. There is a large population of multi-talented artists living in smaller communities all over Western NC. It is my wish to see each of these artists continue to grow and strengthen the fabric of their own local art community.

Martin: My goal for 2007 is to write songs. The beauty of our mountains and the preservation of our local character and culture are absolutely essential to my creative processes. I hope that I, and all local people in the creative fields, will become more relied on as stakeholders in the rural conservation and economic future of our mountain communities. I currently have occasional respiratory trouble and that’s not good for a singer so I hope to help the Canary Coalition in their work for clean air in the coming year. Our air needs cleaning up.

But beyond that, I hope for more cohesion and mutual support among the areas performing songwriters and musicians. There is a big potential for this in these mountains. Real artists help other artists. With new technologies, the rules and the measures of musical success are rapidly changing. The music industry landscape is vastly different even since I first began playing — many dissertations can be written on this. Everyone can now get music for next to nothing and many things are getting lost in this. So it really behooves performers to stop performing for free. I estimate that if we play for free, everyone benefits but the musician. The creators of the technology benefit, the venues benefit, the audience/consumer benefits; and the musician chalks it all up to rehearsal. This undermines the viability of music as an occupation and is therefore unhealthy for the art.

Additionally, I would like to see more venues crop up — more venues that collaborate with the performer and recognize they are an appreciated and integral part of the work force by paying them at least a scale wage for their performances. Local children who dream of being songwriters would ultimately benefit from such advances. With our legacy of music in Appalachia, we must raise it to a higher level, a more viable vocation for local young people and currently performing artists.

Osondu: I hope to see Oprah recognize Independent Book Shops and come to Osondu Booksellers to kick off a tour of book shops.

I hope to have 10 people join me on a literary tour of England. The itinerary is in the works and will be settled up by the end of January.

I am the president elect of the Friends of the Library. I aim to have a great author come and speak in May.

I plan to invite 50 authors to come to Haywood Book Mania, Aug. 4, 2007. We plan to sponsor essay contests for kids of all ages about various topics that are current in literature both fiction and non.

We are doing some renovating and I am looking forward to opening up our space to become more of a community space. I envision a place where folks will sit, read, and discuss books and ideas.

I hope to see the literacy council in full swing reaching out to more and more adults and kids who will show up for free tutoring.

Perry: I hope that I will continue to be as successful as I have been this year. I also would like to see more community sponsored art events such as plays, concerts, etc.

Rash: On a personal level, I hope to finish a new novel. As for the arts community as a whole, I hope it can continue to add to as well as celebrate our region’s rich culture.

Rudolph: My only hope for the coming year is if Pheasant Hill wants to continue with past policy, we would be more than glad to continue with our jazz program.

Beadle: I hope public school systems will embrace more arts programming and maintain full-time arts positions in schools. In an age of high-stakes testing and budget cuts where the arts are sadly the first item on the chopping block, how will we develop the next generation of artists who are culturally aware and able to think for themselves? The arts not only help students think creatively to problem-solve and work with others. They also give students a wonderful, positive opportunity to share their talents in various ways (on stage, on a canvas, behind the scenes). Just think about the holiday presents you might receive this year. Jewelry? An ornament? A CD? A book? Who makes these gifts? Artists. Think about how the arts enrich our daily lives in so many ways – everything from the designs of our houses to the paintings on our walls to the music we listen to in the car. Support your local school’s arts programs. Help volunteer for local arts organizations. Build a more rewarding community through the arts.



The Panelists

Michael Beadle

Age: 34

Job Title: Journalist, teaching artist, poet

Affiliations: A+ Schools Fellow; United Arts Council of Raleigh/Wake County directory artist; member of Nature Conservancy and National Resources Defense Council; member of First United Methodist Church of Waynesville

Recent Awards: “Poet of the Week” recognition for the NC Arts Council’s web page Dec. 19-25, 2006

Martin DeWitt

Age: 59

Job Title: Founding Director, Fine Art Museum at the Fine & Performing Arts Center, Western Carolina University

Affiliations: American Association of Museums; College Art Association; North Carolina Museum Association; Southeast Museums Association; Jackson County Chamber of Commerce; Jackson County Arts Council Board

Recent Awards: Jackson County Arts Council Grass Roots Grant Award to purchase artwork created by Jackson County resident artists

Peggy Duncan

Age: Let’s just say over 50

Job Title: Professional artist, custom framer, owner of The Artist’s House Gallery in Bryson City

Affiliations: Past board member Gallery 209 in Savannah, Ga.; past board member Beaufort County Accommodations Tax Board; founding member Society of Bluffton Artists in S.C.; founding member Guild of Bluffton Artists, Bluffton’s first and only co-op gallery; Member of Excellence Southeastern Pastel Society

Recent Awards: Merit and purchase award at the 2005 South Carolina State Fair Fine Arts Show

Charles M. Heath

Age: 38

Job Title: Artist and owner of Heath Creations Studio and Gallery in Bryson City

Affiliations: Member Art League of the Smokies; advisory board member Swain County Center for the Arts; board member Swain county Chamber of Commerce

Angela Faye Martin

Age: 36

Job Title: Songwriter

Margaret Osondu

Age: 48

Job Title: Owner, Osondu Booksellers in Waynesville

Affiliations: Southern Independent Booksellers Association, American Booksellers Association, Literacy Council, and Haywood County Friends of the Library.

Trevor Perry

Age: 23

Job Title: Performer

Affiliations: Delta Lambda Phi and Western Carolina University


Ron Rash

Awards: Include the Appalachian Writers Association Book of the Year Award for 2003 and Forward Magazine’s Gold Medal for Best Literary Novel of 2002, both for One Foot in Eden, the O. Henry Prize for short fiction in 2005 for the story “Speckle Trout,” best Southern novel of 2005 by the Southeast Booksellers Association for Saints at the River, which also is the 2006 selection for Together We Read.

Dave Rudolph

Age: 70

Job Title: Professional percussionist and vocalist

Affiliations: Played with well known jazz performers including Monty Alexander, Harry Sweets Edison, Eddie Lockjaw Davis, Oscar Peterson, Hal Galper, Ira Sullivan, Pete Minger, Al Grey and Senator Eugene Wright

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