Art Attack Rides Downtown for Fourth Friday

It’s An Onslaught of Arts! Artists Wield Everything from Drumsticks to Tattoo Guns to Palette Knives!

Shawn Adkins gets shit done. Not content to simply run his store, Back-A-Round Records, Adkins is rebooting the Art Attack, a multi-disciplinary art event and networking opportunity for artists. This next iteration will happen all over downtown Fayetteville on Friday, May 24th, as the Fourth Friday celebrations put on by Cool Springs Downtown District.

The Art Attack started at Adkins’ former venture, the well-attended music & event center, The Rock Shop, which closed in 2017. “We did the Art Attack every week for three years,” he remembers. “Now that I’m here [on Hay St], I want to be a part of downtown.”

Adkins’ has worked with Cool Springs for years on the Zombie Walk every October, so the collaboration is well-established. And he’s been here for 28 years so when he remarks, “I want to help make Fayetteville cooler than it already is”, he knows what’s he talking about. Fourth Friday makes downtown a cool evening destination. Art Attack will have a little something for everyone: bands on a stage in front of Back-A-Round, Lacey Crime’s selfie stations from the Dogwood Festival will be back out, live dancing up and down Hay Street, spoken word and poetry artists, gallery showings, and more.

For the artists, the Art Attack is also a networking event. Having lots of different artforms represented allows artists a chance to talk to each other, maybe plan a collaboration, or simply be inspired by each other’s artwork. Adkins mused, “Hopefully there will be new friendships afterwards… they’ll go do some work together.”

Being part of Fourth Friday also means the event is designed for all ages and family friendly. Budding (or established) young artists are encouraged to attend and apply to show their skills, be they on stage or in a visual medium. With Cape Fear Music Center, Gilbert Theater, Fascinate-U Kids Museum, and Cape Fear Studios–all of which teach kids classes–within walking distance of the main traffic circle in downtown, it should be no trouble finding talented young artists to participate.

To keep up with all things Art Attack, make sure to follow them on Facebook. And mark your calendar for all Fourth Fridays: every one will be slightly different through the year. Adkins is confident that Art Attack will have some kind of on-going monthly presence after May. “If people come out to hear the performers and if the artists make some money, we’ll do more of these.” Adkins says assuredly.

Kevin Ward: Tooting His Horn

From Low Brass to Army Brass to the Classroom, Ward is making a difference.

Art-form teachers tend to wear a lot of hats. Kevin Ward, Max Abbott Middle School Teacher of the Year for 2019-2020 school year, has a full rack: he teaches orchestra at the middle school, is an adjunct professor at Methodist University, and arranges sheet music for Lindsey Sterling. On top of that, he promised his Mom, who passed away in 2018, that he’d continue his education, which he’s doing by pursuing a doctorate in curriculum instruction. “I want to have a huge dash on my tombstone. I want to make sure I’m making a difference,” Ward bashfully shares.

We sat down in the MAMS cafeteria recently to talk about middle school orchestra and his path from the Army to the classroom. After playing around the world, he wound up in Fayetteville as his last duty post. A few months prior to retiring in 2017, the MAMS orchestra teacher position opened up. “I was very interested, but couldn’t commit because I wasn’t finished in the Army yet,” Ward explained. “Mrs. Crenshaw [MAMS Principal] called me again in November and said, “Well, the teacher we hired didn’t work out, so the position is open if you still want it.”” Now he was out of the Army and could tackle the challenge of a middle-school orchestra program. This school year, he took the orchestra to the NC Music Educator’s Association Music Performance Adjudication contest in Raleigh for the first time in seven years. He had eight students chosen by audition for the Junior Eastern Region Orchestra. Some of his students play with the Fayetteville Symphony Youth Orchestra.

photo provided by Kevin Ward

Arranging music began in the Army. “I had to think outside the box about these arrangements” because of the potentially random assortments of instruments a particular performance might have. He did over 350 arrangements and compositions for the Army; it was through this work he met Lindsey Sterling. “I wanted to arrange a piece of hers for our holiday concert, so asked her permission. She liked the work I did so much, she asked me to do more.” It helps that he enjoys listening to a wide variety of music, from more traditional orchestral pieces to the crossover electronica of Sterling to harder rock.


Ward’s favorite instrument is the tuba and he also plays trumpet, french horn, and euphonium. Photo provided by Kevin Ward.

At heart, his genuine care for his students shines through. He’s researching the cognitive benefits of musical education for middle school students. He is actively fundraising for new chairs for his classroom on DonorsChoose.org, the sort of equipment cost that will make a huge difference for the students but the school system is not able to budget for. He is still teaching privately at Music and Arts on Morganton Road. His work on the Methodist University campus alerts him to opportunities for his middle school students, like the summer youth camps.

There is no doubt Ward is making a difference, for both his students and his fellow musicians. He would love for his next career step to be County Arts Coordinator for the entire school system. No doubt he’ll be able to make an even bigger, even better difference in such a role.

“Maid Marian” Hits the Mark

The latest in Sweet Tea Shakespeare’s Honey Series is Sweet and Tart

Looking back on my misspent youth, it is easy to connect the dots of learning archery and carrying boot knives (not to mention my love of nonprofits) with my adoration of the Robin Hood legend. I now have another turn of the tale to add to my collection, thanks to Sweet Tea Shakespeare‘s original script “Maid Marian.” Written by local teacher and STS regular Jessica Osnoe, the story is written as a prelude to the myth that has fascinated for hundreds of years.

marian play
Jen Pommerenke as Maid Marian in Sweet Tea Shakespeare’s original show

Osnoe’s script keeps us in Nottingham and the forest as we follow Lady Marian Fitzwalter, her siblings, and a cousin, as they attempt to outwit the Sheriff and Guy of Gisbourne who are stealing-er-collecting taxes for Prince John. Their merry band of women includes a pair of sisters from the village.

For those familiar with Sweet Tea’s set up, normally the spring & summer shows are held out behind the 1897 Poe House on Bradford Avenue. Audiences are encouraged to bring their own seating and sweet tea, beer, wine, water, and comestibles are all available (and all local: beer was from Hugger Mugger Brewery in Sanford, the tea from Winterbloom downtown on Hay St, and food from Fayetteville Pie Company in Westwood Shopping Center).

The night I took in the show, there had been rain, so the production was moved into the church social hall next door. Undeterred, the cast, musicians, and crew put forth a delightful performance, from the pre-show madrigal-esque tunes to the well-choreographed fight scene, and triumphant climax. As behooves this particular legend, there are plenty of ballads, interludes, rousing call-to-arms, and perhaps a love song, all of which fit into the story seamlessly.

Emma and sister Marian, plotting something!

Like the “bracing river” Marian and company use to delightful comic effect, this show is invigorating, both to the legend it’s based on and to local theater offerings. Contemporary without neglecting history, period without feeling dated: the show is stimulating for regular theater patrons and new audiences alike.

While this show runs through May 12, I am already looking forward to Sweet Tea Shakespeare’s summer rep programming, plus what they have in store with their youth council, Green Tea. Their shows are family-friendly–and if “Maid Marian” any indication–an exemplary way to get those not enamored with historical theater to be thoroughly in love by evening’s end.

The Creative Frenzy: An Arts + Crafts Playground on Yadkin Rd

Addrienne VanOver, owner of The Creative Frenzy on Yadkin Road, glanced around the shop, smiling as she said, “There’s so much more I want to do, too.” It’s hard to believe there’s more, as VanOver currently runs the shop, does custom design work for private clients, leads private and group crafting workshops, and teaches both one-on-one in her store and at Fayetteville Technical Community College (and is a mama of three and married for almost twenty years!).

She opened The Creative Frenzy in August 2018 and moved into the current location at 4760 Yadkin Road (near the corner of Yadkin and Skibo) in March of 2019. It’s a bit like an arts & crafts playground. You can bring your own toys–er, arts and crafts supplies–and work on your project in the company of others. Or you can buy or borrow from the shop. “Anything you see on Pinterest, we can do here,” Addrienne quips. There’s supplies for paper-crafting, painting, embroidery, making wood signs, printing t-shirts, even a photo studio set up for product or people shoots. And at $25-35 per hour for most workshops or instruction, it’s affordable to try everything.

Group workshops are the current shop specialty. In addition to her general craft workshops, there are also events geared towards veterans and for homeschoolers. There’s even a quilting club who meets at the shop every Monday! “We also have a free kids story time–it’s always on Saturday but varies through the month–and book club on the last Sunday of every month,” Addrienne said. “They both have crafts involved and everyone is welcome to come.” She did say the kids’ storytime tends to fill up, so get there early!

Addrienne also does custom design work and sells her original embroidery designs through her website. “I want other crafters to use the shop as a place to start their own Etsy stores,” she expressed. And since she often brings her own kids to the shop, kids are more than welcomed: they are encouraged to come and craft, too! Oh, and did I mention you can rent the shop for birthday parties? Eight kid minimum and an amazing craft to take home after!

image via The Creative Frenzy Facebook page

Check out her website, Facebook, and Instagram, and sign up for the email list to find out about ALL Addrienne has going on! She’s also looking for other crafty teachers, so if you have friends asking “how do you do that?,” maybe it’s time for you to teach it!

Sweet and Salty: “The Cake” at CFRT

“The Cake”, a play by Bekah Brunstetter, is my favorite kind of theater: hilarious, heart-warming, and profoundly topical. I was going to say it was like pineapple upside down cake, which is my favorite kind of cake, but I couldn’t figure out the topical part: maybe it’s the maraschino cherries?

Cape Fear Regional Theatre, the crown jewel of theater in Fayetteville*, is currently running this show. It was our first show to see after moving to town. I was really excited to see it on the season list, as it is the type of play that pushes the envelope for a Southern, relatively conservative theater audience. But that’s what theater is for, right? To wake up viewers, cause them to think about long-held beliefs, empathize with characters, and maybe realize we all have common human traits.

This production tickles the funny bone as much as it twinges the heart-strings. Brunstetter has drawn authentically complex characters and this cast brings them delightfully to life. I rooted for Della and Tim as much as for Jen and Macy. Love is love is love.

Since the play is an intimate one–four characters, minimal number of sets needed–CFRT brought the audience onto the regular proscenium stage, building risers to accommodate seating around the glorious set. The bakery is, dare I say, a confectionery, all pastels and gingerbread trim. The prop cakes were stunning, thanks to the handiwork of Susannah-Lee Wagner, props artisan. The turntable bedroom and upstairs loft space are breath-taking in such close quarters. Jimmy Bennett’s costumes and Dan Robbins’ lights help establish character and mood.

And I have to give a shout-out to the crack stage management team! Scene transitions can make or break a show and they were efficient and focused, even fixing a set dressing snafu in between scenes. Credit where credit’s due, y’all: I didn’t notice a missed light or sound cue, transitions were quick, and everything moved smoothly. This is the mark of fine theater craftsmanship, just as much as what the actors do on stage.

The proverbial icing on the cake is the actual cake served up post-show, thanks to local bakery Sweet Palette (another huge arts supporter that we’ll profile later). I do hope that CFRT can find other ways to work in partnering with different local businesses for future shows. Complimentary mud facials for Shrek, perhaps?

*The other theaters are jewel-like in their own ways. More on them soon.

What is going on here?

Thanks for checking out this new venture! I’ve long dreamed of combining my journalism background with my arts administration skills and publishing a magazine dedicated to celebrating local arts & culture. And since I find myself living in Fayetteville, North Carolina, what better place to use than here!

This magazine (yeah, I’m going to call it that, even if it is a blog currently) will focus on sharing the stories of the amazing artists that call Fayetteville home. We’ll do interviews. We’ll publish poetry and short fiction by local authors. We’ll talk about performances and jam sessions. We’ll delve into the history of the arts in the area. We’ll showcase interesting public art found around the city. Think of this as the story behind the art, not just a listing of what to go see.

And because you can’t get to the 50th piece without starting at #1, now I’m over that hurdle!

Get out and support local art!

~Devra