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s I’m writing this column, the news cycle is moving so fast I can’t even begin to keep up. In the magazine business, planning for each issue begins months in advance. Exactly a week before this issue was scheduled to print, the first serious concerns about coronavirus in the U.S. took hold, and the dominos fell fast, leaving us scrambling to make last-minute edits while following the latest developments to keep readers informed. There’s a lot of uncertainty, with concerns ranging from the overall safety of the population to the economic toll on local businesses and nonprofits. In the early 2000s, our family owned a small business that was forced to shut down for a week in December — our busiest month of the year, by far — after a devastating ice storm left the building without power. It took many months for our little business to recover after the brief lapse. This time around, local shops, restaurants, salons and other service providers will be forced to remain idle for much longer periods. It’s unfortunate too, because April traditionally is chock-full of festivals, fundraising galas, sporting events and more, nearly all of which have been canceled or postponed. The good news is, we are a resilient community. I wasn’t living in Charlotte in 1989 when Hurricane Hugo battered the area, but I’ve heard stories about neighbors persevering and coming together. Just a few weeks ago, tornadoes ripped through southern Mecklenburg County, and residents showed a tremendous level of compassion, turning up with chainsaws to help with downed trees and establishing fundraisers to assist those whose homes or businesses were impacted. Already, social media, which can sometimes be an ugly place, has lit up with community-minded people raising money for those in need or sharing ideas for how to help others. It’s going to be a long road ahead, and not without sacrifice. But we will come out on the other side of this with a new perspective that will make us better prepared to face adversity in the times ahead. I suppose it’s fitting that we planned a while back for this to be our Home & Garden issue, since most of us are spending more time than usual confined to the walls of our houses and apartments. In this issue, we feature the work of several of the city’s top interior designers, plus a few talented up-and-comers. We also share the story of a Blowing Rock homeowner who has taken the practice of “extreme gardening” to a whole new level. Perhaps these stories will provide inspiration for transforming your living spaces into comforting, joyful respites for spending time among family and friends. Meanwhile, stay safe, keep supporting local businesses and nonprofits, and know that we will get through this. SP








DEPARTMENTS 27 | Blvd. City Stems' beautiful blooms; Harold Varner inches closer to a PGA Tour breakthrough; best-dressed styles for warmer weather.

55 | Simple life In praise of the snail’s pace

63 | Talk it out Community Matters and mortality

64 | Bookshelf April’s notable new releases

69 | Omnivorous reader One exceptional life in politics; another in music


119 | Swirl The Queen City’s biggest parties, fundraisers and festivals

SNAPSHOT 128 | Water works Charlotte artist Carmella Jarvi shifts from painting to glass-making, including a public installation in South End.

108 ABOUT THE COVER Traci Zeller designs a comfortable country estate for a Mint Hill family. Photograph by Dustin Peck.




additions renovations signature homes

Charlotte and Boone 704.334.5477

making it home since 1950 A T O


CE 1




2 5 O – 2 O



76 FEATURES 76 | Golf-course glamour by Catherine Ruth Kelly

Friends and family help a Charlotte couple create a California-cool home in Myers Park.

84 | Crafting sanctuary by Virginia Brown

Interior designer Traci Zeller helps a Mint Hill couple achieve their ideal country estate.

SPACES: 92 | The study: Vintage modern 94 | The family room: Soft and sophisticated 96 | The kitchen: Pattern play 98 | Child's bedroom suite: Lovely by the lake 100 | The nursery: Cozy charm 102 | Peak growing season by Ross Howell Jr.

TimberTop Garden in Blowing Rock takes gardening to the extreme.

108 | Man of the Earth by Wiley Cash

According to acclaimed plantsman Tony Avent, the universe has plans for you — and your garden.

112 | Georgia Gem by Michael J. Solender

Chateau Elan unveils a $25 million renovation at the European-style resort and winery.





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1230 West Morehead St., Suite 308 Charlotte, NC 28208 704-523-6987 _______________ Ben Kinney Publisher Cathy Martin Editor Andie Rose Art Director Lauren M. Coffey Graphic Designer Alyssa Rocherolle Graphic Designer Whitley Adkins Hamlin Style Editor Contributing Writers Michelle Boudin, Sally Brewster Virginia Brown, Wiley Cash Ross Howell Jr., Michelle Icard Vanessa Infanzon, Catherine Ruth Kelly Jim Moriarty, Michael J. Solender Contributing Photographers Mallory Cash, Daniel Coston Kelsie Droppa, Sam Froelich Dustin Peck _______________ ADVERTISING Jane Rodewald Account Executive 704-621-9198 Scott Leonard Audience Development Specialist/ Account Executive 704-996-6426 Brad Beard Graphic Designer _______________

Letters to the editorial staff: Instagram: southparkmagazine Facebook: Twitter:

It’s always play time in Abingdon. • 888.489.4144

Owners Jack Andrews, Frank Daniels Jr., Frank Daniels III, Lee Dirks, David Woronoff Published by Old North State Magazines LLC. ©Copyright 2020. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission is prohibited. Volume 23, Issue 4




A N T I Q U E S | L I G H T I N G | AC C E S S O R I E S 6 8 0 9 - c p h i l l i p s p l a c e c t , c h a r l ot t e , n c 2 8 210 | 7 0 4 . 9 9 9 . 6 976 | m o n - s a t 10 a m - 5 p m

photo credit by Michael Blevins


THIS SPRING in Raleigh, one ticket pairs paintings by North Carolina artists with the beauty of Senegalese jewelry, site-specific installations by New York–based Leonardo Drew, and videos and photography by Thai artist Araya Rasdjarmrearnsook. INCLUDING LOCAL ARTISTS Ashley Lathe, Charlotte Juan Logan, Belmont Carmen Neely, Charlotte

Dates and ticket packages at Carmen Neely, In an Alternate Reality (detail), 2018, oil on canvas with fauxflower crown, 81 x 63 in., Courtesy of the artist and Jane Lombard Gallery, Š 2019 Carmen Neely; Photograph: Sean Fader Front Burner: Highlights in Contemporary North Carolina Painting is organized by guest curator Ashlynn Browning in collaboration with the North Carolina Museum of Art. Good as Gold: Fashioning Senegalese Women is organized by Kevin D. Dumouchelle of the National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution. It is curated by Amanda Maples of the North Carolina Museum of Art. Leonardo Drew: Making Chaos Legible is made possible, in part, by the generous support of the Hartfield Foundation and Libby and Lee Buck. All exhibitions are made possible, in part, by the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources; the North Carolina Museum of Art Foundation, Inc.; and the William R. Kenan Jr. Endowment for Educational Exhibitions. Research for these exhibitions is made possible by Ann and Jim Goodnight/The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fund for Curatorial and Conservation Research and Travel.



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IN BLOOM Spring has sprung, and this exquisite arrangement from City Stems has us optimistically and enthusiastically thinking about longer days, sunnier skies and adding a little more color back into our world. Self-taught floral designer Laura Hughes started the homegrown business a year ago, bringing her in-demand woodland-inspired designs to homes and gatherings across town. Turn the page to learn more. | 27




aura Hughes didn’t know what to expect when she created the City Stems Instagram account last April and posted a few photographs. “I thought, let’s just put my work out there. And then this happened.” What happened was people noticed — including one of the city’s most well-known event planners. Hughes, a self-taught floral designer, is City Stems. She creates eye-popping custom arrangements usually made from orchids, other flowers or plants. “I started making things and photographing them, and people started calling. It’s all been word of mouth. By Christmas last year, I had turned my garage into my studio, and I was in there every night until 2 a.m. filling orders.” The Myers Park mother of four moved from Chicago to Charlotte three years ago and admits she had a bit of a hard




time adjusting. “It took me a minute. … It was hard leaving the big city — we loved all the action and the flavor, and then I realized Charlotte has all that, too — it’s just a little less obvious.” Building her business has been a huge part of growing to love the Queen City, Hughes says. “I’ve met so many people doing this. That’s what I love most, the people.” Since every piece is custom, Hughes prefers seeing a client’s space in person whenever possible. When she can’t get there, she works from photographs. “I always consider the client’s interior. It helps me understand the scale of the space and their style. The height from the table to the chandelier. … I take all of that into consideration.”



to selection, quality and value. Come as a customer, leave as a friend.


“I say to clients whether they’re spending $40 or $800, you are giving yourself a gift of something that brings a feeling of change and newness and freshness to your space.” Most of her work is a single piece that often takes center stage at a dinner party, but sometimes clients bring her in to provide plants for every room. Everything is custom, from the moss to the container. “It’s all about getting the exact right piece for the exact perfect space in the client’s home. Sometimes they want to bring me a piece a designer has chosen to work with, or even something special from their grandmother.” Hughes sources a lot of her own vessels from High Point Furniture Market. She makes sure to have different price points so that her work is accessible to everyone. “I say to clients whether they’re spending $40 or $800, you are giving yourself a gift of something that brings a feeling of change and newness and freshness to your space. It’s an investment, but it’s not a new sofa. You can bring something in at all those [price] points that is a representation of you.” While she’ll work with any flower, Hughes is partial to orchids. “I feel most inspired by the woodland-forest look. My favorite orchid is the lady slipper. It grows in the forest floor. A lot of my pieces, even if they don’t have that, they’re inspired by the forest floor. It’s beautiful to replicate mama nature in a piece you can design on your own.” After spending 10 years focused on raising her four kids, Hughes says running City Stems has been incredibly rewarding. “It feels like a full circle moment. My kids are starting to think about who they’ll be in the world, and doing this reminds me to recognize that feeling when you’re doing something you love — and to embrace it.” SP 30



1977 New York Marathon. As an avid runner for most of his life, completing 19 marathons and conquering many early morning runs, Samuel is right back there, preparing for the race he completed over 40 years ago.


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hile on one hand it could seem as though Louis Comfort Tiffany was born with a silver glasscutter in his mouth, the son of the founder of Tiffany and Company created, over his lifetime, an entire genre of decorative art so ubiquitous, so singularly chic and stylistically distinctive that his name alone has come to represent the thing itself. It is the de rigueur description of any leaded glass shade. Say “Tiffany lamp” and you need say no more. All the rage one day, passé the next — fashion may be fickle, but the art endures. The intimate gallery space at Reynolda House Museum of American Art in Winston-Salem will house a traveling exhibition of Tiffany’s finest work, on loan from the Neustadt Collection at the Queens Museum in New York. “The decorative arts are accessible to everybody,” says Phil Archer, Reynolda’s director of program and interpretation. “To have a gallery with the light actually shining through the works of art will be new for us and make it a very magical space. It just fits at Reynolda because of the natural setting of the gardens.” The show comprises 20 of the most celebrated examples of Tiffany’s lamps and, interestingly, three forgeries that serve to demonstrate the difference between faux Tiffany and authentic works. There’s a display explaining the steps in the creation of the lampshades and biographical information on the key personnel at Tiffany Studios — chemist Arthur J. Nash and designers Clara Driscoll, Agnes Northrop and Frederick Wilson — who all made meaningful contributions to the artistry of the lamps.

Also part of the exhibit are five Tiffany windows and, separate from the exhibit, a display of Tiffany vases purchased by Katharine Reynolds on view in the Reynolda House itself. The role of Driscoll, née Clara Wolcott, who was in charge of the “Tiffany girls” in the glass-cutting department, only came to light in the first decade of the 21st century when Martin Eidelberg, an art history professor from Rutgers University, discovered her letters archived at Kent State University. Wolcott is responsible for the design of two of Tiffany’s most remarkable lamps, Wisteria and Dragonfly. While Tiffany may not have been solely responsible for every design, most of the concepts were his, Archer says. “The aesthetic was Tiffany’s. The kind of color palette and the combination of colors and details and opacities were Tiffany’s. It’s almost like Mozart writing a piece and then conducting the orchestra. He’s not playing any of the instruments. Everybody else is making the music, but the original concept is his. They bring a lot of creativity to how they play it — though that may not be an exact metaphor because some of the concepts, like the Wisteria lamp, were Driscoll’s.” Born in 1848, the slight, delicate son of Charles Louis Tiffany could have slid seamlessly into the family business selling fine jewelry and accessories. “He had every opportunity to take over from his father and be the lead jeweler and luxury-goods maker in New York,” Archer says. “The primrose path was laid out for him.” When the younger Tiffany was enrolled at Eagleswood Military Academy in New Jersey, he met and studied under the painter George Inness. The effects would be profound. | 33


By the age of 19, he had become a founding member of the American Society of Painters in Water Colors and had begun to exhibit his work at the National Academy of Design. He traveled to Europe and North Africa and would be particularly influenced by what, at the time, was called the “Orientalist” style. “When I first had a chance to travel in the East and to paint where the people and the buildings are clad in beautiful hues, the pre-eminence of color in the world was brought forcibly to my attention,” Tiffany once said. One of his better-known paintings, Snake Charmer at Tangier, Africa, expressed Tiffany’s interest in the play of light and color. It was exhibited at Snedecor’s Gallery in New York in 1872 and later at the 1876 Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia. It remained in Tiffany’s personal collection until 1921, when he donated it to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. While still painting, Tiffany drifted into design and decorating. At the same time, he had become enthralled by the possibilities of glass as an art form. “Tiffany hated modern glass because it was too clean,” Archer says. “He wanted glass like archeologists were digging up in Syria and Lebanon. It was like opals. It had color and shimmer. He hired chemists to really develop all of these different colors and ranges. The beauty that he found in that glass and trying to replicate it becomes the story.” Tiffany didn’t paint on glass — “staining” it only rarely, usually in faces — he painted with glass. The use of metallic oxides allowed for the development of the range of colors that distinguish his work. “Standing by the glass workers, he had them fold the glass on itself and pinch in places to achieve the effect of magnolia blooms in a window of his library at the Tiffany mansion,” writes Julia Tiffany Hoffman, a great-granddaughter. “A pulled rod of glass was slightly melted and scrolled on the glass to effect vines, stems and spiderwebs. Louis used just the right color combination of paper-thin glass bits to achieve a painterly quality.” In addition to the inspired glassmaking, the creation of Tiffany’s lamps was aided by the innovative use of copper foil. 34



“There’s a lot of artistry in the creation of the glass, and there’s artistry in the cutting and piecing it together,” Archer says. Tiffany was also receiving commissions decorating American palaces for Gilded Age royalty like Cornelius Vanderbilt and Henry and Louisine Havemeyer. He decorated Mark Twain’s house in Connecticut and the interior of the old Lyceum Theatre on Park Avenue South in New York. He did the Ponce de Léon Hotel in St. Augustine, Fla., and Chester A. Arthur’s White House. “Tiffany would design from soup spoon to chandelier,” Archer says. “He was creating almost complete works of art in these houses. But upper middle-class people could afford the lamps. They ended up propelling Tiffany Studios financially. In his lectures, Tiffany almost never referred to his lamps. He would talk about these huge projects and the large windows. The lamps were sort of the bread and butter.” Tiffany believed nature should be the primary source of design. “Every really great structure is simple in its lines — as in nature — every great scheme of decoration thrusts no one note upon the eye,” he wrote. Having outlived two wives and three of his eight children, in his final years Tiffany’s ultimate project was his estate on Oyster Bay on Long Island — Laurelton Hall, 84 rooms on 600 acres. He designed every nook, cranny and garden. Punctuality and orderliness were valued traits. The giant of art nouveau attempted to stick his finger in the dike of modernism with the establishment of the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation, devoted to helping aspiring artists. “Paintings should not hurt the eyes,” he cautioned. By the time Tiffany died in 1933, much of his wealth had evaporated in the crash of 1929 and the ensuing Great Depression. Laurelton was sold in 1945, and the land subdivided. In 1957, the largely abandoned great house, containing some of Tiffany’s finest windows, burned to the ground. It took two days to melt the art of a lifetime. SP Visit for exhibition dates and pricing.

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t’s 10 a.m. on the last Monday in January, the day after The Farmers Insurance Open at the fabled Torrey Pines South Course in San Diego. I’m glued to my desk, waiting on a call from Harold Varner III. We were scheduled to chat a week earlier when he was in Palm Springs as part of the PGA Tour’s 2020 opening West Coast swing, five weeks of events that serve as a warmup for 175 or so of the world’s best golfers. Varner had to cancel at the last minute as our time slot got filled with some serious new equipment testing, but his agent promised his undivided attention today. HV3, as he’s known on tour, called right on schedule. While several PGA tour professionals call the Charlotte area home, Varner is one of the few that have deep-rooted Carolina bona fides that extend back to elementary school, when he moved to Gastonia from Ohio. Varner first picked up a golf club at age 6, and with his father as his teacher and coach, he quickly developed his talent for the game. 3 6



Varner starred at Gastonia’s Forestview High School and went on to a storybook collegiate career at East Carolina University, where he was the first golfer in the school’s history to earn the Conference USA Player of the Year honors. Varner earned his PGA Tour card in 2016 after turning pro in 2012. He notched his first international victory winning the 2016 Australian PGA. As of this writing, Varner, now 29, has 11 top-ten finishes on tour, last year earning a tie for third at the Northern Trust in New Jersey, his best finish to date. He’s also narrowly missed a couple of big opportunities. At last year’s PGA Championship, Varner, tied for second after 54 holes, played in the final pairing with Brooks Koepka and shot a disappointing 81 to finish in a tie for 36th place. More recently, at the 2020 Genesis Invitational in February, he was tied for the lead during the final round before hitting a poor tee shot on the 10th hole. This led to a disappointing closing nine, and Varner finished tied for 13th place. In early 2019, Varner, one of only a handful of African American players on tour, formed the HV3 Foundation, a nonprofit that provides access to equipment, coaching and playing opportunities for disadvantaged youth. Varner found plenty of support growing up in Gastonia. Starting out in a junior program at a local municipal course, in high school, he got a job working in the bag room at Gaston Country Club, tending to members’ clubs. There, PGA pro and instructor Bruce Sudderth took a special interest in him and spent countless hours helping polish his game. Varner has a home in the Lake Wylie community of RiverPointe, though he still spends time in Gastonia, | 36





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h m p ro p e r t i es .c o m


|blvd. where he’s building a new home for his parents on a 16-acre parcel, complete with a driving range. I spoke with Varner about his love for the game, the Carolina Panthers and his friendship with Charlotte Hornets owner Michael Jordan. Comments have been edited for length and clarity. What are your fondest memories about living and growing up in North Carolina? I had a lot of opportunities and access to play golf. I was very fortunate to have that. I remember that the most, and then just always having someone to play with, whether it was my dad or [other] kids, and in competition. I played at the NJGA (National Junior Golf Association) growing up, and then played the CGA (Carolinas Golf Association) events after that. I was always playing in tournaments and working to get better. Going to school at East Carolina was a tremendous experience as well. You’ve often remarked that your experience with the members and staff at Gaston Country Club was special. How so? I always was encouraged and had the opportunity to play all the time. It is a family there. Early on after I began working there, I asked Bruce Sudderth if he would help me. I was very nervous, but he put me at ease and told me to show up the next morning ready to learn. For the longest time, he was the only person I’d ever taken lessons from other than my father. He taught me how to play golf, how to be a professional — and he obviously changed the direction of my life. I would not be where I am today without him.

“Michael Jordan talked with me about not getting ahead of myself. It’s easier said than done, but that’s an important part of life in golf or sports in general.”

At what point did you come to believe that you could make a living playing professionally? I would say my junior year of college. I started playing around the country, and I was playing well, so I just felt it was a no-brainer. I really didn’t have a Plan B. I majored in marketing in college but was focused on becoming 38



a professional. I never applied for a job. I wanted to play golf and started with the eGolf tour (formerly the Tarheel Tour) in the Carolinas — so I just played all over and continued to get better. What’s the biggest misconception about being on the tour? You have to work your [tail] off. I don’t think many people recognize how hard you have to work and how much effort goes into continually staying competitive. You have to continue to get better, to improve. Many [fans] come to events to have a good time, see beautiful places, but [for the players], it’s a business. You had what some would consider a career-defining experience last year at the PGA Championship. What did you learn from that? That I’m good enough [to win a major tournament]. I had a great opportunity to do something well, and to be able to be there was just super — kind of super cool. It was just a tough day on the golf course. I wouldn’t change a thing. It probably helped me out when I went and played the Northern Trust later that year. Just being able to be there and know that, “Hey man, it’s all right, you got this. Come on, this is why we play.” What kind of support did you get from your peers? I talked to Tiger [Woods] about it and that was just a cool experience, learning from him, understanding how to get better. Michael Jordan talked with me about not getting ahead of myself. It’s easier said than done, but that’s an important part of life in golf or sports in general. I’ve talked to him a good bit about competing and things in my life that athletes go through and how he’s dealt with it. He’s been super, super good at helping me with solid advice. Is there added pressure playing in front of the home crowd? The coolest thing about playing at home is they’re going to love you regardless. If you play well, they’re going to love you. If you play bad, they’re going to love you, and

|blvd. there’s no better feeling than being loved. ... I love playing at home because it’s bigger than me. It’s more important than me. People live vicariously through me, and then I just love seeing their faces and just being right at home.

2020 Charlotte Region Courses

Is it true that Tiger Woods once snubbed you for an autograph at the Wells Fargo Championship? Yeah, that’s true. It was called the Wachovia [Championship] then and the [player access] was easier at the range. I was 12 years old at the time, just holding out my golf hat for him to sign and he just walked right past me. I told him that story and he just laughed and told me that’s probably the reason I’m on the tour now.

1. Quail Hollow Club, Charlotte; N.C. rank: 6

Are you a Carolina Panthers fan? Oh, I’m a massive Panthers fan. I got to know Ron [Rivera] pretty well. He was a great ambassador for Charlotte, how he carried himself, the way he answered to the media. I hope [new coach Matt Rhule] can do the same thing. Our job [as fans] is to support the Panthers, and I feel that as a fan base, we did a terrible job of that this year. Yeah, everyone loves winning, it’s just very hard to win. It would be like supporting me — right now, no one probably wants to support me, but they do. That’s the same way you need to support your team. SP

ranked by the North Carolina Golf Panel 2. Charlotte Country Club, Charlotte; N.C. rank: 10 3. Trump National Golf Club, Mooresville; N.C. rank: 27 4. Myers Park Country Club, Charlotte; N.C. rank: 38 5. Gaston Country Club, Gastonia; N.C. rank: 46 6. The Club at Irish Creek, Kannapolis; N.C. rank: 62 7. Ballantyne Country Club, Charlotte; N.C. rank: 63 8. River Run Country Club, Davidson; N.C. rank: 67 9. Carmel Country Club (South), Charlotte; N.C. rank: 68 10. Cedarwood Country Club, Charlotte; N.C. rank: 72 11. The Peninsula Club, Cornelius; N.C. rank: 73 12. Providence Country Club, Charlotte; N.C. rank:79 | 39



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My favorite things . . .

Comments are edited for length and clarity.


For a really long time, this was an easy answer — The Hunger Games. But, it changed earlier this year when Netflix dropped Fortune Feimster’s new stand-up comedy special, Sweet & Salty, which was recorded at Spirit Square. Laughing every day is a must, and Fortune is funny and endearing. And — bonus — she grew up in Belmont.






im Miner and Matt Olin are the founders and executive directors of Charlotte is Creative — programs include the local chapter of CreativeMornings, a monthly breakfast series; the Queen City Quiz Show, a live game show about Charlotte trivia, history and current events; and The Biscuit, a media channel featuring news and videos highlighting the local creative community. The duo met in college at UNC Chapel Hill — Miner was an English major, while Olin double-majored in English and film. “Although, we spent all of our time in the theater department — directing, managing and promoting student-run shows — so all of our classmates thought we were theater majors,” Olin says. Miner moved to Charlotte when he was in high school; Olin was born in upstate New York, but his family moved to the Queen City when he was young. “Charlotte has always been ‘home’ for me.”


A frequent question at Queen City Quiz Show is “What did Charlottean Charles Duke do?” It’s ALWAYS answered wrong. He walked on the moon! Only 12 people have walked on the moon … and one of them was born in the Queen City.

FAVORITE PLACE TO HUNKER DOWN DURING A ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE: We gotta say Blackhawk Hardware, and not just because they let us host a CreativeMornings event in their basement recently. We can fashion zombie-killing weapons out of garden tools. We can refuel on their fresh popcorn, Dunx coffee and “dog beer.” And in our downtime, we can wander the aisles fantasizing about redecorating our homes (should we survive). Do we choose the “Aisle of Death” or the “Aisle of Life”?


Hands down, historian Tom Hanchett. Tom is the former staff historian at Levine Museum of the New South. He “retired,” but he never stops — writing books on Charlotte history, leading tours, playing live music, attending festivals and always posting on the best international places to eat in Charlotte. When he talks, you’re drawn in to listen. You leave feeling happy, smarter and challenged. No one loves Charlotte

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|blvd. like Tom does. And, after 60 seconds with him, you’re head over heels for the Queen City, too.


Like Charlie Duke, so many things were born right here in the Charlotte region — the peanut-butter cracker, the PSL, Cheerwine. We love them all. One we’re not so fond of? The orange traffic barrel. Yep, it was patented by Radiator Specialty Company as the “Traffic Control Drum” in 1985. We love ingenuity, but we see these guys a little too often on the drive home.


Through our work producing events each month, we’ve had the privilege of gathering together with the community in tons of cool, beautiful, unique and unexpected places all over the city — from Boxman Studios, to the stage of Ovens Auditorium, to Ten Park Lanes and Temple Beth El. But the most special spot has to be the extraordinary Biddle Memorial Hall on the campus of Johnson C. Smith University. The wood is carved, the stained glass is gorgeous and the history is palpable. SP

Compiled by Whitley Adkins Hamlin. Know of a Charlotte tastemaker or person of interest we should feature here? Email


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|simple life



he TED Radio Hour recently hosted a fascinating program devoted to the art of slowing down. The program began with a public TV producer from Norway describing how a historic passenger train rigged with multiple wide-angle cameras documented the passing landscape during its daily run between Bergen and Oslo for seven hours and 14 minutes. There was no voiceover or narrative explanation of the journey — merely the peaceful countryside passing in real time. The train documentary became a runaway sensation. What might sound like an elaborate April Fool’s joke turned out to be a ratings bonanza when an estimated 1.2 million Norwegians — roughly one-fifth of the country’s population — tuned in to watch Bergensbanen (The Bergen Line), giving birth to a new concept called “Slow TV.” Since that time, similar programs have devoted eight straight hours to Norway’s “National Firewood Night,” 18 straight hours to salmon fishing, more than eight hours to people knitting and chatting, 60 hours to Norwegian hymn-singing and five-and-a-half days to passengers on a cruise ship. The producers discovered, in essence, that viewers are longing for something authentic, something that minute-by-minute matches the pace of actual living, not manufactured “reality” shows that simulate or distort events in real time. In a world forever speeding up, Norwegians seemed eager to slow down and smell the roses — or at least watch them grow. Another TED stage segment featured an efficiency-driv-

en professor from The Wharton School of Economics who learned a valuable lesson in the art of procrastination — how “slowing down” can be a boon to personal creativity — from a pair of his business school students who took six months just to come up with a name for their proposed business idea, right up to the project’s deadline. The company name the students finally came up with was Warby Parker, which evolved into a billion-dollar eyewear firm that has been named the world’s “Most Innovative Company,” proving the timeless maxim that all good things come in time — and often require lots of it. Among other insights professor Adam Grant gleaned from the experience — including his own subsequent efforts to teach himself to procrastinate — is that putting something aside often aids in refining the outcome; that human beings possess a better memory for incomplete tasks that stay active in the mind than hastily produced results; and that, in the end, our biggest regrets are not what we failed to accomplish — but what we never took the necessary time to try to do well. “What some people call procrastination,” professor Grant says, quoting screenwriter Adam Sorkin, “I call thinking.” In a world where feedback is as instantaneous as a nasty Tweet, the faster we move through our days, the professor concluded, the less inclined we are to pause and reflect on methods that might produce a better outcome. As one who has consciously been “slowing down” for years, it was reassuring to discover there are others in the world who believe there is great value — not to mention improved perspective and sanity — in taking the time to do the job | 55

|simple life


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right, to slow down and think it through, to measure twice and cut once or simply stop and buy some of those proverbial roses, whatever cliché works for you. Pausing to think about this, I do believe it was the house and garden I built on a forested hill in Maine two decades ago that brought this important lesson home to bear. The year it took to clear the land and rebuild the ancient stone walls that once defined an 18th-century farmstead gave me time to conceive and refine the plans for the house, which took an additional nine months to actually construct with the help of a pair of skilled post-and-beam housewrights. Creating the interior of the house (which I largely did on my own — building walls and floors, custom designing and making bookshelves and the kitchen cabinetry) also underwent several revisions and took at least three more months to complete than planned. In the end, just about everything about that house pleased me and suited my young family perfectly. In a sense, the forest around us and the ambitious landscape garden I subsequently set out to create conveyed an even more enlightening lesson about the value of taking one’s own sweet time. Nature keeps her own clock, and a northern woodland can’t be rushed into leafing out in spring or fading away in autumn. Summer’s lease in Maine may seem all too brief while winter can feel maddeningly endless. And yet, as I learned, watching the seasons come and go at their own pace was like attending a seminar in the art of Slow TV, a chance to absorb the beauty and spiritual messages of a living world that follows an ancient dance as old as the stars. Any gardener worth his composted cow manure understands that the life of a garden is a slow-moving and somewhat mysterious affair, relying on faith, patience and years, if not decades, of learning about plants and their needs from others who are wiser than you about the art of coaxing living things from the soil. Even my work as a journalist and author — always facing one kind of deadline or another — reminds me of





















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|simple life

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the importance to take my time and get the story right. At the end of summer in 2017, I set out to travel along the Great Wagon Road from Philadelphia to Augusta, Ga. I calculated that a three-week jaunt investigating the historic towns and people who reside along arguably America’s most historic Colonial-era road would give me a wealth of material for a book on the very road that brought my European forebears — and possibly yours — to the Southern frontier. As of last week, I’ve officially clocked more than 2,500 miles traveling the 780-mile road and am now starting into my third year of researching the astonishing life of this ancient American pathway, constantly learning new things and unearthing stories that demand time to pause and take a deeper look, to linger and reflect, to pursue new leads and find the facts. It’s been an unexpected and bewitching journey, to say the least, something akin to a personal Chautauqua that has immeasurably enriched my life and understanding of America. I shall almost hate to see it reach its conclusion, probably sometime in early summer when I finally cross the Savannah River at Augusta. For the record, I’ve rewritten the book’s prologue and first five chapters at least half a dozen times already, discovering as I do how the work comes a little more alive and compelling each time out, proving strength resides in careful (and sometimes slow) revision. Hopefully, my brilliant young editor at Simon & Schuster will agree, whenever he finally gets the book. Not for the first time, traveling the Wagon Road has also reinforced my self-awareness that I am a natural slowlanes traveler who will always choose the winding two-lane roads if at all possible. If past truly is prelude to the future — or at least the present — this instinctual habit was likely encouraged by my first job as a cub reporter at the Greensboro News & Record in the late 1970s. Placed in command of a DayGlo orange AMC Pacer staff car, my task was to find colorful characters and in-

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|simple life

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teresting feature stories for the Sunday paper in a 50-mile circumference of quiet countryside around the Gate City, a job that took me along winding back roads from Seagrove to the Blue Ridge. Looking back, I realize those slow road adventures were an education unto themselves, a great way to begin my writing career. It was maybe the most fun job I’ve ever had. All of which may explain why, as the world seems to speed up with each passing day, I remain a committed slow-lanes traveler who is in no particular rush to get where he’s going. What I supposedly lose in time by avoiding interstates and super highways, I gain back double in terms of perspective and peace of mind by passing through beautiful countryside and small towns where time moves at a slower pace. Come spring, roadside produce stands seem to whisper my name. Recently, I flew a long way on an airplane, about a dozen hours in the air each way. I took the slow way there and back. Airports are increasingly noisy places with folks rushing frantically about. But once I’m in the air, locked in a silver bird soaring as high as 40,000 feet above the Earth, it’s such a pleasure to read an entire book or simply sit and think about life as I gaze out at continents of clouds. On this trip, I discovered that one of the video channels featured its own version of Slow TV — 45-minute film loops showing either a serene rainforest or the restless ocean on the craggy Northwest Coast. I watched both films — twice. Someday I may graduate to National Firewood Night or 60 hours of Norwegians singing hymns, but for now that rainforest and restless sea worked their magic on my high-flying soul. “Does anything actually happen in that movie,” my curious seatmate was compelled to ask at one point, unplugging from his action thriller. “Not much,” I admitted. “Isn't it great?” SP Contact Editor Jim Dodson at jim@

Not your grandma’s Wedgwood On view now | Mint Museum Randolph For the first time ever, the black basalt sculptures of iconic ceramic artist Josiah Wedgwood are the focus of a special exhibition that breaks all the molds. Organized by The Mint Museum, Classic Black: The Basalt Sculpture of Wedgwood and His Contemporaries features more than a hundred 18th-century works, ranging from library busts and ornamental vases to dynamic statues of mythological heroes. The themes are classical, the presentation contemporary. It’s timeless. It’s provocative. It’s Classic Black.

Exhibition organized by The Mint Museum and made possible with generous support from presenting sponsor Wells Fargo Private Bank. Additional support provided by Moore & Van Allen and the Samuel H. Kress Foundation. IMAGE: Wedgwood. Mercury, 19th century, stoneware (black basalt). Collection of Lindsay Grigsby

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ommunity Matters Café is a beautiful new spot near uptown (with parking!) that trains and employs graduates of the Crisis Assistance Ministry addiction-recovery program and serves up healthy, delicious comfort food. Here, I had a conversation that shifted my entire focus for the year. I gathered around a table with a group of women I’d never met for a VisionSpark retreat. Since 2011, I haven’t missed this event hosted by Rosie Molinary, an author, educator and activist for personal and communitywide change. This year was no different, in that there I was again. On the other hand, this year was entirely different, because I thought about the year ahead in a way I never had before. This year, I thought a lot about dying. Before I alarm my friends and family who may be reading this, I’m in fine health. I am 47 years old. My family is happy and well. My career is robust. I try not to take much for granted, which leaves me generally content and satisfied. But last year, two friends lost their husbands to cancer. My peers are losing their parents to time with sad regularity. Three years ago, I developed a rare and debilitating vestibular disorder and spent the better part of two years miserably dizzy before finding some relief. And of course, in the time since I wrote and submitted this piece, I’m coming back to add that the irony of expressing this while I’m quarantined during a global pandemic is not lost on me. The point is, I’m starting to see the cracks in the plaster. So are the women I spoke with at the café. One had recovered from a mid-cancer divorce and wanted to find happiness again. One wanted to shed her pervasive fear of all that might go wrong and take more risks. One wanted to welcome more fun and balance into her Busy-with-a-capital-B days. We all want the same thing: more life. For most of us, the first half of our lives are spent burning

energy on the things we should do: make money, get fit, give back, raise kids, keep the peace, keep up. But it’s reasonable to think I’m now past middle age, and the second half of my life is opening up before me in an unexpected way. Now, my priority is making sure I have a great relationship with life while I still can. This year, the younger of my two children will leave for college, as his older sister did two years ago. Unlike many moms I’ve spoken with, I have little dread of this change. I’ve always expected to find this time liberating, in the sense that it would free up my schedule to focus more on work, my husband and myself. I look forward to being an empty nester as though I am anticipating a nice promotion. What has surprised me is the broader sense of life I now crave. Work, yes. But also: more yeses all around! Yes to trying new things and going to new places and meeting new people. Yes to collecting more joy, and no to the “shoulds” that keep me from it. I’m greedy for life now. My epiphany was unique only in that it was mine. This mortality lightbulb has been turning on for people since well before our only lightbulb was the rising sun each morning. Buddhist monks have perfected it through their practice corpse meditation, an intense focus on and acceptance of death. This, they say, is the key to happiness. I believe it. Once we get past this current setback, 2020 is the year I remind myself to take life out for a big, fun spin as often as I can. SP Michelle Icard is the author of Middle School Makeover: Improving the Way You and Your Child Experience the Middle School Years. Learn more about her work at Visit to learn more about her retreats and to learn about its mission. | 63



Hell and Other Destinations: A 21st-Century Memoir, by Madeleine Albright When Madeleine Albright was leaving office as America’s first female secretary of state in 2001, interviewers asked her how she wished to be remembered. “I don’t want to be remembered,” she answered. “I am still here and have much more I intend to do. As difficult as it might seem, I want every stage of my life to be more exciting than the last.” In that time of transition, Albright considered the possibilities: She could write, teach, travel, give speeches, start a business, fight for democracy, help to empower women, campaign for favored political candidates or spend more time with her grandchildren. Instead of choosing one or two, she decided to do it all. For nearly 20 years, she’s been in constant motion, navigating half a dozen professions, clashing with presidents and prime ministers, learning every day. Since leaving the U.S. Department of State, she has blazed her own trail — and given voice to millions who yearn for respect, regardless of gender, background or age. The Book of Longings, by Sue Monk Kidd In her mesmerizing and fascinating fourth novel, Sue Monk Kidd takes an audacious approach to history and brings her amazing talent to imagine the story of a young woman named Ana. Raised in a wealthy family with ties to the ruler of Galilee, she is rebellious and ambitious, with a brilliant mind and a daring spirit. Ana is expected to marry an older widower, but an encounter with 18-year-old Jesus changes everything. 64



Their marriage evolves with love and conflict, humor and pathos in Nazareth, where Ana makes a home with Jesus, his mother and his brothers. Meticulous research and a reverential approach to Jesus’ life that focuses on his humanity, The Book of Longings is an inspiring, unforgettable account of one woman’s bold struggle to realize the passion and potential inside her, while living in a time, place and culture devised to silence her and other women. Hid From Our Eyes, by Julia Spencer-Fleming In Millers Kill, N.Y., in 1952, police chief Harry McNeil is called to a crime scene where a woman in a party dress has been murdered in the middle of a rural road with no obvious cause of death. In 1972, Millers Kill police chief Jack Liddle is called to a murder scene of a woman that’s very similar to one he worked as a trooper in the ’50s. The only difference is this time, they have a suspect. Vietnam War veteran Russ van Alstyne found the body while riding his motorcycle and is quickly pegged as the prime focus of the investigation. Present-day: Millers Kill Police Chief Russ van Alstyne gets a 911 call that a young woman has been found dead in a party dress, the same MO as the crime he was accused of in the ’70s. The pressure is on for Russ to solve the murder before he’s removed from the case. Readers have waited seven years for this the next Clare Fergusson/Russ Van Alstyne Mystery and will not be disappointed! Simon the Fiddler, by Paulette Jiles In March 1865, the long and bitter War between the States is winding down. Till now, 23-year-old Simon Boudlin has evaded military duty thanks to his youthful appearance and utter lack of compunction about bending the truth. Following a barroom brawl in Texas, Simon finds himself conscripted into the Confederate Army. Luckily, his talent with a fiddle

|bookshelf gets him a comparatively easy position in a regimental band. Weeks later, on the eve of the Confederate surrender, Simon and his bandmates are called to play for officers and their families from both sides of the conflict. There, the quick-thinking, audacious fiddler can’t help but notice the lovely Doris Mary Aherne, an indentured girl from Ireland, who is governess to a Union colonel’s daughter. Simon and Doris go their separate ways at the end of the war. He will travel around Texas seeking fame and fortune as a musician. She must accompany the colonel’s family to finish her three years of service. But Simon cannot forget the fair Irish maiden, and vows that someday he will find her again. Another wonderful book by the author of News of the World, soon to be a major motion picture starring Tom Hanks. 66



The Southern Book Club’s Guide to Slaying Vampires, by Grady Hendrix Grady Hendrix’s amazing new novel is a tribute to his mother, whom he pits against the forces of darkness. The neighborhood book club (which focuses on true crime and suspense) is one of the only things Patricia Campbell looks forward to, since her husband is busy with work and her kids are wrapped up in their own lives. Patricia says to her book club, with a sigh, “Don’t you wish that something exciting would happen around here?” and gets far more than she bargained for in James Harris, who insinuates himself into her world and circle of friends. But Patricia is not some meek, bored Southern housewife. She’s not about to let a handsome stranger tear down the life she and her friends have built. Set in the low country in the early ’90s, this novel beautifully mixes women’s friendships and straight-up scariness. Even if you don’t think you like horror, give this one a try. SP Sally Brewster is the proprietor of Park Road Books, located at 4139 Park Road.






4332 Monroe Rd Charlotte, NC 28205 704.332.4139 M-F 9-6, SAT. 9-5

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n 1958-59, two North Carolina mountain boys graduated from local high schools, made their ways to college, and then went on to very different high-profile careers. Rufus Edmisten moved from Watauga High School in Boone to UNC Chapel Hill, headed for a career in politics. Joseph Robinson left Lenoir High School for Davidson College on his way to musical performances at the highest level. Coincidentally, both men recently published memoirs that show how the combination of hard work, high ambition, audacity and luck can lead to success. Edmisten’s That’s Rufus: A Memoir of Tar Heel Politics, Watergate and Public Life describes how he grew up on a farm near Boone, tending cows and pigs, and working fields of cabbages and tobacco. After Chapel Hill and a round of teaching high school in Washington, Edmisten entered law school at George Washington University and secured a low-level job on Sen. Sam Ervin’s staff. He soon became one of the senator’s full-time trusted assistants in the Watergate-Nixon impeachment matter. His book’s opening pages take readers to July 23, 1973, when he served President Nixon with a demand for Watergate-related records. This key moment ultimately led to Nixon’s resignation under the threat of impeachment and was a launch pad for Edmisten’s political career. Edmisten returned to North Carolina in 1974 and mounted a successful campaign for attorney general. His triumph over a host of prominent Democrats gave notice he would run for governor someday. That day came in 1984, when Gov. Jim Hunt ran for the U.S. Senate, and a host of Democrats lined up to run for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination. Edmisten won in a brutal primary runoff against former Charlotte Mayor Eddie Knox and then lost the general election to the then-Congressman Jim Martin.

Some believe he lost, in part at least, because he made disparaging remarks about barbecue. His version of that incident is, by itself, worth the price of the book. After the loss, Edmisten felt crestfallen and abandoned. However, he came back from that defeat and was elected secretary of state. How he then lost that position in disgrace and the lessons learned from that sad story make for the most poignant part of the book. His situation came to a head in 1995. A report by the state auditor and articles in the Raleigh News & Observer alleged the misuse of employees and a state car, abuses by subordinates, and improper hiring practices. Why did it happen? In a chapter titled “Hubris,” he confesses, “It was nobody’s fault but my own.” Edmisten writes that it was the excessive pride that arose from his long years at the center of public attention that led to his troubles. He warns, “Once hubris gets a foothold it grows incrementally and accelerates until it is expanding exponentially, and in leaps and bounds takes over.” This lesson about the dangers of hubris is not the end of the story. In inspiring chapters, Edmisten chronicles how his wife and friends led him back into the practice of law and other areas of service. His wife told him, “We are not going to whine.” “At the age of fifty-five,” he writes, “I put aside all petty things and began a new life.”


obinson’s memoir, Long Winded: An Oboist’s Incredible Journey to the New York Philharmonic, asks: How did a small-town boy who never attended conservatory persuade one of the world’s greatest conductors, Zubin Mehta, to give him a chance at one of the world’s most coveted positions in the New York Philharmonic, one of the | 69

|omnivorous reader world’s greatest orchestras? Growing up in a small North Carolina town like Lenoir might not seem to be the best background for an aspiring classical musician. But the mountain furniture community had the best high-school band in the state. When Robinson was drafted to fill an empty oboe slot, his course was set. He loved the oboe so much that his Davidson College classmates called him “Oboe Joe.” However, Davidson’s musical program lacked the professional music training that Robinson craved. Nevertheless, he stayed at Davidson, majoring in English, economics and liberal arts. His focus on writing and expression gave him tools to win a music position at the highest level. His success at Davidson led to a Fulbright grant to study in Europe and the opportunity to meet Marcel Tabuteau, who, Robinson says, was the greatest player and oboe pedagogue of the 20th century. When Tabuteau learned that Robinson was an English major who could help write his book on oboe theory, he agreed to give him oboe instruction. Years later, however, after moving through a series of journeyman teaching and performing positions, Robinson still had not achieved his aspiration to land a first oboe chair in a major orchestra, but he did not give up. When Harold Gomberg, the acclaimed lead oboe of the New York Philharmonic, retired, Robinson audaciously applied. When finally granted an audition, he prepared endlessly.

He was ready for the hour and 20 minutes of paces the audition committee demanded. Afterward, he was confident that he had done very well. But the Philharmonic’s personnel manager, James Chambers, after saying how well the audition went, reported that music director Zubin Mehta judged Robinson’s tone “too strong” for the Philharmonic. Robinson was not to be one of the two players who were finalists. That should have been the end of it, but Robinson writes, “I knew that winning a once-in-a lifetime position like principal oboe of the New York Philharmonic was like winning the lottery.” At 3 a.m. the next morning, using all his liberal arts writing and persuasive talents, he wrote to Chambers. “You will not make a mistake by choosing Eric or Joe, but you might by excluding me if tone is really the issue.” When Chambers read the letter to Mehta, they agreed that it could not have been “more persuasive or fortuitous.” Robinson’s final audition was successful. His “winning lottery ticket,” he writes, “had Davidson College written all over it.” From 1978 until his retirement in 2005, he served as principle oboe for the New York Philharmonic. Living in Chapel Hill, he can still bring an audience to tears when he plays the beloved solo “Gabriel’s Oboe.” SP D.G. Martin hosts North Carolina Bookwatch on UNC-TV.

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4659 Harper Court







rin and Josh Phillips had been searching for a new house for several months when their best friends — who happen to be homebuilders — approached them about investing in a speculative home on the golf course at Myers Park Country Club. The Phillips jumped at the opportunity — but they wanted the house for themselves. “Josh had always dreamed of living on a golf course, so when Harris and Kim [Lineberger] found this amazing lot with a tear-down home, he and I knew it had to be ours,” Erin Phillips says. The Phillips engaged Wilmington-based architect Susan Vaughan and interior designer Lauren Blair — Josh’s sister— to begin the process of making their dream home a reality. “Josh and Erin had the vision for the design of the home and knew exactly what they wanted before breaking ground,” says Blair, who lives in the siblings’ hometown of Little Rock, Ark. “It was fun to see it come to fruition. It is perfect for their family.” The Phillips envisioned a home with a flowing, open floor plan with a central staircase. The space needed to be comfortable for their three young children but also sophisticated enough to display their extensive collection of art and family heirlooms. The result is a stunning yet understated postmodern home with a California-chic vibe. The bleached white oak floors and white walls throughout the main floor create a light, airy feel. Soaring ceilings and 78



8-foot aluminum-clad sliding doors in the family room allow for plenty of natural light and easy access to the outdoor living area. The black sisal and grasscloth wallpaper by Arte International provides a neutral backdrop for the Phillips’ art collection, which includes paintings by Southern contemporary artists Sally King Benedict and William McClure. African art and artifacts are displayed throughout the home, including a warrior’s shield hanging on the family-room wall, pottery on the built-in shelves and mud-cloth panels punctuating the sliding doors. These authentic pieces hold sentimental value to the homeowners. “Josh’s grandparents traveled to Africa and Europe on buying trips for their family’s department store in Arkansas,” Phillips explains. “So his mom has this treasure trove of art and artifacts ... that we wanted to incorporate in the design of our home.” The central suspended staircase connects all three floors and contributes to the open flow of the house. The custom wrought-iron railings by Watson Steel & Iron Work and the black-and-white geometric carpet by Stark reinforces the minimalist theme. The bright kitchen features White Zen quartz countertops and a windowed wall above the sink, offering a commanding view of the golf course. The Wolf range is accented by a backsplash of




book-end matched Calacatta Gold Premium marble. The room is anchored by a generous island with acrylic barstools flanking one side and a sprawling, angular light fixture by AERIN hanging above. “That’s where we eat, that’s where we pray, and that’s where we play,” Phillips explains. “That is our main living space and the center of the home.” In the dining room, the metallic accents and abstract design of the Kelly Wearstler wallpaper lend an edgy-yet-sophisticated vibe, as does the sculptural brass light fixture, also by Wearstler. The whitewashed round dining table and chairs by Hickory Chair provide a comfortable setting for sharing a meal. Working with builders who are also your best friends has some perks. From the floor color to the door hinges to the ceiling finish, the Linebergers oversaw every detail to ensure the design was cohesive. “Harris and I build every house like it is our own,” Kim Lineberger says. “But since we knew we would be over here a lot, we were very persistent in making sure everything was in keeping with the clean, cool vibe that Josh and Erin wanted.” The seamless, serene design is as comfortable as it is chic, which was the ultimate goal for the Phillips. “We want our house to be a home,” Erin Phillips explains. “A welcoming place for us and our guests.” SP






raci Zeller didn’t enter the interior-design business in a traditional way. After earning a law degree from the University of Virginia, Zeller practiced law for about four years before becoming a business consultant for Fortune 500 companies. Then, she and her husband built their own home. “I loved the process,” Zeller says, and she began offering her natural knack for design to help friends and family. When her twin boys were born, she left her full-time job and started designing in earnest. That was in 2004. By 2010, she was all-in with her boutique-design business, and this year, Traci Zeller Interiors is celebrating its 10th anniversary. “I love helping people live well in their homes,” Zeller says. “Our home is a sanctuary and refuge — you should feel good and happy when you’re there.” One of her latest projects is a Grandfather Homes design in Cheval, a Mint Hill community with a country estate-meets-equestrian feel. Residential designer Robert T. Foster prepared the architectural design, and interior designer Tammy Coulter selected the tile, cabinets and countertops, among other accents.







While Zeller didn’t help the family select paint colors or light fixtures, “I got to layer the decorating on top of this beautiful shell,” she says, adding that the family was seeking a warm and comfortable vibe. “From a practical perspective, we wanted to use long-lasting fabrics and rugs that are both durable and easy to maintain,” says the homeowner, who wishes to remain anonymous. “With pets and kids, we needed to ensure that our furnishings would be suitable for a busy household — no stress over the occasional spilled drink or muddy paw print.” Zeller’s next step was to create floor plans that emphasized the couple’s wishes. She and her team met with the homeowners to go over every part of the furniture layout, down to the placement of each lamp and piece of fabric. Touching and feeling samples gives her clients confidence, she says. “I want to see what makes them light up. … It’s a really important check-in point before we deliver their design.” For this Cheval home, a bold floral drapery fabric in the living space proved a key component for the look. The banquette in the breakfast nook borrows the coloring from that fabric to extend the feel into the open kitchen space. | 87




Creativity struck when Zeller learned that the couple loves theater. Working with existing accents like an autographed Jersey Boys poster, she had the idea to frame sound waves from three of their favorite Broadway tunes to hang on the wall of the home theater. “It was a nod to who they are and what they love without being overly literal,” Zeller says. In the guest suite, a powerful statement painting of a horse was another personal touch, hinting at the clients’ roots in the Keeneland racetrack area of Kentucky. “My husband really wanted the guest suite to have a Kentucky theme,” the homeowner says. “At first the word ‘theme’ worried me, but Traci was an expert at interpreting what my husband really wanted. ... We worked with Traci to select artwork and accessories that complement Kentucky’s equine history and my husband’s love of all-things derby,” including a bar cart stocked with carefully selected bourbons. “This is a great example of a home that can be beautiful and live really well,” Zeller says. “The home really functions for them as a couple, and works for larger gatherings with extended family,” she says. | 89




“Oftentimes we scroll through magazines and social media for inspiration and try to recreate things we see,” the homeowner says. “That’s a fine place to start. However, this process taught us that the home we truly wanted wasn’t about replicating an exact look or style. It was about creating a space that makes us feel happy and that complements the things in life we want to celebrate — from everyday dinners with family, holiday gatherings, to quiet evenings with two spoiled-rotten dogs that sit on any sofa, pillow or chair they please.” SP | 91

SPACES The Study

Vintage modern


“Our clients are always our inspiration behind my designs. We wanted the space to feel both masculine and feminine, so that both husband and wife would enjoy and live in the room.” — Charlotte Lucas





esigner Charlotte Lucas is known for her bold use of color and pattern, and both are on brilliant display in this warm-hued study. Lucas turned a space previously used for storage into a vinyl-listening room, where the homeowner can entertain and enjoy his favorite passion — music. The Los Angeles-based clients, who have family in the Queen City, wanted their Charlotte house to feel like home. To achieve this, Lucas added touches such as framed prints of the client’s photography and an oversized vintage Murano chandelier. Though the space was primarily designed with the husband in mind, the floral fringed sofa adds a sophisticated, feminine touch, creating a cozy, versatile space. | 93





SPACES The Family Room

Soft and sophisticated


shley Shaw describes her aesthetic as “collected and colorful.” This family room was designed for a young family who recently settled in Charlotte after having lived all over the world. “They have an active lifestyle and wanted a home that could withstand two young children and a dog — while also feeling sophisticated enough to entertain their many friends,” Shaw says. The home was purchased from a local builder, giving the designer a blank slate to create this functional space with a soothing color palette.

“I like mixing patterns and styles within a room. I feel it’s important for a room to have tension that is created by opposites, such as something gilded with something natural.” — Ashley Shaw | 95

SPACES The Kitchen

Pattern play


“Since the kitchen would now be open to the dining room and family room, the colors had to flow with the palettes I used in both spaces. With the backsplash being so bold, we kept the other elements streamlined — but definitely not boring.” — Ashley DeLapp 96




shley DeLapp’s bold, “more-is-more” approach to interior design is embodied in this kitchen created for a Raleigh client. The Charlotte-based architect-turned-designer had previously worked with the family of four on the dining and family rooms. “The existing kitchen was completely closed off, and with stained wood cabinets, it was dark,” DeLapp says. “No one in the family enjoyed spending time in there.” DeLapp centered the design around a geometric Ann Sacks marble-tile backsplash (a Kelly Wearstler design) and the striking sculptural light fixture over the marble island. A small addition allowed for a new laundry room and lounge space with swivel chairs for casual entertaining, which has quickly become the family’s favorite spot for morning coffee. | 97




Lovely by the lake

SPACES Child’s Bedroom Suite



his bedroom suite for a spunky 6-year-old “mini-client” named Sloane was created with her favorite things in mind: crafts, dance and fashion. House of Nomad’s Kelley Lentini and Berkeley Minkhorst centered the design around the multicolored wallpaper, which incorporated Sloane’s favorite colors of pink and teal. “The challenge was that we wanted to make sure it was a space Sloane could grow into. With this in mind, we didn’t give her rooms a specific ‘theme,’ and kept the color palette neutral. We added pops of color with a trendy piece or two, but in something she could easily swap out as the years go by.” The renovation included the bedroom, a craft room that can later be converted to a lounge or study area, and the bathroom, which was the designers’ favorite part of the project. “This was our first bathroom design for someone younger ... Our design started with Rebecca Atwood’s palm wallpaper, and from there we selected playful scallop tiles for the shower.” The client’s favorite part of the room? The hanging chair that provides a cozy nook for reading and enjoying the splendid views of Lake Norman.

“Kids’ projects allow our designs to be playful and a little more daring with color and pattern. … Our goal was to create a beautiful, layered room that could grow up a bit with Sloane as the years go by.” — House of Nomad | 99

SPACES The Nursery

Cozy charm


“I love for the design to be the perfect cross-section of a family’s home and their energy, spirit and need — their collective attitude/vibe. That’s why no two projects will ever be the same.” — Jennifer Felts





ennifer Felts of Habitude Interiors describes her style as modern but approachable, “using design to make the room feel special and complete, but never overdone.” The homeowners, working professionals who were expecting their second child, tapped Felts for a three-room project that needed to be completed before their baby boy arrived. Implementing a nursery design along with a kitchen and bath renovation all within five months was a bit challenging, Felts says. The mother’s sense of personal style and Felts’ relationship with the family, having previously worked together on a guest bedroom design, eased the process. “The best results happen when you truly get to know your clients and they trust you and the process,” Felts says. The designer’s favorite part of the room: the warm woodland-themed wallpaper mural, which is complemented by the painted green wood trim. “It’s dramatic, but still fun and a bit quirky.” | 101




Peak growing season



oogle “extreme gardening” and you’ll get some tantalizing results — how to create an organic garden in the Southwestern desert, for example, or how to grow perennials in the Alaskan wild. But if your search algorithm doesn’t yield the garden Monica Perry has created in Blowing Rock, it really should. Perry’s magnum opus clings to a five-story section of a precipitous sandstone face of the Johns River Gorge, the site of an old-growth forest and the Johns River headwaters, lying some 3,000 feet below the town. I’m sitting in the living room at “TimberTop,” Monica and Chip Perry’s home. To my right are large windows overlooking a deck. Window boxes mounted along the railing dazzle with red petunias, gold and magenta cockscombs, sweet-potato vine, and more. At least a dozen hummingbirds dive and flash between feeders placed among the flowers. Beyond lies the grand, blue expanse of mountains and sky. Monica Perry comes in, her eyes the color of the pale blue view out the windows. “I didn’t even have time to get the dirt from my fingernails,” she says, holding out the strong hands of a gardener for me to inspect.

“Oh, I’m a North Carolina mountain girl through and through,” Perry says. Her mother’s people — Scots-Irish, with a great-grandmother who was Tuscarora — were from Little Switzerland, about 45 miles southwest of here. As a young girl, Perry spent time in Mitchell County. But most of her growing up was done in Catawba County. She studied speech language pathology at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, and for 21 years, she worked as a speech therapist. The house was built in 1946 by J.E. “Ed” Broyhill, the founder of Broyhill Furniture Industries, and his wife, Satie. The first major garden project on the property was initiated while the Broyhills were owners. As the story’s told, Satie Broyhill was concerned that she might not be invited to join the Blowing Rock Garden Club because, well — she didn’t have a garden. TimberTop was connected to the road by a wooden platform used to park cars. The Broyhills had the wooden platform removed. Steel beams were installed, over which a concrete pad some 2 feet thick was poured. A hole was left in the concrete to accommodate an old hardwood growing between the house and road. Topsoil was hauled in, and voilà! Satie had her garden. | 103

Intervening owners had left the tree growing through its concrete collar when the Perrys bought the house in 2007. Sadly, an arborist called in to examine the old tree’s root system determined it was too far gone and needed to be removed. Monica found an enormous copper kettle once used to cook apples and had it placed over the hole in the concrete to serve as a planter. We walk by it as we start our garden tour. The kettle is loaded with bright flowers and resonates with the hum of a multitude of happy pollinators flitting about. Along the front of the house, there are big earthen planters with an abundance of flowers. There’s a space of green grass where Monica tells me her Boston terriers like to play. “It’s gated and fenced, so it’s safe,” she says. She points out the stone pillars of a fence along the road, joined by beautifully styled metal sections. “When they were rebuilding the road, they wanted to install those galvanized guardrails you see on the highway,” Perry says. She was able to convince the town to let her install (at her own expense) the attractive fence standing there now. As we walk onto the road, Perry points out how she also landscaped the mountainside rising nearly vertically opposite the house. “See the ground cover?” she asks, then tells me she had more than 12,000 pachysandra set along the roadside and up the bank. I ask her to repeat the number, because I can’t believe I heard it correctly. In the dappled sunlight by the road are wild geraniums, heartleaf brunnera and native ferns. Perry points out the mossy face of an escarpment above the road. She tells me she had the stone sprayed with three different moss “milkshakes” until the moss finally took. Farther up the rock face we can see wild ginger and Solomon’s seal, shaded by mountain laurel and native buckeye trees.


ow we’re at the place in the road where the story of Monica Perry’s extreme garden begins. On July 4, 2013, the town of Blowing Rock saw fierce thunderstorms and flash floods, including the section of the two-lane road next to TimberTop. The road collapsed, sending earth and boulders tumbling into the gorge below. What remained was a gash in the mountainside, tangled with tree roots and debris. Monica Perry resolved not only to restore it, but to improve it. She hired stonemason David Mason of nearby Todd to begin rehabilitating the mountain. In just over a year’s time, Mason and his crews brought in some 270 tons of concrete and stone to the site. Yes, I asked Perry to repeat that number, too. We peer over the edge of the precipice. I’m only able to discern concrete where Perry points it out to me, so cleverly is it formed to simulate original stone. Boulders — some of them cantilevered into the mountain and strengthened with rebar — are placed strategically to support planting areas. Perry tells me about the hidden metal cleats used to secure belaying lines when her gardeners tend some of the more precipitous spaces. I’m flummoxed by the magnitude of what she’s describing.




“Monica,” I venture, summoning the courage to ask, “was there ever a morning when Chip looked at you over breakfast and asked if you’d completely lost your mind?” “No,” she answers matter-of-factly, “because he has his cars.” A Harvard MBA, Chip Perry was the first employee of and went on to become CEO of the company, which was later sold. He recently retired from another auto-related online company, which he also headed. Chip maintains a private collection of automobiles in Blowing Rock. We turn from the gorge and walk the length of the house to its other side, where a natural wood lattice overhangs the entrance to a stone path. As we step through, I can see into the forest way below the house. A stream descends the steep incline, crisscrossing in stages, as does the path before us. Monica points out the lime-green color of the trim on the house. “There was quite a discussion about that,” she says, smiling. “It’s my favorite color, and if you have a shady garden spot you want to brighten up, there’s nothing better for it,” she continues. To settle her point, she directs my attention to a shaded terrace above the path. It’s brightened by lime green creeping Jenny. I nod in agreement. She tells me when she started planning a path here, there was nothing except a few trees. “See the maple there?” she asks. She tells me she would crawl — because of the steep incline — to the tree and hang onto it,

mapping in her mind’s eye a path down. Now we descend its stone steps to a pleasant stop she calls the Shade Terrace. The terrace features a handsome stone bench overhung by native witch hazel. Perry shows me the metal support she had added to help the plant withstand winter winds and snows. We pause for a moment. She explains that the whole garden — now comprising five stories — was designed in this way. “I didn’t have a master scheme,” Perry says. “We’d just build a path to somewhere, and then we’d build another.” We make our way down the path toward the pond, listening to the play of water in the stream. As we near the pond, the surface roils with activity. Perry’s koi are hungry, and they’re making sure she understands. They’re beautiful fish. Some are bright orange with inkblue patches, some are orange and white, others are bright gold. There are 20 of them, Perry tells me, each named with monikers like Marilyn, Diamond Jim, Sunshine, Molly Brown, Peepers and Lady Chablis — a platinum-colored fish with pale blue eyes, Perry’s favorite. There are heating rods at the pond’s bottom to ensure it won’t freeze solid in winter. As we approach a spot just below an area designated the Sunset Terrace, the gorge falls sharply from the pathway, and there is no railing to hold onto. I’m fairly good with heights, but if it’s not vertigo I’m feeling right now, it’s vertigo’s first cousin. I step back from the edge, focusing on the near-at-hand. I count six tiger swallowtail butterflies perched high on a blossom of Joe-Pye weed overhanging the path. Intoxicated with | 105

nectar, the butterflies are oblivious to us. A chorus of other pollinators drone in blossoms on other stalks of the Joe-Pye, and a black swallowtail flicks its wings on a blossom at the very top of the plant. On various paths, there are cockscombs in a variety of colors, creeping Jenny, black-eyed Susans, and other bright flowers scattered in planting areas by bare rock faces, along with azaleas, “Brass Buckle” Japanese holly, “Lion’s Mane” maples, and buckeye trees. We cross Perry Pass, a cliff of native rock jutting from the face of the gorge — where I’m especially grateful for the newly installed metal-and-rope hand railings — to see the Secret Garden, a secluded little terrace with stone benches and a fire pit overhung by native rock.


e head back toward the house by way of the Path to Nowhere, which is where Perry’s “gazebo” was built. It was quite a project. Pilings were jackhammered in, building materials lowered by crane and concrete carried down the gorge by hand. It is one of the most beautiful rooms I’ve ever seen, featuring on one side a breathtaking view of the gorge; on the other, a view of the massive, mossy rock face on which the house is built, with native rhododendrons shading a pair of enormous Jack-in-the-pulpits. As we near the back deck of the house, we see Anne Calta, Perry’s gardener, and Ryan Visingard, her assistant. “This wouldn’t be possible without them,” Perry says. “They manage the garden day-to-day and when Chip and I are traveling.” As I prepare to leave, Perry tells me she’d like to show me a special place. Near the midpoint of the second-level deck of 106



TimberTop are two big chaise lounges. “We’d make up one of the chaise lounges for my mother when she visited,” Perry says. “She always slept out here. We lost her two years ago.” She tells me how proud her mother was of what she and Chip had accomplished at the house and garden, and how whenever she was coming to visit, she would ask on the phone, “Do you have my bed made yet?” I step to the railing. The view where the chaise lounges sit is dizzying: The rock face plummets away from us. The gorge turns sharply toward the house, ending right below where we stand. I spot what I believe to be a red-tailed hawk veering over the dark green canopy of trees in the gorge. It’s hundreds of feet below, hunting just as its ancestors had when this was the land of the Cherokee. Closer by, I admire the contrast of Perry’s bright flowers with the warm-colored stone walkways of her garden. Classical Roman religion described an element of landscape called genius loci, a protective “spirit of a place.” As I gaze over the mountains from this vantage, I feel certain such a spirit stands guard here. Weeks later, I find my thoughts returning to Perry’s garden. Is she taking a respite from spreading mulch to watch cloud shadows drift over the treetops of the Johns River Gorge? Or feeding her beautiful, gluttonous koi in the pond? Is she weeding flowers on a precipice, a belaying rope tied snugly about her waist? Monica Perry is the person who introduced me to the concept of “extreme gardening.” And I’m grateful. SP




Man of the Earth




or someone who has spent much of his life hunched over the earth, his fingers threading through soil, rocks and roots, Triangle plantsman and nursery proprietor Tony Avent spends an awful lot of time talking about invisible energy and the unseen hand of the universe. Listen closely and you will hear him say things like: The universe has plans for you, and you can’t fight them; The plants tell me where they want to go; and The energy of the world speaks to us all. This kind of talk may sound hokey until you visit Avent’s Juniper Level Garden in Raleigh, a place so magical and mysterious that it is not hard to believe that a divine force once struck this ground and caused all manner of flora and fauna to spring forth. But, in reality, that is not what happened. The truth is less supernatural and much more natural. Avent’s 28acre garden was once a sprawling tobacco field, and when he set out to tame this land 30 years ago he did so with nothing but a shovel and a suspicion that something otherworldly could happen here. He was right. Juniper Level Garden and the on-site Plant Delights Nursery, where the garden’s specimens are grown and propagated, have become the nation’s standard bearer for garden horticulture. Avent has forged a career as a well-known and charismatic spokesperson for a movement dedicated to grow-

ing and developing gardens instead of simply planting them. His formal career began after graduating from N.C. State University with a degree in horticultural science before working his way toward the position of landscape director at the North Carolina Fairgrounds. Soon, he found himself on plant expeditions across the United States and in countries like South Africa, Mexico, China, Croatia and Thailand. Along the way, he has given nearly 1,000 lectures, published dozens of articles, been featured in national media, and appeared alongside Martha Stewart on television channels like HGTV and NBC. With all that travel and so much glitz and glamour, what has kept Avent’s hands dirtied by his native soil in Raleigh? Perhaps it is the fact that the region’s climate and geography are so amenable to his work. “This garden can grow the best diversity of plants anywhere in the country outside the Pacific Northwest,” Avent says. He is standing on a pathway in the middle of the garden on an early afternoon in February. Spring may be a few weeks away, but the garden feels surprisingly dramatic and alive. “We designed the garden so that something is always blooming, always green, always living,” he says. “The garden is always in transition. It’s always changing.” | 109

The “we” he mentions refers to himself and Michelle, his first wife and high-school sweetheart, who passed away in 2012 after a long battle with cancer. The two of them had known one another since they were children, and their families had been in the area for centuries. As a matter of fact, one of Avent’s ancestors began operating the ferry that crossed the Cape Fear River in 1775, thus the name of Raleigh’s Avent Ferry Road. Avent and his late wife purchased the house that is now used for the garden’s offices in 1988, along with 2 acres of surrounding land. They had hoped for peace and tranquility, but that was not quite what they found. “When we first moved here, nobody in this part of the county knew what a muffler was,” Avent says. To counteract the noise from the road in front of their home, Avent spent his evenings after dinner digging out a place for a huge grotto with a waterfall, an area of the garden so elegant and alive with plant life that it appears to have been here forever. The sound of falling water does not just shut out the noise of traffic; it shuts out the noise of the world. Perhaps that makes it easier for Avent to listen to what the universe is telling him. Michelle’s death had him reeling, but, according to Avent, “sometimes the universe has other plans.” His late wife had urged him to remarry after her passing, so nearly two years after her death, Avent found his way to online dating, where he eventually met a local woman. She turned out to be much more local than he could have ever imagined. He and his current wife, Anita, have known one another since they were in Sunday school as children. Her grandfather worked a farm only a few miles away from Avent’s garden enterprise. Even their parents had known each other for decades. It is also the tutelage, tragic death, and legacy of Avent’s mentor J.C. Raulston that keep him tied to this place. Raulston was an acclaimed horticulturist and the first director of the North Carolina Arboreteum. Avent was one of Raulston’s students at N.C. State, and he studied Raulston and his work closely. “Working with him was the first time I had somebody who thought like I did,” he says. Avent designed Juniper Level Gardens as an homage to Raulston’s arboretum, and the two gardens seem to be in conversation with one another. Although Raulston died in an automobile accident in 1996, 110



to Avent, he never seems out of reach. “I can feel his energy in his garden at the arboretum,” Avent says. “And I can feel it here. It made sense for me to stay here.” The roots of this world traveler and plant adventurer run too deep to be moved, or transplanted. None of this really seems to surprise Avent. He possessed a passion for plants from a very early age, and his life’s first major disappointment set him on a course that would find him nurturing a single plot of land into something steady and permanent. Avent was fascinated with plants and greenhouses as a young child, and in his early teens, he begged his father to take him to visit what he believed was the premier garden in the world: Wayside Gardens in Greenwood, S.C. He was certain of the garden’s beauty because he had been receiving their mail-order catalog and would spend hours studying it. But when he and his father arrived after their journey south, Avent found nothing but a brick warehouse to which plants were shipped and from where they would be shipped again once they were sold. “I was so devastated,” he says, “and I remember thinking, When I grow up I will build a place that no one is ever disappointed in when they come visit.” With the recent announcement that Avent and his wife have gifted Juniper Level Gardens to N.C. State, Avent has assured that not only will people never be disappointed in his garden, they will be able to visit it in perpetuity, a plan that perhaps the universe saw coming. That is important to Avent because he wants the energy of this place to be felt by others. “I get energy from everything out here,” he says. “I never wear gloves, and now it has been discovered that the electrical energy in the soil is touching you, you’re feeling it. This energy can’t be created, and it can’t be destroyed. It’s always going to be here.” No matter where he goes, the universe has decided that Tony Avent will always be here too. SP Gastonia native Wiley Cash lives in Wilmington with his wife and their two daughters. His latest novel, The Last Ballad, is available wherever books are sold.

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harlotteans looking for a luxe wine-country mini-escape can postpone their California or southern France journeys for another time — Chateau Elan in Braselton, Ga., is calling, and the Europe-inspired winery and resort is less than a four-hour drive from the Queen City. Here, guests are greeted with intriguing specialty varietals, a surprising blend of fine and upscale-casual dining, a pampering spa, and plenty of quiet corners to curl up with a book inside the newly refreshed accommodations. There are plenty of sporting diversions, too, including 45 holes of championship golf, tennis and hiking, plus cooking classes and Segway tours within the heavily forested 3,500-acre property. And if the big-city allure of shopping, museums or theater are part of the escape plan, the Big Peach of Atlanta is 40 miles down the road, making Chateau Elan a stay-and-play destination with plenty of appeal. Former owners Donald and Nancy Panoz are to thank for




the vision and enthusiasm to create this equestrian-country retreat, inspired by their visits to French wine regions and extended stays in Irish villages and hill country. In the late ’60s, the American couple lived in Ireland, where Don formed Elan Corp., a biotech company. Frequent visits back to the U.S. often found the couple in Gainesville, Ga., not far from Braselton, where the company had a research facility. During one visit, the couple enjoyed locally made muscadine wine. When they asked why the wine wasn’t being produced commercially, they were informed it couldn’t be done. That proved all the challenge they needed, and by 1985, they established the first winery in the region since Prohibition. The resort expanded over the years, the most prominent addition being the main chateau, inspired by a 16th-century French Loire Valley great home, with a full-service tasting room and 35 acres under vine. Under new ownership since 2018, the resort underwent a $25 million renovation that was completed in December.


GREAT GRAPES Cabernet, merlot, Norton, Seyval, Edelweiss, syrah, chambourcin, sangiovese, and muscadine are grown on property, supplemented by additional varietals grown under special relationships with California growers. Chateau Elan-produced wines have received more than 350 awards from national and international wine competitions. “Mother Nature dictates what we can best produce,” says Simone Bergese, Chateau Elan’s executive winemaker. “What thrives here is muscadine — the Southeast is the perfect place for this variety. Muscadine was born here, stayed here, never moved and represents a tradition in not only winemaking, but grape growing in the South. Collectively in the South, we produce almost 20 million bottles of muscadine wine.” Bergese hails from Alba, Italy, and brings classic European techniques to his craft. He’s on a singular mission to surprise and delight visitors to the winery, especially with regards to muscadine. “My hope is to introduce people to the unexpected and [allow them to] experience the true treasure of our wines,” he says. The expansive tasting bar in the chateau offers guests just that opportunity. Trained sommeliers assist both novices and oenophiles, with a genuine interest in sharing their extensive knowledge. And while there are as many as eight muscadines to try, there are many other varietals to explore, from whites such as the crisp Pinot Grigio Reserve to the highly rated Tempranillo, a complex red aged two years in new French oak. There’s even an oddly delicious sparkler, Brut d’Ananas, made with queen Tahiti pineapples. A family connection brought

Bergese to Tahiti, where he was struck with the idea of crafting the fun and playful bubbly.

COZY ELEGANCE Accommodations at the resort blend Southern influence and French styling. Men are equally comfortable in khakis and a polo shirt or a blazer and dress pants. Just steps from the winery, the inn shines after the renovation that included an overhaul of 275 rooms and suites. A warming fireplace greets guests at check-in, and the rooms are handsomely appointed. Small touches such as leather desk blotters, backlit bathroom | 113

mirrors and crisp, high-thread-count linens add up to big comfort. There’s an equestrian influence in the artwork, with earth tones and soft gray accents throughout the common spaces.

DINING & LIBATIONS Kicking back can make one awfully hungry, especially after playing a round of golf or hiking on some of Chateau Elan’s serene nature trails. Marc, the resort’s signature bar and restaurant, occupies space opposite the wine bar in the chalet. A Southern-inspired chophouse with an inventive cocktail menu (of course, all of Chateau Elan’s wines also are available) offers a broad menu of hand-cut steaks, pasta dishes such as a house-made pappardelle and braised short rib sugo, and lighter fare like a watermelon and roasted peach salad. Versailles serves breakfast, lunch and dinner under a soaring glass-topped atrium at the inn. The space is anchored at one end by a massive, multilayered wooden art installation representing the topography of the Georgia piedmont. Indigenous hardwoods were used in fashioning the side-byside mounted ridges, each hand-sanded and stained, with the overall effect giving off a warm glow and creating a sense of intimacy in this otherwise expansive space. Dining here is unhurried, with both an extensive buffet and an a la carte menu available. Guests shouldn’t overlook the spa dining at Chateau Elan. Fleur-de-Lis, a sunny bistro overlooking the pond outside the spa, offers healthy indulgences at breakfast and lunch. The




pumpkin brioche French toast is a hands-down winner and a treat after one of the daily morning classes such as yoga flow, water exercise, barre and balance, or strength training. Louis’ House of Bourbon offers pub fare alongside a vast selection of Kentucky’s finest spirits. For the Irish-leaning guests, Paddy’s delivers a truly authentic Emerald Isle experience. The pub was built in Ireland according to the specifications of Panoz and fully equipped down to the taps behind the bar and the Guinness signage throughout. In 1997, it was disassembled and shipped across the pond to Chateau Elan, where it stands today. Guests enjoy a pint (or two) and authentic fish & chips made crisp with a secret beer-batter recipe. With so many diversions at this European-style resort, you might want to schedule an extra day — a weekend visit may not be enough. SP

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Charlotte Mecklenburg Library presents Engage 2020: Look Back, Move Forward Join us for programs and events celebrating the centennial of the 19th amendment centered around civic engagement, voting rights, and community discourse leading up to the Republican National Convention in Charlotte through Election Day. Engage 2020 runs from April through October 2020.

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A monthly guide to Charlotte’s parties and galas

Good Fellows Club Luncheon Dec. 11, Crown Ballroom at NASCAR Hall Of Fame

Art Gallagher and Pedro Perez

George Rohe, Mike McNamara and Mark Erwin

John Fox is awarded the annual Christmas jacket by Derick Close

Kerr Putney and Mac Everett

The granddaddy of all area fundraisers is still going strong after more than 100 years: The annual Good Fellows luncheon raised more than $1 million to provide emergency assistance for families in need. Stick Williams succeeded Mac Everett as president of the organization, and former Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera received a standing ovation from nearly 1,900 patrons.Â

Mike Rucker and Stick Williams

Austin Duke and Ron Rivera

Good Friends Luncheon Dec. 12, Crown Ballroom at NASCAR Hall Of Fame

Amy Blumenthal and Linda Lockman-Brooks

Sonja Nichols

Dorothy Counts-Scoggins and Karen Geiger

Charlotte Lucas, Nancy Lowry and Allison Welch

Sabrina Brathwaite and Christine Beke

Toni Freeman | 119


Good Friends celebrated its largest annual luncheon to date: More than 1,800 women raised over $500,000. Tana Greene delivered the keynote address at the event chaired by Sabrina Brathwaite. Led by President Sonja Nichols, the nonprofit assists local individuals and families in need of financial support.

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A monthly guide to Charlotte’s parties and galas

Gray Holiday Party benefiting the Harvey B. Gantt Center at Levine Center for the Arts Dec. 14, Gantt Center More than 1,000 guests attended the 11th annual Gray holiday party, with proceeds benefiting the Gantt Center’s permanent art collection. Honorary hosts were Charlotte Mayor Vi Lyles, shown left with Herb and Felicia Gray; WBTV anchor Christine Sperow; To Have and To Hold reality TV stars Yandrick and Alane Paraison; and Power 98 radio host No Limit Larry.

Eddie and Natasha Towner

Paula and Antwaun Cook

Erica Henderson, GeNaé Baldwin, Christine Sperow

Jennifer Roberts and Larry Mims

David Howard and Alma Adams

Laresa Thompson

Jacinda and Derrick Jacobs

Clinton and Ursula Douglas

April and David Simpkins | 121

HOPE comes to SouthPark. Announcing the opening of HopeWay Psychiatry & Associates A psychiatric outpatient clinic for children, adolescents and adults To schedule an appointment call 980-859-0990 and to learn more visit

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A monthly guide to Charlotte’s parties and galas

7th Annual Wells Fargo Kickoff Dinner Charlotte Wine & Food Jan. 30, executive dining room at One Wells Fargo The 7th annual Wells Fargo Kickoff Dinner featuring the Far Niente Family of Wineries & Vineyards raised a record of more than $155,000 to benefit four local children’s charities. The event serves as a prelude to the four-day Charlotte Wine & Food Week presented by Truist, which has been rescheduled for later in 2020.

Chef Michael Bader

Kathy Cope, Lisa and Perrin Dargan

Carter and George MacBain

Phil Smith, Leslie Schlernitzauer, Ali Summerville, Palmer Steel, Lauren Deese and Bruce Mooers

Jill and Chris Trainor

Jimmy Whang and Susanna Laguna-Whang


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Sara Blakeney and John Reid | 123

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A monthly guide to Charlotte’s parties and galas

Scott Avett at SOCO Gallery In the Light of Unlearning opening reception Jan. 21 and 22 Fresh off his solo show at the North Carolina Museum of Art, Scott Avett returned to Charlotte for an exhibition at SOCO Gallery. Avett gave a private tour for collectors on Jan. 21, with fans filling the gallery on Jan. 22 for the public unveiling.

Linda Dougherty, Chandra Johnson, Scott Avett and Marjorie Hodges

Tennille Pope, Robin Riggs, Jolie Russ and Kate Brown

Marjorie Hodges and Liza Roberts

Kristin and John Replogle

Shelley and Shawn Wilfong

Jessica Kastner and Jennifer Jones


Laura Carotenuto and Amy Joy

Scott Avett | 125

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World AIDS Day Luncheon benefiting RAIN Dec. 5, Embassy Suites by Hilton Uptown Charlotte This year’s World AIDS Day luncheon raised money for RAIN, which supports people living with HIV. The organization honored Synchrony Financial and local radio hosts Matt Harris and Ramona Holloway for their efforts to raise awareness in the community. 

Debbie Warren, Matt Harris and Ramona Holloway

Kelly Lynn and Jamie Hayes

Michael B. O’Hara, Laura Konitzer, Joan Kilian and Ben Outen

Greg Godley, Angie Godley-Bright and Judy Godley

Laurenzo Surrell-Page and Rashawn Gray

Lane Rhodes and Becky Carney

Ambassador’s Ball benefiting Allegro Foundation Jan. 11, Quail Hollow Club

Alexia Papadosifaki, Theodoros Bizakis, Pat Farmer, Jason Schugel and Molly Schugel

George Couchell

Pat Farmer, Robert Pittenger and Jason Schugel

Felix Sebates takes the stage to sing “La Bamba”

Rita and Phil Witt

The Consul General of Greece, Theodoros Bizakis, joined this year’s Ambassador’s Ball for a celebration of all things Greek. The evening included music, dining and a presentation by the children of Allegro. Christina Melissaris and Elizabeth Tanos-Priest were honored as Allegro’s volunteers of the year. Allegro provides movement instruction and programming for more than 800 children with disabilities.

William Wilson and Theodoros Bizakis | 127


Water works




rtist Carmella Jarvi went through a rebellious period when she was a sophomore in high school. She dropped out of West Charlotte and ran away from home to live in a tent behind Mint Museum Randolph. After 40 days, her grandmother left her a note reading, “You better call me.” After the wake-up call from her grandmother, Jarvi returned home, moved to a new school and took up art. She became particularly interested in large-scale, figurative watercolors. She graduated from UNC Charlotte in 1992 with degrees in art and philosophy. She taught art for 13 years in Pamlico and Cabarrus counties before becoming a full-time artist in 2006. Jarvi, 51, held artist-in-residence positions at McColl Center for Art + Innovation in 2010 and at Atrium Health in 2019. Through ArtPop Street Gallery in 2014 and again in 2018, her work was displayed on billboards across greater Charlotte. This exposure propelled Jarvi into experimenting more with glass, typically wall-mounted pieces inspired by water. Her first piece of public art outside of ArtPop, The Urban Eddy, was completed in 2018 and can be seen at the CLT Powerhouse Studio (formerly the Charlotte Trolley Museum) in South End. Comments were edited for brevity and clarity. Who influenced your interest in art? Art saved my life; art was my anchor. Terry Baucom, [my] art teacher at South Meck, let me do my work and pushed me in a lot of different directions. I hated school, and if it wasn’t for him, I would have dropped out. He allowed me the freedom to explore painting, figure study and clay. How did you shift from painting to glass? Since 2011, I’d been learning glass — going back to ground zero. I had long had this dream of doing public art and doing glass. That was part of why I switched. Describe your process. I start out with sheets of glass. It’s all the same brand from Bullseye [Glass Co.] in Portland, Ore. That’s important be 128



cause you want glass to be compatible when you’re firing it. I use my kilns to fire and melt the glass. Then I will cut it, break it, refire it and then break it, cut it, refire it. So, you’re looking at five to 10 firings for each piece. How did ArtPop help you launch your career as a glass artist? I got my traction because of ArtPop. It gave me the street cred and the name recognition. ArtPop enabled me to get professional credentials. All of a sudden, I [went] from taking pictures of my tiny glass to having this billboard that’s 14 feet by 48 feet. It opened up doors — I get to meet people and talk about my glass. See Carmella Jarvi’s work online at SP

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April SouthPark 2020  

The Art & Soul of Charlotte

April SouthPark 2020  

The Art & Soul of Charlotte

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