We Love LEAF.

Guest contributor Ambra Lionstone had this to say about the Lake Eden Arts Festival, which took place last weekend in Black Mountain, NC:

October 2011 welcomed the 32nd Lake Eden Arts Festival in Black Mountain, NC.  Nestled in the valley, with a riot of red, orange and gold leaves abound, the crystal blue sky and crisp air offered LEAF go-ers a perfect display of autumn in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Every LEAF offers a wide spectrum of musical and workshop options and this year was no exception.  From the Orquesta GarDel’s salsa rhythms to Wanda Jackson, the Queen of Rockabilly, to the Jazz influenced hip-hop band, Art Official.    This year’s line-up was particularly touching. My personal favorite musical acts included the late night barn-shaking with The Primate Fiasco (playing Psychedelic Dixieland), Rising Appalachia (the beautiful folk-soul sisters), the world famous Turku- Nomads of the Silk Road (classical Romanian gypsy folk), The Legendary JCs (rocking it out with the Southern Swamp Soul) and of course the sweetest end to an amazing weekend with the angelic soul voices of Sweet Honey and The Rock.

Beyond the music there is the ever-loved kids village which this year featured story-telling, puppet shows, hands-on craft activities, a special dress up area and the big-rig flying trapeze. Urban Arts Institute’s dance team, Eternity (which organizes up to 200 local youth from ages 5-20 to perform a combination of hip-hop to partner dance to modern dance styles) took LEAF by flash mob in an exposition of sassy and skilled shake-down.  The famous LEAF Unifire Theater fire show heated up the night on the beachfront with an all-new show.  Poets of all ages crowded into Eden Hall for the cut-throat and tongue twisting poetry slam.  And, of course, no LEAF would be complete without the countless hours of organized mayhem of a spinning contra dance hall (coined this year as “one of the best contras in the country”)!

In the realm of visual arts and handicrafts, there were a few artists who really stood out to me this year.  Wendy Kowalski, a painter whose watercolors are surrealistic and circus-inspired hosted a painting workshop that emphasized the unique benefits of painting in the low-light of dusk.  Rob 7 represented a folk art explosion called Emerge-N-See Art where he creates on everything from canvas to spoons.

All in all, this 32nd Lake Eden Arts Festival was truly a pleasure to attend and experience!

–words and images courtesy Ambra Lionstone

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