First Friday 2017 draws crowd

The Atlantic Art House was rocking on the First Friday of 2017 as resident artist Sara Smith hosted an Epiphany art opening, complete with a delicious King Cake. The first visitor to find one of three hidden “Baby Jesus” figurines won a bottle of Mother Earth’s Silent Night, donated by SmART Kinston. Second and third place figurines went to Emily Sides and Ty Johnson, who according to tradition will help Sara to create tamales ahead of Candeleria, which we’ll celebrate on Feb. 3 during First Friday next month. As the marketing director for Chef & The Farmer and a chef herself, Sara takes pride in catering her own shows. Meatballs and pear crustinis were also on the menu along with a full set of music from Kinston’s Winsome. Sara Smith’s Epiphany spread is rocking the Atlantic Art House (along with her guest band) Don’t miss First Friday next month on Feb. 3! A photo posted by smART Kinston (@smartkinston) on Jan 6, 2017 at 4:46pm PST Follow us on Instagram @smartkinston   An intimate show with Kinston’s Winsome @ the Atlantic Art House #acd A video posted by smART Kinston (@smartkinston) on Jan 6, 2017 at 4:56pm...

2016: The Year in Review

Here’s a look back at the stories that made 2016 a year to remember in the Kinston Arts & Cultural District: January The arts in Kinston began 2016 on the right foot with the Arts Council’s most talked about fundraising event: Stars Dance for the Arts. Participants dancing for the Mirror Ball included Kinston Mayor B.J. Murphy, Pink Hill Mayor Carol Sykes and SmART Kinston Executive Director Ty Johnson. The fun returns for a fifth turn Jan. 21 at the Arts Center. More information here. February Mother Earth Brewing Co. partnered with the Greenville chapter of Girls Pint Out to create a special edition beer “Free Hugs Pale Ale,” which was released on Feb. 11 with a portion of proceeds benefitting SmART Kinston. March More than 30 visitors from Newton Grove toured the Kinston Arts & Cultural District and met with resident artists as part of a field trip organized through Hobbton High School. Art club students met with painter Elizabeth Pritchard and writer Emily Sides to discuss their craft, marketing and artistic process. April A team from the N.C. Arts Council visited Kinston to lay the groundwork for the hiring of an artist to reimagine the corridor running from the Music Park to Grainger Stadium using public art. In other news, SmART Resident Emily Sides received an award for business reporting from the Texas Associated Press Managing Editors for her work as a reporter on the Texas-Mexico border in 2015. May Kinston native and funk legend Maceo Parker received the N.C. Heritage Award from Gov. Pat McCrory on May 25. Parker was best known for touring with James...

Civil War Center debuts ‘Homefront’ exhibit

A new exhibit in downtown Kinston sheds light on society in Lenoir County during the Civil War. “Views from the Homefront” chronicles the everyday lives of the roughly 10,000 inhabitants of Lenoir County during the bloody conflict, which ended in 1865. The exhibit, which opened this month, occupies the previously empty mezzanine level of the C.S.S. Neuse Civil War Interpretive Center at 100 N. Queen Street and features artifacts from the war era from Victorian mourning dresses to a receipt for the freeing of a slave. Of Kinston’s 1,340 inhabitants in 1860, 640 were slaves and that narrative shapes much of the exhibit, which notes slave owners moved their labor force westward after the capture of New Bern by Union troops to prevent runaways from reaching freedom. Sections on the religion, labor and textiles of the war era in Kinston paint a picture of a town calmly and constantly under siege, while another expansion will one day delve into the military campaigns of the region, including Foster’s Raid. “Homefront” offers societal context to downstairs exhibits, including the remains of the C.S.S. Neuse, an ironclad warship moored permanently at the center, which serves as the headquarters for the eastern region of N.C. Historic Sites. The C.S.S. Neuse Civil War Interpretive Center is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission to the museum is $5, with discounts for seniors, active military and children younger than 12....

Watch for commercial traffic along Arts Riverwalk

While the Arts Riverwalk has been cited as a direct recruiter of business interests, commercial traffic along the Arts & Cultural District has created new challenges as the city considers the corridor. SmART Kinston and the Community Council for the Arts received funding from the N.C. Arts Council to plan a vision for the corridor, including the Arts Riverwalk, and the hike & bike trail will serve as a connector, bringing together cultural destinations from across the city. Part of the plan could involve replacing the protected bicycle lane bollards that run along the south side of Atlantic Avenue. While the N.C. Department of Transportation installed the bollards and traffic delineator posts, the pathway could be replaced or even painted. Eighteen-wheelers making the turn onto eastbound Atlantic Avenue must drive into the bike lane to make the turn without damaging railroad equipment, running over the bollards and sometimes not correcting onto the street until just before the traffic posts begin half a block from the intersection. A public input session for the plan, which will also connect the Kinston Music Park and Grainger Stadium, will be scheduled in early 2017....

NaNoWriMo enters final stretch

SmART Kinston Writer Emily Sides is closing in on her goal of writing a 50,000-word novel during the month of November as part of National Novel Writing Month. Emily, originally from Desoto, Texas, has written more than 45,000 words since Nov. 1 and will finish up her first novel draft “Why You Can’t Change My Words” before the end of the week. If you’d like to send a message of encouragement to Emily as she nears the end of NaNoWriMo, feel free to contact her via Twitter...

Gigabit: Pink Hill’s high-speed Internet could remake local economy

PINK HILL — While residents in the Kinston Arts & Cultural District are leading Lenoir County efforts to restructure the economy around arts, a small town less than 20 miles to the south has set its sights on building up the county’s technology infrastructure. Pink Hill, with a population less than 600, is angling to become the county’s tech center. Already it’s the home of CenturyLink 1 Gig Internet, so far utilized at the town’s wellness center. Members there can leverage super-charged Internet speed in their workouts, but the town’s larger goals are much broader than mere broadband, says Susan G. Myers, the force behind the town’s pink flowered landscape and downtown development. The broadband Internet access is installed throughout the former school campus, which includes property the town would like to see become a technology center. Local ventures to bring high-speed Internet access have become commonplace across the nation, as larger networks like Google Fiber continue to focus on metropolitan areas. Installing new public utilities has also taken longer than anticipated in many cases, further delaying efforts that could bring those connections to rural Eastern North Carolina. This fall, Myers attended a conference in Wilson, N.C., another town growing its gigabit economy, to learn more about growing partnerships with the tech industry. For more information about Pink Hill’s Gigabit Economy and the technology center, call (252) 568-4477. Pink Hill is also a leader in the Tiny House Movement and will host the 2017 Tiny House N.C. Street Festival in...

Support SmART Kinston while you shop with Amazon Smile!

            Shoppers all year long can automatically donate to the SmART Kinston City Project Foundation through Amazon Smile. The AmazonSmile Foundation will donate 0.5% of the purchase price from your eligible AmazonSmile purchases to the charity of your choice. The purchase price is the amount paid for the item minus any rebates and excluding shipping & handling, gift-wrapping fees, taxes, or service charges. Select the SmART Kinston City Project Foundation as your chosen charity and start shopping! Be sure to always start your shopping searches at smile.amazon.com & shop...

#NaNoWriMo enters third week

By Emily Sides SmART Writer National Novel Writing Month means I wake up everyday at zero words and I know I have to write about 1,600 words per day on average. The goal for #NaNoWriMo writers is producing a 50,000-word novel. Now that I’m halfway through the month, I feel confident I can meet the 50,000 words, but I am also thinking a lot about novel structure. I’ve been reading Oliver Sack’s An Anthropologist on Mars since July 2013, according to my goodreads.com account. I also read his book ‘Island of the Colorblind’ in June and ‘Seeing Voices’ in May. ‘Island of the Colorblind’ is about Sack’s travels to understand colorblindness and ‘Seeing Voices’ is his look into deaf education and history. These novel arcs are introduced early. But ‘An Anthropologist on Mars’ is a book of seven chapters, each about a different person with a neurological disorder, with the only common character in each chapter is Sacks himself. Why am I thinking about all of this? I’m thinking when, if ever, the title is in the text of the novel. ‘An Anthropologist on Mars’ chapter titles include The Case of the Colorblind Painter, who lost color vision late in life, and A Surgeon’s Life, about a doctor who has Tourette’s syndrome. But it’s not until chapter seven, which starts on page 244, that readers meet the woman who, as described on the back of the book, ‘an autistic professor who holds a Ph.D. in animal science but is so bewildered by the complexity of human emotion that she feels “like an anthropologist on Mars.”’ That’s where the title...

Local writers participating in #NaNoWriMo

Editor’s note: SmART Writer-in-residence Emily Sides is participating in National Novel Writing Month (#NaNoWriMo) all this month and will offer updates on her pathway toward finishing a 50,000-word novel before Dec. 1. Below is her first entry. Enjoy! By Emily Sides SmART Writer This month I’m participating in National Novel Writing Month, a free site where people can keep track and get support to write 50,000 words in November. The site has forums among other resources. I joined a local group closest to Kinston, which is the Greenville region, that has 77 novelists who have collectively reported that they’ve written 462,506 words this month. I’ve been typing each day since Nov. 1 and so far have written about 14,700 words toward my fiction novel tentatively titled ‘Why You Can’t Change My Words.’ My goal for week two, other than writing minimum daily word counts, is to upload a tentative novel cover to my NaNoWriMo dashboard. The site says doings so increases your chance of meeting your goal by 60 percent. http://nanowrimo.org/ is the website if you want to learn more about the...

Break-ins at two Kinston polling places Monday night

By Emily Sides   SmART Writer Election officials discovered two damaged voting machines Monday night at two polling locations in predominantly black neighborhoods. Carver Court recreation room, which was also an early voting site, and Holloway Community Center had one voting machine damaged each. Carver Court recreation room is the closest voting site for residents in the arts and culture district. Lenoir County Board of Elections chairwoman Lucinda Minges said the machines were forced open where the paper goes into the machine to record ballots. Election officials took everything down after early voting ended Saturday, Nov. 5, Minges said. There were no ballots in the machines. “I don’t know why they did it,” Minges said about the break-in. “We’re not stupid. We’re not going to leave ballots overnight.” One of the machines was able to work again, Minges said. Still, she said they had enough voting machines. Outside of Holloway Community Center, David Bell of IndyLeft PAC said the break-ins targeted predominantly black precinct voting locations. “That means, to me, obviously a clear effort by the far radical right to either stage an attack or blatantly follow through on an attack on an overwhelmingly black precinct,” Bell said. The Kinston Free Press reported that Kinston police said there was about $500 in damages done to the...