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St. Mary's annual fundraiser benefits 25 local charities

St. Mary’s annual Fundraising Gala took took place from 5:30-8:30 p.m. on July 11. Hosted by community members, Chip and Monica Perry at their “car barn” in Blowing Rock, the venue sported high ceilings, warm handshakes and two rows of vintage cars.

Organizers from St. Mary’s encouraged a ‘50s and ‘60s theme that prompted eccentric outfits to go along with the cars. The band, The Lucky Strikes, followed suit by playing classics such as “My Girl” and “I Can’t Help Falling in Love.”

The Rev. Andrew Hege led a prayer blessing of both the food and the place, since this was the largest event that the “car barn” has hosted. There were 360 people in attendance.

Greta Gray of St. Mary’s said, “It took a lot of talented people to put this on, and it’s good because this is a group of good people here.”

The gala had both a live and silent auction. The live auction was run by Jenny Miller, who auctioned six items, including a dinner for six and a handmade ceramic watering pot. This and the silent auction allowed St. Mary’s to raise $15,500.

In 2018, St. Mary’s acquired $80,000 through this fundraiser and 100 percent of it went to 25 local charities, making the gala the biggest fundraiser in the High Country. This year’s fundraiser total of $59,000 will go to charities such as the Hunger and Health Coalition, OASIS and the Hospitality House to serve the community.

Mural newest part of big year for Landwehrmann

WEST JEFFERSON — Ashe County artist Whitney Stuart Landwehrmann joined the likes of R.T. Morgan, Stephen Shoemaker and Jack Young when she added a new piece to West Jefferson’s collection of murals.

The “Tree of Appalachia” is located on the side of Third Day Market and has had many visitors in the weeks since it started. Landwehrmann said it’s an honor to be the one to add to the town’s collection of murals.

“It is probably the best compliment to even be considered because they’re all very beautiful and very different,” Landwehrmann said. “I love them all and having lived here my entire life; you have your bucket list of things you want to accomplish and that was very high up.”

She added that what makes even more proud of the mural is seeing people on the street taking pictures with and of it.

The only thing is, Landwehrmann said it’s not finished.

“I still need to do a mountain scene, that goes down behind the tree,” Landwehrmann said. “I’m going to put in a swing so it’s more interactive. I need to get that done.”

Landwehrmann, whose other works tend to be on larger canvases, said that the size of the mural was a step up from her normal work. She said that while working on it, it was easy for her to be deceived by the size of it. It wasn’t until she saw pictures of herself on top of the cherry picker she used that it set in.

“It’s just another canvas, but it is a large canvas,” Landwehrmann said.

The planning work started before her exhibition at Jefferson Landing in April, and rain continually got in the way while the painting took place. Landwehrmann said it took roughly one-and-a-half months of painting to complete.

The mural is just part of a whirlwind 2019 for the artist, who had her first exhibition, “Juxtaposition of the High Country,” at Jefferson Landing in April. Another exhibition was held at Vannoy Properties during the July Gallery Crawl. After a decade of being commissioned to do family portraits, she said it’s been nice to receive praise for the work close to her heart.

Landwehrmann said she’s in the planning stages for two more murals, one at New River Brewing and the other potentially at the Honey Hole. She is also working to find a studio space for herself, with her home being overrun by paintings. Landwehrmann said she’s closing in, but can’t comment on the details just yet.