March: Top 5 to check out

Indio

Durham

This neighborhood gift shop is worth a visit the next time you’re in Brightleaf Square. Most of the products are made in the U.S., including wares from up-and-coming local designers, hand-woven wall hangings by Durham based Buckwheat & Grits, delicate jewelry by Erica Kane Fink, and Pesh Towels. The store also features weekend workshops with some of the artisans. Past classes have included calligraphy and herbal remedies.

Mad Mule Pro Mod Shootout

Benson

Gearheads (and those interested in witnessing a fast-paced spectacle) can head out to this pro drag racing event held on Mar. 4th. The all-day event hosted at the Galot Motorsports Park features super-charged cars racing at more than 200 mph across an 8-mile course. An onsite café with plenty of seating serves burgers and hot dogs, plus fountain drinks and draft beer. The facility is family-friendly so bring the kids too!

Brice’s Brewing Company

Garner

It all started when head brewer Kris Bengtson’s wife made one comment: “Hey, you like drinking beer so much why don’t you make your own? It has to be cheaper anyway.” It took almost eight years but Bengtson did just that, and Brice’s brewery was born, the name inspired by his grandfather; the butterfly logo, designed by his sister, has a family connection too. At his grandmother’s funeral, yellow butterflies (his grandmother’s favorite creatures), fluttered across his windshield, providing him with a “sign” to follow his passion. Now, you can grab a pint and hear the story firsthand. Don’t get turned off by the industrial area; once inside you’ll enjoy the warm atmosphere and delicious brews.

Oakleaf

Pittsboro

This recently opened farm-to-table restaurant is housed in a 1920s silk textile mill with soaring 25-foot ceilings and exposed wooden beams. Guest are greeted by the restaurant’s pollinator garden where Chef Brendan Cox cultivates ingredients for his homespun meals. The menu features homemade ricotta gnocchi, pan roasted black mussels, and North Carolina monkfish.

Riverwalk & Stickwork Sculpture

Hillsborough

The town has many draws—great food, quaint boutiques—and, of course, the almost 2-mile riverwalk. The greenway is the first portion of the Mountain-to-Sea trail, a statewide trail system currently being constructed through Orange County. The leisurely walk meanders amongst the trees along the Eno River, but for the next year or so you’ll get to see a unique sight—an enormous work of art called “A Sight to Behold” by renowned Stickwork sculptor Patrick Dougherty. Raised in North Carolina, the artist’s breathtaking structures, made entirely of saplings, have been displayed across the world, from Scotland to California, and you can see it now until nature reclaims it.

Stick Figures

Patrick Dougherty’s sculptures often appear in the Triangle area, from RDU airport to Hillsborough. His most recent work is debuting this month in Durham at the Duke Gardens. We spoke with the artist about his process and how sticks can create an imaginative world.

How did you get interested in using sticks for your sculptures?

Kids play with sticks all the time. Sticks are an imaginative object—a tool or a weapon. It’s a renewable resource. I always think good sculpture is one that causes a lot of personal associations. For sticks, I played with them as children, that moment under the lilac bush, the time when I had my first kiss. It kind of causes an imaginative moment [where you] suspend judgment and look at the sculpture.

What is typically the lifespan of one of your sculptures?

You usually get two good years. It just depends on the wear and tear of its placement. I just finished a piece out at the Discovery Museum in Sausalito. I’ve worked there about three times, and they’ve kept their pieces for about five years.

Are you ever tempted to work in a different medium that lasts longer?

I do get a tremendous amount of interest in my work, and I think part of that is based on the ephemeral quality of it. There’s a sweetness to decay in some ways, a longing that something would remain. It goes with the life cycles of the natural world.

What is your process like?

Initially, I was required to do more drawing, but in the last 20 years, I’ve been allowed to do pretty much whatever I want. I’ll make a preliminary sketch that’s based on how to scale the piece to the space. I don’t really do research; I just emote.

Is there something about living in North Carolina that has influenced your work?

I’m well placed here, you know, I’m part of the fabric now. There’s a huge amount of strength in playing from your strong suit. I have built a house, a log cabin, and live in the woods.  I’ve often thought that I’ve exported the best of North Carolina and the overtones of our forest to other places.

Alexandra Drosu
Alexandra Drosu

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