Alan Barnhardt, the former executive director of the Carolina Raptor Center in Huntersville, has been named the new executive director of the Catawba Science Center in Hickory.
Mark Sinclair retired in July after 21 years as the Science Center's executive director and leader through its recent expansion, which added a planetarium and aquarium.
Barnhardt began his career as the founder of Alanby Outfitting for the Outdoors, a specialty retailer located in Charlotte and Greenville, S.C.
He is also an advocate for environmental education and active community volunteer. After 24 years in retailing, he joined the staff of the Carolina Raptor Center in Huntersville, where he expanded the programming and doubled visitation over a period of 10 years.
“I have known Mark for many years and always admired Catawba Science Center,” Barnhardt said. “I'm looking forward to moving to Hickory and becoming part of this terrific community.”
The Science Center will also open a new exhibition, “Expedition Amazon,” on Sept. 8. It will feature rare freshwater fish, reptiles, amphibians and birds native to the Amazon River basin and other aquatic habitats.
Camouflage fish species, predators and electric fish will be on display, as well as freshwater sting rays, Amazon turtles, poison dart frogs, and boas.
The Catawba Science Center is in the SALT Block, at 243 Third Ave. N.E., Hickory. Learn more at Catawba Science.org.
Exhibit highlights weavers' art
An exhibition, “Valdese Weavers Textile Design: Inspiration to Interpretation,” opened recently in the Coe Gallery of the Hickory Museum of Art. Valdese Weavers is an upholstery weaving mill in Burke County.
In addition to 40 pieces hung on the museum walls, the current exhibit includes a living room vignette inviting visitors to sit on upholstered pieces. The process of weaving is explained through a display that goes from raw yarn to dyed yarn, to artwork, to the inspired fabric and finally to a piece of furniture upholstered in the fabric.
One of the largest weaving mills in the U.S., Valdese Weavers has been operating for almost 100 years. The company supplies furniture upholstery, drapery, bedding fabrics, and hospitality and contract fabrics. The entire production process is mostly done in-house.
The Hickory Museum of Art is in the SALT Block. Hours are 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and 1-4 p.m. Sundays. Admission is free. For additional information, call 828-327-8576 or go to www.HickoryArt.org.
In other HMA news, the museum is participating in an auction of non-American holdings, due to overcrowding in its art storage areas. Brunk Auctions of Asheville will operate the auction on Sept. 12 and 13.
The public preview is planned for 1-8 p.m. on Sept. 12 at Brunk Auctions, 117 Tunnel Road in Asheville. Doors open for the auction at 8 a.m. Sept. 13.
In addition to items from the Hickory Museum of Art, pieces from two other collections – the Museum of Early Southern Decorative Arts in Winston-Salem and Tryon Palace in New Bern – will also be for sale.
Most of the auction items are Asian and European objects, said Executive Director Lise Swensson. All funds generated through the sale of art will be reinvested into HMA's Permanent Collection Endowment and used to buy American art, filling in gaps in the museum's collection.
For more information, call 828-254-6846 or go to www.brunk auctions.com.
Upcoming citizens' academies
Two Catawba County cities have planned fall academies, for residents of the cities, on their local governments. Newton and Hickory regularly offer residents this opportunity to learn more about the departments and services provided.
Newton 101 will feature tours of all city departments, including visits to facilities such as Newton City Hall, Newton Recreation Center, Newton Police Department, Newton Fire Department, water treatment plant, wastewater treatment plant, water intake, and more.
Newton's seven-session course begins Sept. 17 and follows on consecutive Thursdays, through Oct. 29. Sessions 1 and 2 will begin at 6:30 p.m., but the remainder will begin at 7 p.m.
There is no charge to participate, but enrollment is limited to 25 participants, accepted on a first-come, first-served basis. Newton 101 is available to Newton residents or business owners only. To register, contact the city of Newton Public Information Officer Gary Herman at 828-695-4266 or e-mail to
The city of Hickory calls its academy the Neighborhood College. The course also offers tours of fire and police stations, libraries and parks and recreation facilities. Each session is led by professionals and offers insights into how the city operates and plans for the future.
Hickory has offered the Neighborhood College for the past 10 years. Many of the graduates are now leaders in their neighborhood or business organizations. Some even serve on the city's boards and commissions.
All classes meet between 5:30 and 7:30 p.m. on Mondays, from Sept. 14 to Nov. 16. Graduation will be held Nov. 17, in conjunction with the Hickory City Council meeting.
The deadline to apply to the Hickory academy is Friday. To request an application, call Communications Director Mandy Pitts at 828-261-2222 or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Making art out of ‘Issues'
The Caldwell Arts Council opens its September exhibit, “Issues,” with a reception hosted by Twelve Stone Church, 5 to 7:30 p.m. Friday. The exhibit features the work of Charlie Frye of Lenoir, Gayle Weitz of Boone, David Shoemaker of Statesville and Eleanor Hughes of Florida.
The artwork represents issues such as supporting our hometown business, animal rights, the mental after-effects of war and cancer awareness. The Caldwell Arts Council is at 601 College Ave. S.W. in Lenoir.