East Side Buzz: Amanda Valentine returns to ‘Project Runway,’ Nashville Urban Winery opens, more

Just as this column was going up online, one of our favorite local fashion talents was returning to one of TV’s best reality competitions, and the first week at a long-awaited East Side drinking/dining spot was wrapping up. Plus theater stuff, social-good efforts and more to share this week.
The latest East Side Buzz:

Amanda Valentine returns to ‘Project Runway’

As of Thursday, January 4, East Nashville’s own Amanda Valentine is back up on the small screen: The talented local fashion designer/reality TV alum has returned to fashion competition Project Runway, joining the cast of the just-launched Project Runway All-Stars season.
This go-around, she’ll be competing against a full crew of other repeat Project Runway players — some, like her, making their first All-Stars appearance, and others, like New Yorker Fabio Costa and Los Angelino Melissa Fleis, coming back for a second crack at the All-Stars crown.
Valentine made her Project Runway debut in 2014, as part of the Emmy-winning show’s 11th season, finishing eighth out of a talented pack of 16. She returned in 2014 for Season 13, once again proving a fan (and judge) favorite and snagging the runner-up position.
Given the show’s sizable platform, it might seem an obvious choice to return, after coming so close to the win. But Valentine says it wasn’t such a cut-and-dry decision.
“I have a real fear of over-exposure,” says the designer, who recently opened a new studio here in East Nashville. “I realize maybe I’ve already hit that with Project Runway, but it just felt like another opportunity to challenge myself and push my limits and drive myself insane.”
Naturally, that kind of high-pressure, high-profile experience — plus proximity to fashion titans like Isaac Mizrahi, Georgina Chapman and Rebecca Minkoff, who’ll all appear this season — has its pluses, and a few minuses.
“I don’t know if it’s a coincidence or not, but the last four years of my life have been the most difficult and illuminating of my life, since my first time on the show,” she says. “As a designer I’ve figured out how important my individual voice is and have finally gotten comfortable with it, trying to ignore the feelings of, ‘Oh it’s too bright or too simple or too. . . whatever.’ And personally, it has been really difficult to just allow the public to kind of comment on what I do — I’ve learned a lot and been super humbled and also kind of realized that you should never fucking read the comments.”
We’ll have to wait and see if our neighbor brings home the Project Runway All-Stars season-six prize, but meantime, Valentine says we can expect to see great work and get more acquainted with great people.
“This is an incredible group, and I really connected with so many designers that I had watched from afar,” she says. “I was really surprised with how close I got with Ken Lawrence, Candice Cuoco, Anthony Williams and Kelly Dempsey. I was able to reconnect with old friends Stanley Hudson and Joshua McKinley. That’s what I really remember — the moments we had on and off camera. It’s also just a really talented group of people so the work is beautiful the entire season.”
If you’d like to cheer our hometown fashion hero on, keep up with the latest episodes/scheduling at mylifetime.com.
To get acquainted with Amanda Valentine’s designs, head to amandavalentine.com.

Nashville Urban Winery opens

Here’s one we’ve been waiting on since summer: Nashville Urban Winery — a kitchen and lounge and curated wine shop — is now open at 715 Main Street.
In the new space, diners can grab snacks (stuffed mushrooms, charcuterie skewers) or dinner (different kinds of pizza); drinkers can choose from a mix of red, white, rose and sparkling wines, or mull over something mixed, like house-made sangrias or frozen wine drinks (“frosé” and sangria slushies are among the options). You can also skip the grapes altogether — beer and craft cocktails are on the drinks menu too.
One Nashville Urban Winery offering that many a forgetful East Nashvillian will be happy about: They sell wine and prosecco on Sundays, too.
The kitchen is open seven days a week, 4 p.m. to 1 a.m.; wine shop’s 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. all week.

East Nashville businesses band together for Poverty Awareness Month

For the second year, Martha O’Bryan Center is working with a broad crew of local businesses to bring attention and aid to locals in need, as part of Poverty Awareness Month.
Each contributing business is working toward poverty-fighting goals in different ways, from donating proceeds to hosting supply drives and sharing information/ways to help.
The effort kicked off January 2 at Hot Yoga East Nashville and The Family Wash/Garage Coffee, who each donated proceeds to the cause. It’ll continue through the rest of January, across the neighborhood.
Specifics: Galena Garlic Company, Italia Pizza & Pasta, Quantify Fitness, I Dream of Weenie, Woodland Wine Merchant, Two Ten Jack, ReMax, Pied Piper Creamery and Her Bookshop will all be donating proceeds; Anode, Center 615, The Crying Wolf, BlossOming Yoga, Southern Grist and Asphalt Beach will host supply drives.

Hello again, Hamlet

The Nashville Shakespeare Festival and its East Nashvillian artistic director, Denice Hicks, just launched season No. 30 on January 4, with an “intimate production” of Hamlet at Belmont’s Troutt Theater.
Hicks isn’t alone among the East Siders making this debut 2018 production happen. Other neighbors on stage/behind the scenes: producer/operating manager Robert Marigza, assistant director Laramie Hearn, fight choreographer David Wilkerson, co-composer/musician Jack Kingsley, and actor Lauren Berst, who plays Marcellus (among other parts).
If you don’t want to miss The Bard’s famous tragedy interpreted by talented neighbors: Hamlet runs through January 28 here in Nashville, before moving to Murfreesboro for a February 1-3 run at MTSU’s Tucker Theatre. Tickets run $17 to $29, and are available now through ticketsnashville.com.
More about the production at nashvilleshakes.org.


— Good news from the folks behind in-the-works East Nashville tiki bar CHOPPER — opening’s set for March/April. (If you haven’t heard about this new project from Barista Parlor chief Andy Mumma and others, here’s something we wrote about CHOPPER in August.)
— We were so sad to hear about the loss of beloved East Nashville pup Rory. But glad his last years were spent being loved immensely. If you’re not familiar with Rory, take a read in our pages, and learn about a neighborhood effort to save a dog in dire need of love and care.
— Our neighbor Jason Galaz made a fun discovery in his East Nashville attic: super old letters with stories to tell. And he found the family they belong to, too.
That’s all for this week. Have some East Nashville happenings to share? Please email Nicole.
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