Event brings art and heart health ‘2gether’

by Alan Hodge

The Catawba River Artisan gallery, 128 S. Main St. in downtown Mount Holly, will host the Nov. 19 Art2Heart event. (Alan Hodge/MIM photo)

When the 10-member Catawba River Artisans group holds its Art2Heart gallery exhibition and sale on Saturday, Nov. 19 to benefit the American Heart Association, people in downtown Mount Holly will see a perfect synthesis of creativity and compassion.

During the Art2Heart event, patrons will be able to peruse a wide variety of creations by CRA artists including pottery, baskets, photographs, jewelry, paintings and more. Many of the pieces will be available for sale, with a percentage going straight to the American Heart Association.

Photographer and Catawba River Artisans member Tom Pacheco has a special place in his heart, literally, for the Art2Heart event.

A native of Bedford, Mass., Pacheco lives in Mount Holly. He’s only 61 years old and looks a lot younger, but has had more experience with heart disease than any one person should ever have to endure.

“I had my first heart attack at age 37,” Pacheco said. “I had five heart grafts that time. In 2003, I had another heart attack. The pain was unreal. That time I had four grafts. I never thought I would live to see 60 years of age.”

According to Pacheco, his cholesterol level has been as high as 827 milligrams per deciliter. A person’s cholesterol level usually is considered high if it exceeds 240 milligrams per deciliter.

“My family has a history of high cholesterol and heart problems,” Pacheco said. “I had a brother who died from a heart attack at age 31. A sister had a heart transplant, but she died last year. Another sister has a defibulator in her chest. Another brother has also had bypass surgery.”

Pacheco says the problem is called Type 4 hyperlipidemia and it occurs in about 1 percent of the population.

“We simply mass produce too much cholesterol,” he said.

Lately, with the help of medication and a good doctor at the Veterans Affairs hospital in Columbia, S.C., Pacheco has been doing better.

“My cholesterol level is around 190 now,” he said. “It took me 30 years to get it down.”

Now that his risk for a heart attack is significantly lowered, Pacheco said he is thrilled that the Art2Heart event will not only give some well-deserved recognition to the talents and hard work of Catawba River Artisan members, but raise awareness of heart disease as well.

“I’ve been on a vendetta to get people to learn about their body and their cholesterol numbers,” Pacheco said. “I’m amazed at how many people have no idea what their levels are. Hopefully, the Art2Heart event will get people asking their doctor about heart health.”

The event will take place 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Catawba River Artisan gallery at 128 S. Main Street, right next door to the City Café, where restaurateur Ken Bowers has set aside a space for the artists to display their wares.

“I am more than glad to help the artists as well as the American Heart Association,” Bowers said. “I hope it will draw people to Mount Holly.”

The Catawba River Artisans gallery, in the heart of downtown Mount Holly, is normally open Thursday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. and Sunday, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Members take turns staffing the gallery, which features an array of works by members in a variety of genres. For more information call 704-822-1450 or go online to the group’s web site, www.catawbariverartisans.com, or Facebook page, www.facebook.com/catawbariverartisans.

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