Category: culture

Forgetting and seeing again

Mouth of the Meherrin River

Mouth of the Meherrin River

Eighty miles west of the Atlantic, twenty miles south of Virginia, and two hundred years past memory, the small Meherrin River joins the Chowan, holder of pirate treasure and backdrop to a few colonial plantations.

No one has heard about this river, because its namesake, the Meherrin Tribe, registered its holdings in the appropriate court house in the 1750s.  Individual Meherrins still hold title to ancestral land nearby.  With deeds to their land, the Meherrin didn’t have to fight a losing war for their land as did the Tuscarora, whose name graces a beach a few miles downriver.

My teenaged grandfather used to canoe down this river during the Great Depression.  He and his friends made their canoes out of castoffs from a veneer factory near Murfreesboro.  “They just said, ‘y’all take all that stuff; we don’t want to burn it.'”The only interruption on his trip was the cable that spanned the River at Parker’s Ferry, twenty feet to the right of this view.

They caught fish and cooked them on the banks where they slept.  When they had to return to family, chores, church and school, they offered fish to trucks that took the ferry, and the drivers would drop them, canoes and all, near home.

I don’t know how he stood the deer flies.  I varnished myself with bug repellent and sustained eighteen bites.  And that while wearing canvas pants, coat and hat to paint this picture.  Even then part of me was underwater on the ferry ramp so that I could get a view.

You can find a good picture of the ferry in operation here: http://www.newsobserver.com/2014/06/08/3919675/best-kept-secrets-100-counties.html.  Select the picture at bottom right if you follow this link.

Some pictures come from stories.  Some occur when the story is over and our work is done and there is peace at the last.

 

 

Paris of the South–really

The owners of the newly restored Windsor Boutique Hotel in Asheville are showing my art in the hotel’s public spaces.  You can see some of North Carolina’s oft-overlooked beauty on its walls.

The hotel sits in the heart of downtown and is a quick walk from restaurants, bars, shopping, festivals, etc.  The building itself wears its old fabric gracefully and positively gleams with old wood.  http://www.windsorasheville.com/

Hanging alongside my work is that of Alisa Lumbreras, about the hardest-working artist I know.  She paints and sculpts with joy.  You can see some of that joy here: http://www.cottonmillstudiosnc.com/young-artists-classes.html

I’m grateful to the owners and staff for choosing me and my fellow Ashevilleans.  There is a difference between airlifiting a load of imported culture onto a city and letting the city produce its own culture, and the folks at the Windsor have chosen the better course.

The prettiest small town in the South

That’s Edenton, of course.  Edenton, North Carolina, the county seat of Chowan County, which figures into many of my landscapes.  And it is beautiful, too: what with its pre-Revolutionary architecture and its decided lack of world-class golf, five-star this and over-bloated that. 

Edenton was founded in the early 18th century, was the seat of the colony’s government, and was overlooked by history in favor of larger ports, railroads and the Dismal Swamp Canal.  It sits on the Albemarle Sound, near the mouth of the Chowan River.  

People usually ask, “Where is that?”  It’s about an hour south of Virginia and an hour west of the Atlantic. Here’s what it looks like:

 

The Barker-Moore House

The Barker-Moore House from the Chowan County website. Excerpted from Edenton, An Architectural Portrait, by Thomas R. Butchko, © 1992 by the Edenton Woman’s Club and Chowan County Government, Edenton, NC). chowancounty-nc.gov.

 

The Cupola House

Photo by Mary Kay Coyle at http://cupolahouse.org

I’m going to paint the town at an event to benefit the foundation that cares for the 1758 Cupola House on April 25th and 26th.  It’s called Easels in the Gardens, and a click here will tell you all about it:  http://cupolahouse.org.  The town will be at its best.  The weather will, too.  You can even dance in the middle of Broad Street during the two-day festival. 

I’ll be in St. Paul’s churchyard both days from 1pm until 5pm. 

 Yes, it has a waterfront and historic buildings, Edenton is very much a living community.  Drop by and live a little.  Directions for cars, planes and boats:  http://www.visitedenton.com/directions.