Thanks to some top-notch initiative at Riverlink and among the contributing artists, we’re doing it again; this year the show will be at the same location overlooking the French Broad River in Asheville. Dates are Thursday, Oct. 22 through Sunday, Oct. 25. The opening will be a ticketed affair, with catering, music and a showing of river artefacts.
The show’s website features bios on contributing artists and a blog with news of their exploits. The French Broad has many moods and promises another year of beauty. It’s cold in the mountains of North Carolina and lazy in the foothills of Tennessee. It has witnessed boom and bust flows past real estate booms and ghost towns. It has been victim to ecological defilement and nursery for rebirth. Check the show’s blog for scenery and story, and see the show in October. And if you buy a painting of the French Broad featured on this site, I’ll give a third of the price to Riverlink, the non-profit that has done so much to nurture the river that makes the region. Just use the Contact link for a quote; price includes framing and shipping.
The show had a happy and buzzing opening night at the Chowan Arts Council, whose volunteers pulled long hours hanging art and laying out a spread of refreshments. People from four counties, two states and three generations enjoyed themselves, which pleased me. Two people told me how the scene below resembled places they know. Then they told me about the people, alive as well as dead and buried, in their own places.
The last time I counted, Gates County, NC has five stop lights. It might have six now, but I wouldn’t know because I’m happy with that number.
This scene is not far from the Dismal Swamp, featured in my last post and offers a different sense of lush potential. This is a field resting between crops when the trees are green. The ground is not finished–just taking a breather. Look at those leaves, and you can hear the earth boast, “see what I can do.”
Civilization depends upon this sort of readiness. How we meet it is important. When I was a child, fields like this were visited every week or so by the poor, who were paid at the end of the day to tend them. Even then, their jobs were losing out to machines.
Currently, there is a conspicuous absence of people outdoors here. I painted this scene in July, and drove by it again just this November. There were more people visible in November. Even the autumnal head count is down as deer hunting with packs of dogs–a social activity-has given way to sitting alone in a tree stand and waiting for the quarry to walk by. I don’t know what that means, but it merits reflection.
This is The Great Dismal Swamp.
Built in 1755.
I was fortunate to approach this scene in the spring when the new greens offer such contrast with the old house.
Thanks to Emmett and Bobby Winborne who allowed me to paint their birthplace.
This painting grew from a sketch, a study and a rendered drawing. I felt like a gardener before spring, transplanting little seedlings from pot to pot as I drew, measured, enlarged, and painted. Each time, I trusted the image to materials I made myself.
It is satisfying to brew one’s own ink, cut panels, dissolve rabbit-skin glue and dust for gesso. Taking handmade materials outdoors makes one look more acutely. One of my teachers, Nathan Bertling, used to tell me, “If you love your paper, you’ll love your drawing.” He meant that time spent in preparation makes for good execution.
Much is made these days of “plein air” painting, and often I’m asked, “Did you do that all plein air?” To which I say “Harumph. I was working before I went outside.”
First, I corrected the date given for my show in Edenton next month. It is now to open on Thursday December 4th. The time remains 5:30pm. The volunteers who run the Chowan Arts Council Gallery didn’t want the show to conflict with the lighting of the town Christmas tree.
Second–and as promised–another look at Bunch’s garage, which greets entrants into the town. Last year I made the quick sketch of it in China ink, paying attention almost entirely to the shadows cast by the molding. The building sports a certain posture despite its age, so I returned to the spot, this time to study the texture of the corrugated sheet-metal siding:
The rhythm of verticals in the building’s fabric makes a strong contrast to the contorted oak forms behind. I chose a prepared paper to catch the sense of atmosphere that nourishes the trees and ages the building, because, for the time being, the structure’s age contributes to its dignity. I also abandoned the brush, intending to suggest brittleness with the use of goose and steel pens.
Making a drawing out of a million tiny lines demands an upped tempo and a light touch at once. It asks both draftsman and viewer to see with two faculties that our historical moment hates: aggression and restraint.
That’s the eponymous title of the benefit art show for Riverlink, the non-profit that has cleaned up and made accessible the French Broad River near Asheville. The French Broad is the third oldest river in the world, it flows north, and its beauty has been neatly reduced to little rectangles and hung on walls.
A ticketed event opens the show on October 23rd at Sol’s Retreat, overlooking said river above the New Belgium site. Free public viewing, albeit without live music and bottomless gluttony are available the following two days, 11am-6pm.
You can sample works by some of the exhibitors here. Many are my teachers, and I’m pleased to show my work next to theirs.