Category Archives: super adventure 2011
I was looking through old drafts and I found this unpublished gem from Spring 2011. My mom visited me and we went on a road trip to Charleston and Savannah. We spent a day outside of Charleston touring a plantation called Middleton. Nice memories & we got some great shots…
When I took 3D art in college, it was NOT a pleasant experience. As Studio Art undergrads at UCSB circa 2000, we had to take 3 foundation classes: 2D, 3D, and 4D. “2D” included all things flat, like drawing, painting, photography, and printmaking. 2D art is my forte. “4D” was the fun performance/conceptual time-based/video art class where we could run wild and turn any craziness into art. I was enough of a weirdo to love and rock 4D. “3D” was my dreaded foundation class. I remember staring at the lump of clay in front of me and thinking, “you want me to make art out of this?” I was just not into it and drug myself through the quarter. I really embraced the idea of “found object” to get me through!
Who would have guessed that over 10 years later, I would find myself in an apprenticeship position with North Carolina potter, Rob Withrow, of Smoke in the Mountains Pottery? You may remember an earlier post I wrote about face mugs and Rob; this is how my interest in clay began. I love Rob’s style and work; it is so beautiful and functional at the same time. Looking at clay from a folk art perspective as opposed to a fine art perspective is incredibly different.
Rob makes face jugs, which are a signature product of many north Georgia and western North Carolina potters. Rob is known for his really tall face jugs, some measuring out at over 6 feet! Rob makes everything from beautiful bowls, to steins, to goblets, to plates, to mugs, to life-sized piggy banks (plus anything else you can make out of clay I surmise). I fell in love with his big bowls at the folk school dining hall; they are used to serve soup to eight people. Like so many other crafts I learned at the JCCFS, I love the idea that I could make my own plate set, or lasagna dish, or incense holder.
So here I go, ready to delve into the world of clay. Instead of the clay feeling like a burden or a chore, I feel like the possibilities are endless! Thanks to Rob and Julie for inspiring me! I can’t wait to get started…
Visit Rob’s website: www.smokeinthemountainspottery.com
Since I wrapped up my stint at the folk school, I have been living in the guest house at Henn’s Nest just outside of Murphy, NC. Betsy Bailey Henn, the matriarch of the family, is a super-talented artist whose creativity knows no bounds. Her and her family owned and ran the movie theater in town (The Henn Theater) since the 30s. She now teaches art and co-runs a store-front gallery called the Artists Common Gallery.
Today, Betsy and I set up a table in the backyard and decided to attack a legion of pumpkins! This is documentary evidence of our creative endevours. Enjoy!
A couple of weeks ago Julie and I went on a hike from Deep Gap to Raven’s Rock south on the Appalachian Trail. If you remember my post about Standing Indian, this was the same trail head, but we went the other way on the AT.
What perfect timing to get out in the forest; the trees were brilliant golds, oranges, and reds. The leaves were so translucent – a veritable stained glass canopy. We hiked for three hours and had a lovely picnic with a splendid view… errr and then we hiked three hours back – it was a killer long hike, but so rewarding and fun. I learned what a rhodotunnel is from Julie. I’ll have to get a good photo of one on my next hike, so you can see one. Happy FALL everyone!!!!
One of our stops on the Carolina Coast was Pinckney Island, a wild bird refuge within a network of barrier islands outside of Charleston in Beaufort County. The only island open to people is Pinckney and there is a long trail that winds through the coastal marshland and forest. Mom and I had a lovely walk and saw lots of birds and 100s of tiny crabs. We had a nice picnic and enjoyed the gorgeous scenery.
I am now going to tell you about one of the most amazing gifts I’ve ever received.
I didn’t know what marquetry was until I came to the folk school, so I will let wikipedia enlighten you as to what it is in case you are in the same state I was.
Marquetry, according to wikipedia, is “the art and craft of applying pieces of veneer to a structure to form decorative patterns, designs or pictures. The technique may be applied to case furniture or even seat furniture, to decorative small objects with smooth, veneerable surfaces or to free-standing pictorial panels appreciated in their own right.” It is basically taking pieces of different color wood, cutting them into shapes, and inlaying them into a larger piece.
Leah took a marquetry class right after we took Bob Dalsemer’s dance calling class together. She decided her project would be not one, but two, identical boxes to hold calling cards: one for me and one for her. The image she chose was a photo of the two of us swinging at a dance in the community room:
I helped her to draw us as shapes in Adobe Illustrator and she took the printout to the woodworking studio and made wood magic. She made the most incredible boxes for us to hold our blossoming dance card collections. It was one of the most touching gifts anyone has ever given me… she freaking inlayed us in wood! How cool is that?
Thank you Leah! I will cherish my box forever.
Of course I had to get creative and put on my thinking cap to do something uber special for Leah. For her going away gift I made dividers and an assortment of custom made dance card for her. Here is an example of one of the cards:
After the kitschy seaside experience of Myrtle beach, Mom and I hit the road in search of some old southern charm, history, and most importantly Spanish moss. We high-tailed it down the Carolina coast, first stop: Charleston!
The city of Charleston was gorgeous and fancy with old buildings, tons of wrought iron and big oak trees. Mom and I walked around the town and had a nice dinner at a decadent little restaurant with a patio courtyard. Both Charleston and Savannah reminded me of New Orleans, without the dirt, vomit, and nightlife.
How decadent it was to have a whole store dedicated to selling honey:
This park below is on the waterfront and you can see Ft. Sumter, where the first shots of the Civil War (aka “the War of Northern Aggression”) occurred.
Our first stop outside of Charleston was a charming historic town was the town of Beaufort, SC. Beaufort is the second-oldest city in South Carolina; Charleston being the first. Beaufort was a small, sleepy town with wonderful oak lined streets, with a little bit of a tropical feeling.
Back in April, Erin Crabb (of work study session 1) met me in Riner, Virginia for a Dare To Be Square (DTBSQ) weekend. The workshops and dances were held at a beautiful farm with a dance barn; everyone camped out by the pond. It was exciting and thrilling driving to a new state, to a new place, to people I had never met, to dance old time square dances. The DTBSQ community is amazing!
Dare To Be Square is a community of people across the nation who want to preserve old time square dancing. Anyone who has the passion to organize a DTBSQ event can; events have taken place in both the South and the Pacific Northwest. Veteran caller, Phil Jamison wrote an article in the late 80s for the Old Time Herald that explains the sentiment behind Dare To Be Square and has inspired this movement. The folk school has a DTBSQ event scheduled in November.
Dare To Be Square is what directly led me to the John C. Campbell Folk School. I went to Dare To Be Square: West! in Seattle back in December 2009. Bob Dalsemer (the folk school’s Coordinator of Music and Dance Programs) was one of the guest callers and main teacher of the event. I saw in his bio that he taught at the folk school, investigated the school, was amazed, and when I asked him about it, he encouraged me to apply for work study. And voila! Here I am! Thanks Bob for the recommendation!
Driving from Galax to Riner was so gorgeous. The sun was setting and the farms and hills were pastoral with golden light and billowy clouds. I arrived at the farm right as it was getting dark and immediately ran into Erin eating hummus and carrots in the parking lot. After our joyous initial reunion, we set up our tent by the pond and went to the dance barn where the first dance was kicking off.
The old red barn had been decorated with white lights, wreaths, and sweeping gauzy fabric; it was transformed into the perfect spring dance barn. The square dance was so wonderful, the music was jumping and the dances were so frenetic and fun! We danced from 9AM until the wee hours of the morning. There were campfires, jams, sing-a-longs, pot lucks, hammocks, good brew, clogging, and the great people. Good times!
The official callers of the weekend were Phil Jamison, Michael Ismerio, and Will Mentor. They took turns running the day time workshops and calling the evening dances. On Saturday evening we all had a sit down discussion about square dance history which evolved into a discussion about the difference between “dance communities” and “community dances.” This really struck a chord with me.
The difference is that community dances are for a community, inclusive of everyone regardless of whether or not you know how to dance. The dances are simple and fun and the night is as much about socializing as it is about dancing. It’s about bringing a community together and could even be thought of as community organizing.
Dance communities are communities that require attendees to know dances or moves; the dances might be intimidating to most newbies. These folks come together for the dancing and it can be more advanced and exclusive. The dancing brings them together, not the fact that they are part of a non-dance community.
The improv tribal bellydance community I belong to is definitely a dance community. There is a secret language that you must learn to be able to dance as a group with others. It is exclusive and troupes are like clubs. (BTW, I am referring to exclusive in the sense that you have to learn how to do the moves in order to join in, not exclusive in the sense that people are excluded based on anything other than basic knowledge. The bellydance community is of course very accepting of all types of people).
I was once talking to Amy Sigil of Unmata about square dancing. She asked me if I was ever interested in writing a formated dance vocabulary, like ITS, for square dancing. It hit me like a ton of bricks because there already exists a formated vocabulary for square dancing (Callerlab) and that is exactly what I don’t want to do.
I don’t want to have exclusive dances where you have to take classes and learn the moves to be able to go to the dances. I want to have square dances where anyone can walk in the door and dance to live music. It’s interesting that the very thing I love about belly dance, is what I dislike about square dancing. My different needs are met by the different groups. It might also have to do with the fact that belly dance is mostly performative and square dance is a social dance. As a caller, I love to bring folks together who would never normally dance. Even if it is just holding hands and walking around in a circle; to me, this is ultimately success! Connecting people in a basic face-to-face way is what thrills me about square dancing.
Here are two videos I took. This one is from Friday night. Micheal Ismerio is calling an Appalachian style scatter dance:
Here is Phil Jamison calling “Birdie in the Cage” during a workshop. Since this DTBSQ weekend I have called both this dance and the scatter dance:
Thanks to all the organizers, musicians, dancers, hosts, callers, and teachers of DTBSQ! It was truly a magical event!
I spent a little time fiddling around here at the Folk School…
I anticipated Cathy Grant‘s Beginning Fiddle class to be a little painful, spending a whole week in the music studio with discordant fiddles all day long. Every fiddler around had warned me that you need to spend at least 2-5 years playing before it even sounds like music. Although my first love is the banjo, Cathy got me off to a great start and it was a totally enjoyable week. Peggy Patrick assisted in the class. (Ted Cooley called her the mountain angel; she is tied for first place with Martha Owen as my favorite local claw hammer inspirational muse. I like to linger in their presences in the hope that show of their sweet old time goodness will rub off on me).
Learning how to play the fiddle helped me better understand how to play banjo with fiddles. Cathy also spent time talking about tuning and basic music theory which was so helpful. You like how my bow looks totally different in the photo above than everyone else’s bow? oops. Well, I was probably just playing chords since I didn’t grasp all the tunes. I anticipate that I will keep fiddling around until I achieve “acceptable at campfire” level.