Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Pieces of Hendersonville, NC

Jon Whiddon, Georgia Artist

The Chronicles of Our Adventures in Hendersonville, NC

(who would have thought?)

Remember these?

It's a beautiful drive from Charlotte to Hendersonville, and the little town is only a half hour from Asheville, where many people like to visit the Biltmore mansion, tour galleries and antique stores, and explore the mountains.

This was our destination. Apparently, my Mother has been eyeing this little Folk Art shop from afar for years. My family is well-versed in the world of Folk Art. If you're unfamiliar with it, Folk Art is:
Art originating among the common people of a region and usually reflecting their traditional culture, especially everyday or festive items produced or decorated by untrained artists.

Key phrases being culture, festive, and untrained.

My grandfather started this whole ordeal for our family. When he retired in Pittsview, Alabama, he began dabbling in antiques and selling them from a "store" on the side of a busy highway. It was called the Mayor's Antiques. One day, an elderly black man came in with a marker drawing. He said he was in his turnip patch, and he saw a face in one of them, so he drew it. Long story short, my grandfather (Grump, we called him) put a price on it, and one day a Folk Art dealer came in and told him that turnip face was considered Folk Art and that his price should be higher. After that, it was The Mayor's Folk Art Gallery. He began dealing locally, nationally, and eventually internationally. (Apparently, the French really like rural Alabama Folk Artists.)

Beverly Buchanan, oil pastels, North Carolina Artist

Well, like any art, once you hear a story that grabs you and takes you into a piece or once you stumble across a piece that makes you feel its rhythm, this Folk Art gets in your blood and leaves you wanting more.

Sarah Rakes, Georgia Artist

My dear Mother, who always dreamed of retiring from teaching and owning a little bookstore, called me while I was studying abroad in Italy for a summer and said, "I quit my job, and I started a Folk Art gallery!"

It was the defining moment when I realized just how weird and yet wonderful my parents are. The Gallery only lasted a couple of years, but she still deals online, and her house has Folk Art hanging from floor to ceiling. Much like this guy's gallery:

Folk Art is one of those things that you can begin to define more concisely as you experience it more and more. The way I've come to define it is "storytelling art". Without its story, it's worthless. And a dealer without storytelling skills can forget making a sell.

Thornton Dial, Sr., Alabama Artist

For example, I was not impressed by the artist's work pictured above, Thornton Dial, Sr. However, when I heard that he worked for the railroad for years building railroad cars, creating art in his spare time only to bury it in his yard because "black men weren't supposed to be artists" (this was pre-civil rights) and because his "neighbors might think [he] was crazy" if they knew he was creating art, I was interested.

The above piece is called "Gold Tiger." Not very impressive. Looks like a child's drawing. Until you hear this:

The tiger often appears in Dial’s art. Gerald Wertkin who produced a book on Dial’s art commented that the tiger in Dial’s art “represents the black man – either in the jungle or, more frequently, as taken out of the jungle, sold into slavery, and struggling to survive and assert himself in an alien milieu.” Dial himself says, “If a man going to travel, he got to be a tiger. The tigers are tackling things, struggling for their life.”

This piece is called, Lady Holds Her Tiger By the Tail

My husband still hasn't caught the fever. He appreciates it, but after an hour of strolling around a 1200-square foot art gallery, you've pretty much appreciated all there is to appreciate. I found him in a corner like this:

So, since my parents were obviously waiting on the owner to kick them out and force them to go home, Husband and I took a drive around Hendersonville. We found a fresh produce stand, a few neat shops, more art galleries, and then:

But, WAIT. What do you notice about this sign:

That's right. An Ace Hardware with a coffee shop installed. The towns I am accustomed to have coffee shops in the most frequented shopping areas in town. The mall, the bookstore, Target...
in Hendersonville, it's Ace Hardware.

Complete with a hunting-lodge-themed bistro.

While we were playing checkers and drinking our mochas, the manager came out to welcome us to Ace.

"People hang out in here for hours," he said. "This arcade has over 40 games installed, and I can put on any move you want to see."

Forget the movie theater. I'd be at Ace watching some old classics.

And, since I was obnoxiously photographing everything, my husband insisted that this is what I should be documenting:

He said it was a diverse religious statement with the Star of David as an apostrophe, the reference to Heaven, and the angel-- all at the doughnut shop, where I would assume the circular doughnuts symbolize eternity.

So, while exploring new lands, don't forget to stop by your local Ace Hardware. It might just be the town's happnin' place.

What do YOU appreciate most in a piece of art?


  1. Great post! Interesting - really. very!

    I'd love to own a Christian coffee/book/gift shop... but perhaps Ace Hardware is a more fitting business for me?!

    Wow - I tho't I was a deep thinker...till I understood what your husband read into that doughnut sign :)

    & I sensing a family connection between you & one of your (& more recently "my") most frequent commenters (is that a word?)?

  2. Love it! You'll have to adventure to Brevard one weekend too~it's where I grew up! Nice little town~but I don't think the Ace has a coffee shop :)

  3. Yes, MyStory...I think that is a word, but I believe it is spelled with an "o"...commentors? Maybe I should look it up....that doesn't look quite "right" either....sorry...the junior high English teacher in me never stops...

    Wonderful post, Lupines! Everything is so skillfully woven and tied together....a joy to read! And the Doughboy Do-Nuts sign! I LOVE it...That in itself is a piece of folk art:)

    ...But SURELY your parents' home doesn't look quite like that gallery....surely things are arranged a tad more tastefully with a little "room for thought" between pieces?:)

    P.S. Next time your parents visit, you MUST take them for coffee at the hardware store!

  4. I just LOVE the painting way at the top, and also it's rustic wooden frame! Thanks for sharing these pics, really enjoyed it. :)

  5. Country Girl~ the painting at the very top is my favorite too!

    Mug~ Yes, my parents' home is arranged MUCH more tastefully AND cozily than the art gallery :)

    My Story~ GO FOR IT on your Christian book store/coffee shop! You could feature artists, too! We need more artsy places based on Christian principles in the world!

  6. Recipe for a perfect blog. . .

    one part travel documentary
    one part art history
    generous heaping great photography
    several tablespoons of wit and humor
    sprinkled with gentle philosphy of life

    Mix it all together in a Christian heart and serve warmly to all.

    Thanks for my after school snack! You always teach me something and open my mind when I read your blog.


    PS to mug. . .I covet your living room!

  7. Thank you for a great respite in the midst of a very teary week. My son is stationed in NC and had called me from the summit of Mt Mitchell on the 18th to say how gorgeous the western part of the state was. He's been there 3 years and this was his first venture to the mountains.

    MyStory ~ commentators? maybe? And how about a General Store - then you can include the coffee, books, hardware, you name it!

  8. Ahhhh, warrior mom! A GENERAL STORE WOULD BE PERFECT!!! Well, My Story. You better get started! I will come up from NC to visit your store!

    Warrior Mom~ Tell your son THANK YOU for all he's doing and sacrificing.

  9. Wow! I love your storytelling in here. I was smiling and eagerly scrolling away. I so would love to see your parents' folk art collection in a future post. I, too, collect folk art but most of it is dispersed throughout our home. I don't know if I'd have enough to fill a gallery. :-)


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