On a trip south we visited the Stephen Foster Museum.
The house and museum is located in the Stephen Foster Folk Culture Center Park on the banks of the legendary Suwannee River. This river was made famous by Foster’s song “Old Folks at Home.”
The grounds are beautiful with majestic old trees.
As wandered the grounds we headed down to see this famous river.
Getting closer to the water I saw the sign warning of alligators and beat a hasty retreat.
Inside the building were many beautiful old pianos and paintings depicting many of Foster’s songs.
Foster wrote over 200 songs and was called the “Father of American Music.”
His song “My Old Kentucky Home” is the official song of the state of Kentucky. It is believed he wrote his famous song “I Dream of Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair” as an attempt to win back his wife who had left him. While many of his songs are about the South he never lived there and only visited it once on his honeymoon.
While I grew up singing many of Foster’s folk songs both at home and in choir at school, I doubt that many of his songs would be used today. They clearly depict a world of southern white culture and its ties to slavery.
As a child I sang “Oh Susanna” but it was only when I did more research of Foster that I heard the second verse. On my!
“Massa’s in the Cold, Cold Ground” talks of how the “darkeys” are crying because their master is dead and how he made them love him because he treated them so kindly.
The State of Florida’s official song is “The Old Folks at Home.” Thankfully they have changed some of the offensive words;
Original words: All up and down the whole creation, Sadly I roam. I’m a still a-longin’ for the old plantation, Oh, for the old folks at home.
New version: All up and down this whole creation, Sadly I roam, Still longing for my childhood station, And for the old folks at home.
Original words: All the world is sad and dreary, Ev’rywhere I roam. Oh, darkies, how my heart grows weary, Far from the old folks at home.
New version: All the world is sad and dreary Everywhere I roam. O dear ones, how my heart grows weary, Far from the old folks at home.
On the grounds there is a 97-bell carillon and his songs are played throughout the day. This carillon is one of the largest musical instruments ever produced in the Western Hemisphere, and the world’s largest tubular carillon in number of bells.
The park itself is beautiful with hiking, bicycling, canoeing and wildlife viewing for visitors. There is also a full-facility campground and cabins to rent.
While I enjoyed the beautiful grounds and recognized many of the songs from my childhood as I took a closer look at many of the lyrics I left with mixed feelings about the place.
Every year the small town where I live has a Chalk Art Event. Local business owners sponsor an artist who designs a chalk drawing on the sidewalk in front of their stores. The small downtown turns into a great combination of chalk art, live music, food vendors and community engagement. It’s a great way to enjoy a Friday evening meeting friends, grabbing a coffee, food from one of the street venues or stopping in the local cafe.
Artists come early in the day and make their design.
That evening a map is provided with a list of all the drawings with the artists and the business that sponsors their work. Everyone is encouraged to vote for their favorite three entries and the top three with the most votes will receive a prize.
Who would you vote for?
My husband who is an artist and participates in some of the art events around the community had to pass on this one. His arthritic knees would never let him get back up if he sat down on the sidewalk to draw. But we both enjoyed the evening sharing with friends and neighbors the beautiful Friday evening in our small town.
When we moved into our condo last spring my husband decided to work on the unfinished basement and create a place where he could fully enjoy his love of painting. Before this move there was never a really good place for him to keep all his painting paraphernalia. A place where he could also display his art work.
So – he began working and made a great “man cave.”
On a row, he decided to work on the second room in the basement. Instead of putting up dry wall or paneling, he designed a mural – just for me.
A few years ago we spent several weeks in Charleston, South Carolina. I fell in love with the city and especially loved the area called the Rainbow Row. Paul bought me a tray painted with the colorful houses and it sits on a shelf above my kitchen sink. Often I stand for a moment at the sink and remember that beautiful place.
Since we decided we would make this room a place where we could watch TV in the summer when the basement would be cooler than upstairs, he wanted to create for me that beautiful row of colorful houses.
These historic homes were built around 1740 and local merchants had their shops on the ground floor while they lived on the top floor. At that time the houses were not the colorful ones we see today.
After the Civil War the area became a slum. Then in 1931 Dorothy Haskell Legge brought the homes numbering 99 through 101 East Bay. After renovating them, she had the houses painted pink. Soon future owners began buying the house on East Bay and painting them in pastel shades. By 1945 after most of the houses on this street had been restored. Mrs. Legge was given an award from the Preservation Society of Charleston in 1992.
If you ever have the good fortune to visit Charleston, you must see this beautiful row of homes.
I hope someday to go back and view these homes in person, but until that day, thanks to my husband I can enjoy the memories with my own Rainbow Row. He is painting the concrete floor a grey/blue and soon I will have an easy chair to sit, read and remember!
He has started a mural of the sea wall which is near Rainbow Row. It is a work in progress as he will be adding sailboats to the sea. This is still a rough scene but will be great when he is done. Can’t wait for him to get that finished.
When my husband and I married years ago he told me he used to paint. However, he only had one painting to show me. It was one he had given to his oldest daughter. I found it interesting because if you looked at one way it appears the people were walking forward side by side; viewed at a different angle it appears they are walking to the left – or is it to the right?
Over the years he had given all his other paintings away. I tried to encourage him to take up painting again. One evening he sat down and starting painting. I loved the finished product.
My camera does not do the painting justice. In the trees above there is a small cabin but my camera does not pick that up.
He did not continue painting because being a pastor and a family man his time for painting was limited. Also we had no area where he could really set up his paints and work at his leisure until a painting was done.
While he did not paint, his love of art was clearly seen in our home. We often visited art galleries and art shows and he collected quite a few beautiful paintings.
Thankfully, retirement has arrived. Now he has the time to devote to this love of art. He also now has a place of his own where he can set up his paints and canvasses and work without the need to set up and put away his work each day.
Last spring we were fortunate enough to buy a condo. The basement was unfinished and he quickly went to work to make a studio for his art.
He loves to paint the sea with the beautiful sky above. In our new home state of Michigan he has plenty of sites to inspire him. Michigan also has so many small towns with great art galleries and we have loved exploring them.
Making road trips, he also finds inspiration. Driving through South Dakota with the treeless view inspired this painting.
A trip to South Carolina led to these two paintings.
One of my favorites is Storm at Sea. You can see the rain coming out of the dark storm clouds. Looking at the ocean it invites me to wade into the waves as they rush to the shore.
He recently has a display of his work at the local art gallery featuring his series based on the Creation story in Genesis 1.
Of that series my favorite is the first one where he tried to imagine Genesis 1:1 How do you capture the Spirit of God hovering over the waters? To him, it was the darkness with the flame of fire since God’s spirit is often depicted as fire in the Bible.
While he is no Rembrandt, I am so glad that he finally has a place of his own to enjoy expressing himself in his paintings. He even set up a page on Facebook – PWL Art Gallery.
He has worked hard all his life and as he approaches his 80th birthday, I’m thankful he has time to devote to his love of art.
On our recent trip north to the tip of the mitten to see the beautiful fall trees, we also found some great art galleries. Just south of Charlevoix is the Bier Art Gallery housed in a beautifully restored school house. The gallery is owned by Ray and Tami Bier. The Biers were both artists when they met and after marriage they began selling their stoneware pottery. As time passed and they met many other artists they decided to purchase a place to showcase not only their art, but that of the many friends they had made through the years.
They purchased an old school house and turned it into the beautiful gallery it is today.
Among the many different galleries in the school house is the pottery gallery which features the Bier’s art. So many beautiful artifacts. Since we have downsized this past year I had to just look but not buy. It was so tempting though to purchase something.
The sculpture gallery was such a fun place. So many different characters and ideas!
Beautiful pieces in the glass gallery – but I was afraid to even touch them lest I break one.
Many of the works in the metal gallery were actually displayed outside. We thought of our youngest granddaughter, Zoe, and how she would love some of the displays.
Being a jewelry nut – a woman can never have too much jewelry – it was hard to walk through the jewelry gallery without buying something. But I am proud of myself! I resisted these beautiful pieces of art.
What a nice addition this gallery was to our trip. Seeing the beauty God created in nature with all the fall colors and then seeing the beauty God also created through the talents He has given to men and women.
Getting ready for a fall road trip, I recently opened some pictures from a fall road trip taken three years ago. While driving through the scenic St. Croix River Valley in Minnesota we found an amazing outdoor sculpture park.
Founded in 1996 Franconia has an active artist residency program. Each year the park has over 150,000 visitors. They offer yearly fellowships and internships for up to 40 visual artists.
The park is free and open 365 days a year although I am not sure I would want to visit in the winter – Minnesota winters are brutally cold – at least for those of us who live further south.
The park covers 43 acres and shares over 120 sculptures created by artists-in-residence. Since the sculptures change over time the ones we saw may no longer be there but they were definitely unique.
I must confess I am not sure I would call some of these sculptures “art” but they were interesting and the walk was nice with all the beautiful fall trees.
Looking at these beautiful trees, I am so ready for our road trip next week. Heading to the northern part of the lower peninsula of Michigan for the “Tunnel of Trees.”
Fall is my favorite time of the year!
What season do you like the best?
Are you planning any trips to see the beautiful fall foliage?
A fun trip this week to Lowell, Michigan. Founded as a trading post in 1831 by Daniel Marsac on the Grand River, in 1851 when a post office was established it was named Lowell after the township. Located about 20 miles from Grand Rapids, this small town has a six-block downtown with antique stores, art galleries, restaurants and boutiques lining Main Street.
In 1999 this downtown area was placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Since my husband began painting again in his retirement, the first places we headed were the art galleries. We found beautiful paintings – and some what I can only call “different” paintings.
I love the picture of this old man!
The colors here are so vibrant!
The Flat River meets the Grand River here at Lowell. Duck boats are available to take a ride on the Flat River.
We also saw plenty of ducks while we were there.
And rubber duckies.
This weekend was the Riverwalk Festival and the folks from the local Art Council had a float playing on the “duck” theme. We were walking along the street right beside this float as they played the rubber ducky song – and by the time it ended my husband had removed his hearing aids – and was ready to scream “enough!”
It was neat to walk along the Flat River and enjoy all the arts and crafts and local food on display all along the riverwalk.
And lunch was delicious at the Flat River Grill.
After exploring this unique and interesting small town, we headed north to the covered bridge at Fallassburgh.
You can read about this bridge and the village time forgot in my blog:
When my husband and I take a trip we love to sometimes get in the car and head out with no particular destination. We just drive until something catches our eye; often we say “I wonder where that road goes” and off we go to find out where it will lead us.
Even when we go on a vacation and have a definite place in mind, we still often take a detour when we see something that looks interesting.
On one trip home from visiting family in North Carolina, we saw a sign by the road that said “Kentucky Folk Art.” So, forgetting our time schedule for the day, we took the next exit and discovered one of Kentucky’s special places.
The Kentucky Folk Art Center (KFAC) is a part of Morehead State University. Housing a permanent collection of nearly 1,400 pieces of self-taught art, we found the pieces to be playful, mischievous and fantastic. These pieces were excellent examples of original folk art.
Two of my favorite pieces were this couple dancing and the guitar player.
If you are ever in the area of Morehead, Kentucky you must check out the KFAC. And while you are on the road, take time to get off the beaten trail.