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Romare Bearden — Beat of a Different Drum Exhibit

Black History Month is kicking off in Fayetteville this year with the Romare Bearden Beat of a Different Drum exhibit. Original prints from Bearden’s only published children’s book, Li’l Dan, The Drummer Boy: A Civil War Story, will be the highlight of the Fayetteville/Cumberland County Arts Council. Featuring twenty-six original watercolors created by Bearden for the book, there will also be text panels with audio narration by Maya Angelou.

Join the Cumberland County Art's Council for Romare Bearden Beat of a Different Drum for Black History Month

© Romare Bearden Foundation/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY.

Li’l  Dan, the Drummer Boy: A Civil War Story was published posthumously in September of 2003. The book tells the story of Li’l Dan, a slave on a Southern plantation. He loves to play his drum. When a company of Union soldiers announces the slaves have been set free, Dan has no place to go, so he follows the soldiers, who make him their mascot. When Confederate soldiers attack, Dan discovers that he is the only one who can save his friends.

Join the Cumberland County Art's Council for Romare Bearden Beat of a Different Drum for Black History Month

©Romare Bearden Foundation/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY


©Romare Bearden Foundation/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

The free exhibition is open from January 22 through March 5, 2016, during regular gallery hours. An array of dynamic programming is planned around this exhibit, including a lecture by Diedra Harris-Kelly, Co-Director of the Romare Bearden Foundation in New York City, performance of an original play entitled The Color of Courage, lectures and music programs from the Fayetteville State University Fine Arts Department and a drum workshop for youth. Several historical components will be included in the display, including an original Civil War drum, a reproduction Union Soldier’s Uniform, a southern Civil War-era female outfit, a bayonet and an original painting of the Fayetteville arsenal before it was destroyed in 1865.

Join the Cumberland County Art's Council for Romare Bearden Beat of a Different Drum for Black History Month

©Romare Bearden Foundation/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

Join the Cumberland County Art's Council for Romare Bearden Beat of a Different Drum for Black History Month

©Romare Bearden Foundation/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

Join the Cumberland County Art's Council for Romare Bearden Beat of a Different Drum for Black History Month

©Romare Bearden Foundation/Licensed by VAGA, New York, NY

“This exhibition and related programming offers a fitting celebration of  an artist hailed as one of the most creative and original visual artists of the twentieth century, Romare Bearden,” says Mary Kinney, Director of Marketing at the Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County. “Additionally, we’re proud that the exhibit ties together many cultural components – Civil War and African-American history, visual arts and theater.”

About Romare Bearden 

Romare Howard Bearden was born on September 2, 1911, to (Richard) Howard and Bessye Bearden in Charlotte, North Carolina, and died in New York City on March 12, 1988, at the age of 76. His life and art are marked by exceptional talent, encompassing a broad range of intellectual and scholarly interests, including music, performing arts, history, literature and world art. Bearden’s work is included in many important public collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Whitney Museum of American Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and The Studio Museum in Harlem, among others. He has had retrospectives at the Mint Museum of Art (1980), the Detroit Institute of the Arts (1986), as well as numerous posthumous retrospectives, including The Studio Museum in Harlem (1991) and the National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC (2003).

About The Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County

The Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County was founded in 1973. As a link between artists, arts and cultural organizations and the community, the nonprofit agency administers programs in partnership with a variety of local agencies to stimulate community development through the arts. The Arts Council supports individual creativity, cultural preservation, economic development and lifelong learning through the arts.

About the Fayetteville Area Convention & Visitors Bureau

The Fayetteville Area Convention & Visitors Bureau is a private, not-for-profit organization responsible for positioning Fayetteville/Cumberland County as a destination for conventions, sporting events and individual travel. For additional information, visit www.visitfayettevillenc.com or call 1-800-255-8217.

Learn More about Romare Bearden Park located in Uptown Charlotte.


The Arts Council of Fayetteville/Cumberland County is located at 301 Hay Street, Fayetteville, NC

Guest Post: Artist Art Tyndall in Washington, NC

Walk one block from the waterfront of Little Washington on Water Street and you’ll discover the hidden gem of an art studio where pleinair painter Art Tyndall sells his creations. I stumbled into Art’s studio a few years ago while visiting my aunt, and I make a point to visit his studio on every trek across the state.

Janet and Art Tyndall at his studio in Washington, NC

Art’s studio is a 15×25′ store-front where light streams through the transom windows and his original oil paintings fill the bead – board walls. Looking at the tidewater landscapes, figures and local buildings, you can feel the joy that Art pours from his brush to the canvas. Many would consider painting a second career for Art as he started his self-taught venture at the age of 50.

Each piece that Art creates is one-of-a-kind and very personal. While he enjoys selling his work, even if he did not sell, he would continue to paint. His prices range from $150 to $2,000 and you can commission a special request by contacting him at arttyndallstudio@gmail.com or by visiting him in person at the Water Street Studio on the waterfront of historic Washington, North Carolina.

Washington, NC Waterfront #HandmadeNC

Stop by, say hello and tell him that Janet sent you. I forgot to take him a jar of homemade blackberry jelly, but that’s a great excuse for me to visit in a few months.

Many thanks to my dear friend, Janet Morgan, who introduced me to Art’s art and shared his story with us here at Handmade NC. 

East Fork Pottery — A Lesson in Craftsmanship

This is the first piece in my series on East Fork Pottery which will extend throughout 2015 and the first in our new series on North Carolina pottery and the artists who create it.

I recently traveled north of Asheville to meet with the founder of East Fork Pottery, Alex Matisse. A google search led me to his website and I found myself winding up the mountain a few hours from my home in Charlotte, NC, on a bucolic, curvy two-lane road in Madison County. This idyllic scene was compounded by burgeoning spring buds and a rushing brook, all beckoning me to my final destination.

Tires crunched on the gravel as I slowly made my way up the short drive to the East Fork workshop, the massive kiln sitting in silent greeting. Awestruck does not begin to describe my feelings as I took in every inch of the property with it’s massive stacks of firewood ready to fire the kiln, chickens clucking, Zuma barking, and beautiful glazed stoneware staring at me from open doors.

The Kiln at East Fork Pottery www.handmadenc.com

As I pulled out my gear, I mentally prepared myself to meet Alex, CFO/Moral Compass/Potter John Vigeland, and apprentice Amanda Hollman-Cook. I am a pottery novice and was quite nervous, but that, I would learn, was a lesson in futility. In my short time at East Fork, I received an education that would have taken days sitting in a classroom.

Alex Matisse at work at East Fork. www.handmadenc.com

Amanda greeted me, taking me into the workshop where Alex was adding the finishing touches to a large piece. It was magical. I remember playing with clay in the creek below my Grandparents house, and my 70’s era ashtrays wept at the skill and talent on display in front of me. With laser focus and sure hands, Alex completed work on the large piece gently turning on the wheel, craftsman and raw material were one. A blob of clay transformed while I stood transfixed, awestruck by a master who has honed his skill to perfection. After work on the piece was completed, Alex and Amanda moved it to dry and I am pretty sure I held my breath from start to finish.

Completed vase drying at East Fork. www.handmadenc.com

As Alex, John and Amanda move about the workshop, they answered my questions and allowed me to snap photos of their work. As I watched the extruder take blocks of clay and  transform it into ropey clay logs to be carefully manipulated and shaped into another large piece (about 4+ feet tall), all while wishing I had a degree of patience these artisans possess.

Ropes of clay coming out of the extruder at East Fork www.handmadenc.com

Ropes of clay coming out of the extruder

Alex Matisse prepping clay for throwing. www.handmadenc.com

Preparing clay for the wheel

Pottery creation is equal parts brutality and finesse

Having the scope of imagination to be a potter is one thing. Creating an item from a lump of clay while in constant motion is another. The wheel is rotating the soft clay while it is pressed, squeezed, and pulled gently upwards and outwards into a hollow shape. I watched as Alex centered the clay, smacking, squeezing and working it until it was ready for him to create the opening in order to start the throwing process of pulling and shaping the walls to an even thickness. All of this was done while also trimming the excess to create a foot (bottom.) Pottery creation is equal parts brutality and finesse.

Alex Matisse starting to throw a new post at East Fork. www.handmadenc.com

John was experimenting that day. Like Alex, he is a quiet man with soft eyes and laser focus. His style is much different from Alex’s, softer, yet it is definitely “his.” When you see the work of an artist, and then meet the artist, you can glean so much by just shaking their hand and saying hello. Their art is who they are and they pour their soul into it and it is that soul living and breathing in each piece.

I left Alex to his work and followed Amanda to explore the kiln. (The photos don’t do it justice.) Imagine a large brick oven that would bake a 34ft long pizza. I’m 5’5″ tall and had more than enough headspace left over as I stood inside this massive structure. Soon it will be fired for the 17th time, using all of the wood you see in the photos here, and much more that is out of sight.

Inside the kiln at East Fork. www.handmadenc.com

While we were at the kiln Amanda explained the process of how it is heated in increments as they work six hour shifts, until it is necessary for everyone to work continuously. Smaller pieces sit on wads on the shelves inside the kiln, as well as on wads on the floor, while the fire is constantly stoked over the course of many days where it will reach 2500 degrees. This is a labor intensive, demanding process, requiring time and patience.

At at certain point in the process, salt is blasted into the kiln and the pots develop the beautiful glazed sheen. This creates a unique, natural process driven surface on each piece sought after by potters and collectors. I personally prefer what I now know is the “orange peel” pattern created by salt glazing.

orange peel textures at East Fork. www.handmadenc.com

After we explored the kiln, Amanda answered my questions about the types of wood used (pine) and how long was each symmetrical piece (4 ft). We then strolled down the hill to check out Amanda’s work sitting on display at one of the storage buildings. She is coming in to her own right as a working potter, interning and learning the business side of the craft. Her enthusiasm is contagious and it is that enthusiasm that has led me to order several books about the craft and chemistry of pottery.

Completed tea pots at East Fork. www.handmadenc.com

Completed bowls at East Fork. www.handmadenc.com

I found myself headed down the mountain, filled with unanswered questions and even more intellectual curiosity. I’ve even checked out a pottery class at my local community college and am considering taking one in the fall. That will have to wait until after I head up the mountain again for an extended series of interviews with the East Fork Pottery crew.

To be continued…..


Visitors to Asheville will have a new store opening by East Fork soon in the River Arts District. Sign up for updates by clicking here.

Upcoming events at East Fork Pottery:

The spring Kiln Opening is

May 16th 10am – 5pm

May 17th Noon -5pm

Directions to East Fork Pottery: 

Type Mache Makes Letters an Artform


I collect the letter E and have variations from the flea market and other places where serendipitous finds can be had. I love words. I love letters. Imagine my giddy surprise to have discovered Heather Ng of Type Mache. Heather, artist and mother of three in Cary, NC, is a graduate of the renown Rhode Island School of Design. There she studied 3 D art, and her work makes that apparent.

Heather is at once creative and earnest. There are no cliche artist airs about her, despite her pedigree and talent. What I appreciate most is how Heather literally and figuratively rolls up her sleeves and gets her hands in the muck to create art that is one-of-a-kind indeed. In a strange twist, Heather thanks her parents for not letting her putz in paper mache as a child, sparking the desire to plop her hands into the gluey muck at first chance. Who knows what talents our children hide all the times we say no? As a mom who eschews a sticky mess of any sort, I can totally identify with Heather’s parents.


As a lover of words and an appreciator of type, I positively drool for Heather’s large letter pieces. The process is quite in depth, starting with hand cut stencils made with the piles of corrugated cardboard knowing neighbors leave on Heather’s porch (way to be green!). How amazing is this example paper mached in maps? I also happen to love maps, ironic considering I have a lousy sense of direction. But I digress…

The ways Heather can make a letter personalized are as vast as your imagination. Sheet music, maps, menus, concert tickets, comics, dictionary pages, sewing patterns, newspaper clippings, vintage ads, the list goes on… Heather is more than a doer; she’s a thinker too, a tinkerer. She’s bursting with elan and can give you ideas to help guide you. You see, artists like her don’t stop creating, and their brains are always click-clacking away. There are seeds for new ideas pollinating in Heather’s creative spirit. Her new 3D texture tiles are the most recent thing to bloom. I covet a collection of the Wave and Petals to hang as a series on my wall.

All of Heather’s work is painstakingly handcrafted. To hear her talk of her art leaves you smiling, her joy palpable and contagious. To own a piece of Type Mache is to truly have an artist’s touch in your home.


Cone Mills {Childhood Memories}

I’ve been thinking about the textile factories that dotted the North Carolina landscape with plumes of steam coming up from their boilers. More specifically, I’ve been thinking about Cone Mills. You see, my entire family is deeply tied into textile manufacturing. Part were Southern coastal landed gentry, the others Scots-Irish who settled in Appalachian mountains and made their way down to the Foothills of North Carolina. Those who dwelled in the Foothills were either farmers, military, or textile workers.

They were proud people who worked very hard for their living. Textile jobs were dirty, loud, potentially dangerous and tough on the body. My late maternal Grandfather was a fixer, and my paternal Grandfather, a weaver. My late paternal Grandmother was a spinner, and my living maternal Grandmother worked in the supply room. My aunt was a doffer. My Father worked his way up through the textile factories in North Carolina to upper management. I could make a super long list that would bore you to tears about my extended family and their roles in textiles, but I shall refrain.

As a little girl, I remember visiting the different factories my family worked at. I was never allowed in when they were operating, but on the rare times they were shut down (the first week in July and Christmas) I would get to see the inner workings.

The smell of cotton and machine oil from these visits is something that will never escape me. It is similar to what you smell when cleaning a gun, but different. Less oily, more earthy. There was also a metallic smell from the multi-ton beasts that took raw cotton fibers and turned them into denim fabric. Smells are something we associate with throughout life. They trigger memories, good and bad, and no matter what, stick with us in such a profound way that, even years later, can rattle us to our core. Even now, when I smell certain scents, I’m taken back to the smell of the cotton mills and the fabric sitting on their looms.

Really, the fabric I’m thinking of is “selvage” denim. An item so popular, jeans made with it today start upwards of $150 dollars each. Most of this “blue gold” is made at the Cone Mills White Oak plant located in Greensboro, NC, and favored by mainstream retailers like Gap, American Apparel to boutique brands and iconic clothing manufacturers such as Levi.

Frankly, I was stunned at the prices commanded by selvage denim today. After all, it seems like yesterday I was a young girl walking among the machines, tufts of spun cotton the floor and machines that wove fabric stopped mid-weave.

Cone Mills Corporation was the world leader in the manufacturing of denim and largest supplier in the world.* Their employees were proud of their work and I’m happy to see Cone still has one plant still running in North Carolina. The hulking ghosts of their empty factories are a consistent reminder of when things were truly Handmade in North Carolina.

*Source: http://www2.lib.unc.edu/mss/inv/c/Cone_Mills_Corporation.html