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Thursday, May 21, 2009


In town today to pick up a paper, Thursday, Tpot museum open. The present show is from the Penland school of crafts down in the Spruce Pine part of the mountains. In the world of crafts such as glass blowing, weaving, jewelry making, etc., Penland is a big name in lights. The kind of thing that sounds great at a cocktail party, "Oh, you went to Penland." That's credentials right there, like having played in Bill Monroe's band among bluegrass musicians. Penland is where you get your craft creds.
From the looks of the works exhibited, the credentials are well deserved.
The examples of glass work inspired questioning in my mind how whatever it is I'm looking at could be made and it glass. Like this red thing I saw, looking like a swan's neck bending with the chin and beak almost touching the lower part of the neck. At once it looked like something that grew, on the order of a jack in the pulpit. It had the grace of an exotic flower or bird. And it was a chunk of glass. I couldn't take my eyes away from it. Every way you look at it, it changes. What you saw before is gone and something completely different is happening inside the glass. Simple as it could possibly be and complex to the same degree.
A little tricycle made of maple twigs carved and painted white. Again, simple as it could be and equally complex. I had to pull myself away from looking at it, feeling awe for its creation. A kind of bowl-like circle of clear glass with little gold buddhas all around inside the glass. The closer you look at it, the more it looks like the bowl has water in it. Two letters, B and Z, made of thin steel to hang on the wall, gracefully suggested brush strokes. Its grace is what you see first, then that it's made of steel. Steel I don't associate with grace and it makes a good double-take. It was something I'd never get tired of looking at.

I didn't have paper in a pocket to make notes with and would rather not make notes anyway. So don't count on me to remember a name that you wouldn't recognize if I remembered it anyway. In a show such as what is inside that small museum, the objects themselves are of most interest to me. On the seat of my truck across the street was the paper I'd just picked up at Halsey Drug with a headline about Tpot museum returning the museum's projected land back to original owners. I thought that odd on the day I wanted to write you about the Tpot museum it turns up in the paper about selling the land.

On first sight it seemed to me a good idea, to get that elephant out of the room. I've thought for some time that space on Main Street makes a fine museum. Like Commissioner Milly Richardson says, when you need a new tractor, you want a big 4-wheel drive Kubota with a cab and air conditioning. If you can't afford it, a second hand Massey 135 will do the same job.
Through all the time of having opinions this way or that over the Tpot museum, whether or not, advisable or not, afford it or not, I was at a loss. It seemed too much to me like forcing a square peg into a round hole, or the other way around. I could see some potential good for the future of Sparta, and at the same time could see it as the worst thing that could happen to Sparta.

Mostly I thought, this is Roaring Gap's idea for the good of Sparta, maybe Roaring Gap could fund it for the good of Sparta. The people of the county don't seem crazy enough about it for a population of people who work hard and are unconsciounably underpaid to put up money they don't have for something they don't want. And besides, who wants to see a million teapots anyway? Take it to Las Vegas. They'll love it there. When Madame K called Sparta a 'black hole' in a Winston-Salem Journal interview, that tipped the scale for me. LA it aint. I'll give a Rebel Yell to that. Talk about black holes.

All that's in the past now and settled. I like calling it something like a museum of crafts and design, and focusing on state, regional and local work. That's much more something we can appreciate and comes closer to representing us than an endless variety of teapots. Pat Carriker was in there volunteering today. We had a good visit and I asked permission to take some pictures. Denied. I expected that, even knew better than to ask, but thought I'd ask in case of an exception. She suggested I get a picture of the window and I'm glad she did. That's Pat in the window.

1 comment:

  1. Hi TJ,

    I'm really glad you enjoyed the Penland Exhibit and the craft & design concept! I missed seeing it because I was out of town. I truly believe the Board's concept of "craft and design" is what our county and town needs, which is much more reflective of our community. Even though the Museum has had some tough times, I am confident it will survive and thrive as it continues to evolve.

    You'll LOVE the exhibit with musical instruments! Please be sure to go see it and blog your feelings about it.