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Thursday, November 5, 2009


stained glass by allan joyce

Weary, slow morning, needing to go to town, dreading it, watching the time go by. The bank, the post office, liquor store, gas station, and knowing I'll be wanting to head home after the grocery store, thought I'd stop at the Tpot museum and see the current show. Parking space right in front, went inside stunned by the stained glass hanging in the window that Allan made. Every time I've passed the place wanting to stop, but unable, I would look at the stained glass thinking that has to be Allan's.

I didn't know before that it was a show of mostly people in the county, crafts people who make baskets, photographs, one thing and another. I walked through looking at Dan Abernathy's birds, struck most by the raptor with every feather in place. It stands on its perch like a cobra ready to strike. Daniel Cater's sculpture of a fiddle head fern held my eye for quite a long time. It's nice without reference to the fern, but all the better with the association. His wife Robin made an interesting tree kind of sculpture with a clay trunk and wire crown. I was glad to see them in there. They like to make imaginative objects with clay.

I was especially moved that everything was so good and it was all from here or near here. It gives one the impression there is some art activity going on in the county. All the baskets I saw were especially artful. Pat Sexton has raised basket making from a craft to an art. Some clay work done by Bet Mangum was awfully nice to see. Dear Bet, among the finest people on this earth had to up and leave us in what seemed like before her time, but what do we know about that?

I regret that I didn't spend more time while Bet was living to see her and Rob. I've always felt close to them, but our paths just took us separate places. When Bet was around, she was always a shining light. Over the years I appreciated how she and Rob set out to make a living doing pottery and they did. It worked for them, and worked for them well. She could pick a banjo too. Good musician, good singer and a genuine human being. Perhaps that's what I liked best about Bet, that she was genuine in everything she said and did. There was nothing unreal about her.

Yellow flowers made of glass on clear glass stems, quite beautiful against the black cloth draped behind it for clarity. It felt good to see so much that is so good and worthy of a good show. I gaped about meandering from piece to piece glad to see this good art energy flowing throughout the place. It's a show that would look good anywhere, in any city or town. Cynthia is not just the salvation of the Tpot museum, but she's becoming the inspiration for the direction the museum will take into the next generation. She has found the gems in the community and honors them. She has made what started as a big league Los Angeles enterprise that condescended to Sparta into something that features Sparta. Cynthia has brought the Tpot museum home and is making it Alleghany centered.

She has the potential to make some very positive changes in our community, the kind that benefit all instead of just a few. She's introducing to us a new way to see ourselves, boosting our self-esteem. This seems to be her spirit in the way she knows people too. She tends to boost the self-esteem of people she knows, or so it appears to me. I don't know her well enough to say that like I know what I'm talking about, but that's the way I see her spirit, applauding the best in everyone around her, is I think what I'm getting at. She's an encouraging spirit. And she doesn't mind getting down grubbing in the dirt. I have the impression we have a remarkable woman among us who can possibly help Sparta find it's identity that's been so elusive for so long.

Soundtrack music for the show is the Alleghany 150th collection of 4cds of music from the county. That is a treasure of a collection. Billy Dancy's banjo, Wade Petty's fiddle and Charlie Edwards singing while I was moving about from piece to piece. It felt just right. These are the guys that play up the street at the Jubilee on Tuesday and Saturday nights. The way Cynthia is working so intimately with the county makes the Tpot Museum into something I feel we can embrace.

Earlier, when it was about high art in NY and LA, it felt like stepping outside Sparta to step inside. It was nice. I have to say I loved those exhibits of zany teapots. But it was a pod of somewhere else set down in Sparta. What I see the Tpot museum becoming now is a step a little deeper into Sparta and the county. It's reaching into the art spirit in the county, what people living here are making. Makes it interesting for people living here and for people passing through. Every show she put on has been a knockout. Each has its own charm. And every one of them is right here at home.

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