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Friday, March 7, 2014


vada, 2

Day 7 of the blogathon asks for pictures of one's creative space. My creative space is my head and heart. I'll start with the heart. Above is baby Vada, the child I fell in love with the day she was born. Her mother painted a wall flat black and Vada practices her art there.

vada art, age 2yr 2wk

Vada drew this image sitting on the kitchen floor. Her mother asked her to draw a picture of TJ and this is what she did. She concentrated such that she never lifted her mind from the image until it was done. She was drawing from her mind. It makes a perfect mask. I could cut out eye holes and wear it for a mask if it were on thicker paper. But I wouldn't cut holes in it. You can see the eyes, nose, mouth and an ear. She filled in the whole face. It is framed now and hanging on my wall. Willard Gayheart framed it. I was tickled out of my mind to get something by her before she evolved into stick figures.
found art
found art
found art

Found art is a regular feature of my blog. At top is what was left after a bank changed locations and took down the old sign. They left the fluorescent bulbs turned on at night, making this fabulous piece of Dan Flavin art in Sparta. Sparta doesn't have much public art. So I appreciate it where I find it. In the middle is a huge pile of silage (ground corn stalks) for dairy cows. The mound of silage is covered with white tarp held in place by black circles. I see this once a week and love it every time I see it. At bottom is something found in the basement at Crystal and Justin's. Crystal had been spray painting something. While I was getting some pictures of it, she said, "What are you doing?" I said, "Found art." She said, "Oh my God!" (She said God a few notes higher than Oh my, Southern style.) These are examples of art I see everywhere.

steve lewis and josh scott

skeeter and the skidmarks
scott freeman

edwin lacy and willard gayheart
bobby patterson

the crooked road ramblers at the Jubilee in Sparta
Above are my artist friends. These are the artists I spend time with and call my friends. At top is Steve Lewis, Master bluegrass banjo and guitar picker, good story teller, and his step-son Josh Scott, who Steve raised as his own, who became his best friend and his bass player. The painting on the wall behind Steve is my portrait of Willard Gayheart, the guitar player with Skeeter and the Skidmarks. Willard is 81 and has been picking all his life. This means he's good. He plays rhythm so well the musicians of the region love to make music with Willard for his near-perfect rhythm. Willard doesn't strum. He hits an upper string and a lower string, individually, each lick. When he has Orange Blossom Special going on, it works him. The pencil drawings on the walls are his. The venue is his frame shop/gallery. Willard has been singing with a Galax bluegrass band, the Highlanders, over forty years. The ones living are all old guys now. Their fiddler, Buddy Pendleton, is one of the great ones. He's near gone now, I hear. Skeeter and the Skidmarks made two cds on Hay Holler label in the early 90s. Then Edwin Lacy, banjo, had to leave the area for several years, so Scott and Willard started a new band, Alternate Roots, an amazing bluegrass band. Steve Lewis played banjo in the band. They made 4 albums and the bass player had to leave the band. Alternate Roots disbanded, Edwin returned and Skeeter started back up. You can hear them on YouTube. I've made hundreds of music videos that are on YouTube. My name there is hobblealong1. The fiddle is Scott Freeman, who also plays mandolin. He is married to Willard's daughter, Jill, a good bluegrass singer who doesn't like the stage. That's Sandy Mason's head sticking up from behind Willard. She plays bass. Oh they have a good sound. Scott and Edwin composed several of the songs they recorded. The song they open shows with is one of Scott's compositions, Groundhog Shuffle. It is mandolin and banjo mayhem. They're putting together a new "project" now.           I put Bobby Patterson's picture in there because Bobby is important in my life. He has a music store in Woodawn, Virginia, and a recording studio in the basement. Old-Time Herald magazine was begun in his basement in the 1970s. Over the last 40 or more years he has recorded old-time bands of Southwestern Virginia, Heritage Records, and has a catalog that is out of this world for music of the region. He played guitar on the finest old-time album my ears have ever beheld, JUNE APPLE, with Tommy Jarrell on fiddle, Kyle Creed on banjo and Audine Lineberry on bass. Jarrell and Creed have been dead at least thirty years. Both are legends and were legends while they were living. Bobby is one of the Highlanders and also sings with gospel groups. First time I met Bobby, we'd known OF each other for years, I said, "In my way of seeing, you're the most important man in Southwest Virginia." He said, "Thank you." He knew what I was saying. Thanks to Bobby we have a great collection of old-time music of this region on record and he puts together recordings of the Galax fiddlers convention every year. Plus, he's a terrific musician. His dad was a legend fiddler of his generation. Our bond is our dedication to the music.          At bottom is Kilby Spencer on fiddle with his band the Crooked Road Ramblers. Great fiddler, son of a great fiddler, Thornton Spencer, who is in his later years the great old fiddler of his generation. Thornton's wife Emily plays banjo and sings with their band, Whitetop Mountain Band. In my own personal estimation, WMB is the hottest old-time band in the region right now, and has been for years. They are most characterized by their drive and their musicianship. Kilby knows so many songs he's become a living encyclopedia of the music of the Central Blue Ridge. Kilby's aim in life is to be a great fiddler. He is well on his way and has a momentum going that will take him there. His band has good drive too.   

medea by tj worthington

on the side of the house approaching from parking space

donkey jack
Closer to home now. The painting above, Medea, I did something like 15-20 years ago. It doesn't leave the house. It is on my wall all the time. I don't put it up for sale because I don't want to lose it. Plus, I'm the one it's important to. I see it a stage with Medea in foreground planning what she has to do, pacing, the rock behind her a Greek rock mountain and the Greek archipelago, the night sky howling its horror seeing what Medea has in her mind. Below Medea is the a little sign I put on the house soon after I moved in. The first one rotted away with time. This is the second one. And here comes Donkey Jack. This is one of the first pictures I got of him. That's my friend Jack the saxophone player. I put hee-haw and braying out of my mind and I hear a saxophone. It is the same sound, low range tenor, a note John Coltrane might have found. The donkeys have been a great source of creative inspiration since they've arrived in my life. I thank God every day in my heart I've lived long enough to know donkeys.
found art


  1. Your blogs just blow me away, TJ! Had to giggle at the thought of Donkey Jack braying like John Coltrane!