Happy Halloween! Av says if you're a defensive coordinator, there's nothing scarier than Mark Ingram (Shug is wearing Mark's Saints jersey) and Trent Richardson (Shugie in #3 Bama)! Love my sweet boys!
The Reconstruction of Asa Carter: remember the NYT best-seller 'The Education of Little Tree'? From the doc's website:
...The book was met with great critical acclaim and was lauded for its authentic portrayal of the American Indian experience. It was also credited with being the seminal work of Native American literature.
In October of 1991, The Education of Little Tree was number one on the New York Times bestseller list. ...Steven Spielberg and Robert Redford started a bidding war for the rights to bring Carter’s gentle, New Age-tinged message of multiculturalism and environmentalism to the big screen. For thousands of New York Times readers, then, October 4, 1991 must have brought an unpleasant surprise.
An op-ed piece announced the critically acclaimed Cherokee memoir as a fake. Forrest Carter was really Asa Carter, a professional racist who pounded out inflammatory speeches for George Wallace, including his infamous call-to-arms, "Segregation Now! Segregation Tomorrow! Segregation Forever!" He founded five chapters of the Ku Klux Klan, whose members brutally attacked black citizens throughout Alabama. In fact, Carter's racist beliefs were so extreme that in 1970 he split with his old boss, Wallace, accusing him of being a "sell out to the Negro." Even his new first name, readers learned, had been taken from Nathan Bedford Forrest, the Confederate Cavalry General who founded the original Ku Klux Klan. Articles on Little Tree’s identity appeared in Newsweek, in Time, in Publishers Weekly. Fans of the book were shocked, as were friends of Forrest’s in his later Texas years, for whom he would, after a couple of drinks, perform Indian war dances and chant in what he said was the Cherokee language. For people across the country, the exposure of Forrest Carter was an occasion for soul-searching.
Carter’s story illustrates not just American schizophrenia about race—but also the mutability of American identities. The Reconstruction of Asa Carter asks not just how Carter could be two people at once, but also why so many Americans, both Carter’s circle of intimates and the hundreds of thousands of Forrest Carter’s fans, fell in love with his portrayal of his Cherokee self.
Wow, wow, wow.
Next showings: 11/4 at UVA and 11/6 at USA in Mobile for the South Alabama Film Festival. Cannot *wait* to see this.
This week, at the blog for the National Endowment of the Arts, one of their posts was by Malcolm White, executive director of the Mississippi Arts Commission, about Mississippi's Creative Economy. The report (which found that about 61k Mississippians are in the creative sector) can be read here. Nice, nice, nice.
My pic of the world's largest boll weevil, in Enterprise AL (which I don't think made it to the film...):
The Southern Circuit Independent Filmmakers Tour is making its way through right now, and among the films is my friend, Amy Elliott's documentary called "World's Largest":
Desperate for tourism, hundreds of small towns across the U.S. claim "world's largest" things, from 15-foot fiberglass strawberries to 40-foot concrete pheasants. World's Largest visits 58 such sites and profiles Soap Lake, Washington’s five-year struggle to build the World’s Largest Lava Lamp. By documenting these roadside attractions, World’s Largest captures the changing, perhaps even vanishing, culture of small-town America.
The tour schedule is here.
Does anyone know why the Mississippi Museum of Art is not listed as being accredited by the American Association of Museums? It's not a size thing, because I've been to plenty of these museums, much smaller than my beloved MMA (seriously, it is wonderful.). Also, last year the MMA won the 2010 National Medal for Museum and Library Service -- it's the nation's highest award for these organizations.
Oh! And earlier this week I posted about crowdsourced curation -- the MMA is asking for people to help digitally curate their SOCIALmixedMEDIA Invitational, "...weigh in on the pieces currently on display in the album, and add your own by posting it to our Facebook wall, sending to us via twitter, or emailing...an art exhibition by and for the people!" -- their FB page is here.
Our sweet, sweet Shugie just had his birthday; one of his presents from Mimi and Papa was made by the same artist and company that makes this similar very smart puzzle in the MOMA shop.
Beginning November 5, the Huntsville Museum of Art will show 'In Company with Angels' featuring seven iridescent stained glass windows created by Louis Comfort Tiffany, each with an angel. They were created in 1902 for a Swedenborgian church in Cincinnati and were taken out when the church was demolished in 1964 for highway construction.
Is this the most expensive home for sale in Mississippi? At $15MM, probably. Walter Place in Holly Springs is on the market and (heart aflutter) yes there are lots of pics. Grant occupied the house during the War, and later it was a quarantine for yellow fever patients. 14k square feet, 12 bedrooms, 12 baths, and a couple of 1830s cottages are included, one that used to belong to one of my relatives (Polk).
My birthday is coming up. Just saying. You know.
The Clarion-Ledger wrotes about our family friend Lesley Silver's 40th anniversary of her Attic Gallery in Vicksburg.
November 4 is the last day for the Automata: The Mechanical Sculpture of Steve Armstrong exhibit at the Tennessee Valley Art Association in Tuscumbia.
The Blacksmith and Fine Craft auction at the John C. Campbell Folk School in NC is taking place November 5. Wonderful. eBay auctions begin November 1.
For Halloween, here's a link to what the artist Jessica Wohl (whose an instructor right now at Sewanee) installed in the abandoned Mountainaire Hotel in Hot Springs.
I've been meaning to mention this forever, but if you've ever wondered how someone who purchased a Damien Hirst medicine cabinet would feature it in their home, or decorate around it, the answer is in the September issue of Veranda.
The City Hall subway station in NYC hasn't been used in decades -- but it's just gorgeous:
(both above: courtesy bitchcakesny on Flickr, used with Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 2.0, thank you!)
I got the *best* email this week from Don Veasey, who is now my favorite library archivist of all time:
Because you showed interest in the past about Birmingham Public Library publishing Mrs. (Kathryn Tucker) Windham's manuscript about Gee's Bend, I thought I should send you this bit of news.
We still have not published the book but we have done something that brings us closer. The library's web site now has transcripts of her interviews with some of the people there. The link.......
I hope you approve.
Oh yes I approve! Her interview with Indiana Pettway -- how she sometimes would bring the cooking pot in the field with her, how she broke water in the field and kept picking until it was quitting time, the religious vision she had that she shared with the church in order for her to join, and a story about a snake with a belly full of chicken eggs who got caught in a jug handle...
Beginning November 7, some of the Gee's Bend quilters will be at the Alys Stephens Center with Groupe Bogolon Kasobane, who are the mud cloth masters of Bamako, Mali. Both groups will be "working simultaneously on their art pieces during the course of a week-long residency in the Alys Stephens Center lobby November 7-11. Lunch-time discussions and special events will explore each art form and the artists that practice it, the similarities between the art, and cultural memory patterns included in both groups' artistic expressions. Plus, there will be hands-on educational activities throughout the week." More here.
...and now about KTW, from the Alabama Booksmith in Homewood:
"The Alabama Booksmith will celebrate the publication of Kathryn Tucker Windham's last book, SHE, as well as her remarkable life and contributions to readers around the world.
Special guests will include her children, Dilcy and Ben, Roy Hoffman, Dolores Hydock and many others. Two copies of 13 Alabama Ghosts and Jeffrey signed by Kathryn Tucker Windham will be raffled and auctioned with 100% of the proceeds to benefit her beloved Selma Library.
We'll show the video of Kathryn talking about her friend Harper Lee on the 50th anniversary of the publication of To Kill a Mockingbird. There will be copies of Kathryn's previous titles, CD's and DVD's. Our grandest party ever! Don't miss it!"
The WSJ interviews John Besh on his new cookbook, My Family Table, which comes out on November 1. John talks about Viking, Shadyside pottery, copper pots, and thinking of opening something like Eataly for New Orleans.
The November issue of Bon Appetit has a travel guide for Lafayette.
'Tis the season: Alinea's video (the music is a bit over-the-top, tho) for 'Chocolate, Pumpkin Pie':
MoMA tells the AJC that the High got the 'best of the best' when it comes to their loan of works for the 'Picasso to Warhol' exhibit, and that they haven't done this sort of partnership before, but they're hoping that it will help their increase their national membership rolls, for one (plus with the High previously paying the Louvre $6MM+ for a three-year contract, MoMA probably got a pretty nice figure, too).
I've been thinking about being a Nick Cave soundsuit for Halloween.
Garden and Gun Magazine just did a little feature on readers' "favorite classic Southern brands": Cheerwine, Duke's, Krispy Kreme, White Lily...
This summer when we were in Tuscaloosa, we drove over to Stillman College (our little sister attended college here for a little while before transferring); one of the most interesting buildings on campus was this little structure, the Myrtice Williamson Prayer Chapel:
Inside, the glass bricks *make* the space:
The chapel was built in 1966 and renovated in 1982 and again in 2002. So pretty.
This is the 1938 WPA / Section fresco, 'Shipment of First Iron Produced in Russellville' by Conrad Albrizio (the only such post office fresco in Alabama) at the downtown post office in Russellville, Alabama.
There was a big to-do about the subject of this work, as the Section had approved the artist to work on a piece featuring a rock quarry -- which the artist had also chosen, when Senator Bankhead and other citizens stepped in to have this particular subject with the beehive oven (the first in the state was built in this area) completed.
One interesting part about the article that was written in the 80s was that in the 30s, "the heart of the controversy was the question: should the government, the public, or the painter decide the subject of a work of art?".
I imagine that question has gone on for as long as the public has supported the arts. Right now, some museums are displaying interest in crowdsourcing their collections, leaving curators somewhat out of the picture. The Plains Art Museum in ND wrote:
Ever heard the expression “two heads are better than one”? Well, when it came time to curate an upcoming exhibition at the Museum, we took that idea to a logical extreme by giving the big decisions to you and others like you, allowing our community to vote and handpick pieces from the Museum’s permanent collection for display.
The exhibition, titled You Like This: A Democratic Approach to the Museum Collection, utilized the phenomenon of crowdsourcing (outsourcing a task to a large group of people) to narrow the 3,500 objects in the Museum’s permanent collection down to 50 for display.
...It’s been a fun process, made more so by the thrill of uncertainty.
The first half of this year, the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis ran an exhibit entitled, "50/50: Audience and Experts Curate the Paper Collection" in which:
...50/50 is at once an experiment in crowd curation and an exploration of the Walker’s collection, with each of the two sections filling half the gallery space. This shared exchange sparks a range of questions about the dynamics between “audience” and “expert,” or between curatorial practice and so-called “mass taste.” It also touches on a broader contrast between the act of making aesthetic judgments in an online context and the experience of looking at and thinking about art up close, without time constraints.
In 2007, the Kemper in KCMO had their "Putting the U Back in Curator" exhibit when they invited "random willing visitors to participate in the curatorial process" and in 2008, the Brooklyn Museum did this with their "Click!" exhibit when they invited museum visitors, the general public, and people online to participate. Apparently the museum board was pleased with the outcome, because they are now showing 'Split Second' in which they asked their online community to help again with choosing pieces to exhibit, and it's also much more than that, thanks to its Malcolm Gladwell 'Blink' component (all about that here).
Last week we took the boys to Mentone to look at the beautiful leaves that are starting to turn and fall:
Mentone is home to many artists and a ski slope...which...I know you don't ordinarily think of snow and Alabama but from what I understand, the ski slope has its own snow-making machines. Maybe because Mentone is at a higher altitude by virtue of being on the top of Lookout Mountain it stays a little cooler too. There are several summer camps there and vacation homes and antique shops...
On our way to Huntsville, we went to Scottsboro and the boys were so tickled with this modified pumpkin bus:
...and we spent the rest of the day at the Huntsville Botanical Gardens to see their treehouses and scarecrow trail, which we do every year now:
We'll be back again later this year for their 'Galaxy of Lights' which is pretty wonderful, and they even have some Chanukah displays too.
In 2012, we'll come back for the Barkitecture clever dog house show. In Austin, they did a Barkitecture event, and the winners were great. The 'Alabama' dog house here, and the little Airstream, are nice, too...
Troy, my school, and was Class 1-4A state wrestling champion last year and graduated from the Alabama School for the Blind as valedictorian -- can you tell how proud I am?!?) had that as his favorite pie I ever made. So it got named after him of course!
I need to perfect the crust (it cooks a little bit differently in this jar, I think) and I'll post the finished recipe. The filling was amazing, though. Looks pretty good!
This summer, we visited Africatown, outside Mobile; I had read two or three books about it (including Dreams of Africa in Alabama), how it was a community of the last slaves brought to America, and wanted to see what was there. This is how it's described, called at that time 'Afriky Town', in my 1941 WPA book:
...a settlement of Negroes, descendants of the last shipload of slaves brought to the South. Though the importation of slaves had become illegal after 1807, a brisk smuggling trade continued. The War Between the States was threatening when the ship Clothilde arrived in Mississippi Sound from the Guinea coast with a cargo of Negroes. Under the direction of Captain Tim Meaher, wealthy slave trader, she was run up the Mobile river at night. The Negroes were hidden in the delta marshes and the ship was burned but Meaher found it difficult to dispose of his cargo. A few were sent to up-river plantations and some were put to work on the fortifications of Mobile, but the rest were left to shift for themselves. From this group has developed the present community.
The Negroes of Afriky Town have remained pure Guinea stock and still have many customs and beliefs brought from Africa. All of the Clothilde slaves are now dead but their descendants still cultivate small fields and work in the nearby industrial plants. The last of the original slaves, Uncle Cudjo Lewis died in 1935 when, according to his record, he was 105 years old. For 75 years, he lived in a cabin adjoining the Negro Union Baptist Church of which he was a devout member. He could not read or write but he had a remarkable memory and could quote entire chapters of the Bible.
The welcome center which appeared somewhat neglected, above, was closed. Worse yet, there had been vandalism in March:
We were there about two months after the vandalism incident, and there was still a huge damaged piece just on the ground:
There was a part of me compelled to do something -- prop it up, take it to a police station (it just felt so wrong, so disrespectful, to have a piece of art like this, especially something made to honor another person, deserted this way) -- I didn't know what to do. But this had been written about in the Mobile paper back in March, and I remembered that the pictures from the article had this bust in this same place then. Why had no one decided to at least give it shelter in the welcome center, or taken it somewhere in the community for safekeeping?
I searched the paper to see if they had ever followed up with a piece to see if anyone had been arrested, and there was nothing. I can only imagine what the people who had donated the busts back in May 2007, filmmakers Thomas Akodjinou of Benin and Felix Eklu of Togo, were to think of all this.
Back to what AfricaTown is all about. The Library of Congress has a section about communities, and a portion of it about AfricaTown reads:
In a federal court case in 1861, US v. Byrnes Meaher, Timonthy Meaher, and John Dabey, the three were charged with importing 103 natives of Africa for the purpose of slavery in the United States on the schooner Clotilde. The case was dismissed because the Federal Court could not prove the involvement of Timothy Meaher in this plot, but there was a strong implication that the case was dismissed because of the beginning of the Civil War.
After the Civil War, the original group of intended slaves was joined by a number of their fellow tribesmen. For decades they continued speaking their native tongue, had disputes arbitrated by their tribal chieftain, Charlie Poteete, and had their illnesses treated by the African doctor, Jabez. Up until World War II, AfricaTown remained a rather distinct community in Mobile County.
AfricaTown is unique in that it represents a group of Africans who were forcefully removed from their homeland, sold into slavery, and then formed their own, largely self-governing community, all the while maintaining a strong sense of African cultural heritage. This sense of heritage and sense of community continues to thrive today, more than 140 years after the landing of the Clotilde in Mobile Bay.
Cudjo Lewis had been the last survivor of the Clothilde / Clotilde / Clotilda; it was he that rang the bell at the Union Baptist Church (and at one time there had been a bronze bust of him outside this church; it was stolen in 2002, at one point returned, then rejected and left in a garbage bag, and oh it is a whole long story -- see the book Dreams of Africa in Alabama for more):
...which has this marker, mentioning his name:
Booker T. Washington came to visit Cudjo Lewis, as did Zora Neale Hurston. And there's a bit of a problem with ZNH's writings from her interviews, because she wasn't always terribly careful with keeping to the facts and not embellishing or changing or sometimes plagiarizing altogether (see Zora Neale Hurston: A Literary Biography for just one), but interesting nevertheless. In college, I knew nothing of this and thought she was incredible (she really is, anyway) and if Zora hadn't done all the folkways recording work she had done it would have just been lost, lost, lost. All that to say, there are some issues among her interviews with Cudjo Lewis. And there is a manuscript she wrote about him that she wished to have turned into a book called 'Barracoon' but her publisher turned her down and to this day it has never been put into print.
There are more interviews with those who arrived on the Clotilda in Historic Sketches of the South by Emma Langdon Roche.
Cudjo Lewis' monument, called 'burial landmark' in the Old Plateau cemetery, placed primarily by Delta Sigma Theta Sorority:
A 2010 historical monument in the front of the cemetery mentions that the College of William and Mary have sent project members who have done archaeological study here and found the burial sites of other Clotilda survivors. There's more about that here at the W&M site, and here in the Mobile P-R.
The (*wonderful*) Mobile Mardi Gras documentary, The Order of Myths: "...the film captures the excitement and expectations of onlookers as the queens are named. But the narrative takes an unexpected twist when it is revealed that this year’s white Mardi Gras queen, debutante Helen Meaher, is the direct descendent of an outlaw who ran the last slave ship to enter the United States, more than 50 years after a federal ban abolished the slave trade. His ship, the Clothilde, contained unforeseen cargo—the ancestor of the film’s black Mobile Mardi Gras Queen of 2007, Stefannie Lucas. Her forebears fled into the woods outside of Mobile, known as Africatown, rather than be burned alive when the Clothilde ran aground."
This heritage trail around Mobile includes sites in AfricaTown.
Back in August (I've been meaning to talk about this forever, obv) Black & White City Paper in B'ham asked if they could use an image or two from my pics of Vincent Oliver's Hippodrome barber shop for a feature they were doing on that neighborhood's rebound.
I took these pics last summer, and ever since have been thinking about doing a series on empty, after-hours barbershops. I got started this summer, in downtown B'ham:
One of the most interesting things I found was this, which you can see only if you stand under the awning and look up (wonder how old this is!?):
A William Edmondson angel with cape sold at Sotheby's last month for $98,500. The self-taught artist from Tennessee was mentioned in the auction catalogue notes: Edmondson was the first African American self-taught artist given a one-person exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, in 1937. A New Yorker reviewer acknowledged the "surprising amount of weight and power" of the work but went on to write, "The figures are not decorative enough to be attractive to many, nor have they really enough emotional or intellectual content to be of lasting interest, and it is likely that after the show closes, on December 1st they and Mr. Edmondson will soon be forgotten." More than seventy years later, that reviewer was proved wrong. The museum establishment has recognized Edmondson as one of the most important self-taught artists of the twentieth century."
I'll be in Nashville later this month and will post more pics of some of his other work.
This Walker Evans photograph of a country store around Moundville sold at Sotheby's at $8750 this month, within the estimate.
The B'ham News reported that, "Grants from the Alabama State Council on the Arts are down 25 percent in the round of awards announced Sept. 16 in Guntersville."
Fallingwater is 75 years old and has undergone serious structural repairs over time. The AIA put together a nice site celebrating the structure, and FLW. A copper urn designed by FLW sold for $772k at auction this week.
Love, love, love, love this by Chipotle, with Willie Nelson singing.
The photo at the top of this NYT article about how delicious chicken skin is...
The Times-Picayune reports that on October 21, a minister in New Orleans will have met his goal of dining in each of the city's 721 restaurants. Tom Fitzmorris' site states there are 1222 (he's been keeping up with it since Katrina) so subtracting franchises...that still seems like a big difference, though...
Doyle New York will be auctioning the Arthur Rothstein photograph collection on October 13, which includes many of his photographs from Gee's Bend, like this one:
Why the Oyster has the Pearl, a children's book that my friend Bethanne Hill illustrated, has just been released by Pelican.
The National Storytelling Festival is this weekend in Jonesborough, Tennessee. I was contacted by someone there who asked if they could use one of my pics of a bottle tree, if they couldn't secure one of Kathryn Tucker Windham with one for a printed memorial to her (I agreed, of course). Thankfully, I think Dilcy found a pic of her mom with a bottle tree, so that's what they were able to run. Tada! They're also going to have a bottle tree there at the festival for people to leave their memories of her. Very, very nice.
Sirius is going to air audio from the festival on their channel 145 from Oct 21-23.
East Tennessee State University is offering a Master of Arts in Storytelling.
A million thanks to my friend Larry Harris for this link to SPOT's 1991 journal on art environments.
I made a traditional kugel for Rosh Hashanah (above is a pic I made with regular raisins) but used pomegranate-flavored dried cranberries instead this year. Whereas I thought I was going to get extra points for using poms in a different way this year -- plus pomegranates are a customary food of RH -- I noticed when I took the plates back to the kitchen that everyone but me had picked them out. Okay! So unless your family likes the idea of it, it might be better to stick with golden or regular raisins. It was pretty, though:
Kugels can go sweet or savory. I think what people immediately associate with kugel are those wide egg noodles, but if I remember correctly, Joan Nathan has a recipe for Jerusalem kugel where she uses spaghetti noodles, caramel, and a bundt pan! Savory kugels, like carrot or potato, sometimes omit the noodles altogether and they turn into souffles somewhat. I like them best when they're not particularly dense, and this recipe makes a sweet kugel that is very nice:
1 pound wide egg noodles
sugar: I've made this with 1/2 cup sugar and it's nice, and I've used 2c. for very sweet, dessert-type
2 sticks butter, melted
16 oz. large curd cottage cheese
optional: raisins, cinnamon, vanilla, dried berries
Preheat the oven to 350*. Boil the noodles about 2/3 of the time on the package (you still want them to have some texture in the finished product), then drain. Mix together all ingredients, and add the noodles. Pour into a buttered casserole dish. Bake 50-60 minutes or until kugel is set and it has those lovely browned noodles on top.
Maybe next year instead of pomegranate-flavored cranberries, I'll serve a cranberry cocktail and everyone will be verrry pleased with that! Me too!
The $20k House project that Auburn's Rural Studio works on is genius. In fact, if I had to do college over again, I'd give up my BBA and BS degrees for either a Master's in Southern Studies at Ole Miss, or I'd have studied under Sambo Mockbee at Auburn and done the Rural Studio program and graduated in architecture. The idea that these students are making livable, respectable, responsible structures for $20k...
I often look at these and think what a great lake house or vacation cabin these would be for people who would never otherwise have any interest in these homes too.
Architect Magazine had a nice piece last month about Sambo. This is an article about the new Rural Studio Revolution and Rural Studio Farm, a project in which students have a 100 sq ft greenhouse and will farm to feed 40 of them three times a week. Scott Peacock, who is going around Alabama collecting stories and memories of food from elderly residents, visited the farm this summer. (BTW, Scott's memoir about living and working with Edna Lewis is supposed to be out next year, and his cookbook, Scott Peacock's Alabama Kitchen, will be out in 2013).
MIT is working on an overseas prototype called the Pinwheel House that could be built for $1000, and another version for Japan for $10,000. Images and text here.
Late last week, the B'ham News had an article about how a couple of unidentified female artists had painted sections of plywood around the boarded-up Leer Tower, what used to be known as the Cabana Hotel and the Thomas Jefferson Hotel. So of course I had to go see.
The pyramid-shaped structure on top of the building is a tie-down (mooring mast) for blimps. Well, the building was completed in 1929, so...
The most interesting piece was this one:
There were/are plans to rehab the building; it looks like this inside (amazing.). More pics here, here, and here.