Posts Tagged With: folklife

Remembering our great ones

The problem with a being an arts administrator is that you spend so much time administering the arts that you have little occasion to enjoy them. Wonderful opportunities offered by our Kentucky Arts Partners and program artists pass over our desk, and we lament not having the time to attend or participate in all of them.

We are pleased to report that this year, the planets aligned in such a way that we will be able to join the celebration during the Living Arts and Science Center Day of the Dead Festival at the Old Episcopal Burying Ground in Lexington.

We are creating an altar honoring late Kentucky artists with Kentucky-centric ofrendas. Our intention is to be faithful to the spirit of the traditional Dia de los Muertos celebration, while offering a cross-cultural interpretation that is also true to the Commonwealth. We look forward to learning and sharing on Nov.1 and, of course, having some fun.

 John Tuska style papel picado

Papel picado we made in the style of John Tuska, one of Kentucky’s great artists.

We will feature photos of artists who have passed like Rosemary Clooney, Bill Monroe, Rude Osolnik, Skeeter Davis, James Baker Hall and many others. Ofrendas will include all those foods and items a Kentucky artist might miss if far from home.

Heine Brothers’ Mexico Maya Vinic

There are layers upon layers of meaning in this offering of Heine Brothers’ Mexico Maya Vinic.

It’s inspiring to watch a Day of the Dead celebration become a part of the annual fall landscape in Lexington. This holiday from another country and culture certainly has resonance in a new home. This is likely because the participants — whether first –generation Kentuckians or tenth-generation Kentuckians — place a strong value on remembering those who came before. Nowhere is this value more evident than in our art. You can hear it in our musician’s songs and read in our author’s words. Kentucky’s strong sense of place has as much to with people who walked it and were inspired by it throughout their life, as it does with the land itself.

Sarah Schmitt, arts access director

Categories: Folk and Traditional Arts | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

The dulcimer gets its due

The Homer Ledford Dulcimer Festival kicks off this weekend, Aug. 29-30. Then, get ready for the Hindman Dulcimer Homecoming, Nov. 6-9. What is all this festivity about, you say?

As stringed instruments go, the Appalachian mountain dulcimer is a recent development. The curvy, wooden instruments designed to rest on the player’s lap emerged in 19th-century Appalachia, borrowing characteristics from older European instruments. The dulcimer’s visual and tonal beauty, ease of tuning, portability and durability made it a popular vehicle for musical expression throughout the region. Kentucky has been a dulcimer hub thanks largely to the late-1800s dulcimer patriarch Uncle Ed Thomas of Knott County, and the 20th century’s innovative and influential Homer Ledford of Winchester. Today, enthusiastic communities of dulcimer players and listeners exist all around the world.

Master luthier Doug Naselroad just completed a Kentucky Arts Council Folk and Traditional Arts Apprenticeship, teaching apprentice Mike Slone the techniques and culture behind dulcimer building.

Sit back a few minutes with this video and hear their story about discovering their personal connections to dulcimer history, and how their work together over the last year is having a big impact on Kentucky communities.

Mark Brown, folk and traditional arts program director

Categories: Folk and Traditional Arts | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Put this on your Market to-do list

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Typical Market checklist

When you go to Kentucky Crafted: The Market – because you are going, right? – you will encounter some of the best Kentucky has to offer in visual art, craft, music, and more. Your schedule will be tight. You will be busy going from aisle to aisle, talking to artists whose work you like the most, sampling food, collecting books, doing fun art activities with kids, and hearing master musicians play fiddle, guitar, banjo, Chinese pipa, marching drums, dulcimer, and washboard.

Between doing all those things, take a few minutes to view the special exhibit sampler in Heritage Hall, near the Kentucky Stage. You will be glad you did. For the first time ever, the Kentucky Arts Council is bringing together a sampler of three of our prized exhibits: Uncommon Wealth, identity, and The Makings of a Master.

Each exhibit includes amazing art that offers you new perspectives on arts scenes across Kentucky:

  • Uncommon Wealth features Al Smith Fellowship recipients over the past 30 years, recognized for their creative excellence.
  • identity features work by artists who have disabilities of many different kinds, which may or may not influence their identities as artists.
  • The Makings of a Master: Kentucky Folk Art Apprenticeships presents examples of the wonderful folk art that is created during the critical and momentous times when a master tradition-bearer teaches an apprentice.

Not only will you see all this artwork in one place, you will get to meet some of the artists as they work:

On Saturday, March 8, master basket maker Paul Rich of Mammoth Cave, Ky., and his apprentice Tim Brewster will demonstrate their acclaimed white oak basket style that developed over generations along Highway 31W in south central Ky. To find out more, visit the Mammoth Cave basketmakers’ website.

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Dr. Jim Middleton and Paul Rich at the 2006 white oak basket contest in Hart County

On Sunday, March 9, master quilter Patricia Brennan of Fort Thomas, Ky., will display and work on her beautiful quilts with her apprentice Helen Bailey. Visit their blog to find out more.

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Log cabin square

A stop at the exhibit sampler will be well worth your while, and will help make this one of the best Markets yet. See you there!

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Top secret exhibit sampler floor-plan drawn on a marker board, photographed with a bowtie that’s really a camera

Mark Brown, folk and traditional arts program director

Categories: Other | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Scarecrows have invaded downtown Scottsville, Ky.

They have taken over the square. Big scarecrows, little scarecrows, hug-ably soft scarecrows and pointy-toothed scary scarecrows are all frozen in their own autumnal tableaux.

This annual assemblage is a great example of a living folk art tradition. Individuals, organizations and businesses join in the fun and express their aesthetics right in the heart of the city.

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Learn more about the Scottsville Scarecrow Invasion here.

How does your community celebrate this time of year? Share comments below.

Thanks, Scottsvillians, for this wondrous display. Also, congratulations to your newly-certified Kentucky Community Scholars who are working to identify and celebrate more folk art forms and heritage in the area.

Mark Brown, folk and traditional arts program diector

Categories: Folk and Traditional Arts | Tags: , , , , , , ,

2013 Governor’s Awards in the Arts: Ed White

Meeting River City Drum Corps Founder Ed White, of Louisville, was one of the best experiences I had while interviewing the 2013 Governor’s Awards in the Arts recipients. I was energized for weeks after my conversation with Ed and kept referring back to my interview with him to reread some of the wisdom he shared with me.

Ed grew up in Louisville’s west end. As a child he was drawn to the arts but did not have ample opportunity for participation. Due to his involvement with a local Boys Club, he was naturally exposed to sports and played for years, even though his heart wasn’t in it. Ed eventually ended up being a director at a Boys Club and found it was still a sports-focused atmosphere. He decided it was time to incorporate the arts into the system, making art available at the same level as sports. During the next few years, with opportunities to learn through programs like Arts Reach Kentucky, Ed developed the tools he needed to start the River City Drum Corps.

I talked to Ed for more than two hours the day we met. I think if he hadn’t had other things to do, I’d still be there talking with him. What you will read in this interview about the drum corp barely makes a dent in Ed’s personal story and experiences. It is without pretense I say: Ed White, the 2013 Governor’s Awards in the Arts Folk Heritage Award recipient, makes me proud to be a Kentuckian.

What is the process like when kids sign up for the River City Drum Corps? What do they learn?

The first thing they learn is discipline. The first thing I have to do is get them to be able to stand still before I can teach them anything. After they get over that learning curve, we deal in drum making. Usually you have to be in drum corps a year before you get to make your drum. Then we start talking about African history and culture. We have a culture class every other Saturday, which is mandatory for them to come and to learn history, to learn culture, to learn games to let them understand the value of the team concept. It’s not a team concept where we have super stars, where everybody doesn’t get to play. It’s a concept where everybody is a part of the process and you rise through grasping the process. Our method is, we use the students as teachers. So we’re constantly teaching, I call it teaching down. As you teach down, the children grow up. And as they grow up, they’re continually teaching down. So the process keeps continually revolving around the idea, so that each child has ownership. It’s leadership development. It’s a leadership development program using arts and culture. They become the show managers, they become the booking agents – it’s the process of teaching them how the drum corps works. Basically, all I do now is just drive them – some shows I don’t even go in the building – so that they understand and they grasp the concept of the energy and power they have within themselves.

Why is it important to make your own drums instead of purchase drums?

It connects you to the culture. The drum in Africa is the foundation of culture. Celebrations, births, deaths, weddings, war, planting, harvest season. The drum is the foundation of life, ceremonies and culture. When I was in Ghana, I went to Tamale to meet with this group called the Tamale Youth Group. They do the same thing I do with the drums. They use it to teach children as a foundation, so their culture doesn’t get lost because of the influences of Western society. So they teach children to make drums, but also they teach them the purpose of the drum – they teach them to make fabric, to tie-dye – the whole thing about their culture, with the drum as the foundation of it. When you make things you tap into the creative spirit. So when a child takes raw materials and fashions this drum, then their spirit is connected to it. Again, that’s the power of art. The power of art is the connection of your spirit to whatever image you create. That’s what that’s about; that’s the reasoning, why. Once they do it, ownership is created.

Tell me a little about the kids who are in the drum corps.

I have children from all over the city, from all socioeconomic backgrounds. You know you hear people say ‘at-risk.’ But everybody’s at-risk, because all of us are one or two paychecks away from being out on the street. The gamut runs large and very diverse on the backgrounds of children that I get. Everybody’s looking for something and this is something that they find.

Because they are able to participate in the River City Drum Corps, what opportunities are available to them that weren’t available to you? You talked earlier about how the emphasis was on sports, but your heart was in the arts. Was it important to you to create those opportunities you didn’t have?

Yes. See, I couldn’t afford drumming. That was something I knew I couldn’t do, but it was easy for sports. Buying instruments was something that would not happen. But my mother could take her children to the Boys Club and everybody would get something.

There are so many things we do that get our children out of our community, so they see different things, they see different people. They understand it’s a different world out here.

Can you reflect on how the River City Drum Corps has been important to you personally? What personal achievements have you experienced?

When children that the world said “they can’t make it,” make it.

I look at my children who are first-generation college graduates. I look at them who have gone to school for free. I look at a young man who was from a family of superstar athletes. I see families who understand the power of education and drive their children to succeed, to grab it.

I’m glad that I met Bob Gates (former state folklorist). Bob Gates was one of the few people that I know who understands the power of culture. And he understands it. If we could get more people to understand the power of culture we could solve a whole lot of problems.

This work for me is my purpose. I’ve done a whole lot of things. I was a welder. I rebuilt cars. I worked in the atomic energy plant reprocessing uranium to build bombs. I’ve done several other little loose jobs. All of the rest of them, with the exception of maybe photography, was without purpose. This is my purpose.

Emily B. Moses, communications director

Categories: Performing Arts | Tags: , , , , , , ,

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