Thursday, October 20, 2011

October 15-17–Georgia-Florida Loop

Dearest Readers,
It’s not over yet! The Hand to Hand Roadtrip Across America continued last weekend through South Georgia to Thomasville, on to Tallahassee Florida on Saturday; across to Jacksonville, back to Tally Sunday, returning to Decatur on Monday via Milledgeville and Athens. One thousand more miles added to the circuit for a grand total of 11,400 miles delivering H2H artwork around this country. Scion still holding up. Not so good me. Came down with a cold again. Little Etta James stayed home.

From Middle Georgia southward, the earth changed from our hard-as-a-brick red clay to soft sandy soil. I shot this dirt road near Montezuma, then a field of bursting cotton near Vienna, and a stately pecan grove outside of Cordele. Stopped for gas in Sylvester and got snagged among the participants and cars at the annual peanut festival there. Lots of kids were lined up to use the bathroom at the Shell convenience store. The weather is sunny, dry and in the low 90’s.

First stop Thomasville pop. 15,000 near the Florida border. This is Rich and Lori Curtis in their home beneath one of Rich’s paintings. He teaches art at Thomas University in town. Lori works in plantation tourism.

We’re holding one of their six collaborative hand and glove photo close-ups depicting a narrative of hand gestures as they recorded their reactions to the Iraq War events of their week in 2008. This piece became the cover shot for the Hand to Hand catalog.

Rich took me to lunch at Grassroots, a coffee shop and café in historic downtown Thomasville. The town grew up in the 1800’s as a cotton and nut plantation center, and in the 20th century became a tourist town because of its location at the end of the railroad line, before interstate highways changed travel patterns to Florida.

This is Rich with his artwork in the multi-store venue of “Flaunt-25”– a show of 25 artists’ works on 25 local store walls. His wood, paint and zoological assemblages address his opposition to the hunting culture in the area, and the killing of local wildlife for stuffed trophies. I took this picture of an elaborate taxidermy shop downtown selling rugs, lamps, chandeliers and knickknacks made from animal parts.

On the way south out of town I stopped at Pebble Hall Plantation, which is open to visitors.

Twenty minutes outside of Thomasville I crossed into Florida, and then on to charming Tallahassee, the state capitol with its old courthouse and government buildings downtown surrounded by live oaks and lush landscaping. There’s a bird and wildlife sanctuary nearby, accessible by boat, that I did not have time to visit. Turtles, waterfowl, armadillo, heron, hawks, owl, deer and even bears I’m told live near. Tally has a small town feel. Everything is fairly close.

The first thing I did when I arrived in Tallahassee was to meet my artist friend and former Atlantan, Judy Rushin, at a baby shower she was hosting in the neighborhood. This is Judy with Mama Anne and her new little boy Gabriel. Most of the guests are artists or art teachers with Judy and Anne at FSU. Lots of Anne’s work and local art hangs on her walls. I was honored to be a part of the group.

Saturday night Judy took me to an art auction to benefit Space 621, an alternative gallery in the Railroad Square art and theater area. We stopped by Occupy Wall Street/Tallahassee where we talked with a student activist who told us about their march on the capitol earlier. He did not want me to take his picture. We saw a group discussion and a long line of folks waiting for free food donated by a restaurant. Yay 99%!

I returned Sunday morning to find the demonstrators breaking down the encampment. They’ve arranged with the city to stay in the greenspace downtown only on weekends. They will return next Friday night.

Then I took off to Jacksonville along straight-as-an-arrow I-10 – two and a half hours each way. I listened to an early Bob Dylan compilation CD set that my condo neighbor lent me, and “Remarkable Creatures”, an audio book about the life and discoveries of Mary Anning, a young fossil hunter along the English coast who predated Darwin. Good stuff for a monotonous highway.

I arrived around 1:30 pm at the Jacksonville home of glove artist Neha Luhar-Trice and her husband Chris. He just received tenure as a professor of photography at the University of North Florida there. Unlike compact Tallahassee, Jax is a big seaside city that sprawls along the ocean and beaches, across inland waterways, among burgeoning apartment complexes, and a downtown with skyscrapers visible in the distance.

Chris took this picture of Neha and I seating by a shaded pond and fountain near their home. I’m handing her one of her gloves depicting her reaction to an extreme week of civilian killings in Iraq in 2010. This piece addresses the bombing of a textile factory by insurgents, and the death of eighty workers.

Neha made a colorful and very tasty Indian buffet of bhel, a puffed grain mixture (in the foreground), topped with a selection of chopped tomatoes, onion, raspberries and a tamarind chutney with dates and cilantro. Wow!

Then back along I-10 to Tallahassee and a second night as guest of the Rushins.

Meet the whole family-Judy, Rob and their smart, creative kids Anna and Ben. We’re having dinner Sunday night on their deck overlooking a backyard of thick semi-tropical vegetation. Pasta shells with homemade tomato sauce, grated cheese, wine and baby field greens are on the table. Raspberry sorbet and Symphony chocolate squares for dessert.

I snapped this shot of Judy in her studio standing next to some painted and drilled wood studies. Here are two of her paintings...a large green canvas that Rob photographed for an album cover, (He’s a musician in the band Reba-Seger, and an orange panel diptych from Judy's newer series.

Monday I said goodbye to Judy and Rob and headed back north to Georgia around 10:00 am.

After crossing the border, I headed North and East, cutting diagonally across Georgia. I bypassed Macon, driving further northeast to Milledgeville, the former old capitol city, a pre-civil war town spared by Sherman on his incendiary March to the Sea. My first stop of the day was at the home of glove artist Megan Tiedeman Bowen who I had met in 2006 when she was an art student at Georgia College and State University there. I was a visiting artist.

Here I am at her front door holding two of her six gloves with the dates emblazoned, and slashed with red threads. Megan was not able to meet me when I arrived, so I took the picture, and left the package of artwork on her porch as we had planned.

5:30 pm-Last stop-the sewing studio of Sara Spurlock in Athens. She was finishing making costumes for the Canopy Repertory Company, an aerial dance ensemble performing an adaptation of Shakespeare’s A MidSummer Night's Dream this weekend. We’re holding one of her six little canvases with inked marionette and puppeteer hands connected by embroidered threads. Her sweet, quiet Chihuahua looks on.

Arrived home in Decatur at 7:00 pm, the road still humming in my head.

1 comment:

  1. Dear See See, how wonderful, how joyous is your wandering pilgrimage...miles on the American roadways, carrying art, visiting artists, eating with artists, and returning art. Thank you so much for sharing your JOURNEY.

    I hope you are well...such committed activity may take its toll on your health. Always, you are in my thoughts and admiration!