Thursday, December 27, 2012

Viceroy and Helianthus

Here is my computer composition from three original watercolor and colored pencil paintings. A metallic print will be on display at Galloway Ridge in Fearrington Village beginning in January.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Holiday Greetings from Carol-Ann and Forrest

Watercolor and colored pencil by Forrest
Helebores blooming
A Carolina winter’s
Joyful jewelry

Monday, December 17, 2012

Art students take The Tour

Students with Ms Harrington and Chatham
Artists Guild member Forrest Greenslade
 in the Forrest Dweller Sculpture Garden.
Photo by Kelly Butler, Eagle Eye Photography, Pittsboro.
Art students from the Haw River Christian Academy in Pittsboro visited a number of studios at the 20th Chatham Studio Tour. Their art teacher, Lisa Harrington guided the 4th through 7th graders in their special tour, linking the educational experiences of local artists to what they are learning in their classes. They enjoyed seeing the work of Dmitri and Janet Resnick, Emma Skurnick, Mark Hewitt and Forrest Greenslade.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Second weekend of the Chatham Studion Tour coming up

The first weekend of the Tour was blessed with perfect weather. Some very nice folks visited our studios, gallery and sculpture garden. Suzanne Edney from Custom Landscapes took this photo in our garden.

Weather for the second weekend, December 8th and 9th, looks to be pretty nice as well.

Carol-Ann and I hope to see you,

Caption: Savannah Surprise, a sculpture in cedar wood and concrete

Friday, November 16, 2012

Beauty at the End of the Line at Pittsboro's Bell House

Beginning December 2nd, Chatham photographer Horty Jacobs will exhibit a collection of her arresting photographs at the Spa at Bell House, 74 East Salisbury Street in historic Pittsboro, NC. In the many photographs, Jacobs calls “Beauty at the End of the Line,” she has captured abstract images of color, texture and composition that she sees in ageing surfaces of abandoned vehicles. I find beauty in the faded, cracked, rusted surfaces transformed by the relentless power of time and the elements,” Jacobs observes. “I am drawn to abandoned places and things – junkyards -- derelict buildings -- railroad graveyards. I love the relentless effects of time and the elements -- Slowly, inexorably painted surfaces, fade, crack, peel, succumbing as rust steals in.”  Jacobs captures exactly what she sees through the camera’s lens, an image without any embellishment. She employs no supplemental illumination, reflectors, nothing to alter the natural light. “I shoot 35 mm color exclusively, mostly slide film,” she explains.

A new comer to Chatham County, Jacobs’ photography and paintings have been displayed in many galleries and juried shows, including: The Delaware Valley Arts Alliance Gallery, Narrowsburgh, N. Y.; the Port O’Call Gallery, Warwick, N. Y.; the Gallant Gallery, Salem, Mass.; the Essex Fine Art Gallery and the Colonnade Gallery, both in Montclair, N. J. Also, the renowned Peters Valley Colony’s Annual Arts & Craft Fair. Ten of her photographs were selected to decorate the set in the HBO movie “Brooklyn, U.S.A.”

Horty Jacobs is a member of the Artist Studios at Fearrington Village, a group of visual artists living and creating in Fearrington.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Creating with concrete at Natural Learning Institute

Photo by Jesse Turner NLI
In October, Chatham County painter, sculptor and writer Forrest Greenslade conducted an outdoor workshop at NC State's 10th Annual Natural Learning Design Institute at the NC Botantical Garden. The Design Institute offered presentations from experts in the fields of childcare, outdoor learning design and the environment, particularly in childcare settings.

Photo by Jesse Turner NLI
Greenslade worked with a group of students and early childhood professionals from around North Carolina to learn techniques of concrete sculpture. Participants dug holes in the wondergarden, a space for kids to explore nature and play at The Garden. They then mixed a concrete composite that Greenslade uses to create sculpture, and poured the mixture into the holes. Pieces of cedar wood were inserted into the concrete material to produce toadstool stems.

After allowing a couple of weeks for the concrete to cure, the Botanical Garden Staff dug up the pieces, and assembled them into a whymsical Toadstool Town.

Photo by Forrest
It tweeks the imagination to think what kids will do in Toadstool Town over the next months.

Stay tuned!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

See "Organic Forrestry" at the 20th Chatham Tour

Kenyan Family Portrait:
My painting exhibited at FRANK Gallery
This year, Chatham County painter, sculptor and writer Forrest Greenslade will open his Fearrington Village studios and sculpture garden for the first two weekends in December for the 20th Annual Chatham Studio Tour. His studio will be open from 10 to 5 on Saturday December 1st, Sunday December 2nd, Saturday December 8th and Sunday December 9th.

The Chatham Tour is a holiday tradition. Visitors from all around enjoy Chatham’s rural beauty and share in the creative process with the members of the Chatham Artists Guild. Fifty artists who live and create in Chatham County, will open their studios the first two weekends in December.

Art-lovers can meet Tour artists and see samplings of their works at receptions at FRANK Gallery in Chapel Hill on November 29th from 6 to 8 PM, and November 30th at Central Carolina Community College in Pittsboro from 7 to 9 PM.

Lord God Bird:
My painting exhibiting at CCCC
"I have a good inventory of new paintings and prints, and will feature my latest book Visitations: A Nature-Lover's Journal. This is a collection of my recent paintings, haiku poems and spaces for you to journal your gardening and nature experiences. Of course, you can stroll through our Forrest Dweller Sculpture Garden."

Directions: Once you arrive at Fearrington village on Rt 15/501, turn into Village Way. You can get to our Forreat Dweller Sculpture Garden by turning at Creekwood (the first left) or at Windstone (the second left). Follow the signs to number 32 at 149 Tinderwood.

Fearrington Village has five additional Guild artists exhibiting in this year’s Tour: painter and mixed media artists Carol Owen (29), junque artist Rita Spina (30), painter Kim Werfel (31), print maker Vidabeth Bensen (33), and photographer Roy Lindholm (34).

A free self-guided brochure and tour map can be found in numerous locations throughout the area, including: FRANK Gallery in Chapel Hill, Saxaphaw Artists Gallery, McIntyres Fine Books in Fearrington Village, PAF Gallery in Siler City and The Joyful Jewel in Pittsboro. An online gallery of selected Tour art, information about participating artists, and a tour map and guide can be found on the Chatham Artists Guild website at:

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Founding artist returns for 20th Annual Chatham Studio Tour

Eclectic sculptor Nate Sheaffer was one of the original Chatham County artists that Tour founder Cathy Holt selected to open his studio to the public in 1992. Sheaffer is one of 50 artists who live and create in Chatham County, who will open their studios the first two weekends in December for the 20th Annual Chatham Studio Tour. Art-lovers can meet Tour artists and see samplings of their works at receptions at FRANK Gallery in Chapel Hill on November 29th from 7 to 9 PM, and November 30th at Central Carolina Community College in Pittsboro from 7 to 9 PM.

Chatham Artist Nate Sheaffer
Photo by: Bruce DeBoer
Sheaffer has been creating and building since his childhood on the banks of the Susquehanna River in tiny Liverpool, Pennsylvania. “I was the baby of eight kids,” Sheaffer notes. “My mother was a great illustrator, but didn’t have much time for art with two jobs – a tailor and seamstress in a dress factory, and occasionally as a hair dresser in the local funeral home,” he remembers. “My dad was a machinist, and dug graves with my uncle.” Sheaffer’s father created airboats for riding the mile across river, using airplane engines that he had recycled.

The river was a continuous inspiration for the family. “My father, my brothers and I built cabins on islands out in the river from wood and other materials that we scavenged from its waters, Sheaffer recalls. “As a 14 year old boy, this was one of the first things that I built, and I never stopped building,” Sheaffer asserts.

Sculpture by Nate Sheaffer
Sheaffer came to North Carolina in the early 80s with a javelin throwing scholarship to UNC Chapel Hill. “My brother won the same scholarship previously,” he notes. Sheaffer was a German language and literature major, but really enjoyed sculpture classes with well known UNC teacher Robert Howard, who created large cast and welded sculptures, and Jerry Noe, who made mixed media works, often employing neon. “Noe urged me to employ neon to lighten up my sculptural pieces,” Sheaffer reflects.

Sheaffer sought the guidance of John Wilhelm, who owned Paradise Neon in Raleigh. “This was a critical influence for me,” he states. “John tutored me for free, and encouraged me to set up my own neon shop in Chapel Hill in 1986.”

After six months, it was clear to Sheaffer that he would not make a good living making neon art, so he turned his creativity to commercial production. Ultimately, he grew the business, Neon Impressions to 25 employees centered in Chatham County. “We made thousands of neon signs and distributed nationally and internationally,” he asserts. “Coca Cola signs throughout Germany were made right here.” From 1992 to 1994 he opened the shop in Pittsboro as a participant in the new Chatham Studio Tour.

Nate Sheaffer employs neon in eclectic art
As Sheaffer’s business grew, it left little time for creating art, but in 1999, production neon began to be off shored to China. Sheaffer sold off the business and property. He worked for a time as a project manager and estimator for a contractor in Siler City. For the last several years, Nate Sheaffer has been a full time stay at home dad for his son and daughter. His wife is a pediatric neurologist. “Laundry, shopping, cooking, reading to the kids, didn’t leave much time for creating art,” he grins. Now with both children in school, Sheaffer is “scratching my creative itch” once more. “I am so excited to participate in the 20th Chatham Studio Tour,” Sheaffer emotes. I will exhibit with my friend, and fellow glass artist Jonathan Davis in his studio.”  See a video on Sheaffer's work.

The Tour has now grown to over 50 artists. In addition to Nate Sheaffer, nine new artists join the Tour this year: potter Trish Welsh; quilter Suzanna Stewart; pastel artist Carolyn Schrock; fiber artist Christie Minchew; jewelry maker Lynell Dodge; basket weaver Jan Dunn; photographer Len Jacobs; and furniture maker Erik Wolken.

The Chatham Studio Tour is a holiday tradition, and an opportunity to see and purchase unique original art. Visitors from all around enjoy Chatham’s rural beauty and share with the members of the Chatham Artists Guild in the creative process. “Our Tour is an important economic engine,” notes Guild President, Julia Kennedy. Last year, Tour visitors came from counties all around North Carolina, and as far away as New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Virginia, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Kentucky, Missouri, Louisiana, Texas, Arizona and California. “As they travel around Chatham, they stop at restaurants, gas stations and all kinds of local businesses,” Kennedy continues.  

A free self-guided brochure and tour map can be found in numerous locations throughout the area, including: FRANK Gallery in Chapel Hill, Saxaphaw Artists Gallery, McIntyres Fine Books in Fearrington Village, PAF Gallery in Siler City and The Joyful Jewel in Pittsboro. An online gallery of selected Tour art, information about participating artists, and a tour map and guide can be found on the Chatham Artists Guild website at:

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

NC Botanical Garden Sculpture Show Through December

Sculpture in the Garden continues until December 16

Here is my exhibit in the garden -- Regrets, I've had a few.
This ornithological assemblage was created in concrete and steel. A family of regrettable expressions, these “rebirds”, named for their disproportionately long legs sculpted in rebar, remind us of the many avoidable foibles that life presents. The largest, “A Greater Regret”, will dominate a garden space. The slightly smaller and less obtrusive, “A Lesser Regret”. The coming of age Regret is “A Youthful Indiscretion”. The three babies are “Minor Mistakes”.
Be sure to visit the Garden -- It is an especially good sculpture show this year.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Animal-Lover Armstrong Exhibits at Banana Factory

Kathryn Greenslade Armstrong has just participated in an Artsquest member show at Bethleham Pensylvania's Banana Factory. She exhibited two acrylic paintings on canvas -- one called "Alpha's Shadow" is a remembrance of a trip with her family to a wolf preserve -- the other, "Three Little Cows" is a reflecton of her Lehigh Valley rural environs.

Kathryn Armstrong with her nature-inspired paintings
photo: Forrest Greenslade
"I LOVE animals! All kinds of animals! Especially dogs," Armstrong asserts. "I have my own furbaby, Juno, a senior Siberian Husky, and I am active in Siberian Husky rescue. My greatest inspiration comes from animals and nature."

Armstrong is a classically trained graphic designer with a BFA from New York's Parson School of Design. She also has a certification in Web Technology from Allentown Business School. After working for years in publishing, primarily in health care, she currently applies her creativity to marketing and public affairs at Lehigh Valley Hospital in Allentown Pensylvania.

Kathryn Armstrong lives in Makungie PA with her husband Steve and daughter Nicole.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Fairies and Gnomes

Here are pics from a Fairy and Gnome workshop for kids that I did at the North Carolina Botanical Garden in collaboration with Kidzu Children’s Museum. The photos were taken by Stephanie from Kidz.
My Fairy God Grandmother example for the kids

Hope you enjoy the cute kids,


Friday, September 14, 2012

Quilter Patterns a Colorful Life in her Chatham Home

Visitors to the 20th Chatham Studio Tour will enjoy Quartz Hill Quilts (, the sewing studio of Susanna Stewart, in a home that she and her husband Sandy built with their own hands over a period of over 35 years. “It is the home in which I grew up - not in the traditional meaning of the word, but where I learned to be an adult in a world full of challenges,” Stewart says. “Life here began in a tree house, then a house slowly evolved, grew, aged, got repaired and remodeled, ever changing, a reflection of my own process and growth.”

Stewart creates quilts alive with color and dazzling floral fabrics. “Currently I find myself drawn mostly to bed quilts or throws,” she notes. “I have hundreds of quilting projects in my head. Sometimes I have three going at one time. I am fortunate enough to have adequate space and light, so I can spread out.” Lately she has been drawn to wall hangings and totes.

Stewart’s life path to fabric art and the Chatham Artists Guild was long and circuitous. Susanna’s mother died when she was eight year old. “I have very few memories of my mom,” she stresses, “but her loss was an issue for me for many years.” When her father remarried a year after her mother’s death, her relationship with her stepmother was difficult. “There was a lot of turmoil,” Stewart recalls. “So much so, that for my last two years of high school I went off to Concord Academy, a boarding school in Massachusetts.” It was there that she had an intellectual awakening. “I discovered Gandhi, Faulkner, and was particularly enthralled by an art history course,” she says. During summers, she worked on a ranch in Montana to avoid the difficulties at home. “I loved it there,” she asserts. “I cooked, build fences, trained horses.”

“In a lot of ways, the early death of my mother and the challenging relationship with my stepmother resulted in many of my personal strengths,” Stewart concludes.  “The greatest gift my stepmother provided was to teach me to sew.”

On graduation from high school in 1961, her father urged her to go to nursing school. “Back then, girls became either nurses or teachers,” she says. She started at Boston University and completed studies at Rex Hospital in Raleigh.

For 20 years Stewart worked as a nurse, mostly at Duke and UNC. Then, she made a major life change. “I found the schedule to be difficult on family life, and as a self employed carpenter and stone mason I had much more say about my schedule,” she asserts. Building our own home necessitated developing skills in this area, and we branched out building homes for others.” During this time I took a class in stained glass and made many windows, mostly with floral designs. Years later I discovered I had high levels of lead in my blood, so that was the end of stained glass work.

By the time Stewart was in her late 30s, she became interested in acupuncture. “I was still drawn to the healing arts,” she says. “I realized I did not want to be hauling heavy boards around when I was 50 The family moved to Santa Fe for three years, while she studied acupuncture. For 20 years, what is now Stewart’s sewing home studio, was an acupuncture clinic. “I have been “retired” from that practice for several years now, and quilting has taken up what spare time I manage to carve out for myself,” she quips. The arrival of grandchildren, including twin granddaughters eighteen months ago has limited her time for quilting. Stewart’s daughter is Lara O’Keefe, a well regarded Chatham County potter.

Since childhood, Stewart had a passion for the bright prints and colors in fabric, and she had quite a stash of fabric even before she made her first real quilt about 11 years ago. “I was in the local fabric store, Thimble Pleasures, when I fell in love with a quilt hanging on the wall in the shop. “I took a class and off I went,” she exclaims. “I am very grateful to Julie Holbrook for creating such a nourishing, stimulating fabric shop just 25 minutes from my house.” I have taken many classes there, although my learning continues just by being in the shop.

 As Stewart’s grandkids grow, and she has more time to quilt, she employs the many strategic and organizational skills that she has learned over her varied and colorful life.

“Quilting is much like carpentry and stained glass work, but a lot easier on the body” she laughs.

Susanna Stewart is one of the many regionally and nationally recognized artists and fine crafts people who will open their studios the first two weekends in December at the 20th Annual Chatham Studio Tour ( Visitors from all around enjoy Chatham’s rural beauty and share with the members of the Chatham Artists Guild in the creative process. It is a holiday tradition, and an opportunity to purchase unique original art.

Saturday, September 1, 2012

Art in the Village -- Autumn 2012

Artist Studios at Fearrington Village presents the 3rd Art in the Village. Browse fine art and crafts among the beautiful gardens of Fearrington Village. The outdoor exhibit and sale showcases a group of over 30 visual artists who live and create within Fearrington. Exhibitors:  painters, potters, sculptors, photographers, jewelers, woodworkers, fabric artists - art which represents a wide variety of styles and media. Join us – it’s family friendly and free!

 Stroll through beautiful gardens. Enjoy lovely and exciting music. Have a snack or a meal in Fearrington’s renowned restaurants. Visit McIntyre’s Books, a delightful independent bookstore.

Enjoy exhibits by local, regional and nationally-known artists who live and create in Fearrington Village and purchase their original artworks.

Some of the artists participating:
Sandy Beach – fused glass and glass creations
VidaBeth Bensen – hand-pulled screen printing
Evelyn Brown -- pottery
Beverly Crow – painting and mixed media
Carolyn Davenport – collage and mixed media
Forrest Greenslade – painting and sculpture
Murry Handler -- contemporary acrylic painting, bold ink-brush prints
Karen Havighurst – collage and mixed media

Nancy Jacobs -- painting
Florence Johnson – watercolor painting
Helen Kotsher – painting in oils and pastels
Matthew Leavitt -- photography
Roni Liberman – wooden furniture and turned bowls
Roy Lindholm -- photography
John Makowski -- ceramics
Marcelle Pachnowski – nonobjective colorist painting
Jane Palkoski -- fabric art and jewelry
Zen Palkoski -- sculpture
Leslie Palmer – painting and mixed media
Stan Pomeranz-- pottery
Deborah Sanks --painting
Betty Schabacker -- mixed media, collage 
Ruta Schuller – botanical paintings and mixed media
Rita Spina – junque (found object) art
Pat Stewart -- basketry
El Temblay – watercolor painting
Harry Lane Wurster -- mixed media

 Artist Studios at Fearrington Village

Friday, August 31, 2012

Chatham Photographer Exhibits Unexpected Visions

Len Jacobs will display his life’s collection of nature and travel photographs at his home studio during the 20th Chatham Studio Tour the first two weekends in December, but these visions are serendipitous.

Chatham County photographer Len Jacobs
When Len Jacobs was a young child in the 1920s in the Harlem district of New York City, it was evident that he had some sort of vision problem. “My parents had a small shop there, which went belly up, and we had to move to Brownsville Brooklyn to my mom’s family home,” Jacobs remembers. “They had a two-family house, with a store underneath.” In the store, his grandfather  made ladies coats and gave Len’s dad a job. “His dad had to learn how to use a sewing machine, and to design clothing,” Jacobs' recalls. His vision problems increased, and when he was three years old, Len’s folks finally found an optometrist in Hackensack New Jersey, where they learned he had only 7% vision. The problem was spreading to the extent that "I might even go blind,” Jacobs stresses. “I probably couldn’t even go to school,”

Fortunately, there was a Sight Conservation Class available in the New York City Public Schools.  “It was K through 6th grade, and the teacher understood kids with visual problems as well as their needs” Jacobs says. “We had special pencils, large print books, matte paper while  physical activity was prohibited.” It was thought that Jacobs’ visual problems made him susceptible for a possible retinal detachment.

In Junior high school there was also a Sight Conservation Class an hour’s double trolley ride away. Despite the school’s prohibition against physical exertion, Len and his visually impaired classmates played punchball, a street game combining the elements of handball, stickball and baseball, at lunch hour. In high school, he became even more physically active. “I had no problems with my eyes, and even began thinking of becoming a Physical  Education teacher, he notes.

Jacobs pursued this goal at NYU School of Education, received a BS in Education in 1948, and an MA in Health Education and Administration a year later. However, when he started looking for a job in the New York City public school system, his old vision problems came to the fore again. “You had to have 20/30 eye sight to get a license to teach Phys Ed,” Jacobs laments, “therefore I failed the medical exam.”

The diagnosis was a type of astigmatism creating an elongation of the eyeball,  which might make him a candidate for a retinal detachment.  Jacobs filed a series of appeals with the school system and the New York State Commissioner of Education. He had examinations by prominent ophthalmologists, who documented that the previous diagnosis was in error. He waited for the authorities to respond. In the mean time he and his wife Doris relocated to Elmira, NY and Washington, DC, where he found various jobs. Finally, in 1951 Len Jacobs received licenses to teach high school biology, high school physical education and elementary school in New York City. Finding an actual job was still a challenge, but he landed a position as an Attendance Officer where enjoyed a 35 year career while he became a Certified Social Worker. After a competitive exam, he became licensed and was appointed as a District Supervisor of Attendance in the New York City School system Bureau of Attendance. Of course he had many educational and societal interesting experiences. “One day, I had to visit John Gotti’s home to find out why his kid was absent from school,” he quips.

Jasper National Park; Alberta, Canada
Photo by len Jacobs
Jacobs' family life, with four children, was the foundation for his avocation as a photographer. In the summer, we had more time than money,” he laughs. “We started taking little camping trips for family fun.” He, of course, took vacation photos. “I wasn’t a very good photographer,” he admits, “so I began to take courses and to study books on photography while riding the Long Island Railroad each day to work.” He joined local camera clubs to hone his skills. He began to share his photos, taken from larger and larger trips to state and national parks all across the country and in Canada, with audiences throughout the greater New York City area. He has won numerous awards and recognition. The one he is most proud of ,however, was his "Ice Pattern" at the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art,  Photography as an Art Form.

Now in retirement here in North Carolina, Len Jacobs continues to share his life’s catalog of photographic experiences. He has served as President of the Nassau County Camera Club on Long Island as well as President of Chapel Hill Camera Club. In the past he was Director of the Southeastern Council of Camera Clubs Convention. He has presented multiple projector slide shows with music and poetry and special audio-visual techniques. He still judges photo competitions and lectures on "photo composition." He recently began to transfer the images captured in his myriad of slides to digital files, and printing them for people to enjoy in their own homes. “I really enjoy it when people share my precious visions,” Jacobs emotes.

On the inside jacket flap of his book "Birds I've Seen" the following is written, "There is something inherently special about Len's photography. These photos illustrate that photography performed with such care and precision, with such love and respect, with such skill in the use of camera tools, can be an art form for all to share and enjoy."

The irony of it all is, that a man who was told to avoid physical activity, and that at the age of three might soon be blind, has used his camera to record and share with others some of the visual music of our beautiful world. 

Len Jacobs is one of the many regionally and nationally recognized artists and fine crafts people who will open their studios the first two weekends in December at the 20th Annual Chatham Studio Tour ( ). Visitors from all around enjoy Chatham’s rural beauty and share with the members of the Chatham Artists Guild in the creative process. It is a holiday tradition, and an opportunity to purchase unique original art.



Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Doin' A Dragon

Chatham County North Carolina's Pittsboro has some wonderful parks and recreation facilities. The Mary Hayes Barber Park, just north of town off Route 15/501, is a delightful spot for sports and kid's play.
Parks planner Paul Horne, when laying out the park, brought in an assemblage of large rocks. He had them laid out in a serpentine arrangement, as a containing wall for a garden just behing the soccer field. In his mind's eye, Horne saw a giant dragon frolicking among the grasses and flowers.

Horne inspired Chatham artists Jonathan Davis, Joe Kenlan and Forrest Greenslade to transform the formidable wall of rocks into an imposing dragon for kids to enjoy.

Sculptor and painter Greenslade first measured the "head stone" and welded a base for the armiture, the skeletal structure that underpinns a sculpture.

Stone mason Joe Kenlan drilled holes into the large very hard rock, and fastened the "lower jaw" to the rock with bolts.

Greenslade then began creating the armature from hardware cloth and chicken wire. He incorporated a red tongue that he had fabricated from sheet steel.

Horne, Kenlan and Greenslade then mixed a composite material from cement, peat moss and an acrylic fortifyer. His procedures are published on his website.They plastered it over the the wire armiture. Horne added spines, using slate tiles rescued from on old building.

They inserted class eyeballs that had been created by glass artist Jonathan Davis.

And voila -- Pittsboro's ferocious but friendly dragon.

Greenslade says, "it's more fun than any old guy deserves".

Friday, August 10, 2012

Chatham writer debuts new book at McIntyre's

Local writer John Keith will read from his latest book, "Canebrake Beach" at McIntyre's Bookstore in Fearrington Village on Friday, August 24 at 2:00 p.m. 

"Canebrake Beach" is a novella and short story collection that explores friendships, relationships, and conflicts of white and black Southerners at various intervals over a span of seventy years.  Four tenant families, some black and some white, lived on the farm owned by the author's family when he was a child.  Although no one who grew up on the farm was active in the civil rights movement except for him, in "Canebrake Beach" he imagines what might have happened to members of similar black and white families as they progressed from the Jim Crow era and beyond.


John Matthew Keith is a retired Episcopal minister who has lived in Fearrington Village, North Carolina with his wife Rilla for over five years.  He began writing fiction as a student at Duke University where he was awarded the Anne Flexner Memorial Prize (presented by William Styron).  Anne Tyler was a student in the creative writing class taught by Dr. William Blackburn when John was the teaching assistant.  Although his secular stories, like "Canebrake Beach", have been published in magazines and periodicals over the years, his most recently published books focused on spirituality: "Complete Humanity in Jesus: A Theological Memoir" (2009) and "True Divinity in Christ: A Testimony of Faith and Hope with Four Short Stories" (2010).  

"Canebrake Beach" was published simultaneously as an e-book and in paper.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Chatham Artist Revels in the Color and Fabric of an Eclectic Life

Fiber artist Christie Minchew ( says, “I have the good fortune of living in an area that is rich with talented artists.” She now has added her own artistic vision and skills to those of members on the Chatham Artists Guild, and will open her studio the first two weekends in December at the 20th Annual Chatham Studio Tour. Visitors to Minchew’s studio will enjoy her unique soft sculptural creations. “I thrive on creativity - mine and others', she notes. “For my own art, I tend to be drawn to media and objects that allow me to build with my hands.” Minchew currently is using wool and silk fiber, cloth, yarns, thread, wire, paper and other things in processes including wet-felting, dyeing, weaving, stitching, and anything else she can find useful.

Christie Minchew in her Chatham County Studio
Christie Minchew comes to her eclectic adaptability genetically. “I was a Navy brat, and moved a lot until I was nine,” she reflects. “My mom was frugal and creative, she reminisces. “If she wanted something for the house or for us, she’d figure out how to make it herself.”  Christie joined in her mother’s projects, and developed skills for working with her hands at an early age. “I didn’t really ever play with dolls, she recalls. “I made rooms in which they could live in style.” Already drawn to color, Minchew brightly painted the inside of her closets. She constructed purses from cardboard, and her mother taught her to sew.

Later living in the DC area, her father stationed at the Pentagon, Christie enrolled in the School of Architecture at Virginia Tech. For an architecture statement project, she partially designed and constructed a weaver’s loom – It took her five years – It now lives in her Chatham studio.

She graduated with a specialization in Landscape Architecture, and for about a year and a half worked as a landscape architect in Richmond. In the 1980s, a downturn in the economy prompted a significant change in Christie’s life path. She talked herself into a job as a System Engineer at IBM, providing technical sales support. After several years, she moved to sales, capitalizing on her natural skills in relationship marketing of “big computers”. Her over 20 year career associated with IBM found her living in California, and finally in Raleigh. In 2001, she left the corporate life.

Fiber art inspired by microscopic photo of mahogany structure
framed in mahogany
She craved a less corporate personal look, and designed and hand made a purse. Friends encouraged her to make more. She started participating in craft shows. She recalls, “One day in a fabric store, the proprietor noticed one of my hand made purses and asked if I could make patterns.”  This launched a new business, “Sweetbriar Studio”, a sewing pattern business that continues today.

 Minchew’s latest transformation resulted from her desire to transition from fine craft to works more creatively artistic. “In about 2008, I wanted to start making table runners, but was looking for a way to make them not only decorative, but more free-form,” she states. “While on vacation, I was thumbing through a magazine and noticed an advertisement for a "wet-felted" garment. When I got home, I taught myself to wet-felt.” As a result of getting back into sewing and then working with felting, Christie’s latent addiction to all things fiber was reignited.

Sculptural fiber art inspired by galactic image
Minchew’s unique fabric creations are characterized by dimensionality, pattern and texture, and often inspired by the microscopic and telescopic patterns in the natural world. It is, as she puts it, “organicy looking”. “I like this counterpoint to the technical control of the corporate world, or even the pattern business.” The wet felting process is exciting to her. “The material transforms before your eyes,” she emotes. “There is this wonderful balance between artistic control and serendipity.”

Christie Minchew is one of the many regionally and nationally recognized artists and fine crafts people who will open their studios the first two weekends in December at the 20th Annual Chatham Studio Tour ( Visitors from all around enjoy Chatham’s rural beauty and share with the members of the Chatham Artists Guild in the creative process. It is a holiday tradition, and an opportunity to purchase unique original art.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Nature-Lover’s debut at Joyful Jewel

Chatham County artist and writer, Forrest C. Grenslade, PhD will debut his new book, Visitations: A Nature-Lover’s Journal at downtown Pittsboro’s Joyful Jewel on Sunday August 5th at 1 PM.

"I was that kid you could always find turning over rocks in streams, looking for what wonders nature would disclose to me," says Greenslade. His curiosity about the natural world, led him to a life as scientist and organizational executive. Now in retirement, Dr. Greenslade is again doing what he did when he was ten years old -- turning over rocks and sculpting and painting the wonders that nature discloses.

Visitations: A Nature-Lover’s Journal is the place where you can capture your own discoveries in your garden, on your walks through your special places, or just in your reveries. Greenslade’s newest book is a collection of his nature-inspired paintings and original poems, coupled with spaces to daily record your experiences in your garden and special natural places.

Along with his new book, Greenslade will exhibit a selection of his artwork at the Jewel. His organic sculptures and paintings, derived from a life-long love of nature and mythology, have a new look and feel. Greenslade’s work is highly stylized yet clearly grounded in the natural world. His relief paintings are sculptural, built up with inches of thick acrylics and modeling paste to the point that they nearly jump off the canvas. His sculptures are enhanced with innovative coatings and patinas producing color, texture and an illusion of movement. His enhanced watercolors are soft and luminous. “I want people to experience motion and emotion in my art,” Greenslade asserts, “so my faces are seldom symmetrical and my figures just can’t stand still.” Greenslade’s use of materials is eclectic. “Because of my scientific training, I tend to be experimental in my choice of media,” he explains. “I use metal, concrete, clay, acrylics, wood, found-objects – whatever tells the best story.”

"I lived a serious life, but now in my dotage, I am just letting the kid out again, " Greenslade smiles.

"It's more fun than an old guy desearves”.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

A life’s voyage cast in precious metals

Metalsmith Lynell ( is a new member of the Chatham Artists Guild ( Visitors to her studio, just south of Chapel Hill, during the 20th Annual Chatham Studio Tour, will enjoy her eclectic garden and lovely nature-inspired jewelry.  Lynell’s art in precious metals captures the diverse experiences of an unexpectedly adventurous life.

Lynell in her Chatham County Studio
Photo: LD
Lynell grew up on a farm near Asheville North Carolina in the 1950’s, the third of four children. “It was a simple life – I enjoyed doing farm chores with my brother, exploring the streams and woodlands, and just being outside,” she recalls. Her father ran the farm, and her mother was a housewife and later became a beautician. Lynell worked in her mom’s beauty shop after school. Lynell was always attracted to art, but there were no art classes in school. “The closest thing to an art class was mechanical drawing, and girls were not allowed to take it,” she notes

Lynell worked in a factory and took some art classes for a time, but her life made to an abrupt change for the better, when the Winnebago Company moved into town, and opened a van conversion facility. “I heard that they were hiring artists, she states, “And I went to talk myself into a job.” Winnebago gave two weeks to prove her skills, painting murals on vans. Prove herself she did. “It was the best job!” she emotes. “I was actually getting paid to make art.” The company even paid Lynell to take art classes at UNC Asheville. “I realized that I was an artist, and always would be,” She asserts.

This period in the early 1970s was a wonderful time for Lynell. She met Denny, her now husband of 30 plus years. “He supported my art and recognized how much it meant to me,” Lynell contemplates. “We have been partners in adventure ever since.”

Artists and adventurers
Photo: LD
In the mid70s, the Winnebago plant closed because of the gas crisis. Lynell went full time into her painting – landscapes, nature, some life drawings. She began to participate in art shows.

In 1982,  Lynell and Denny moved to the Pittsboro area, and opened an upscale shop “The Vintage Gourmet” in Cole Park Plaza. They offered good cheeses, good wines, good coffee, sea food – things that folks couldn’t get in supermarkets at the time. Lynell continued to paint and did “crafty projects”. They ran this business for 9 years. Their daughter and son went on to college, and they looked for a new adventure.

Lynell and Denny learned pottery from well known potter Jim Pringle, and worked with him for a time. To help out a friend, Lynell took a job in a local dental lab, and learned the very precise skills of metalsmithing.

Denny had always loved sailing, and Lynell wanted to learn. “We rented a little sailboat at Jordan Lake, and he tried to teach me,” she smiles. “We fought all day.” Lynell decided to go to a women’s sailing school in Chesapeake to learn the basics, and after that the couple got along fine. They began talking about an extended sailing activity. Denny began studying for his captain’s license. Lynell helped him study. Denny encouraged her to take the captain’s test too. They each passed the Coast Guard exam, bought a 27 foot sail boat, packed up their belongings, rented out their house, and launched a 7 year voyage all up and down the Eastern seaboard. For a time, they ran a marina in the Florida Keys. They later took a 3-month road trip across the US.

Lynell's creation in precious metals
Photo: LD
Upon returning to Chatham, they continued to explore various art media. They became interested in working with metal. “One day we took the Chatham Studio Tour, and visited Monnda Welch,” Lynell explains. Lynell said to Welch, “You’re going to teach me how to do this.” She worked under Welch’s tutelage for 3 to 4 years. “I am still learning from Monnda,” she stresses.

In the mid 2000s, Lynell established her own metalsmithing studio. She creates artful jewelry that reflects the many facets of her life’s adventures. “My work reflects a love of the rich cultural heritage and environment of not only North Carolina where I grew up, but also as a result of traveling across our beautiful and diverse country.” She notes. Monnda Welch says, “Lynell paints with metal.

Lynell is one of the many regionally and nationally recognized artists and fine crafts people who will open their studios the first two weekends in December at the 20th Annual Chatham Studio Tour ( Visitors from all around enjoy Chatham’s rural beauty and share with the members of the Chatham Artists Guild in the creative process. It is a holiday tradition, and an opportunity to purchase unique original art.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Twilight for the Lord God Bird

I was born in 1939 in a small town in upstate New York. By that time, the territory of the Ivory Billed Woodpecker, which before 1800 had ranged from Texas to South Carolina, had been reduced to a tract of land in Louisiana. The demand for lumber in the US after the Civil War had stripped the South of its vast woodlands. The need for boxes to support the effort in World War II then caused the destruction of those woods in Louisiana. That year, A Cornell University PhD student, working with the National Audubon Society, reported that there might be only 25 Ivory Bills alive in the US, mostly in that Louisiana tract, and only one mating pair.
Twilight for the Lord God Bird
A painting in watercolor and colored pencil by Forrest C. Greenslade, PhD

The last recorded sighting of an Ivory Bill was in 1944. I was in grammar school. We had a Junior Audubon Club in our school – I was an enthusiastic member. What I remember most in the little magazine that we received, was J. J. Audubon’s iconic painting of a family of Ivory Billed Woodpeckers. He had painted it in the 1820s, and published it in 1831 in Birds of America. Back then, the Ivory Bill was known by many colloquial names: the Van Dyke, White Back, Pate, Tit-Ka. Audubon noted, that because of the size and beauty of the Ivory Bill, many folks exclaimed “Lord God, what a bird”.

Audubon and the Junior Audubon Club had a lasting impact on my entire life. I was that kid you could always find turning over rocks in streams, looking for what wonders nature would disclose to me. I was lucky to study biology in high school, college and graduate school, which takes me to another encounter with the Lord God Bird.

In the early 1960s, I went to New Orleans to attend graduate school at Tulane University. Our library had an original elephant folio copy of Audubon’s Birds of America. We were actually allowed to touch this precious book. I luxuriated in leafing through Audubon’s wood cut prints, and again the Ivory Billed Woodpecker painting was my favorite. I was taking a program in Biological Sciences. This required courses ranging from Botany to Molecular Biology and Natural History. In an Avian Biology course, we went on a field trip to a swampy woodland about an hour from New Orleans. Deep in this wild place, we all swore that we caught a glimpse of an Ivory Bill.

Piliated Woodpecker
Watercolor and colored pencil by Forrest
There had been a lot of rumors of Ivory Bill sightings all around the country. Most experts dismissed these observations as mistaking the slightly smaller and common Piliated Woodpecker for the Ivory Bill. Did we make the same mistake? Probably – but this experience is a memory that I have cherished for a lifetime.

My curiosity about the natural world, led me to a life as scientist and organizational executive. Now in retirement, I am again doing what I did in grammar school -- turning over rocks and sculpting and painting the wonders that nature discloses.

In 2002, a six-person international team searched the Pearl River Wildlife Management Area in Louisiana. They found some signs of Ivory Bills but no birds. In the last couple of years, there were purported sightings in Arkansas and Florida. Is the Ivory Billed Woodpecker extinct? Likely – But if not extinct, the Lord God Bird is in its twilight.

My painting is my wish that this magnificent bird has a little more time.


Notes: Historical information was taken from Phillip Hoose's excellent book, The Race to Save the Lord God Bird, Melanie Kroupa Books, 2004, New York. To my knowlege, there are no colored photographs of the Ivory Bill. I used J. J. Audubon's painiting, which he did from dead field specimens, to guide my selection of colors.