Sunday, May 8, 2011

Revisiting America

I haven't blogged in so long, it seems like the very first time (partial song lyric).  I'll pick up with our entry into Blowing Rock, NC.  The Friday afternoon, April 1, when we arrived, it had started to snow.  At first miniature flakes, then larger flakes, and lots of them.  When we finished grocery shopping and walked out, it was a full-fledged snow.  So exciting to us.  Maybe not so much to the folks who lived there and were probably tired of it.  We had asked the manager to recommend someone to help us move into the condo, and he called Warren Davis for us.  Warren met us at the condo, and we immediately liked him.  Tall, light-brown hair, ready smile, and a very engaging personality.  Also, a hard worker.  He had the car unloaded before we know what was happening.  He stayed and talked to us for a little while and invited us to attend Laurel Fork Baptist Church.
We did, and had lunch afterward at the church, with bluegrass music after lunch.  The Backroom Bluegrass Band was awesome.
When we attended church the following Sunday at First Baptist Church in Blowing Rock, we were introduced to Marshall and Doris Edwards, who became our Blowing Rock "Angels."  In this definition of angel, it is a person(s) who helps you to integrate yourself into a community.  Doris invited us to the Ladies'
Bible Study at the church on Monday morning, followed by lunch with her and Marshall.  We attended the Bible Study and enjoyed it very much.  Met Cathy Williamson who called Jeff Eason, a reporter for the Blowing Rocket newspaper, and he called us and arranged for an interview.  Jeff was very easy to talk to and a good listener (earmarks of a good reporter).  Jeff was a bearded man of medium height who lived in and loved Blowing Rock.  When he asked us what we had not done yet, but intended to do, we told him that Dena Lutes (a First Baptist Church parishioner), had said that we should not miss the local frescoes.  It sounded intriguing because who knew that there were frescoes in a small town in North Carolina.  Anyway, Jeff said that he was a friend of Roger Nelson, the fresco painter, and looked up Roger's number for us.
We called Roger and arranged to meet him the following Monday morning.  Roger is a handsome, charismatic man.  Long, curly dark hair, rimless glasses that don't hide dark, intelligent, very observant eyes.  He brought along his 8-year-old daughter, Rachel, a smart, pretty girl.  We piled into Roger's older Toyota van (over 300,000 miles) and headed for Tynecastle subdivision, on a neighboring mountain.  There we met up with Brett Schwebke who "is" Tynecastle Builders.  Brett built the three homes that we were allowed to enter to see Roger's frescoes.  The first house was my favorite - designed, built, and furnished by Brett.  If there was a piece of furniture that Brett had in mind, and he couldn't find it, he would design it and have it custom made.  That included light fixtures as well.  The house was one of the most gorgeous private homes I've ever been in.  Brett is an artist as well as a builder. 
Roger's first fresco was a a scene set in the mountains, a couple of men seated at a table with a woman standing by the table.  The fresco ended at the bottom with a trompe l'oiel border that continued the painting onto the tile of a beautiful sideboard.  When working on the fresco, Roger asked Brett what he liked for breakfast.  When Brett answered, "Eggs Benedict", Roger painted them onto the plate of one of the men seated at the table.  The people looked like they could step out of the painting and start talking to you.  The fresco was absolutely beautiful and we were amazed at the depth of Roger's talent.
The second house was larger than the first, and the fresco in this one was over the mantle in the living area.  The American Indian was the subject.  They worked with an Indian (Two Bills), who lived in the area, for several months to learn stories about his life and the life of his tribe.  He posed for several of the figures.  Again, an incredible fresco, that brought alive some of the history, religion, and art of the American Indian.
The last house was the largest of all and unfurnished.  There were 2 frescoes over opposite mantels, again in the living area.  One depicted Daniel Boone, the other his wife Rebecca.   Beautiful and very lifelike figures incorporated into the living conditions of the time, cabins, gardens, livestock, etc.  In the dining room, there was a third fresco with frontiersmen, horses, and mountains.  There was a spirit-like figure of a woman in the mountains with one hand raised, making a fist.  When I asked Roger what the figure represented, he said, "You have to answer that for yourself."  We felt special because we had met, talked with, and learned from two very creative men.
Will add more later because, right now, I am brain dead or, at the very least, brain fatigued.  But it is fun to remember all of the wonderful things we did in Blowing Rock and the fantastic people we met.  If you ever have a chance to visit Blowing Rock, take it.


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