Sunday, July 6, 2008

Worth a Visit

Old House near Meat Camp Gap, Watauga County, NC, February 2008

Some high-quality blogs and websites are out there, awaiting your attention, and I’ve been meaning to mention a few of my favorites. Here goes:

Every time I click on Appalachian History, I think, "This is what I’d like to be creating, if I could do it this well." Blogger Dave Tabler writes of his blog, "I spent the last 10 years helping my dad Kenneth edit his autobiography about growing up in Depression-era West Virginia. And now I'm hooked on this stuff!"

Some of his recent stories tell of early barnstorming aviators in Kentucky, the adventures of Elisha Mitchell, and the boxing match that got prize fighting banned in West Virginia.

Among the superb photo blogs in cyberspace Appalachian Treks is not be missed. Photographer Mark Peacock finds apt text to complement his astounding photos of the Southern Appalachians, and has created an oasis of beauty.

The North Carolina Collection at the University of North Carolina is one of the underappreciated cultural treasures of our state. Thank goodness David Swain had the foresight to initiate the collection way back in the 1840s. North Carolina Miscellany is the blog of the North Carolina Collection. Check it out for a story of the 1916 floods in Western NC, a virtual tour of the Smokies, an enormous collection of vintage NC postcards, and an exploration of the Big Desert of Robeson County.

While searching for a photo of a wood stork, I found a whole series of pictures of Guilford County sandhill cranes at Will Cook’s gallery of North Carolina Bird Photos. I can’t imagine how much time went into collecting all the photos on his site.

Several hundred years ago, before the possibilities afforded us by digital technology, Mark Catesby (April 3, 1683 - December 1749) collected images nature in the Carolinas and the Southeast. Catesby was an English naturalist and between 1731 and 1743 he published his Natural History of Carolina, Florida and the Bahama Islands, the first published account of the flora and fauna of North America.

It included 220 plates of birds, reptiles and amphibians, fish, insects, and mammals. Stylistically, Catesby’s work is very different from that of Audubon. The Philadelphia Print Shop has some good quality images of Catesby’s work posted online.

While watching UNC-TV recently, I caught a brief profile of Boone artist Noyes Capehart. In one scene, he was snooping around an old abandoned house. It looked familiar to me and was, in fact, the same house I visited last fall while traveling from Boone to New River. I could understand why Capehart was attracted to that place, as it seemed to have stories it wanted to tell. He has compiled several decades of work, combining painting and the written word, in The Private Diary of Noyes Capehart.

The artist describes his approach:

…it is a blend of visual and written content that has allowed me to fashion a meaningful dialogue with self, a way of processing a host of experiences, thoughts, and feelings that have come with my life’s journey….

Stephen Doherty, Managing Editor of American Artist magazine, wrote of Capehart’s work, "The process by which he expresses these feelings and experiences resembles the way a writer establishes the plot of a novel. He imagines all the elements of a richly detailed story – characters, costumes, and furnishings – and then creates mental pictures of the action taking place at critical moments in the story."

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