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Archive for the ‘Eastern Panhandle’ Category

Jefferson County West Virginia is facing a budget crisis – and in the crosshairs is the Bolivar/Harpers Ferry Public Library, among other public libraries in the county. The public libraries are facing 15% cuts for FY 2015 which are largely due to decreased gambling revenue to the tune of $1.5 million over the past 2 years. There are other critical services being threatened – among them emergency services and arts organization funding.  But, in my humble opinion, without access to knowledge, opportunities are slim – whether you want to be a paramedic or an illustrator. Libraries open up worlds of opportunities to young and old minds alike.

In the May 22, 1909 issue of Harper’s Weekly, there was an article about travelling libraries, written by C.P. Cary, the Wisconsin Superintendent of Public instruction entitled “Educating All of the People All of the Time.”  In it, he quotes:

“In the work of popular education,” said Melvil Dewey, “it is, after all, not the few great libraries, but the thousand small, that may do the most for the people.”

According to regional newspaper, The Journal, Gretchen Fry, the director of the Bolivar/Harper’s Ferry Public Library, said that the library received $65,000 in funding from the county last year and that the reduction in county funding could impact the library negatively.

1909 MAY 22 Harper's Weekly Traveling Libraries008 (2)

What a small price to pay for the resources, helpfulness and general public service provided by this and other county libraries! For myself, libraries have always been such an important part of my life, I can only express sorrow that anyone would threaten such an important part of the communities’ fabric.

Please support your local libraries!

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View from Hill Top House April 2013

View from Hill Top House April 2013

On the Occasion of West Virginia’s Sesquicentennial

West Virginia is nothing if not a dual-natured state. On one hand, it was during the “War between the States” that a dedicated, wily few decided to finally wrest unsuspecting Eastern Panhandle slavery-leaning counties from the Old Dominion by hook or by crook to secure the railroads heading west and form a new free-leaning state. On the other, it is the state where, in 1898, an African American attorney, J.R. Clifford, successfully argued before the West Virginia Supreme Court on behalf of an African American teacher,  Carrie Williams, that racial discrimination was illegal – the first such ruling in United States’ history.

There are bucolic pastures and leisurely flowing rivers along with sharply descending and precipitous cliffs. Even its name, “West Virginia” is somewhat duplicitous. The word “west” suggests a forward thinking state, yet its name retains the colonial heritage of Virginia.

The state’s motto “Montani semper liberi” or “Mountaineers Are Always Free” could also indicate duel meaning. Upon the state’s formation, were mountaineers free from something or free to do something?  I prefer the latter. You may fight to become free from something, yet find yourself in a predicament you didn’t anticipate. Aspiring to be free to do something opens up possibilities. That aspiration, the dream to do something other than what had come before, to break with comfortable traditions and a way of life, the jump into the future in the midst of a civil war, speaks volumes about the state.

From my front porch I can hear those lonesome trains, and reflect upon what they represent. A state cut within and from the mountains, forging a future for itself that is still being realized. Many made sacrifices for the state – the price for which is lost in the mists of time. One only needs to take a deep breath in the mountain air, in that mist, to be fortified by the little known, and the renowned, who leapt feet first onto a path of their own choosing in hopes of building a new life for themselves as well as everyone else who has come to call West Virginia home.

Steam at Harper’s Ferry is selling paper and fabric commemorative flags. See this and other celebratory memories here.

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Current Exhibit – “Aware Amusings” by T. Jason Edwards

Through June 23, Steam’s Resident Artist, T. Jason Edwards will be showing some of his work from hisJason's_Spring_Show_2013_With_words_WEB_versionAware Amusings” collection. If you have been to the gallery, you may have seen samples of his work, but this is the first time that seven pieces from the collection have been shown together.

Around the World – Call to Artists

The next exhibit at Steam will have an “Around the World in 80 Days” theme. A “Call to Artists” has been posted on the website. Submissions for consideration are due June 15, 2013. The Exhibit opening is scheduled for June 29, 2013.

What’s New at Steam

Steam has released another publication under its SciFi/Steampunk imprint, Steam at Harper’s Ferry Press, entitled “Guide to Creating and Protecting Fictional Characters.” The Guide was released on May 19 at the Steampunk World’s Fair at a seminar called “Character Development and the Law” held by Cynthia Gayton. Here is an excerpt:

“This is an exciting time to be a creative in any enterprise. You can develop stories, illustrate and publish your work with great speed and minimal expense. Doing things on your own is both liberating and inhibiting. Yes, you can do it all – from start to finish – the product, distribution, display, advertising and promotion are all controlled by you . … This legal guide identifies five categories of things a creative should consider before putting her or his hard work out there for public consumption.”

This Guide, as well as the story “Of Steam and Spring” are available for sale at the Gallery as well as Amazon.com in a Kindle version.

Artomatic in Jefferson County – October 2013

If you have heard of the DC Artomatic, which has been held almost every year since 1999 in Washington, DC you know it is quite a spectacular art event.  Last year, Frederick, MD held its first Artomatic. This October, Artomatic comes to Jefferson County! It will be held at the Rock & Tile Building off of 340 (9154 Wolfcraft Way, Charles Town, WV). Please see their website.

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Around the World – Next Exhibit

Watch this space! The next exhibit at Steam will have an “Around the World in 80 Days” theme. A “Call to Artists” will be posted soon.

What’s New at Steam

Steam’s next installment “Of Steam and Spring” under its new SciFi/Steampunk imprint, Steam at Harper’s Ferry Press, was released on April 27. Here is an excerpt:

“A full moon rose between the mountains. Its light reflected from the Shenandoah and Potomac Rivers at The Point. A crowd gathered on the Hill Top House veranda, bundled in furs, scarves, gloves and hats even though it was early Spring. … The chimes at St. Peter’s Church rang out at midnight, just as the moon completed a triangle above the uneven peaks. … Lights flickered into being on the newly installed carousel which began to turn. A song began to play on the calliope. Its mournful noise was in sharp contrast to the joyful tunes with which people were familiar who visited the Park.”

The Steampunk World’s Fair is this month, from May 17 – 19, 2013. Cynthia M. Gayton is scheduled to speak about protecting literary and illustrated characters on Sunday, May 19 from 1:15 – 2:15 at The Radisson in Boardroom A. Looking forward to it!

Big Top Steam – Exhibit Ended

The Big Top Steam exhibit ended this past weekend. The artists are Leigh Anne Cassell and Lindsey Donaldson. In addition, there are  two special installations by Eric Holstine and Phil Berneburg. This was one of the most ambitious and varied exhibit Steam has had to date. Thanks everyone for taking the time to view this wonderful collection!

Bolivar-Harpers Ferry Community Art Walk – April  27 and 28, 2013 – A Success!

At final count, there were over 50 artists at 21 venues participating in the Bolivar-Harper’s Ferry Community Art Walk over this past weekend. Despite the rain on Sunday, about 150 people received commemorative goodie bags and letterpress prints, along with coupons and gifts from local merchants. The Hill Top House was especially gorgeous on April 27. The grounds were decorated with flowering plants and freshly mulched. Special thanks goes out to the volunteers, Kenzie Allen, Teresa Barth, and Jason Edwards. If you attended, thanks for coming! If not, please come next time!

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Venue:  Jefferson County Convention & Visitor’s Bureau

Artists: 

Mary-Jo Bennett, Photographer
Gary Bergel, Photographer
Joe Bourgeios, Furniture maker
Andrea Burke, Watercolorist
Bruce Chandler, Visual Artist
Martha LeRoi, Pottery maker
Judy Olsen, Visual Artist
Susan Parker, Watercolorist

Venue:  Steam at Harper’s Ferry

Artists:

Phil Berneberg, Ceramic artist
Leigh Anne Cassell, Illustrator
Lindsey Donaldson, Illustrator
Jason Edwards, Visual Artist
Eric Holstine, Metalwork/stained glass artist

 

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Venue:  Bolivar-Harpers Ferry Public Library

Artists: (several artists/various media)

Daniel Alquist
Autumn Beckett
Judy Bradshaw
Theresa Burns
Jason Fleshman
Margret Keeler
Amanda Mullins
Carol Napper
Autumn Philbin
Shawn Sokoloski
Nena Stowell
Ondria Watson
India Watson

Venue:  The Gilded Flea

Artists:  Scott Cawood, Metal Sculptor, and Michael Timothy Davis, Oil Painter

Scott Cawood, Antietam, MD

Description: 

Scott Cawood lives and works at his residence in historic Antietam MD where he has been a professional artist since 1992. His work created of scrap steel is a reflection of how the world works, looks, and feels to him—of the everyday discourse he sees as visual celebrations and contradictions. His work has been exhibited nationally and has been commissioned by the City of Frederick, MD; the Baltimore Public Works Museum; Courtyard By Marriot; MTV’s Real World; and The Contemporary American Theater Festival.

Croc Heels - Scott Cawood (with permission)

Croc Heels – Scott Cawood (with permission)

Michael Timothy Davis, Shepherdstown, WV

Description: 

Michael Davis graduated from Shepherd University with a BFA in painting. Here the modernist approach to teaching and stylistic differences at once provided challenges and motivation to explore the more classical aesthetics that he believed in. While attending Shepherd Michael studied independently with Ben Summerford the former Art Chair at American University. Ben’s guidance and enthusiasm proved to be a lasting inspiration. After graduation, Michael continued his studies at The Schuler School of Fine Art in Baltimore, MD. At Schuler’s he finally felt at home with his desires and ambitions to continue with the traditions of classical realism. Out of school he now has a studio in his house where he paints and draws daily. Students can be found here as well studying and learning the same fundamentals and traditions that enlightened Michael’s life and art.

Singer - Michael Timothy Davis (with permission)

Singer – Michael Timothy Davis (with permission)

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The Jefferson County Historical Society recently sent out a newsletter featuring patents awarded to Jefferson County inventors. It is a pretty impressive list and I encourage you to check it out.

However, one inventor was missing. Estell (or Estelle) M. Black. Since I own a gallery in Harper’s Ferry’s lower town, I found it quite interesting that a woman who designed a commemorative spoon depicting Jefferson Rock was not included on the list. It was worth investigating.

Estelle May Peach Koonce Black filed for a patent on August 30, 1892. The patent was awarded on October 25, 1892 (remarkable!). The term  for her patent was 3.5 years, which is an unusual length of time.

What was also interesting was that her patent was awarded the same year the Columbian Exhibition started in Chicago. John Brown’s Fort, as readers of this blog will know, was dismantled and brought to the Fair in 1892. It was a big year for Harper’s Ferry and I don’t doubt that Estell Black wanted to take advantage of the attention being paid toward Harper’s Ferry that year.

“To all whom it may concern Be it known that I Estell M Black a citizen of the United States residing at Harper’s Ferry in the county of Jefferson and 5 State of West Virginia have invented certain new and useful Improvements in Designs for Spoons of which the following is a specification…”

 Estell Black spoon
According to the Women Inventors Index, 1790 – 1895, nine  West Virginia women were granted patents, only one of whom was from Jefferson County.
Her full name was Estelle May Peach Koonce Black. She was born in Harper’s Ferry on March 27, 1867 (the year Storer College was opened) and died on January 12, 1942 in Halltown.
Estelle Black death certificate
She is bured at Fairview Lutheran Cemetery.
Steam at Harper’s Ferry sells vintage newspapers, including Scientific American, which have illustrations from the late 1890s. Please come by!

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