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Looking at the Blowing Rock Art and History Museum Events for November

By Colby Gable

This month, the Blowing Rock Art and History Museum are holding a variety of events where the public is invited to come enjoy and in some ways, connect with curators, artists, and the art itself. The museum has made growing efforts to include visitors and audience members in exhibits, which involve a deeper psychological, and sometimes even physical interaction with the art displayed. This is reflected in a statement from the museum, mentioning, “At the Blowing Rock Art & History Museum we believe that our community is made stronger by promoting inclusivity and by making the arts and the exploration of heritage available to all. We believe in sharing our resources with the entire community, and we are proud to have several robust outreach programs that help us serve our community, including several hundred children each year.”

Some of the events from the museum this month and information surrounding them are as follows.


On November 7th, a viewing of the historical documentary “Down Home,” a film covering the history of Jewish people throughout North Carolina’s state history, will be shown from 7-7p.m. Funded by the Jewish Heritage Foundation of North Carolina as a companion to Leonard Rogoff’s book of the same name, the project was entrusted to Steve Channing’s production company, Video Dialog.

As Foundation commented, “The Down Home film will take you on a Jewish cultural tour from the colony to the Sunbelt, from the coast to the mountains, from small agrarian market towns to bustling industrial cities. You’ll learn about a Jewish legislator who fought for his rights in 1808 and an immigrant grocer’s daughter raised in an African-American neighborhood. You’ll hear about peddlers and meet the entrepreneur of one of America’s largest retail chains. This richly textured documentary consists of first-person video histories, interviews with noted historians, rarely seen archival photographs and engaging re-enactments – that bring to life over 400 years of Jewish North Carolina history.”

            Dianna Cameron, curator of exhibitions and collections mentioned that choosing this film, “also resonates with our exhibit of the Cone Sister’s Collection as the Cone family was Jewish, and in a way, can help us consider a part of their own story not mentioned as often.”


Tuesday Nov 12 11:00AM – 12:00PM Coffee with the Curator: Selections from the Collection by Elliott Daingerfield

 Take a walk through the galleries with the Curator Dianna Cameron and get a behind-the-scenes look into works by Elliott Daingerfield. Dianna has served as the Curator at the Museum since July 2014, and graduated from Appalachian State University with degrees in Arts Management and Studio Art. 

         Cameron commented a little about the event she will be leading, and mentioned an unexpected addition to the occasion, “We are excited to present this exhibit, not only for the great works on display, but because we have recently discovered letters from a private collection with writings between the Cone family and Daingerfield which gave insights towards the shared friendship. These letters have never been seen by the public before until now, so we are looking forward to sharing these with the audience.”

Photo Credit: BRAHM: Elliot Daingerfield, Still Life, 1900, oil on canvas

Born in Harper’s Ferry, Virginia, Elliott Daingerfield was a talented watercolorist who earned a strong reputation while very young but was most known for his depictions of the Grand Canyon, which he first visited in 1911. He painted his colorful, mystical landscapes from memory, and his oil painting, “The Genius of the Canyon” brought $15,000 in 1920. Likely, this was the highest price paid to date for a work by a living painter. Completed in 1913, it resulted from his being part of a Santa Fe Railroad sponsored trip to the Grand Canyon of eastern artists. He regarded modernist artists as “anti-God” and chose themes more in line with the earlier artists from the 19th century. He later had a studio at Carmel, California and frequently traveled into Arizona from there to paint the Canyon.

Coffee with the Curator is usually scheduled every 3rd Tuesday at 11:00 am. Afterwards, guests are invited to converse and pose questions while enjoying complimentary coffee and cookies (courtesy of Appalachia Cookie Company) with the Curator at the Museum. Coffee with the Curator is free for museum members and $5 for non-members.


Thursday Nov14th 6:00PM – 7:00PM TAC Talk: Moonshine Tales & Tasting

Photo Credit: BRAHM

Moonshine is as Appalachian as cornbread and soup beans. It was an economic driver in the area for generations, but since making your own liquor wasn’t exactly “legal” the moonshiners were constantly on the run and trying to be one step ahead of the law. The illicit nature of the drink did not dismay fans of the white lightning and now in the 21st-century legal “craft” moonshine is hitting the market.

         As Jason Sumich of the Appalachian State Department of Anthropology has commented about the vital role of moonshine in Appalachia’s development, saying, “Historically, it was one of the few ways to earn cash in the subsistence-dominated mountain economy. It is the basis for many local stories and an important part of the mountain myth of individualism and resistance to outside authority. It has thrived in spite of legal and religious condemnation.”

This program will be a mix of lecture and legal moonshine sampling for those over 21. We will ask the questions: What is the appeal of the clear spirit? And if it is legal and mass-produced is it still moonshine?

About the Speaker

         Originally from Fayetteville, North Carolina, Willard Watson III moved to Boone in 2008, but his roots run deep in Watauga County. He has a Masters in Appalachian Studies with a concentration on Sustainability. His great-grandfather and namesake, Willard Watson I, was a well-known moonshiner, toy carver, and dancer.

His academic and volunteer passions intersect on the topic of cultural preservation and community development through the creative arts. He also serves as the Food Vendor and Seminar Coordinator for the High Country Beer Fest.

Thursday Art and Culture (TAC) Talks bring collegiate level lectures to your museum. Featuring scholars from around the country, the lectures are selected to provide supplemental information on our current exhibits, or highlight the history and heritage of the mountains.

The official last TAC Talk of 2019 will begin at 6 pm, and these events have an hour-long lecture with audience question and answer session at the end. Unless otherwise posted, all TAC talks are free for members and $5 for non-members.