The Piedmont Virginian's Blog

Serving and Celebrating America's Historic Heart

Category: Piedmont Regions (page 1 of 138)

The Piedmont Weekend Roundup: February 26 – 28

Pouring red wine from bottle into glass with wooden wine casks on background

Fauquier County Wine Tasting & Competition at Airlie (Saturday, Warrenton). Come out and sample the wines of sixteen local vineyards and vote for your favorites in the People’s Choice Wine Competition. Delicious food pairings, prepared by the Airlie Chef, and live music. Please note that, to accommodate more visitors, this year’s wine tastings will be offered during two time periods. All tickets must be pre-purchased.

Riverside Group Show postcard-3 copy-1Art in Its Natural Habitat: An Exhibit of Paintings in a Model Home (Friday, 5-7 p.m., Charlottesville). Interior designer Robin Ellis invites you to celebrate Stony Point Design/Build as well as Charlottesville artists Helen Hillard, Chris Tucker, and Nancy Wallace.

Lighting the Creative Spark lightingthecreativespark(Thursday, Live An Artful Life Gallery, The Plains). This workshop, led by Dr. Celia Im, utilizes the power of music to ignite attendees’ creative potential. By engaging this part of ourselves, we are driven to finish that creative project, sculpt the next stage of our lives, and live in the moment.

Winemaker for a Day: Blending Seminar at Narmada Winery (Saturday, Amissville). Have you always dreamed of being a winemaker? Challenge yourself and your friends at our interactive winemaking seminar. Join our winemaker Sudha Patil and guest speaker Duane Harris for this workshop and experience the excitement of combining both the art and the science that goes into making a distinctive wine! You’ll be sampling and blending cabernet franc, malbec, merlot, cabernet sauvignon, and petit verdot. Once your perfect blend is bottled, teams compete, imbibe, and select the most spectacular wine of the day!

FB_Motown-768x284Motown & More: A Tribute to Motown and Soul Legends (Friday, State Theatre, Culpeper).  An ensemble of today’s most talented artists brings it all back! Vocalists Bryan Fox, Gene McBride, Jeffrey Walker and Shang (each phenomenal in their own right) come together with exquisite harmonies to recreate classics and develop new musical arrangements. Less than a year old, Motown & More has become a popular production in the Baltimore/Washington/Virginia region.

An Evening with Groucho (Sunday, Louisa Arts Center, Louisa). Award-winning actor Frank Ferrante reprises his New York and London hit in this fast-paced hilarious tour-de-force. You will swear legendary comedian Groucho Marx is alive and well and making you laugh. Accompanied by his pianist, the comedy, one-liners, and songs of Groucho Marx make for an all-ages treat!

Six Pack Songwriter Series: An Evening of Central Virginia Songwriting (Friday, The Paramount, Charlottesville). With the goal of allowing audiences to experience a mixture of our best local artists at once, each “Six Pack Songwriter Series” event features 6 artists for one evening of live and local music. This year’s  production welcomes an all-new lineup to The Paramount stage. This year’s roster includes Michael Clem, Ben Eppard, Paulo Franco, Julia Kwolyk, Anne O’Brien, and David Tewksbury, all backed by a live band.

National Theatre Live in HD Presents: “As You Like It” at the Paramount (Sunday, The Paramount, Charlottesville). Shakespeare’s glorious comedy of love and change comes to the National Theatre for the first time in over 30 years, with Rosalie Craig (London Road, Macbeth at MIF) as Rosalind.  With her father, the Duke, banished and in exile, Rosalind and her cousin Celia leave their lives in the court behind them and journey into the Forest of Arden. There, released from convention, Rosalind experiences the liberating rush of transformation. Disguising herself as a boy, she embraces a different way of living and falls spectacularly in love.

Smithsonian at Little Washington Concert Series: Haydn Piano Trios (Sunday, Theatre at Washington, Washington). Pianist Kenneth Slowik is an artistic director of the Smithsonian Chamber Music Society. Violinist Heather Green joined the National Symphony Orchestra in 2005, and became a member of the first violin section in 2007. Cellist James Lee made his debut with the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra at the age of 15. These three come together for a marvelous performance.

2015 90th Gold Cup 1

photo by Doug Lees

“Virginia Steeplechasing: The History and Future of the Sport in the Piedmont” (Sunday, National Sporting Library, Middleburg). This steeplechasing panel discussion is mediated by Robert Banner, President of Great Meadow Foundation. Panelists are Dr. William Allison (Ex-MFH and President and Race Chairman of the Virginia Gold Cup Races), Dr. Alfred Griffin (Ex-MFH and Director of Racing of the Virginia Gold Cup), Will O’Keefe (Race Director of the Virginia Fall Races), and Don Yovanovich (President of the Virginia Point-to-Point). Panelists discuss the history and future of this region’s beloved steeplechasing and equine sports. The audience will have an opportunity to ask questions of the panelists. Also at NSLM currently are the exhibits “Side by Side with Gun and Dog” and “Line Dance: the Art of Fly Fishing.”

“Sunrise, Sunset” (Byrne Gallery, Middleburg). This weekend is the last chance to see this juried show featuring artworks inspired by sunrises and sunsets, bringing joy and warmth to the cold month of February.

“Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story” at Riverside Dinner Theater (Through Mar. 13, Fredericksburg). Starring Todd Meredith as Holly, with the Buddy Holly tribute band, The Rave-Ons, this musical is the true story of the last few years of Buddy Holly’s life, spotlighting his meteoric rise to fame from the moment in 1957 when “That’ll be the Day” hit the airwaves until his tragic death on “The Day the Music Died.” Featuring many of his timeless hits, “Buddy” is a celebration of the life and times of “the young man with the glasses” that captures the unique mixture of innocence, determination, humor, and charm that was Buddy Holly and wraps it all up into a package that has become “The World’s Most Successful Rock-n-Roll Musical.”

An Art Exhibition to Remind Us of Warmer Days

Line Dance

“Line Dance” by Peter Corbin

“In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer,” the dour existentialist Albert Camus once wrote. This sentiment bears repeating. The heaps of snow Jonas left behind are melting, warm sunny days have mounted a counterattack, and Punxsutawney Phil recently voiced his support of an early springtime platform.

"Broad River Redfish"

“Broad River Redfish” by Peter Corbin

Together these signs point towards the coming spring. These hints are tantalizing; we close our eyes and imagine a warm breeze, only to open them and find ourselves in the car with the heat blowing out at gale-force velocities.

There is a cure for these seasonal delusions: art.

The National Sporting Library and Museum in Middleburg opened a new exhibit January 30th. “Line Dance–The Art of Fly Fishing” features the work of angler and painter Peter Corbin.

"Ligonier Point" by Peter Corbin

“Ligonier Point” by Peter Corbin

“How do you start a painting? Go fishing. Experience the awe. See the fish, the land, and the seascape. Take notes with your mind, camera, or sketch book. Gather all the information you can in every way you can,” Corbin says.

His works capture the ocean’s vibrant blues, the warmth of a cloudless sky, the excitement of reeling in a gleaming striped bass. His works show the influence of the Hudson River School, and capture the intensity of Winslow Homer’s seascapes.

For more information, check the National Sporting Library and Museum

1796573_10202889919310186_4960203201090092007_nMorgan Hensley is a recent graduate of William & Mary where he studied English and creative writing with an emphasis on poetry. He is the Assistant Editor of the Piedmont Virginian and enjoys writing about music and the arts.

Acclaimed PBS Civil War Miniseries Stars Piedmont Actress

In the above photo, Emma Green (Hannah James), the beautiful Southern belle and daughter of James Green, Sr. (Gary Cole), owner of the Mansion House, a luxury hotel now turned into a Civil War hospital, Mansion House Hospital, watches as Dr. Jedidiah Foster. (Josh Radnor) helps a patient. Dr. Foster is the son of a slave-owning tobacco plantation owner in Maryland. His loyalties are with the Union. He is a contract surgeon who will decide to wear the blue as a military surgeon.

In the above photo, Emma Green (Hannah James), the beautiful Southern belle and daughter of James Green, Sr. (Gary Cole), owner of the Mansion House, a luxury hotel now turned into a Civil War hospital, Mansion House Hospital, watches as Dr. Jedidiah Foster. (Josh Radnor) helps a patient. Dr. Foster is the son of a slave-owning tobacco plantation owner in Maryland. His loyalties are with the Union. He is a contract surgeon who will decide to wear the blue as a military surgeon.

Depictions of the Civil War are often limited to the frontlines and generals’ quarters. However, much of the bloodshed and drama occurred off the battlefields, in hospitals such as the Mansion House Hospital in Alexandria, the setting of PBS’s new six-episode miniseries Mercy Street.

The period-drama, PBS’s first series set in America in nearly a decade, subverts traditional war narratives, generally told by male soldiers, and instead casts the spotlight on two female nurses, one on each side of the conflict.

Executive Producer and Co-creator Lisa Wolfinger conceived of the Civil War medical drama five years ago. She portrays the nurses that the series highlights as “strong female protagonists, feisty ladies.” In an interview with Nancy Olds for Civil War News, she described her brainchild as “M.A.S.H meets Gone with the Wind” and all-encompassing: “[Mercy Street] is about love, about war, about medicine . . . It’s about how the experience of war brings out the very best and the very worst in people.”

MERCY-ST.-ALEX.46 – L-R: -Sandra Wilson is a member of FREED (Female RE-Enactors of Distinction) a group of African American women representing distinguished African American women from the Civil War. Wilson has portrayed Dr. Rebecca Davis Lee Cumpler, the first African American woman to earn a medical degree in the United States. Cumpler became a physician who also served freed slaves in Richmond, Va. She wrote Book of Medical Discourses about at home medical and health care for women and their families -Hannah James, the actress who portrays Emma Green, the lovely 19 year-old daughter of Alexandria’s prominent family who owns the Mansion House and the girlfriend of Frank Stringfellow, a Confederate scout. James is a native Virginian who grew up in Charlottesville.

Hannah James with Sandra Wilson, a member of FREED (Female RE-Enactors of Distinction), a group of African American women representing distinguished African, American women from the Civil War.

Mary Phinney (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is a recent widow and ardent abolitionist who has come down to Alexandria, a Union-occupied city in a Confederate state, to disseminate modern medical knowledge as well as her then-liberal beliefs. Her foil is Emma Green (Hannah James), a Southern belle and advocate for wounded Confederates. Dr. Jedediah Foster (How I Met Your Mother‘s Josh Radnor), a progressive physician with a morphine habit and mixed feelings regarding slavery, serves as a catalyst for drama while Samuel Diggs (McKinley Belcher III), a free black man with extensive medical knowledge, helps to move medical science and racial expectations forward simultaneously, and perhaps, inextricably.

The dazzling Hannah James grew up in Madison County, Virginia. A recent graduate of the Guilford School of Acting in England, the young actress masterfully handles the difficult role of a Confederate sympathizer with a profound sense of empathy. Understanding historical dramas requires a suspension of disbelief, as it’s easy to forget that what we view as commonsense human rights were once borderline radical. I look forward to watching her character’s development.

If the aim of historical potboilers is to highlight how far society has progressed, and yet how much the human condition has stayed the same (often questioning whether our nature is at all mutable), then the new series succeeds admirably, if not boldly considering the strong feminine characters and points of view. Whether you are a armchair historian, Civil War buff, period-piece fanatic, or maybe even just a little too tired to change the channel after Downton Abbey, you do not want to miss Mercy Street which premieres this Sunday, January 17th at 10 p.m. on PBS-WETA.

Also, see http://www.pbs.org/mercy-street/home/ for preview and trailers

1796573_10202889919310186_4960203201090092007_nMorgan Hensley is a recent graduate of William & Mary where he studied English and creative writing with an emphasis on poetry. He is the Assistant Editor of the Piedmont Virginian and enjoys writing about music and the arts.

In the Gingko Grove at Blandy Experimental Farm

1447172893482Thousands of leaves, all the color of the sun as it slips behind the Blue Ridge Mountains. Blue sky shone through bare branches. The breeze has gathered leaves into drifts, swept together like the tips of hair at a barbershop. I was standing in the Gingko Grove at Blandy when that atrocious simile came to me. The inadequacy, whimsicality, borderline absurdity of the phrase bothered me, so I stood, my attention fixed on the yellow fallen leaves, waiting for some clever aphorism to happen upon me, until I realized that perhaps this was not meant to be described. I was doing just fine, reflecting on this golden panorama, experienced wordlessly, in appreciation of the almost-silence, day after day as the ground is littered with leaves.

Everything was motionless. Wading through leaves slick with rain, I had the feeling that I was late. Fallen leaves are still slick with yesterday’s rain. The ground was slippery,  like trudging through snow and stepping on a patch of ice. It was easier to remain still. The air was sodden with the heavy sticky scent of gingko. My breaths were weighed down and my attention drawn the movement of air through me. Perhaps that is why Chinese monks in adorned their temples with the ancient trees: a way to foster mindfulness during meditation.

Some of these gingko trees have shed and regrown their leaves eighty times or more, ever since Dr. Orlando E. White, the first director of Blandy, planted a sapling in Boyce soil in 1929. Soon thereafter, students helped to plant nearly six-hundred more trees, thus seeding what would grow into the grove in which I stood.

The tree has a history far outdating Blandy, civilization, and humanity. Gingko is the “living fossil,” and records trace its existence back 270 million years. Gingko canopies shaded the Jurassic era forests, casting shadows onto the creatures whose bones we admire in disbelief and wonder at museums. The tree’s history is contained in the shape of its leaf: a tadpole, a flame. It is unchanging, atavistic, and essenti1447172775463al. Maybe it is this agelessness, this permanence, that lends credence to those who attest to the memory-enhancing benefits of the leaf. Perhaps it is a placebo, although there is something poetic about the ancient tree’s ties to memory, a  remembrance of time that far precedes us.

Without realizing it, yellow shadows have darkened as the sun sets between peaks. Golden, with beams that radiate like veins, it casts a shadow over the thousands of small setting suns that have fallen to the ground.

 

 

Throw-back Thursday…History and a bit of the paranormal for Halloween!

These Walls Do Talk

The aptly named Graffiti House attracts Civil War and other history buffs as well as paranormal-believing “ghost hunters.”

Article by Richard Deardoff
Photos by Jan Kamphuis

“The Dancing Lady” During the five month winter encampment following the Gettysburg campaign, families of officers were allowed to come to camp.  Here a female visitor carefully picks her way through the mud between the Graffiti House and the railroad tracks

“The Dancing Lady”

A few miles south of the Rappahannock River in Culpeper County lays one of the nation’s historical treasures – the Graffiti House on the Brandy Station Battlefield. Built in 1858 as an adjunct to the Orange and Alexandria Railroad, it served both sides during the Civil War. For the Confederates it was a field hospital, while the Federals used it as a divisional headquarters for the five months they wintered over in 1863-1864.

It was because of this utilitarian value that the small frame house escaped the destruction visited upon many other buildings as soldiers from both sides searched for material to use in constructing shelters, or simply for firewood.

IMG_6713 blog

The Graffiti House
before & after
restoration

Nearby Fleetwood Hill may be the most fought over piece of real estate in American warfare: opposing armies either sought to defend or gain this valuable high ground for use as an artillery platform. After each clash of arms, the wounded and prisoners would be brought to this house either for medical help or to be transported to distant hospitals or POW camps.

During the five month winter encampment following the Gettysburg campaign, families of officers were allowed to come to camp.  In the above drawing “Dancing Lady,” a female visitor carefully picks her way through the mud between the Graffiti House and the railroad tracks

IMG_6706 blog

Period photograph
of Michael Bowman

In addition to its historical value, the building has also proved to be of interest to a variety of paranormal groups, who have described it as one of the most active sites for research in the area. These investigators have spent numerous nights at the house tracing spirits and tape recording conversations from beyond. A DVD of their experiences is available for viewing at the Graffiti House. At left is the “Ghost Room,” where most of the paranormal activity has been detected.

Michael Bowman was a confederate private who was paid $11 a month. He spent $2 to have his picture taken. His portrait (pictured) – and perhaps his presence – remains in the Graffiti House.

Click here to read the full story

Visit the Graffiti House website and don’t miss their Holiday Open House on Sat. Dec. 12.


About the author: Richard Deardoff is a docent at the Graffiti House and has served on the Board of Directors for the Brandy Station Foundation, has been named Teacher of the Year for Fauquier County Public Schools twice, and is a former Civil War Trust Teacher of the Year.  He and his wife, Suzanne, live in Culpeper County; he is currently teaching at Kettle Run High school.

 

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