Hunter Museum Lobby

Hunter Museum of American Art

Above, an Android PhotoSphere image of the event space in the Hunter Museum of American Art in Chattanooga, TN. Just off the lobby, the space is three stories high. The staff told us there had been a concert the night before – if we had only known we would have been there.

The side behind my back and not visible is a window wall overlooking the Tennessee River. The Delta Queen paddleboat is docked below the museum. We learned during the trip that one can stay overnight on the boat in a passenger cabin. Next time!

Judi and I visited Chattanooga February 12-13, 2015, for a quick pre-Valentines Day getaway. It’s about a four-hour drive from Asheville (3.5 hours if Judi drives).

The Hunter is a nice little museum with a sizeable collection of 20th century artists, including Robert Rauschenberg and James Rosenquist, two of our favorites. Some of the 19th Century landscapes were breathtaking.


Above, the oddly appealing bronze sculpture,  “Free Money” by Tom Otterness,  is at the entrance of the museum.

One of the current exhibitions at the Hunter is “The New York Times Magazine Photographs”, images ranging from fashion to movie stars to photojournalism by 35 different artists. The images are mainly from the last 15 years of the magazine.

My favorites were the stark black and whites of crews attempting to extinguish the burning Kuwaiti oil fields set on fire by Sadam Hussein’s retreating army following the first U. S. Gulf war. The workers were covered by a glistening film of black, black oil.

Photos from a feature article about solders killed in Afghanistan showed the rooms left behind in there childhood homes, preserved and immortalized by their parents, just as their children left them when they were sent off to war. Some of the beds still had teddy bears propped up on the pillows. They were devastating images that made me weep instantly.

The Hunter is well worth a visit – large enough to have a little bit for everyone, but small enough to be absorbed in an afternoon without exhausting yourself.

Beech Community July 4 Celebration

Beech Community Independence Day parade

Mission Hospital helicopter landing at Beech Community Center for Beech Community Independence Day parade. Immediately after it landed and the rotors stopped turning, the chopper was swarmed by excited kids and more than a few equally excited dads.

The Beech Community July 4th event is the longest running Independence Day parade in North Carolina, its organizers say. The 2014 event was the 130th consecutive year the fire trucks, old tractors and antique cars, and veterans of various US wars have gathered for the quarter-mile parade route to the Beech Community Center (map).

Lots of ATVs and nicely restored cars in the parade.


But my favorites were the fully restored and functional tractors. I can’t explain it but there is something about an old tractor that stirs a primal native Kansan response in me.


And then there were the crowd favorites: kids on decorated bikes – some with training wheels.

Entertainment followed the parade in the auditorium of the Beech Community Center. Leonard R. Hollifield and the Appalachian Consort provided some Bluegrass tunes. Leonard is center on guitar, with Mark Cleverer left on mountain dulcimer and Lee Metcalf right on upright bass.

Unfortunately, Leonard’s father, Leonard Hollifield Sr, was “worn out” from an all-day recording session the day before. The father, who will be 88 years old August 3, is still one of the best pickers in the area.

Art is the “Right Livelihood”

As a full-time web developer, with a long eye on becoming a full-time artist, a post on the CreativeLedge blog by an acquaintance, Bob Barancik, made me stop and think a moment.

In the post, “The Right Livelihood, Right Now!“, Bob and his co-authors say that the creative professions are better suited to withstand recession than most people who earn a salary at an office or manufacturer.

Presently, millions of American white collar and blue collar workers have lost their jobs or have been forced to accept shortened work weeks.

Millions of gainfully employed citizens count themselves among ‘The Working Worried.’ They live with the very real possibility of being sacked at a moment’s notice.”

So “where does this leave the creative person?”, the blog asks.

Actually, it leaves us surprisingly well off compared to most wage earners.

Money was never the key motivator in our lives. We set up small businesses and took day jobs so we could paint, make films, strut on stage, write, perform, and compose music, create on the computer, write plays and screenplays, design all and sundry sorts of things and experiences…

We need practical visionaries to create new and resilient American Dreams — the old ones are falling of their own accord into the dustbin of history.”

A tip of the hat to my wife, Judi Jetson, for sending me a link to Bob’s post.

Man Accused of “Mermaid Harassment”

Weeki Wachee Mermaid Shannon

Weeki Wachee Mermaid Shannon

Sexual harassment is a serious subject, one to never be made light of. But…

I could not help but grin at the headline “Weeki Wachee manager fired, accused of harassing mermaid” that appeared this morning on our Tampa ABC affiliate’s website.

From the post: “The state’s investigation began in March after a banquet coordinator, Nancy Flowers, was fired. She filed a grievance, accusing [Weeki Wachee Park Directory Tommy] Ervin of behaving inappropriately toward her and her co-workers.

She also claimed Ervin harrassed (sic) her daughter, Heather Flowers, who is a mermaid at the park.

According to an 88-page report released by the state, Heather was in an office making copies when “Tommy came in there and he said… ‘oh, you must be bubble butt’ and I’m like, ‘excuse me?’ and he’s like, ‘Bubble butt?’, and I said, ‘no, I’m Heather.’ And he was like, ‘oh, well I’m Tommy, it’s nice to meet you,’” Heather stated.

For those who don’t know, Weeki Wachee Springs was a tourist attraction founded in 1946 at a natural, 72-degree spring-fed pool located in the small town of Weeki Wachee about 60 miles north of Tampa and 12 miles from the Gulf of Mexico. It features young women dressed in mermaid costumes who perform daily underwater shows while breathing through air hoses. The attraction was taken over last year as a state park by the State of Florida.