If you miss the old timey way of doing things, of good craftsmanship and old fashioned ingenuity, of things meant to last a lifetime, and admire talented musicians and artists, then June 22, promises to be a great time to visit Moulton’s historic downtown area. Life has changed a little since the horrific fire that destroyed part of its heritage, but the spirit of the townspeople is strong and they refuse to let their town revert to become just another little town, hanging on for dear life as big box stores, strip malls and busy highways take over the traffic and the revenue.
In an effort to bring people downtown, this day has been set aside for people who love art, music and good Southern Barbecue. It’s not a festival; it’s more like a homecoming, combined with an Art Expo, intertwined with a church dinner on the grounds. This event features several artisans and crafts people who love to teach people about their work, to encourage people to try new things and to give people the opportunity to talk and ask questions with no pressure to purchase anything.
Foot traffic is what Moulton is seeking on June 22, a day of relaxing music, lazy games of checkers and horseshoes, storytellers with tall tales with wide grins, artists, woodworkers, chair caners and crafts of all kinds, photographers and people who love sharing their knowledge and their techniques for capturing beauty in the world around us.
Last week we told you about En plein air (French for outdoors, or plein air painting) which is the act of painting outdoors. This method is very different from studio painting or academic rules that might create a preset look. Timothy Joe, is a member of a group of En plein air artists who travel from city to city in an effort to paint things that others might see every single day and never notice until they see them immortalized on canvas.
Other artists, including the owner of Lume, on the west side of the square, will be available to talk with visitors about classes and the availability of renting the space for parties or for business meetings.
The music will add a beautiful dimension to the day, which is purposely not billed as a festival, but as an art exposition, a day to relax, learn, observe and kick back, with no pressure to buy anything or to rush. Artists will set up all over town, wherever they see an image they would like to capture.
Hobby photographer, Daniel White, who also holds the title of grower of the largest watermelons in the state for several years, will display his collection of beautiful photographs taken on his farm in Battleground. His sunrises and sunsets are amazing in both unique composition and incredible colors. He will be happy to answer questions about camera settings or phone editing.
International pencil artist, Clarence Pointer, will be here to showcase his work and to speak to visitors about getting children interested in drawing, and giving young ones encouragement and joy in the art of pencil drawing, an inexpensive hobby, and great therapy for all children and adults, as well. His work will be on display and the Jackson House Foundation has one of his most detailed works to be raffled soon. Pointer has instructed that all proceeds be applied to the continued efforts to restore the Jackson House.
Pat Johnson will be here with his famous barbecue, and some of the best barbecue sauce to ever pass over your taste buds, friends! Pre-Orders for Boston butts and ribs are almost filled. Orders can be picked up around noon the Saturday of the event. Johnson has been instrumental in helping various non-profit organizations to earn extra money for projects and his barbecue is legendary. Johnson, a pitmaster, learned to perfect his culinary arts under one of the most famous pitmasters in the country, Myron Mixon.
See more about the raffle and about Pat’s BBQ on Facebook at Jackson House Foundation.
A bake sale will be held in conjunction with the BBQ sales. Baked goods and sides will be furnished by members of the Jackson House Committee. Proceeds go toward a new cooling and heating unit for the historic Jackson House. “We are getting close to being able to rent the house for events,” says chairperson, Tammy Roberts. “We only have a few loose ends to tie up and the big thing, the HVAC unit, will probably be installed in the near future. Thanks to everyone who has helped to support this endeavor!”
Woodcarver extraordinaire, Philip Terry, and some of his woodcarving buddies will be on hand to showcase their highly skilled craftsmanship. Philip will give a demonstration to those who might be interested in coming to some of the free classes he offers. According to Philip, this is a hobby that helps to relieve stress while making a piece of driftwood or his favorite, cottonwood, into something intricately beautiful.
Chair caning will be demonstrated by the Murks family. This art is almost forgotten, but the Murks family has kept it alive and well in Decatur. Come and learn how or simply get a contact to repair your next bottomless antique chair find.
This day is not about making money, although if you want to make a donation to the Lawrence County Archives, the Jackson House Foundation, the History and Preservation Society, or any non-profit or civic organization of your choice, you are surely welcome to do so! This is a day of fun, relaxation, imagination and inspiration. This event is meant to bring people back to town, to meet up with friends and family, to spend some time reminiscing and looking forward to making our town a place where people want to gather, to make new memories and to celebrate the resilient nature of people who have just discovered the joys of living in a small town, and the ones whose ancestors settled this place.
Everyone is encouraged to bring a lawn chair, a checker board, or a chess set, horseshoes will be set up for games, and you are welcome to bring your own picnic basket or favorite tailgating foods. There is no admission and crafters (who must register by the 20th with Loretta Gillespie on Facebook. No qualified crafter or artist will be charged a fee or a commission. All crafters must offer only hand-made items or hobby photographs, and be able to demonstrate their craft or to answer questions about their hobby.
Live entertainment will be provided by Lawrence County native and national bluegrass sensation, Robert Montgomery, Brett Anderson (the beautiful songstress who sings at the Veteran’s Day Parade Candlelight Ceremony) accompanied by Lawrence County professional guitarist, Rod Wallace, and by the Sacred Harp Singers, some of whom were featured in the movies, “Cold Mountain” and “Oh, Brother! Where Art Thou?” This group, with their unique and hauntingly beautiful sound, will perform at approximately 4:00 p.m.
According to spokesperson for the group, Christopher Mann, the Sacred Harp singers will be singing, “I’m Going Home” from Cold Mountain, “Idumea” (also from Cold Mountain), New Britain, which is Amazing Grace, Murrillo’s Lesson, the Ninety-Third Psalm, Lenox and Old Hundred, (one of the oldest songs in their book). Mann says they often take requests.
“From the 1800s to the 1900s, the courthouse singings were very common across the state of Alabama,” Mann explained. “Now there is only one courthouse singing left that has been continuous since its inception, which is in Cullman County, and is always held the second weekend of July.”
The Jefferson County courthouse has recently allowed the Sacred Harp singers back into its halls as well. “Courthouses have traditionally been a centralized location for people to come, which is why they were popular locations for singings back in the day. Many courthouses also have great acoustics which help the singers voices resonate and because they can also seat many people at once,” Mann continued.
“There are not many singings like this left in the North-west side of the state, so having one in Moulton would help to bring this wonderful tradition back to the area,” he said.
It would also be a great way of drawing interest in getting our courthouse opened back up for things just like this that would draw people to town for a variety of things.
Other artists and crafts people are still being added to the roster at presstime. Come spend a lazy day in downtown Moulton, make new friends and greet old ones, and enjoy the flavor of life in the South!
To learn more about the Sacred Harp Singers, you can find them on Facebook, all the way from Ireland to Texas!
For more information on the En plein air artists, visit https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/En_plein_air
Alabama plein air artists official page
For information on Pit Master, Pat Johnson, visit The Moulton Advertiser; enter his name at the top of the page
For information on Woodcarver, Philip Terry, enter his name into the search box at the top of the page.
Robert Montgomery and Friends, 1:00 p.m.-2:00 p.m.
Brett Anderson and Rod Wallace, 2:30 p.m.-3:30 p.m.
Sacred Harp Singers, 4:00 p.m.– 5:00 p.m.
Craft and art demonstration times will be posted on site.