Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Cherokee Museum Continued


One of the Ceremonial Dances is called the Booger Dance.  Just sounds so funny doesn't it.  Follow this link to find out more about it.  Booger Dance
Ceremonial Mask of the Cherokee
ceremonial mask
Smoke fired Pottery 

Clay woman figure of a woman at the Qualla Arts and Crafts Gallery in Cherokee

Coil Pottery smoke fired 


PRAYER   photos from Cherokee museum with permission  



Cherokee Indian Museum Collection

Stick Ball(click)

Photo with permission  from the Museum of Cherokee.

Stick Ball was not only a serious sport, but trained young men for war.  The game was is fierce and took strength, skill and courage.  It is not usual for the players to get hurt when the intensity of competition builds up.  

The Culture and History of Basket Weaving


I thought in between the posts on the Cherokee Museum I would list more sites for you to link to Cherokee and Native American history and culture of basket making.  Just click on the highlighted words and it will take you to sites with more in-depth information.

“Material culture can be a window onto the changes that occur in social and cultural history,” said Fariello, an associate professor and chief architect of the Craft Revival Project at Western Carolina University’s Hunter Library

A tradition that dates back almost ten thousand years, basketry is an integral aspect of Cherokee culture. In the mountains of Western North Carolina, stunning baskets are still made from rivercane, white oak and honeysuckle and dyed with roots and bark. Cherokee Basketry describes the craft's forms, functions and methods and records the tradition's celebrated makers. This complex art-passed down from mothers to daughters-is a thread that bonds modern Native Americans to ancestors and traditional ways of life. Anna Fariello, associate professor at Western Carolina University, reveals that baskets hold much more than food and clothing. Woven with the stories of those who produce and use them, these masterpieces remain a powerful testament to creativity and imagination. (review for book)

Cherokee Basket Making History

American Indian Arts and Crafts
 site that has products for sale

Cherokee Arts and Crafts 
site that has products for sale

Cherokee Arts and Crafts, and Symbols
book for sale

Cherokee Baskets
book for sale

From the Hands of Our Elders
book for sale

photo from Cherokee Museum     Elizabeth Gordon

Monday, July 30, 2012

Cherokee Reservation, North Carolina
Early photos of a Cherokee woman and her daughter making pottery
Photo with permission of Cherokee Museum

Early handmade pot

Clay figure

Cherokee method of coil pottery 

Firing of pots Cherokee style

Here is a link to Cherokee customs for children and adults(click).  One of the interesting facts is the strong role of women in the Cherokee culture.   The woman controlled the pottery making and therefore the home.  The pottery is hand built in the coil method and then a wooden paddle is used to pat out and round the pot.  It is smoothed and readied for firing.  The Cherokee used a low fire method of firing their pots, which did leave them vulnerable to cracking easily.  The fire also smoked the pots turning them into shades of brow and black.  I apologize for the quality of the photo's, but with the small camera I am using I cannot overcome the yellowing of light due to the effect of the electric lights.  

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Museum of the Cherokee Indian

Museum of the Cherokee Indian 
Cherokee Museum                                        photo by Elizabeth Gordon

Smoke Fired Pottery            Photo by Elizabeth Gordon 

Cherokee Baskets                         photo by Elizabeth Gordon
I will do several posts on the Cherokee museum.  The Cherokee on this coast are known as the Eastern Branch of the Cherokee.  The Cherokee nation was an amazing culture that had its own alphabet and written language.  They also had their own system of government.  
My ancestor, who was Cherokee, had a name that was English...Dorothy Prior.  Often when anglo saxon men married Indian women, their wives were given a Christian name (English).  When my Mother was trying to learn about our ancestors it wasn't apparent at first Dorothy was Indian because of the name change.  For any American family that has been in America for generations it would be difficult to imagine there was not some indian ancestor in the family tree.  
One of the interesting facts I discovered was the Cherokee traded over a hundred years with the first British explorers to settle in America.  One of the fascinating documents in the exhibit was a book written in the 1700's about a young British Captains experience of living among the Cherokee for a year during a trading journey.  The copies of the many peace treaties signed by Andrew Jackson and the United States government promising the Cherokee the retention of their lands are fascinating, for as we know all the promises meant nothing-the lure of land and money turned men to temptation of absolute greed.  
We will look more in depth at the art of the Cherokee...their pottery  and basketry in a later post.

Natures Art Of the Blue Ridge Mountains

photos by Elizabeth Gordon

photos by Elizabeth Gordon
 Natures Art in the Blue Ridge

photos by Elizabeth Gordon

Photos by Elizabeth Gordon

Everyday no matter where we leave we are presented with awesome beauty, it surrounds us.  Sometimes we see it in the smallest minute things as a leaf bug on a branch, or a beautiful rusty piece of iron that has every hue of red, yellow and orange possible, or paint pealing in a interesting  pattern on an old building, and sometimes we see the beauty if majestic things like the outstanding beauty of the mountains or sea.  These mountains in the Blue Ridge put on a display everyday, the varying light and shadows, the play of light in the valleys and peaks, and the sunrises and sunsets that come each day.  Some are spectacular full of color, others are soft and misty as the clouds enveloped us at higher elevations.  Some are stormy with lighting flashes and huge thunder clouds form stories high into the sky, the clouds make interesting shapes that one can see many things and sometimes rays of light stream out from the storm clouds across the mountains as if spot lights readying a drama.  On this day I was on a friends deck having drinks and conversation when the sky painted the most awesome picture. So I though I would share it with you.  I have a friend in Manchester England who paints sky...he loves sunsets and sunrises, he loves the infinity variety of horizon lines where heaven touches Earth.  His work in not realistic, is bends toward impressionistic to abstract.  Martin Stynes is his name.  I think you would like his work.  So I will provide links for you.  Enjoy
Martin Stynes, Artist, Manchester England                              from google image        

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Mans Inhumanity to Man and America's Shame-the Inhumane treatment of the Native American

There were ten million Native Americans on this continent when the first non-Indians arrived. Over the next 300 years, 90% of all Native American original population was either wiped out by disease, famine, or warfare imported by the whites.

Cherokee Indian

 Quote by Cherokee Indian

One evening an old Cherokee told his grandson about a battle that goes on inside people. He said, "My son, the battle is between 2 "wolves" inside us all.

One is Evil. It is anger, envy, jealousy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.

The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith."

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather: "Which wolf wins?"

The old Cherokee simply replied, "The one you feed."
Cherokee Indian
Cherokee Chief                   from google image

Wonderful Adventures of Art and Culture in the Blue Ridge Mountains

Today I thought I would write in a more personal style to let you feel the trip as if you were here yourself.  I am sitting on my deck now looking out at the woods and listening to the birds deep in the forest.  I hear local farmers far in the distant valley working away on their tractors.  It is growing season here, Tomatoes, corn, and all types of vegetables are ripe in the fields.   The tomatoes are so delicious they are like a ripe wonderful fruit.  There are tailgate markets everywhere to buy fresh vegetables.  The soil is so rich here and the vegetables are so much more flavorful than in my home state of Florida.

Clouds rolling across the Blue Ridge Farm Lands   photo Elizabeth Gordon

photo by Elizabeth Gordon

Yesterday we drove across the mountains to the Cherokee Reservation and went to the Cherokee Museum.  The last time I had been years ago.  It was a small museum and not a complete collection...the presentation was not professionally done.  Now it is stunning, with videos, holograms, wax figures, dioramas, timelines and interactive sections. It is much larger and so much information that  I could not take it in one trip.  So there will be another trip back, and for 10 dollars it is one of the last best bargains around.  Next door is the Qualla Indian Arts and Crafts Gallery which sell Cherokee make crafts from exquisite baskets, to smoke fired pottery, to carved wood masks.  I took photo's for you to have a virtual experience, but with the electric lighting there is a bit of a yellow organish cast to them.  The American Indian story is a rich one, if not sad, with the treatment from the Early British explorers, colonists, and American pilgrims overtaking their lands.  This is a part of the world you should not miss, its physical beauty is breath taking and its arts and crafts traditions is so rich.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


The Southern Highlands Center is on mile marker 382 on the Blue Ridge Parkway just minutes from downtown Asheville.  They carry a wonderful variety of arts and crafts from the Southern area of the United States.  The crafts are all handmade by skilled artisans from the area.  Many of the crafts were handed down from generation to generation.  They were originally a part of daily life, pottery for dishes and storage, weaving for clothes and rugs, carving for tools and instruments, painting and printing for decoration.  There is almost aways a artist demonstrating a craft daily at the center and on some occasions as the September festival, there are example of all the crafts of the area with hands on experiences for adults and children. The center also has a wonderful reference library where you can research art of the area, or any art you may be interested in learning.  It is a wonderful resource. If you are not from the United States and want to know more or plan a trip to the Blue Ridge, Smokey Mountain area I highly recommend it.  But if you cannot, I will post as much information as I can to let you take a virtual trip.  While I am in the mountains I will post a variety of information on the area itself, the artist, musicians and writers.  The absolute stunning natural environment influences artists in many ways in their work.  

Monday, July 23, 2012

Carl Sandburg, Poet and North Carolina Home


Carl Sandburg is one of my favorite one of my favorite poets.  When I was a young student I had the good fortune to hear him read his work in person.  It was in the later years of his life, but he still held a commanding presence.  He was originally from the mid west, but moved with his family to North Carolina.  Flat Rock is not far from Asheville.  His Flat Rock home (click)is now a museum and during the summer college students sing and perform songs from his anthology of American Folk Music.  There is also a petting zoo for children with baby goats.  His wife raised prize winning goats on the farm.  There are stories about goats running through the house while Carl Sandburg was doing his writing.  
I have always loved poetry, to me it is like painting a picture with words.  The impetus of creativity is the same to me, it is only the form of expression we use...whether it me pin, brush or instrument.  
Carl Sandburg was a master at his craft...Chicago is his most famous poem.  
Carl Sandburg's Flat Rock, North Carolina Home        from google image
Carl Sandburg


     HOG Butcher for the World,
     Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat,
     Player with Railroads and the Nation's Freight Handler;
     Stormy, husky, brawling,
     City of the Big Shoulders:

They tell me you are wicked and I believe them, for I
     have seen your painted women under the gas lamps
     luring the farm boys.
And they tell me you are crooked and I answer: Yes, it
     is true I have seen the gunman kill and go free to
     kill again.
And they tell me you are brutal and my reply is: On the
     faces of women and children I have seen the marks
     of wanton hunger.
And having answered so I turn once more to those who
     sneer at this my city, and I give them back the sneer
     and say to them:
Come and show me another city with lifted head singing
     so proud to be alive and coarse and strong and cunning.
Flinging magnetic curses amid the toil of piling job on
     job, here is a tall bold slugger set vivid against the
     little soft cities;

Fierce as a dog with tongue lapping for action, cunning
     as a savage pitted against the wilderness,

          Building, breaking, rebuilding,
Under the smoke, dust all over his mouth, laughing with
     white teeth,
Under the terrible burden of destiny laughing as a young
     man laughs,
Laughing even as an ignorant fighter laughs who has
     never lost a battle,
Bragging and laughing that under his wrist is the pulse.
     and under his ribs the heart of the people,
Laughing the stormy, husky, brawling laughter of
     Youth, half-naked, sweating, proud to be Hog
     Butcher, Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat, Player with
     Railroads and Freight Handler to the Nation.

Scenes Where the Hunger Game was Filmed near Asheville

This is film that shows the areas of North Carolina near Asheville where HUNGER GAMES was filmed.  It has music an no words, but the beauty speaks for it self.  
Enjoy the Silent Beauty of the area.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Original Music of the Blue Ridge Mountains

The movie "Songcatcher" is a wonderful independent film about the culture and music of the Blue Ridge and Smokey Mountains.  It takes place in the early 1900's in the North Carolina Mountains not far from my studio.  When we first moved up to Asheville I decided to collect movies, books, art, and music about the area.  Just most recently the filmed near here is the movie " The Hunger Games".  The "Last of the Mohegans" was filmed here as well.  
What is fascinating about this movie is not only the stunning beauty of the Blue Ridge Mountains yet the hard life the early settlers had to endure to live here, but also the music that they brought generations ago with them from their home countries.  The music stayed in the mountain isolated from the influences of more modern music by the sheer geography of the area.  Generation passed to generation stories and songs from Victorian England ...untouched.  In the movie a music professor comes back to the mountains to capture the songs before they are lost, but the locals are an independent suspicious bunch that do not take to strangers well....it is a wonderful movie.  I highly recommend watching it.
I will include several clips from the movie highlighting mountain music.  Click on the arrow on each one of these clips to hear the music samples.  Some are mournful and sad...my Father called dirges, others are more lively.  It speaks of a hardy people who were determined to live in harsh conditions to live in the beauty of these wonderful mountains.

Saturday, July 21, 2012



My Father grew up in this area of Mississippi between Union and Philadelphia.  He was from a large family of 12 children, two of which died very young.  There were enough brothers to have their own basketball team and play baseball. My father went on to become a basketball coach and history teacher.  When I was very small he taught me a few Choctaw words...one for man and one for cow.  I wasn't sure they were real words until I asked the ladies at the festival...and to my surprise they were really the right words.  Later when we lived in Columbus, Mississippi my Father wanted to put together a baseball game between a Columbus team and the Choctaw team, but at the time prejudice was so great the city would have no part of it.  The world has changed thank goodness and people are more open minded, but in the early 1940's it was a different story and prejudice was rampant.   
I came back to Philadelphia and Union for my Aunt Lorene's 90th birthday.  It was a walk back into my childhood.  My Aunt's house has changed little and I can still here the click of domino's as my uncles played in the back room.  I can still feel ghosts of memory as little cousins caught lightning bugs on a summer night.  
It was by accident that I came at the time of the Indian Fair, but I was so happy that I got to go.  It made me think that my Father most likely walked that reservation and played sports with the Choctaw boys.  It also made me think of our ancestors that were Indian on both sides of my family...on one side Choctaw and the other Cherokee.  I will post another writing on the Choctaw and more about their culture.  The current situation on Indian reservations in America is still not a good one...there is poverty, abuse, and isolation.  But, we will cover this later.
In the meantime look at the wonderful basket work of these Choctaw women.

The intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.
-Albert Einstein

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Jonas Gerard/Asheville Artist

Jonas Gerard

Jonas Gerard is another Asheville based artist I think you will enjoy getting to know.  In a city of arts and crafts, he is a stand out as a fine artist.  He work is dramatic and lively.  Click on the arrow on the photo for a video clip of Jonas and his work.  

Asheville and Art on the News


Asheville is not a large town, it is a small gem in the Blue Ridge Mountains that draws a mixture of mountaineers, tourists, ecologist, musicians and craftsmen. Take a peak and learn about this wonderful city.  Just click on the arrow.
 Highwater Clay/Odyssey Studio

 Asheville North Carolina is the heart of some of the finest arts and crafts in America.  The mountain heritage is strong with people who originated from England, Scotland, Ireland and Germany..as well as the American Indian influence.  Basketry, pottery, weaving, iron and metal work, beading, glass art, and many other crafts have been handed down from one generation to the next.  Another area we will talk about later is the influence of early England on the mountain music.  T

Highwater Clay provides clay for many areas in the Eastern United States. My studio in Florida orders from them as well.  They offer classes and workshops year round in pottery.  The teachers are highly skilled and offer a variety of techniques.  

If you are in this are or want a vacation in a beautiful part of the world and take pottery classes then this is definitely a wonderful place to do so.  Click on the highlighted words above and it will provide you with a direct link.  If you do decide to take classes please let them know Rabbit's Moon Studio sent you...and let us know your experiences.  It is so beautiful here and there is so much to do, you will not be sorry for the coming!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Another Famous Son of Asheville

Kenneth Noland (click for link)

Kenneth Noland was born in Asheville, North Carolina.  He was known as an American color field painter, a minimalist, and abstract artist.

Thomas Wolfe, famous writer from Asheville, North Carolina

Culture is the arts elevated to a set of beliefs.
Thomas Wolfe

from google image

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