The Shuptrine Exhibit Opening

Opening, Shuptrine Exhibit, Museum Center at 5ive Points                                                   September 18, 2018

Magic.  Talkin’ ‘bout a recipe for magic.  Droplets of water from a gurgling spring that provided life for the travelers who found their way to Taylor’s Spring.  Grains of strength inhabiting the hearts that looked to the sun and grasped hold of the rays of light that strengthened their days.  A sprinkling of sweat from those men who poured liquid iron to create the kitchen hearths of America. A flavoring of vision for the bankers and the manufacturers and the entrepreneurs that would give shape and substance to this magical creation. And lastly, a dollop of faith that gave musical notes of worship that would accompany this magic.  Droplets of water…and grains of strength…and rays of light…and sprinklings of sweat…and flavorings of vision…and dollops of faith….elements of a recipe…..for magic.  A recipe for magic.

And thus, we have come to a season of celebrating the magic that created this community…this home…this museum…this heart that beats for all of us.  For all of us who love this museum, for all of us in this community, for all of us who enter the doors this fall to smell the rich woodland loam fairly emanating from the watercolor art work and then enter the exhibit itself to kick the fallen leaves and walk the trails that come alive from the walls of watercolors, it is the season of Alan Shuptrine, whose personal magic gives line and color and shape to this land that calls us all. His personal magic that causes our hearts to beat with the rhythm of home and hearth and family.

I come, as most of you do, from mountain folk.  Not mountains like the stately Alleghenies marching coastward from the Great Lakes to the rocky beaches of Maine.  Not even mountains like the Appalachians that whirl off southward embracing the Shenandoah Valley in one of nature’s most beautiful waltzes. I come from the mountains that drift lazily into the rolling hills that we lovingly call the Smokies. Smoky mountains that were carved by the ice age artists to spawn the welcoming hills and more gentle ridges of southeast Tennessee, Northern Georgia and upper Alabama.  This region became my home, and home to the particular and peculiar people of our nation’s Southeast.  Not the South.  The Southeast.

In America, the early 1800’s brought rugged adventurists crossing miles of raging rivers and soaring peaks seeking the end of the land, the end of the land where the sea tumbles landward…the end of the land.  Many fierce souls dropped off along their way to become the industrial founders of our mid-west; the farmers of grain and corn and potatoes; and the Western cowboys who tamed the ranges and grew the herds.

Others, those who forebore our fathers, moved along a different path to the protected hollers that hunkered between the gentle ridges and softly rolling hills offering protection from storms, fields for planting, and rivers where communities could grow and neighbors could be close.  My folks didn’t want the end of the land, they wanted the sheltered curve of an elbow of land that cradled…that cuddled…that nurtured those who had come.  And this land is brought into focus for us in the magic of this Shuptrine celebration.

Into our area, the British and the Irish and the Scottish and the Welsh families brought the flavor of their language that is still heard today.  The colloquialisms of the speech of Shakespeare himself were idiomatic of the language they had heard around the hearths of their lives, and so were the “h’aint’s” and “airre’s” and the “druther’s” of the folks we know as our neighbors, our cousins, ourselves.

The customs of the lives we now lead and the faith that guides our way remains true to the many “constants” of our forebears from centuries past as children sang “Barbry Allen” and played “Pop Goes the Weazel” and congregations worshipped singing “How Firm A Foundation.”  The lifestyles we now lead have adapted to our current societal intelligences and leanings, but the roots are still the same. They are constant.  And these “constants” have been passed down throughout the centuries as the foundation of lives lived in the grooves and hollers that still hide from the interstates and peek out at us on Sunday drives through the country.

This land…this place…this here and now…beckoned even then.  This land called.  It was almost as if the gentle ridges and low-sloping mountains whispered to these settlers…

“You can family here.”

“Your stories and songs and ways of life will be protected.”

“Your children can breathe and birth and prosper here for centuries to come.”

Those who came, heard the whispers. Those who heard, responded, and the people of the Southeast settled…familied…put down roots and became…

…the farmers who loved the smell of this earth and grew a bounty keeping every kitchen pot humming…

…the women who loved the promise of safety and family…

…the children who breathed in the freedom a’waitin’ and the challenges to be conquered…

…the Protestants who shouted and sang and wept over their sin…

…the Methodists who became missionaries and shared their faith with the unwashed…

…those poetic souls who treasured the skills of reading and writing and were daily enriched by the beauty of the pines and hardwoods, the streams and brooks and the life-inspiring sunrises..

…the jovial souls who made music and laughter and shared the heartbeat of life and joy in all their ways…

…and the stoic heathens who lived with their grudges and tight-fistedly refused the influences of the enlightened….

…these are my people…

…these are our people…

….these are the people who inhabit the world presented by Alan Shuptrine…

…this is my home…

…and aren’t we all thankful for the color and the line and the heart and soul and the life giving essence…the absolute magic that Alan Shuptrine brings to our home.

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