WALTER Magazine - February 2022

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Thee Art & Soul of Raleigh Th




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Volume X, Issue 6

41 OUR TOWN 25

EXPLORE: Rest & Restore Bed-and-breakfasts with history


SIMPLE LIFE: The Chosen One A hawk appears, igniting inquiry


NATURE: Love in the Rain Wonder at a salamander congress


NOTED: Road Trip A couple and their dog makes a trip across the continent


VAULT: Moon Shot A closer look at a lunar meteorite


LOCALS: Blending Beats DJ Rang brings the party






Editor’s Letter



MUSIC: Finding a Voice Yasmine White’s music therapy


Your Feedback



CREATORS: Red Clay & Jewels A visit with Jaki Shelton Green


The Whirl




End Note

On the cover: Robert Hartwell, supplied


Mallory Cash (JAKI SHELTON GREEN); Susan Garrity (ROADTRIP)




Dots by ImonyLowd illustrated by Edith Grey


Passion & Purpose Robert Hartwell’s journey from Raleigh to Broadway — and back by Ayn-Monique Klahre


58 10 | WALTER

When Walls Speak Poetry inspired by local murals by Leah Finch photography by Bryan Regan


Sunny Side Conjuring Mardi Gras with St. Roch chef Sunny Gerhart by Addie Ladner photography by Eamon Queeney


Boundless Beauty Sculptor Stephen Hayes and the African American experience by Jim Moriarity photography by Samantha Everette

Samantha Everette (STEPHEN HAYES); Bryan Regan (MURAL)


ELM STREET BUILDERS | Photography by Visual Properties, LLC

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Beauty, Artistry & Tradition

f you read my last letter, you may have noted that I talked about how through the fall we felt like we were doing too much. That came to a head over our holiday travels — we got on planes, trains, and automobiles to see family in Virginia and New Jersey, and then to squeeze in a family vacation to New Orleans while the kids were on break. I hadn’t been since I was a kid, with the exception of a weekend wedding with a 4-week-old in tow a few years ago; needless to say we didn’t do much touring. But when we envisioned our beignets, bayou excursions, and cemetery tours, I don’t think we realized that we were booking the trip over New Year’s Eve, when Bourbon Street would be at its peak. That night, and the week leading up to it, the energy was palpable. It was exciting, unfamiliar, and a little uncomfortable. I don’t think I’ve seen that many people in the same place at the same time in… two years, anyway. We did our countdown from the safety of the hotel room with the kids, who didn’t seem to mind that the real action was outside. Our mornings there were more my speed. It was unseasonably warm, so the kids took advantage of the rooftop pool at least once a day. I used my jogs to wander through the neighborhoods around the French Quarter, discovering for myself a hint of the architecture, art, and landscape that give the city its true soul. We drank gallons of chicory coffee and watched the street performers and fortune-tellers set up for the day. On the way home, we became a part of those airline travel statistics — our flights were canceled, rerouted, canceled and routed again before we decided to cut our losses and rent a car for the 13-hour drive back. We just wanted to get back to Raleigh! Back to recalling my last letter: be careful what you wish for. About a week after getting home, I was the first in the family to get a positive Covid test, quickly followed by both of the kids (still waiting on the husband as of press time). So here we are, after the hubris and whirlwind of all that holiday travel, in a forced slowdown. Two days into quarantine and we’ve already got the set of Encanto under construction in the kitchen, and the OMG, Rainbow High, and Barbie dolls — along with their camper and allll the hair accessories — have migrated into my living room “office.” So it seems we will get a chance to do all those puzzles and projects after all. I just hope the house can survive it.

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Chapter 2

Away We Go S

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Creative Director LAURA PETRIDES WALL Associate Editor ADDIE LADNER Contributing Writers Kara Adams, Wiley Cash, Jim Dodson, Mike Dunn, Ilina Ewen, Leah Finch, Susan Garrity, Hampton Williams Hofer, ImonyLowd, David Menconi, Jim Moriarty, David Rogne Contributing Copy Editor Finn Cohen Contributing Graphic Designer Morgan Gustafson Contributing Photographers Mallory Cash, Samantha Everette, Eamon Queeney, Bryan Regan, Joshua Steadman Contributing Illustrators Gerry O’Neill, Natasha “Edith Grey” Powell Walker



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Raleigh born and bred, Imani Horton, known as ImonyLowd, is an inspiration force often seen at local poetry nights or sharing soulful verses on her social media channels. The artist has a gift with wordplay and depth. Her poetry is intertwined with her passion for music and boy can she sing some music. Her artistry has granted her access to poetic giants like Poets in Autumn, a Christian-based traveling poetry group. She’s graced stages including The Legacy Chicago and The Legacy Atlanta. ImonyLowd always seeks to be a vessel of uplifting light and love. Her poem Dots was inspired by Black History Month. “I always want my poetry to challenge perspective, bring light, and invite love and togetherness,” she says.

P HOTOGR A PH ER Samantha Everette is a portrait photographer and Durham native. She graduated summa cum laude from North Carolina State University with a bachelor’s degree in industrial design. Everette then spent a decade in New York City as a footwear designer, before she returned home to explore her passion for photography. On working with Stephen Hayes: “It was so dope to photograph this talented artist and to hear firsthand about his creative process. I’ve admired Stephen’s work ever since I was introduced to his sculptures.”


LEAH FINCH / W R I TE R In her day job, Leah Finch is a professional software trainer who meets with venue partners like museums, performing art centers, and fairs all over the country. But she’s also a sketch artist and writer who declares “neighbor” to be her favorite descriptor. With every person she meets, Finch is further convinced of the beauty, tragedy, redemption, and glory of the human experience. In When Walls Speak, she “beheld murals around Raleigh and let them vocalize the various experiences of our neighbors.”


I L L U S TRATOR An artist known as Edith Grey, Natasha Powell Walker graduated in 2007 from Virginia Tech with a bachelor of science in apparel design. Walker has over two decades of experience as a visual artist and illustrator. Her work spans a variety of mediums including acrylic, oil, and illustration. Originally from Richmond, Virginia, Natasha relocated to the Raleigh-Durham area in 2014. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for CAM Raleigh. “I enjoyed creating the visuals for ImonyLowd’s poem. I wanted to ensure the illustration portrayed that, even with our differences, we’re still united.”

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T H E MOSS T TRAGG I C L O V E STORR Y EVER T O LD, WITT H A SLL E E PING Reader Matt Rhinehart was inspired by our December food feature “We may not have done it up quite as spectacularly as the feature in the magazine but we got all of our seven fishes in for our feast! The first course was served at 2 p.m. and we finished the last plate at 9:30!” — Matt Rhinehart


Tony Morcos with the historic violin “Every time I read the article, I cry. Susanna, Eamon and Laura created a beautiful work of art. Mindy and I would like to express our appreciation for your artistic telling of “The Book of Ruth,” as I call it.” — Tony Morcos

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The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 19


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OUR TOWN From romance to tea parties to engaging with history, February offers cultural opportunities for all.





Feb. 26 - May 15 | See website The North Carolina Museum of Art presents the work of Durham architect Phil Freelon, who passed away in 2019, in “Container/Contained: Phil Freelon Design Strategies for Telling African American Stories.” The exhibition follows four decades of his work and a multitude of projects, including the designs for the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., and the Durham County Human Services Complex. With a focus on architecture that highlights African American identity and community, “Container/Contained” takes a deep dive into the relationship between architecture and storytelling. Free; 2110 Blue Ridge Road; All information is accurate as of press time, but please check and the event websites for the latest updates. The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 21


BLACK HISTORY MONTH GALLERY EXHIBITION All month | See website Visit Apex’s Halle Cultural Arts Center to see the artwork of local Black creative Charlton Cole on display all month long. Born and raised in Jamaica, Cole has always been inspired by the beauty of his surroundings and the colors of nature, an appreciation that shines through in his impressionist landscape paintings. At the end of the month, Halle will close the exhibit with a reception where guests will get to meet Cole in person and ask him questions about his work. Free; 237 N. Salem Street, Apex;

CROSSED KALUNGA BY THE STARS & OTHER ACTS OF RESISTANCE All month | See website This exhibit at the Gregg Museum of Art and Design explores transformative circumstances, memory, and ancestry. It features contemporary pieces from sculpture to portraiture from seven artists with roots across the globe: Athlone Clarke, Marielle Plaisir, Esmerelda Mila, Rex Miller, José Bedia, Renée Stout, and André Leon Gray. Each showcases how art can tell the story of a journey across the “kalunga,” which in the Kikongo language of the Congo-Angola Basin means “threshold between worlds,” or the Atlantic Ocean, particularly in relation to the Middle Passage. Free; 1903 Hillsborough Street; gregg.arts.


Feb. 3 - 5 | 8 p.m. Head to Lincoln Theatre for American Aquarium’s three-day concert series “Roadtrip to Raleigh,” featuring openers Aaron Lee Tasjan, Old 97’s and Margo Cilker, and Zach Bryan. Led by songwriter and frontman BJ Barham, American Aquarium has been steadily cranking out alt-country rock albums and hits like “The Luckier You Get” ever since they were founded in Raleigh in 2006. From $39.50; 126 E. Cabarrus Street;

GREATER TUNA Feb. 4 - 20 | See website Theatre in the Park kicks off its new season with a two-man comedy show about the fictional small town of Tuna, Texas. Ira David Wood IV and David Henderson star as all 20 characters in the show, from aunties to dogs, and this zany production promises nonstop laughs and a mirthful start to the 2022 season in Pullen Park. From $20; 107 Pullen Road;

KRISPY KREME CHALLENGE Feb. 5 | 12 - 7 p.m. Since its inception in 2004, the annual

Krispy Kreme Challenge has become a rite of passage for North Carolina State University students as well as a wildly successful local fundraiser for UNC Children’s Hospital. Starting at the Memorial Belltower, participants will race to the Krispy Kreme on Person Street (a 2.5-mile trek), where they will attempt to eat a dozen glazed doughnuts — and keep them down — before running back to campus within the hour timeframe. For those not interested in challenging their gastrointestinal fitness, participants can also register as No Doughnut Runners or Casual Runners, who aren’t expected to eat a full dozen. $50; 2011 Hillsborough Street;

TRIANGLE WINE & FOOD EXPERIENCE Feb. 3 - 5 | See website Join Raleigh native and culinary allstar Ashley Christensen for this year’s Triangle Wine & Food Experience, a benefit event for Frankie Lemmon School & Developmental Center. This year, TWFE offers a mix of in-person and virtual options. “This event is about celebrating wine, food, and friendship — but at its heart it’s about supporting the children and families of Frankie Lemmon,” says executive director Marsha Hargette. Local restaurants including Angus Barn, Margaux’s Restaurant, and Second Empire will feature special menus, and on the more intimate side, a number of small


dinners will feature award-winning chefs (like Chris Shepherd and Sarah Grueneberg) paired with celebrity food personalities inside hosts’ homes. In addition to the dinners, there are live in-person and online auctions for wine, food experiences, vacation homes, and more. Prices and locations vary; (COLE); getty images (DONUT); Walter archives (TRIANGLE WINE & FOOD)


Courtesy Carolina Ballet (BALLET); (FABBA); courtesy CAM (YOGA); gettyimages (HEART)



Feb. 5 - 6 | See website Have the little ones don their finest princess gowns and head over to Marbles Kids Museum for a magical afternoon tea experience. In addition to enchanted wands, glittering tiaras, sweet treats, and a little bit of fairy dust, the Princess Tea will include themed crafts and activities. From $20; 201 E. Hargett Street;

Feb. 3 - 20 | See website

DOUBLE CHOCOLATE DATE Feb. 8 | 8 p.m. It’s a date! Zoom with esteemed French baker Lionel Vatinet of Cary’s La Farm Bakery and Triangle-based wine importer Queen of Wines in preparation for Valentine’s Day for a virtual Chocolate & Wine Double Date. For two interactive hours, guests will learn to prepare chocolate mousse and molten chocolate lava cake. The recipes, ingredients, tools needed to make the desserts, and a bottle of sparkling wine will be available for pickup ahead of time at La Farm so you can cook and sip right alongside your hosts. $150; virtual;

THE FABBA SHOW: A TRIBUTE TO ABBA Feb. 8 | 7:30 p.m. Become the dancing queen you’ve always wanted to be during this concert packed with all the ‘70s flair, go-go boots, and unmatchable energy of ABBA in their prime. Londoner Marie-Claire Follett and her husband, Andy Marshall, are joined by a California-based cast for this tour of tribute shows that’s traveling along the


One of the most well-known (and tragic) love stories of all time will be told through song and dance this month at the Duke Energy Center for the Performing Arts. Carolina Ballet will present Romeo & Juliet with thrilling sword fights, swelling musical numbers, and awe-inspiring ballet, along with all the heartbreak you’ve come to expect from Shakespeare’s original story. See it in-person or opt for the live-streamed performance available on Feb. 4. From $27; 2 E. South Street;

East Coast. Expect to boogie along to all your favorite disco hits and more at the Fletcher Opera Theater at Duke Energy Center, where The fABBA Show will leave you saying Thank You for the Music. From $35; 2 E. South Street;

DANCING IN THE STREET: THE MUSIC OF MOTOWN Feb. 10 - 12 | See website Get ready to dance all night long to all your favorite Motown tunes from artists like Lionel Richie, Marvin Gaye, Diana Ross, Stevie Wonder, The Four Tops, and The Temptations. This performance from the North Carolina Symphony and special guests will feature all the classic songs you know and love, from “Ain’t No Mountain High Enough” to “I’m Coming Out.” From $40; 2 E. South Street;

SOUL YOGA Feb. 12 & 26 | 9 - 11 a.m. Grab your yoga mat and head to CAM Raleigh for a “hip yet soulful” class designed to fit all skill levels. Hosted by Raleigh-based Soul Yoga, the hour promises to share a new form of yoga with more energy and movement, complete with a DJ spinning tunes from the likes of Johnny Hathaway,

Lion Babe, and John Legend. As you stretch out in the galleries, take in CAM’s ongoing exhibits and learn to promote a connection between your mind and soul through deep breathing poses and a relaxing but revitalizing flow. $15; 409 W. Martin Street;

ROMANCE IN THE AIR Feb. 12 | 2 & 4:30 p.m. Hear voices from the North Carolina Master Chorale perform love songs from pop’s leading ladies, including Etta James, Cher, Adele, Diana Ross, and Lady Gaga. This jazzy Valentine’s performance at Transfer Co. Food Hall will be performed by a 16-voice chamber choir accompanied by drums, piano, and bass. $25; 500 E. Davie Street; The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 23


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CONSERVATION ASSISTANCE Feb. 18 | See website Have an antique watch, weathered book, or yellowing letter in the attic? The Conservation Branch of the North Carolina Museum of History offers a complimentary 30-minute assessment of your prized relic, and tips on how to care for it. Be sure to check their website for items they can’t evaluate, such as objects with live ammunition or evidence of pest infestation. Free; 5 E. Edenton Street; Call 919-814-6965 for appointments,

FEARRINGTON FOLK ART SHOW Feb. 19 - 20 | 10 a.m. - 5 p.m. Head to Pittsboro for one of the most celebrated displays of American craftsmanship in the region, where you can take in unique pieces made by regional and national artists. Shop handmade decor and art such as Crystal King’s animal figurines, Mark May’s recycled robots, and Hamidou Sissoko’s sculptures made from scrap metal and old engine parts. $5; 2000 Fearrington Village Center, Pittsboro;

courtesy Mulino

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Feb. 14 | See website Grab your lover (or just a friend) and head to Mulino for an indulgent fourcourse wine dinner featuring dishes like scallops with parmigiana truffle fonduta, braised beef over polenta, and classic tiramisu. The fixed-price menu includes one bottle of premium red or white wine and two welcome beverages. Call ahead or make a reservation on their website to select your time. $125 per person; 309 N. Dawson Street;


Elmwood 1820, Washington

REST & RESTORE Immerse yourself in history at these bed-and-breakfasts across the state by ADDIE LADNER & AYN-MONIQUE KLAHRE


rom a pre-Civil War farmhouse in the country to a sprawling, Gatsby-era stone estate in the mountains, North Carolina offers stays that don’t just invite you to another region — they transport you to another era.

In each of these bed-and-breakfasts, the owners have curated an authentic travel experience, often with local art, hand-selected linens, and heirloom furnishings in your bedroom. Delicious breakfast and hot coffee are on the morning menu alongside conversation

with your hosts and other guests, the perfect opportunity to plan your visit with a personal touch. As you start thinking about your next escape from Raleigh, consider these five historic bed-and-breakfasts and inns across our state. The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 25

EXPLORE ELMWOOD 1820, WASHINGTON A lovingly restored Italianate mansion, Elmwood 1820 was, as the name suggests, built in 1820 as a much smaller Federal-style residence. It was added onto in 1859, then was moved to its current location (with its new architectural style) in the early 1900s by a local developer to anchor the west side of Washington’s downtown neighborhood. Architecture buffs will enjoy spotting details from each era, including the Colonial Revival columns in the foyer, original floors on the second story, window moulding from its first renovation, and hand-painted chinoiserie wallpaper in the dining room that dates to the early 1900s. The current owners, Richard Smoot and John Butler, bought the place in 2015, converting it from a private residence to a bed-and-breakfast. Each of its five rooms has a different theme, like The Gardener, a room filled floor-to-ceiling with antique botanicals and stacks of gardening magazines next to the clawfoot tub in en-suite bathroom. Throughout you’ll find a mix of antiques and art collected on the couple’s travels through Africa and Asia, as well as comfy reading nooks and a broad front porch for enjoying a coffee or a glass of wine. Located on the banks of the Pamlico River and just over an hour’s drive east of Raleigh, Washington is best known as a destination for boating, cycling, and kayaking, but it offers amenities yearround including a downtown peppered with antiques shops and eateries. 731 W. Main Street, Washington;

the 1950s. Pam and Abe Pallas bought the inn in 2017 from its fourth owner, Reginald Heinitsh, to turn it into a bedand-breakfast. They kept the original floors, waved windows, pocket doors, and arched entryways, and added spacious bathrooms with clawfoot tubs and walk-in showers to all six guest rooms. “Guests tell us pictures don’t do justice to the rooms or even the home,” says Pam. This stay is for those who like quiet, private getaways. Visitors should be sure to enjoy a meal at Marco Trattoria, a family-owned rustic Italian restaurant nearby, or catch a concert at the Brevard Music Center. 60 Woodside Drive, Brevard;

BROMFIELD INN, BREVARD Transylvania County is known for its waterfalls and mountainous views, and here you can find the Bromfield Inn, originally built in the Jazz Age and walking distance to downtown Brevard. From the front, it looks like a simple stone one-story building, but inside it’s a spacious three-story, 6,400-square-foot estate. Built in 1926, it was the private residence of local businessman James Bromfield until

COLONIAL INN, HILLSBOROUGH The Colonial Inn, built in 1838, rests on King Street in downtown Hillsborough. It operated as a hotel for centuries, then sat neglected for 17 years until its current co-owner and general manager, Elise Tyler, corralled a team of investors to revive it. It reopened its doors in November 2020 with the addition of an annex building that added 21 more rooms. Spencer’s Tavern, on the main building’s first floor, is original to the


Colonial Inn Lobby

inn — here, the countertops are made of copper, which changes as guests come and go with the touch of their skin. It’s an intentional design decision. “We wanted guests to leave an imprint with us,” says Tyler. The floors, banister on the main stairwell, and fireplaces are all original to the structure. The fact that the space has a complex past isn’t lost on the team of owners. “We can assume this structure was built by slave hands,” says Tyler, noting that a plaque in the common area pays homage to people who helped build the inn. Also of note in the common area is a large painting that features a historical interpretation of the inn along with people of color who have connections to it, including Chief John Blackfeather of the Occaneechi tribe, who often comes in for dinner. “He loves it here and we love him right back,” says Nancy Wright, who works the front desk. The rest of the work on display is part of their Art Initiative program to support local artists. Around 45 minutes from Raleigh, Hillsborough features the nearby Eno River, Matthew’s Chocolate Shop, and many art galleries to browse. 153 W. King Street, Hillsborough;

THE INN AT ORIENTAL, ORIENTAL In North Carolina’s sleepy sailing capital sits the Inn at Oriental. It’s not a nautically themed space, though: classic decor mixes with antique furniture, the dining room is bathed in deep hunter green, and four-poster beds grace every room. The home was originally built in the 1800s and served as a millinery shop and boarding house in the early years. Lou and Lucy Athey purchased it in 2017 after migrating to this small inlet town from Amelia Island, Florida. Now entering their seventh year as innkeepers, they’ve added a cottage to the property, redone the dining room, replaced outdated carpet with laminate floors, and turned a wooden deck into a sunny common area with large windows. Their hospitality and passion for sailing have attracted fellow seafarers from all over the world. “This year we got a Christmas card from someone from Alaska who kept their boat in

the area and stayed with us,” says Lucy. “From here, folks often head to the Bahamas or down to the Caribbean. It’s a great spot to stop for sails to be repaired or to get engines checked.” Oriental itself is a very small town (there’s not a single stoplight!) but offers plenty of views of the Pamlico Sound. From the Inn, bike or walk to local places like The Bean for ice cream, The Toucan Grill for fried flounder, or the farmers market on Saturdays. 508 Church Street, Oriental; INN AT CELEBRITY DAIRY, SILER CITY Just outside of Raleigh, in rural Chatham County, sits the Inn at Celebrity Dairy. The building is actually made up of two different structures — an 1800s tongue-and-groove log cabin and a slightly newer farmhouse — combined by a two-story atrium. The Inn is part of a working farm, so you’ll see plen-

ty of goats, chickens, and farmhands bustling around its several hundred acres. The farm-fresh communal breakfast in the atrium features eggs and the award-winning chevre from the farm’s inhabitants. “I love doing the breakfast,” says owner Fleming Pfann. “It’s always local and changes with the season. We’ve done sweet potato biscuits, even collards before.” She and her husband Brit have owned the inn since the late 1970s. The seven cozy rooms are full of antiques, spindle beds, and quilts, and two have French doors that open onto the sprawling front porch. If you can motivate yourself to leave the slow place of life at Celebrity Dairy, explore downtown Pittsboro — just 20 minutes away — where you can find Starlight Meadery, S & T’s Soda Shoppe, and the folk art scene. 144 Celebrity Dairy Way, Siler City;

The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 27



A Spotted Salamander

LOVE in the RAIN On damp nights in North Carolina, a mating ritual surfaces Words and photographs by MIKE DUNN

n a cold and rainy winter’s evening, most of us prefer to huddle in a blanket by a fire with a hot drink. But if you have the right habitat nearby, I encourage you to bundle up, put on your rain gear, and head outside with a flashlight. That’s because on any wet night from January through March here in the Piedmont, you might get to experience a breeding congress — when a group of salamanders gather to reproduce. The most notable species in our area is a large (up to 8 inches long) dark amphibian with bright yellow or orange spots, aptly named the Spotted Salamander, Ambystoma maculatum. They typically breed in vernal pools, areas that fill with water in the rainy season and dry up in summer. Most of the year these salamanders are largely hidden from view. They live in the woods, inhabiting underground burrows or hidden under logs, and occasionally venture out at night to feed on earthworms, snails, and other prey. But during their breeding season, they migrate to nearby fishless pools, often the same ones where they hatched, for an amazing courtship ritual. My first encounter with a breeding congress happened when I moved from Raleigh to rural Chatham County. One February evening, I was driving home in a heavy downpour when my headlights picked up something slowly crawling across the road. I swerved, not sure what it was, then saw another something a few feet away. I pulled over and got out. Salamanders! I could see five Spotted Salamanders all heading in one direction and, unfortunately, found two that had been squished by cars. I grabbed my umbrella and a flashlight and traipsed into the woods. About 50 feet in was an elongated gash in the earth, maybe 6 feet at its widest and probably 30 to 40 feet long. I peered into the water and could see a few salamanders swimming about. It had not been raining long, so this was early in the process. The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 29


Clockwise from top left: A fishless pool in Dunn’s yard; a close-up of salamander larvae inside eggs; a newly hatched salamander larva; several egg masses.

I called two friends that I knew would want to see this, and it started raining even harder — that was good, as the heavier the rain, the better for the migration. Soon, there were several more salamanders crossing the road, and the pool was swarming with the spotted beauties. We watched in awe for several minutes, then decided to station ourselves out on the road to try to help salamanders cross. Luckily, this stretch is not heavily traveled, but the rain occurred when most people were returning

home from work, so it was going to be a tough night for these amorous amphibians. Whenever we saw a car approaching, we would scurry around getting any salamanders we could see safely across. This became a ritual for a few years on any rainy winter night that we thought might be a good salamander night, especially if the rain was early in the evening. I guess it was a bit odd for drivers to see people out along the road waving their flashlights around in pouring rain. One night, a sheriff’s car pulled up, cracked a window and said someone had called them to investigate what was going on. He asked what I was doing and I excitedly showed him the salamander in my

They migrate to nearby fishless pools, often the same ones where they hatched, for an amazing courtship ritual.


hand and explained. He looked at me, shook his head, rolled up the window and drove off. I’m not sure I convinced him of the value of my pursuits. During the breeding frenzy, male salamanders deposit specialized structures, called spermatophores, on the bottom of the pool. At first glance, these look like bird droppings littered about on the leaves in the pool, about a halfinch tall, with a clear, gelatinous base and a multipronged, whitish stalk on top of which is a cap containing the sperm. A female picks up sperm from the cap, which internally fertilizes her eggs. Two to three nights later, she lays her egg mass, usually attaching it to underwater vegetation or a twig. The jelly-like blobs contain 50 to 200-plus eggs surrounded by a gelatinous matrix, and she may lay two to four egg masses per season. The

masses start a little bigger than a golf ball but can swell to the size of a softball over the next several days with the absorption of water. The egg masses take about six to eight weeks to hatch, depending on the temperature. Over time, most eggs take on a greenish color as they’re colonized by a green algae, Oophila amblystomatis (the scientific name means “loves salamander eggs”). This symbiotic relationship has been observed for over a hundred years; these algae only grow in eggs of this salamander species. The algae get nutrients like nitrogen and the developing embryos get oxygen out of this union. Several years ago, scientists discovered the algae inside the cells of adult female salamanders, the first time a symbiotic relationship had been found between an alga and a vertebrate, leading one researcher to dub them “solar salamanders.” The jelly blob starts to break down

as hatching approaches. When a larva pokes through its egg, it is slender, just shy of an inch long, with branched, feathery structures on its head — external gills used to breathe underwater. The larvae grow rapidly, feeding on a variety of small invertebrates (zooplankton, mosquito larvae, etc.). They, in turn, are eaten by a variety of predators (other salamander larvae, giant water bugs, dragonfly nymphs). Few make it to maturity. By summer, the external gills are reabsorbed and larvae transform into juvenile salamanders (called metamorphs — a nice name for your teenagers at home perhaps). Soon, they leave the water and head for their woodland homes. In a year or two, they will migrate to a pool and start the cycle anew. Spotted Salamanders are found statewide, though somewhat scattered on the coast. Luckily, there are several places on public lands in our area where you can observe the egg masses and learn

about these beautiful creatures, including Hemlock Bluffs and Swift Creek Bluffs Nature Preserves in Cary, Harris Lake County Park in Wake County, several locations in Duke Forest, and the North Carolina Botanical Garden in Chapel Hill (some offer programs highlighting these amphibians). If you have sufficient upland habitat nearby (ideally hardwood forest), you may be able to attract salamanders (and certainly other amphibians) to your property by creating fishless pools with hard plastic pools or pond liners. We have two such water gardens near our house that have hosted numerous salamanders and frogs for many years. The next cold, rainy night we have, let your thoughts turn to salamander love, and wish them well in their romantic endeavors. Or better yet, if you have suitable habitat nearby, gear up, get outside, and see if you can find any amorous amphibians yourself. Raleigh • Chapel Hill The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 31


Left: A visitor looks through the magnifier at lunar meteorite NWA 11474. Right: A close-up of the meteorite.

MOON SHOT A closer look at a lunar meteorite by HAMPTON WILLIAMS HOFER photography by JOSHUA STEADMAN


s star-gazing couples huddle under their blankets this month peering up at the night sky, some may spot what they believe to be a shooting star. It could be — but more likely, that burst of light actually marks the fiery descent of space debris entering the Earth’s atmosphere. 32 | WALTER

While rocky bits from the solar system rain down on Earth every day, most of the pieces that come our way disintegrate before reaching the ground. The rocks that do land are meteorites, and you can see a vast array of them on display outside of the Astronomy & Astrophysics Research Lab (AARL) at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences.

Considering that 75% of our planet is covered in water, and that many meteorites often look no different than any other rock, these objects are extremely difficult to find. Even rarer — we’re talking 0.1% of them — are lunar meteorites, rocks that were ejected from the surface of the Moon as the result of a comet or asteroid striking its surface.

The NCMNS now has one such lunar meteorite of its very own. Acquired last year, and very scientifically named “NWA 11474,” this captivating little hunk of Moon sits inside a magnified display case in the recently installed “Mysteries of the Moon” exhibit, free to the public. Inside its cylindrical container, LED lights change colors to highlight the different minerals in the rock so viewers can see that it’s filled with color and texture, a mosaic of orange and black and gray — otherworldly. Dr. Rachel Smith, head of the AARL and curator of meteorites at the museum, has been working to build its impressive collection. Last year, she reached out to a dealer in Texas about procuring a piece of a lunar meteorite that had been found in Northwest Africa in 2017. “I specifically wanted to procure a lunar sample, because we didn’t yet have a meteorite from the moon,” Smith says. “I think the Moon is fascinating — humanity has such a strong connection to it. The Moon plays a strong part in our cultural history, and we might even owe our own existence to the Moon, for keeping our planet habitable. It’s hard to imagine the night sky without it.” Smith sought a piece of the Moon that would be interesting both to visitors, who can examine it through glass, and

Replicas of meteors in the ceiling, part of the “Beyond Our Planet” exhibition.Chavis of The Veldt.

staring at the display and watching the colors shift over the rock.” Having a piece of the Moon in downtown Raleigh is wildly cool, but it’s not our first one. This year marks the 50th

“These are tangible reminders that while we have one permanent home — Earth — we can not only obtain bits of our celestial neighbors, but also travel to space.” — Dr. Rachel Smith to scientists, who plan to do a nondestructive analysis of NWA 11474. The meteorite was purchased through an endowment, and arrived via FedEx (how terrestrial!) to its new home here in Raleigh. “People really like to have a direct connection with objects, seeing them with their own eyes rather than just through images,” Smith says. “I watch kids and adults stand for several minutes

anniversary of the Apollo 17 mission to the moon, after which President Nixon gifted each of the 50 states a Moon rock brought home by the astronauts. That sample sits on display in the case next to NWA 11474. “To be able to see a piece of the Moon up close, knowing that astronauts physically brought it back to Earth, is incredible. We should keep in mind that this was the last time we have

ever been to the Moon, and we want to go back to the lunar surface this decade,” Smith says. The Apollo 17 sample — a dark rock, basalt, obtained from the Taurus-Littrow Valley on the Moon’s surface — is from a different part of the Moon than NWA 11474, which is from an area not yet visited by humans. NWA 11474 was found by meteorite hunters trained to search in dry, underpopulated places — like Northwest Africa or Antarctica — where the chances of finding such a sample are higher. Meteorites endure extreme surface melting and pressure on their way to Earth, and are often covered in a “fusion crust” that makes them darker than regular rocks, which is easier to spot in light terrains. A chemical analysis is typically necessary to confirm that a rock is in fact a meteorite. The collection at the NCMNS includes meteorites found all over the planet, from Mexico to France to Australia. The Moon, our natural satellite, closest neighbor, and the only other world humans The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 33

VAULT have visited in person, likely aided in the formation of life on Earth billions of years ago. Its existence regulates Earth’s tilt and climate; we depend on it for habitability. Throughout history, it has been a constant subject of intrigue in art and spirituality. And now, in a glass viewing case at the NCMNS, visitors can see this ostensibly humble object that invites questions and philosophizing. “The meteorite and Apollo sample are tangible reminders that while we have one permanent home — Earth — we can not only obtain bits of our celestial neighbors, but also travel to space,” Smith says. “We should always be thinking about how to go farther and explore the mysteries beyond our planet — but in the meantime, anyone can come here to be inches from the Moon.” Left: Dr. Rachel Smith with NWA 11474. Right: Two other meteorites from the museum’s collection.Chavis of The Veldt.


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blending BEATS DJ Rang infuses dance parties with global influences by ILINA EWEN


n the surface, there’s a disconnect between Ranganathan Rajaram’s history and his current trajectory. Classically trained as a violinist, he’s better known around here as DJ Rang — a man who gets the party started at weddings and corporate events, spinning everything from pop to Bhangra to reggaeton. But to Rang, there’s no schism. “If you have musical theory background and experience playing in orchestras, that diverse knowledge of music applies to any style that you find yourself

in,” he says. “Indian music styles mix with each other, but there’s a huge cross-audience and cross-genre appeal when you mix it with other styles.” Born in Queens, New York, Rang grew up in Cary, the son of immigrants from the Indian state of Gujarat. Despite the very American upbringing, his childhood was immersed in Indian culture; there were always Bollywood tracks and Indian classical tunes playing at home. Rang started playing the violin at age 4 through the Suzuki method, and has dabbled in piano, drums, guitar, and a variety of Indian instruments, including The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 35

Arpan Bhandari Photography


DJ Rang creating the music for a Dishoom party.

the dhol, a double-headed drum. His talents won him spots in the youth philharmonic and state orchestra, as well as the South Indian Carnatic classical musical scene. It was at one of these recitals that he realized that the sound system needed a boost. Rang asked his dad to drive him to Best Buy for some speakers, a microphone, and some lights. Within months — and with the help of YouTube — his sound tech services evolved into deejaying the entire soundtrack to various events. “Being classically trained is a natural fit for 36 | WALTER

deejaying,” says Rang. “I’m looking at things like beat structure, tempo, key, or mixing, and all those things are second nature to me. I just piece two songs together.” What makes Rang unique, especially in the Triangle, is his ability to blend American pop and dance tracks with music from a broad range of cultures. “DJ Rang represents everything that I love about the New South,” says North Carolina state senator Jay Chaudhuri, who recently worked with Rang on a block party. “His music runs the gamut, and he spins at

Black, brown, and white cross-cultural events. He comfortably dances in a lot of circles in the Triangle — and there ain’t a whole lot of people who can do that.” Rang’s initial following was the South Asian Desi crowd on Triangle college campuses, but over the past 15 years, he’s performed all over the world, and for institutions like the NCMA, PBS, and BET. His music has fueled luxury weddings, Diwali celebrations, Dishoom (an international gathering complete with choreography lessons), and his own supersecret, underground dance parties. As he deejays, he reads the crowd to mix the vinyl that vibes: classical meets Cardi B., Bollywood blends with salsa blends with ‘90s hip-hop. His

“Being classically trained is a natural fit for deejaying. I’m looking at things like beat structure, tempo, key, or mixing, and all those things are second nature to me.” — DJ Rang setup is a work of art, with turntables, colored lights, and video building a multi-sensory experience. “It’s phenomenal — Rang is calm and collected and brings a great sense of humor to a set, too,” says Shai Tamari, associate director of the University of North Carolina Center for Middle East and Islamic Studies, which enlisted Rang to accompany a concert by Omar Offendum, a Syrian-American hip-hop artist. “Everyone raved about the music DJ Rang played for Diwali at Dix Park. He kept everyone energized, and it was so fun to see people of all ages and backgrounds dancing around the parking lot to music they probably hadn’t heard before,” says Trey Roberts, manager of community engagement at Dix Park Conservancy. Rang shares his talents with aspiring DJs, serving up cultural pride along with technical tips. “Rang has been a frequent guest at our ‘The Art and Culture of the DJ’ class, demonstrating techniques, discussing entrepreneurship, and teaching students the basics of scratching and mixing,” says John P. Barker, distinguished professor of music at UNC. “He’s a natural and the students love him. He’s not just talented and successful, he’s a thoughtful, decent, and hilarious dude." With his deft hands at the turntable, DJ Rang’s sets are a reminder that art is indeed what brings us together: whether it’s something familiar or entirely new, we’re all united in bopping our heads and swaying our hips when the right beat hits. “There’s nothing more satisfying than seeing people of all ages getting into the groove,” says Rang. “I love bringing everyone to the dance floor.”


The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 37


courtesy of Voices Together

Voices Together community group therapists and participants.

finding a VOICE Yasmine White’s music therapy has helped thousands become more verbal by DAVID MENCONI


asmine White remembers one of her music-therapy clients from a few years back, a young man who had lost the ability to speak, which sometimes happens with people on the autism spectrum. She sat down at the piano with him and started playing “The Wheels on the Bus.” And, as happens more often than not, he responded. 38 | WALTER

“I was at the piano singing the last part, All through the…” White recalls. “And he filled in the last word – town – which was the first word he’d spoken in years. His mom was crying, it was amazing. Those moments are when I know we’re tapping into something deep, a new way to connect.” White is the founder and CEO of Voices Together, a Chapel Hill-based

music-therapy program. She began running Voices Together out of her home in 2007, working with eight people, and the nonprofit now operates in more than a dozen counties across the state. White also recently published a book that draws from her experience, Autism and the Power of Music: A New Approach to Help Your Child Connect and Communicate. Between partnerships with Duke

University and the North Carolina Deturns, staying on-topic, recognizing emopartment of Health and Human Services, tion. It started with the music therapists Voices Together is rapidly expanding. asking how he felt, and him singing that. White hopes to Now they’re encourtake it nationwide aging him to talk within the next about why he’s feeling few years. A major the way he does.” reason for the A native of Silver rapid expansion, Spring, Maryland, clients say, is that White studied music it works with sitat the University uations as unique of Maryland, then as the person in began her nearly it, like Nirvan three-decade career — Yasmine White Bhattarai of Apex, in music therapy a 9-year-old with working with clients autism. of all ages and types of neurodivergence “Nirvan has been receiving services in the greater New York metropolitan from Voices Together since he was 4, area. In the meantime, she also had some and he’s made a lot of progress,” says success as a singer/songwriter – most nohis mother, Samita. “He was completely tably a second-place finish in the annual non-verbal at the start, and he talks and John Lennon Songwriting Contest in the sings beautifully now. It has helped with early 2000s. She also worked as an assisattention, communication skills, taking tant to Billy Steinberg and Tom Kelly, the

“We’ve been able to jump-start language in non-speaking children with music, which creates new pathways in the brain.”

Songwriters Hall of Fame team responsible for penning numerous mega-hits including Madonna’s “Like a Virgin” and Cyndi Lauper’s “I Drove All Night.” White and her husband left New York and lived in Los Angeles for a few years, then moved to North Carolina in 2001, where she started her own music therapy practice. “Music is like the glue that brings people together,” says White. “It’s universal, and makes the brain release chemical neurotransmitters throughout the body. It makes you feel good, motivated, and open to learning.” Music therapy has applications in language development for people in a range of situations, especially autism. The Voices Together methodology focuses on communication as well as socialization, emotion learning, and self-advocacy, in both individual and group settings. “Scientifically, we process language in the brain’s left hemisphere and music in the right,” says White. “People with autism

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often process language on the right side, so you have an opportunity to access language through music. We’ve been able to jump-start language with music, which creates new pathways in the brain.” One key aspect of Voices Together is that it’s a teaching model based on intervention rather than behavior. The goal is to meet people where they are, seeing if they’ll sing what they can’t say. “We’re not trying to ‘fix’ behaviors,” White says. “We believe the behaviors come from not being able to communicate, and music can be a new pathway to communication.” The program is not just for adolescents. Voices Together clients can start as early as infancy, and the organization has also worked with people pushing 70. Nor is it only for people with autism. “Music is used with not only autism, but other conditions that disrupt language,” says Duke University professor Geraldine Dawson, who is also director of the university’s Center for Autism and Brain Development. “For example, when individuals have a stroke, they may lose the ability to speak. Research shows that music stimulates the brain’s regions specialized for speech.” By now, Voices Together has helped thousands of people with its methods and team of board-certified music therapists. And that, says White, is the whole point. “We’re trying to give skills that empower lives, to give the people we work with a place in the world,” she says. “Access to speaking when someone doesn’t is just life-changing.”

courtesy of Voices Together

Yasmine White


RED CLAY & JEWELS Jaki Shelton Green’s poetry captures the beauty and cruelty of humanity by WILEY CASH photography by MALLORY CASH


o read the work of North Carolina Poet Laureate Jaki Shelton Green is to know exactly where her inspiration comes from. It comes from the red clay of Orange County, North Carolina, where a little girl leaves footprints in the dirt as she follows her grandmother down to the water’s edge, fishing pole in hand; it comes from the silence of held breath as parents hide their children beneath the pews of a darkened church while the Ku Klux Klan encircles the building; it comes from the peace and grandeur of a communityowned cemetery on a warm winter day when the past, present, and future stretch out on a continuum that can be seen and felt. You can open almost any page in Jaki’s numerous collections of poetry and

plant your feet firmly on that same red clay, witness the suffocating fear of racial terror, and feel the healing energy of the dead as they gather around you. I’ve known Jaki for years, mostly as a fellow writer at various festivals across the state. I’ve also hosted her for my own literary events when I needed the kind of in-person power that only a writer like Jaki can bring. To witness her read her poetry is akin to witnessing a god touching down on Earth to opine on the beauty and brutality of humanity. But I had never visited Jaki’s home, nor had I ever joined her on her native soil in Orange County. When my family and I pulled into the driveway of the neatly kept ranch home where Jaki lives with her husband, Abdul, she immediately opened the door to her

writing room and welcomed us with a wide smile. Inside, morning light poured through the windows on the east side of the room. In the center sat a long table where Jaki’s laptop was open as if she’d just paused in her work. Books were stacked throughout the room, not as if they were being stored, but as if they were being read, the reader having taken a break here to pick up another volume there. Art adorned the space: paintings, framed jewelry, sculpture, photographs. I smiled as my eyes took in the room. “Jaki, this is exactly where I thought you’d live,” I said. “You should’ve seen it when I bought it,” she said. “I think it had been condemned, but this was the house I wanted. My family begged me not to buy it.” It was nearly impossible to believe that The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 41


Left: Jaki Shelton Green in her home office. Right: The cemetery where her daughter is buried.

this place so clearly suffused with peaceful, creative energy had ever been absent of life, but perhaps that speaks to the regenerative power of Jaki’s spirit. “Years ago, I bought this house just before Thanksgiving,” she said, “and then I got to work on it. By the holidays I was ready to host our family Christmas party.” Jaki took a seat at her writing table while my wife, Mallory, unpacked her photography gear. I followed my daughters into the living room where Abdul set down a small cradle full of handmade dolls for our daughters to play with. He and Jaki have a 3-year-old granddaughter, and they are used to having small children underfoot. Later, as Abdul prepared breakfast for Jaki’s 105-year-old mother, who lives with the couple, he patiently listened as my first-grader shared with him the moment-by-moment intricacies of her school day while my kindergartner crawled on the kitchen floor, answering only to the name “Princess Kitty.” 42 | WALTER

“How did you and Jaki meet?” I asked. Abdul smiled. “I was working in a furniture store, and Jaki came in. It didn’t seem like anyone else was interested in helping her, so I asked her what she was looking for. She said, I don’t need help, brother. I know how to look for furniture.” He finally got Jaki to share that she was in the market for a fainting couch, and that only made him more interested in her. “I found out she was a poet,” he said, “and I went to the bookstore and bought some of her books, and then… ” He smiled and shrugged as if nothing more needed to be said. Throughout the house, framed photographs of family members line the walls, some of them recent pictures of grandchildren, others weathered black-andwhite portrayals of family members who have been gone for decades. Jaki’s voice drifted into the living room, and I could hear that she was talking about her daughter Imani, who passed away from cancer in 2009 at the age of 38. I never

met Imani, and I only know her through Jaki’s heartrending poem “I Want to Undie You.” But as I looked at the photographs throughout the house, I wondered if I was seeing photos of Imani at the same moment her mother was evoking her name. Jaki, as if sensing my search, called to me from her writing room. “Do you want to go out to our family’s cemetery where Imani is buried?” Jaki asked. “Of course,” I said, sensing that we were being invited into a sacred space. “Will it be OK if I ask you some questions out there?” “That’s probably the best place for it,” she said. We left Abdul behind to serve breakfast to his mother-in-law, and Jaki climbed into the passenger seat while Mallory squeezed between the girls in the back. Jaki turned and looked at them. “So, you girls like jewels?” They nodded, and she opened her hand and dropped gorgeous, polished rocks into theirs.

The private cemetery where Jaki’s like “Where does the rain really come ancestors and other community members from?” and “What makes dark dark?” are buried sits just a mile or so up the You can see the questions in her poetry. road. Forests border the cleared land on In “I Wanted to Ask the Trees,” about the both sides, and across the gravel road a trauma of lynching in Black communities, crane had stacked felled trees in a lumber she writes: yard, the low rumble of its engine edging through the air. I wanted to ask the trees. do you remember. Jaki and I sat down on a bench that had were you there. did you shudder. did your been placed near Imani’s headstone by skin cry out against the skin of my great Jaki’s two surviving children. Jaki looked uncle’s skin. at the markers around her, the names on them so familiar that she didn’t even have “I want to tell stories of the South that to read them to know who rests there. are being erased and forgotten while “I will never forget standing out here reminding people that what’s nostalgic when my father was being buried, and my for some Southern writers is absolutely mom looked at Sherman [Jaki’s first terror for others,” Jaki said. “White husband] and me and said, It’s all right, people talk about hound dogs in one because y’all are going to have a baby next context, but when we think about hound year. And we did.” dogs we think about full moons and Jaki grew up in a close-knit community lynchings. When people talk about coon called Efland less than 7 miles away, dogs, the coon was us.” where two American Methodist EpiscoWhen I asked Jaki why she left the pal churches anchored the community. South as a young person, she made clear Her family members were active at how complicated her exodus was for her Gaines Chapel A.M.E., and it was there and her family. She was kicked out of that Jaki was first encouraged to write by public school in Orange County for her grandmother, even though she organizing and participating in a walkout wanted to be a scientist or an oceanograafter Black students demanded equity pher. during school “I was fascidesegregation. nated by the Before readmitstories around ting her, the board me,” Jaki said, of education “especially what insisted that she was happening sign an affidavit on Sunday promising that she morning. As a would not particichild I would sit pate in or encourthere and make age any acts of up stories about civil disobedience. people, and my Her parents, grandmother themselves active gave me little in political and — Jaki Shelton Green notebooks to social issues, saw write in. I was the board’s very nosy, but I’ve come to understand demand as an infringement on their that writers should be nosy. We should daughter’s rights. She was readmitted, but be nosy about everything.” being branded a troublemaker made life According to Jaki, she was not only harder than she deserved. After being nosy about the people in her congregaoffered an academic scholarship to a tion, she was nosy about the world Quaker boarding school called George around her, constantly asking questions School in Bucks County, Pennsylvania,

“I want to tell stories of the South that are being erased and forgotten while reminding people that what’s nostalgic for some Southern writers is absolutely terror for others.”

Jaki headed north. For the first time in her life she was living outside the South and away from her family, surrounded by young people from all over the world from different backgrounds and classes. “It took me leaving to really look back and see the entire landscape,” she said. Although she’d written poetry from a early age, leaving home and encountering the work of writers like Amiri Baraka, Sonia Sanchez, and Nikki Giovanni made clear to Jaki the urgency of putting herself and her people on the page. Though away from home, she understood that life continued on in rural Orange County, the cycles of birth and death and political upheaval and cultural change never ceasing. “If we don’t tell ourselves who we are then someone else will tell us who we are,” she said. Jaki and her first husband returned to the South after starting a family because they wanted their three young children to know their great-grandparents, to experience their wisdom and love, to know the place that had forged the lives of their ancestors. Sitting in the cemetery where so many of those ancestors and Jaki’s daughter have been laid to rest, Jaki is clear-eyed about the journey that saw her exiled from public school in Orange County to visiting public schools across the state as North Carolina’s first Black Poet Laureate. “There’s nothing magical about how I’ve arrived at his place,” she said. “It’s called working hard. It’s called having determination about what you want, and really knowing who you are.” The little girl who wanted to be an oceanographer became a writer instead, still asking questions about the world around her, still investigating it, continuing to draft poetic reports on the place she has always called home, the landscape where inspiration takes root and ideas are born, nurtured, and recorded. Wiley Cash is the Alumni Author-in-Residence at the University of North CarolinaAsheville. The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 43


A red-tailed sentinel, the discovery of a spirit animal, and a faithful, four-legged soulmate

The Chosen One by JIM DODSON illustration GERRY O’NEILL


ate in the afternoon on an unnaturally warm New Year’s Eve, I hauled the last of autumn’s motherlode of leaves to the curb and sat down to rest on an iron bench at the back of the new shade garden I’ve spent hours building during the Covid pandemic. My dog Mulligan walked over and sat down beside me. Mully, as I call her, is a wise old border collie of 16 who still walks a mile with us every morning before sunrise before spending much of her day in the garden keeping a sharp eye on things, including the head gardener. I call her my “God Dog,” the perfect palindrome for the joyful young stray I found running wild and free back in 2006. Our journey together has been a gift from the universe, which is why I officially named my garden for the old girl on Christmas morning. As we sat together beneath the old oak trees that arch over 44 | WALTER

the yard like the beams from some ancient Druid’s lost cathedral, watching the final rays of the old year slip away, I followed her gaze up the huge white oak I call Honest Abe and discovered — rather startlingly — a large female red-tailed hawk sitting on a limb, not 20 feet above us. I’d seen this same handsome lady hawk several times that week. But never this close. Perhaps, like me, she was merely resting from a long afternoon of hunting and being harassed by a murder of pesky crows that behave like drunken teenagers in our neighborhood, enjoying a moment of peace and quiet to contemplate the end of another challenging year on the planet. Or maybe she was simply waiting for an early supper to appear, which could explain the sudden scarcity of squirrels, rabbits, and chipmunks that normally scamper around our backyard at that hour.

Given the timing of the moment, however, and the dramatic presence just feet above our heads, I had a slightly nobler thought. In Native American lore, hawks are considered sacred creatures that frequently appear as messengers from one’s ancestors, benevolent spirit animals sent to warn or offer a blessing. Almost every ancient culture on the planet, in fact, holds some version of this interpretation of hawks as noble creatures that symbolize clear-eyed sight and the urge for freedom. In the legend of Arthur, for instance, the knight-hero Gawain — whose very name contains the Celtic word “gwalch,” which means hawk — sets off in search of the Holy Grail. Was this a message from my ancestors? A simple New Year warning or blessing being sent as the three of us — man, dog, and scary mythic bird — sat calmly eyeballing each other from close range in the lengthening shadows of an unnaturally warm winter afternoon? Was it a final warning about the rapidly vanishing Arctic ice? Or welcome news that liberation from the killer virus might finally come in the days and weeks just ahead? Impossible to say. But either way, old Mully appeared to have her doubts about our visitor, keeping a wary custodial eye on the big bird in case she tried some funny business in her garden. In the meantime, I took out my smartphone to sneak a

photograph and do a quick fact check on spirit animals over the internet. I was surprised to find several websites designed to determine one’s own spirit animal through various lifestyle questions that sounded more like a personality test for a dating website. The first quiz I took revealed my spirit animal to be an owl. Not quite what I expected. The second, a turtle. Seriously? Finally, I became the 7,437,375th person to take the animated YouTube “soul animal” test that revealed my spirit animal is a bear. I’ll admit to being kind of bummed that no red-tailed hawk made my spirit animal menagerie. All three sites did agree on one thing, however: that spirit animals choose us rather than the other way around. When I finally glanced up from my phone, the lady redtailed hawk had flown away. Maybe she was looking for an early New Year’s Eve supper, after all. I’ve never seen her since. Mully, on the other hand, was still by my side. After 16 years together, whatever lies ahead in 2022, it was comforting to still be chosen by such a spirited animal. Jim Dodson is a New York Times bestselling author. He lives in Greensboro.

by Ed Howard, Joe Sears, Jaston Williams

February 4-20 Starring Ira David Wood IV

March 25-April 10 Starring Ira David Wood III 919-831-6058 The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 45


Road Trip A couple, their dog, a 33-year-old Suburban, and an Airstream trailer travel across the country words and photographs by SUSAN GARRITY


n Dec. 1, my husband Jeff Basham and I, along with our Boxer, Izzy, set off on a cross-country journey, departing our home in Historic Oakwood for a planned 16-day trip to Vancouver, Canada, with no return date. We made the trip west in our beige 1989 GMC Suburban, towing a 2011 23-foot Airstream trailer. I mention the specifics of the vehicles because these are both, apparently, seen as “classics” by road travelers. My husband is definitely a car guy — he’s nursed our Suburban back to health on many occasions, as well as numerous MGs, Jeeps, and Miatas over the years. (In fact, the Airstream brings the total to 40 vehicles we have enjoyed together, one for each year of marriage, with only three of these bought new.) So when someone invariably rewards him at a gas stop with a comment like, How many miles do you have on that? What year is it? or I once had one just like yours, there’s instant recognition of anoth-


er car guy and immediate bonding. Jeff responds to the implicit compliment with all the requested details and a head nod to their shared appreciation. We were headed to visit one of our daughters and her husband, whom we had only seen once in over two years because of Canada’s Covid border restrictions. The motivation for purchasing the Airstream was to ultimately visit all three daughters and their families in their distant homes — Vancouver, Brooklyn, and central Kansas — for extended stays. We considered alternate means (a hotel or rental, even a towable boat), but this offered the most flexible approach to visit for a while, while maintaining our (and their) sovereignty. Seeing the country along the way would be an added bonus. Our route from Raleigh took us due west along I-40 to Barstow, in southern California, then up 58 to Bakersfield, where we picked up Interstate 5 straight north to Canada. We had made reservations each night in advance based on five

to six hours of drive time each day. We had a few longer stays worked into the schedule, where we planned to spend two or three nights. Some friends saw this undertaking as adventurous and maybe a little bit risky. Others were envious of our spirit, curiosity, and time for an open-ended journey. We were mostly worried about the things outside our control, such as weather, traffic, other drivers, and engine failure. Having a mechanically talented spouse on board, along with great roadside insurance, assuaged that last concern. To us, the main uncertainty had to do with space. Two people and a dog navigating a 172-square-foot interior would require dexterity, patience, and creativity — but we did share a tent one night in California, and we’d camped a couple of nights in a Volkswagen bus. Then, of course, were the years of zero personal space when the children were young. But space, we soon learned, would not be our biggest challenge. The real hurdle

Left to right: Leaving Raleigh; sunset in Alma, Arkansas; British Columbia; Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Arkansas; Montague, California; Antelope Canyon, Arizona.

was backing the trailer into an 8-footwide slot, bordered by other trailers, when a “pull through” space could not be procured. It’s an unintuitive, acquired skill best attempted in daylight — and our first try was not under these conditions. We arrived late in Bentonville, Arkansas, in total darkness. After finally finding our slot, we began the process of parking. Armed with a walkie-talkie so I could guide Jeff — Driver side left a couple of inches. No, a little to the passenger side. Pull up a little. No, let’s try that again. — we were probably 20 minutes into the process when the neighbors on either side emerged to help us, perhaps fearful their trailers might become casualties. One was a first-timer, too, so he could only offer moral support, but the other was an experienced traveler and had some helpful tips: Hand on the bottom of the steering wheel, small forward and reverse moves. Success! Bentonville was the first place we explored. There, the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art is nestled into 120 acres of Ozark Forest, with unique architecture, a Frank Lloyd Wright-designed home, and the North Forest Light Show, an immersive walk through the evening woods amid a sound and light mosaic. We planned a three-day stay in Albuquerque, New Mexico, with excursions to Taos and Santa Fe. Native American, Hispanic, and Latinx cultural influences are visible in every part of the city. Simply trying the different cuisines was a memorable experience. We also enjoyed the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, particularly its exhibit Heritage: Pueblo Women Paving Cultural Pathways, representing influential women of the 19 pueblos in New Mexico and their role in the tribe’s matriarchal society. Taos abounds in Native American art and jewelry, surrounded by a landscape of high desert. Here, one heartstopping excursion was the Rio Grande Gorge Bridge, the 10th-highest bridge in the

United States: as you approach it, the road suddenly gives way to a drop of 600 feet with rushing water below it. Traversing this gorge is a test of whether you are afraid of heights or not. I did not cross the bridge, nor get close enough to take a picture. Caught up in the wonders of Albuquerque and Taos, we never made it to Santa Fe. Our next stop was Williams, Arizona, where we found ourselves snowed in and unable to tour the south rim of the Grand Canyon as planned. We did, however, take a three-hour detour to see Lower Antelope Canyon in Arizona on the reservation of the Navajo people. Words and photographs are inadequate to describe the beauty of this canyon sculpted by thousands of years of water and wind. We were fortunate to have a Navajo guide who spoke not only of the canyon’s impressive features but the ways in which the patterns in the canyon are represented in their art. On the way back, we visited the Cameron Trading Post and Gallery, where hundreds of years of Navajo antiquities are displayed. While each of our stops held its attractions, the countryside itself is what most fascinated Jeff and me. Most of my pictures were taken through the windshield as we passed through majestic scenes of plains, prairie, mountains, forests, and valleys — the images never coming close to capturing their majesty. The vastness of our country is hard to absorb. I’ve flown over some of these areas and felt a similar sense of wonder, but the ground view is different: you see yourself in relation to the magnitude of what is before you in a very powerful and sensory way. You feel awe, and you also feel very small. Traveling this way also exposed us to a diversity of mobile lifestyles. We engaged with others at campsites, gas stations, and rest areas, learning what pulled them to live on the road. For some, it is a permanent retirement plan of continuously traveling North America’s byways; for others it was a part-time avocation with a permanent base somewhere. Still others were following a migratory pattern

— south in winter and north in summer — and for a few it solved a long-distance commute by camping near their workplace during the week and returning to a traditional home on weekends. Families, singles, young and old, retired and employed, blue-collar workers and executives, and pets were all part of this travel experience. But everyone seemed to have a well-developed sense of adventure, goodwill, and a detachment from permanence. At a gas pump in the southwest a man dressed in ranch attire took a look at the Suburban-Airstream duo and said to Jeff, “Man, I saw you coming off the exit and thought to myself, you are living the dream.” It seemed to us that the dream he referenced was also his. As we waited in line at the Canadian border, we were impatient to finish our journey — just an hour to go! But as we pulled away from customs, we heard an ominous engine cough, followed by a bucking movement, then silence. The roadside assistance insurance was put in play and in a couple of hours we were at our daughter’s home, with the hitherto-infallible Suburban in a repair shop, much to Jeff’s dismay. (Fortunately, it was fixed.) We are looking forward to the return trip. We will probably take a more meandering approach this time; we still want to see the Grand Canyon and maybe retrace our steps to Taos, and we would like to spend more time touring and less time “making time.” Of course, we will be glad to be home again, sitting on the front porch greeting neighbors. Jeff is eager to get back to building the 1955 MG ZA Magnette sedan in the garage. We aren’t sure about Izzy’s attitude toward the trip, but we think she’d prefer to just get home. She loves to ride in a car, but every day for her was Groundhog Day: we drove for hours, only to return to the same place. This trip opened up new awareness for us. We are not bound to a single home life. Our neighbors are not just the folks next door, but anyone we find ourselves next to for the night. How can we help? is always welcomed. And seeing is one thing; experiencing it is another. We’re grateful that we said yes to this experience. The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 47

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Beckham Colllection

Dots by IMONYLOWD Breathing dots spread across a vast expanse Respiring to the beat of hearts with like cadence It’s a lot easier to breathe around throbs that bleed to the same thump It’s a lot easier to connect with other dots that share the same point. Will we always be like this? Drawn together by everything contrary to difference By every thing that keeps a box cozy cause our minds too small, too compact to step outside of it Since when has change ever came out of same? When has unity changed how it felt about whole? We are limiting our effective if our lines are only attached to tracks that motion at the same pace Stepping off at the same place. We are indirectly meaning everybody ain’t worth all of the God we posed to be showing All of the world in His hands. We like Hmm… which ones look the best? Which ones look like me? God’s palms don’t show favoritism So our embrace should be warm enough to make every person’s different feel a full welcome. Do we care enough for that? Is our concern for walking as one enough for us to run from normal? From I’ve always been like this, from we just don’t get along From my circle isn’t meant for your shape. I’m sure somebody else’s mold has room for you. Ain’t we all family? And family’s ’posed to take care of theirs right? Even if their best is right now less than your standard of good Even if their minds are out of order Even if their acts are more theatrical than yours Even if the streets are their only bed Even if low seems like it’s the only place their spirits are happy in Even if they all hood with no home training Even if they God don’t look like yours Even if they ain’t the same color. That red that runs away from our flesh is still the same right? That unconditional love God got for us all the same right? We still all come from Him, right? So we all family that needs to love like it, connect like it Stand and walk as one so we can all get to the same place one day To change, to healing To the place where crying has no seat and joy is the only living we know how to be alive in. Together as one living With all our dots drawn to a connecting line A one nation.


The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 49


Robert Hartwell’s path from Raleigh to Broadway — and back again

courtesy of Robert Hartwell




obert Hartwell remembers seeing his first musical, The Ice Wolf, at Raleigh Little Theatre in the early ‘90s, when he was 7 years old: “I thought, OMG, my entire life is changing — I want to do exactly what these people are doing.” These days, Hartwell is at the peak of a successful Broadway career, having taken the stage in Hello, Dolly!, Memphis, Cinderella, and more, and is also running his own theater education business and working on a reality television show. But, he says, all this success is rooted in the cultural opportunities he found in Raleigh. “It was amazing what I could do in my own backyard of 919 — few people that I meet have this same affinity for their hometown, and for what their

state provides artistically,” says Hartwell. “Local theater became my background, my foundation. I learned to read a play, to memorize my lines, to recite a monologue. I got cast, and I learned rejection.” Hartwell’s mother, Elizabeth McNeil, knew early on that her son was destined for the stage — and that he would do whatever it took to get there. “There was no maybe or if, it was always when. There was never a backup plan to being a performer,” she says. “He’s just got it in his fiber, he was focused.” She recalls Friday night trips to Blockbuster, where Hartwell would pick out movies starring Fred Astaire and Rodgers & Hammerstein musicals. He’d organize cousins or neighborhood kids into plays, creating his own costumes and scripts, passing out tickets door-to-door with his little red wagon, and demanding perfec-

The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 51

tion from his cast. “He was very strict, he’d have them crying if they didn’t know their parts,” McNeil laughs, “but the parents would say, Hey, you said you wanted to do this! And people would come to the performances, knowing they would be amazing.” Hartwell started training in theater and dance from an early age, taking advantage of the electives at Raleigh Christian Academy, but he says that Raleigh Little Theatre and the North Carolina Dance Institute “raised me artistically.” His first dance teacher, Kirstie (Tice) Spadie, was a particularly strong influence — “She’s my everything!” he says — who started preparing him for a Broadway career in elementary school. “She picked him up and nurtured him,” says McNeil. Hartwell went to the University of North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston Salem for high school. There, he 52 | WALTER

courtesy of Robert Hartwell

Left to right: Hartwell and other mice in RLT’s Cinderella; Hartwell and his mom; Hartwell with Bette Midler in Hello, Dolly!

says, he learned both arts skills and maturity. “I wasn’t stoked to be away from home, but to me high school felt like college, and college felt like grad school,” he says. He went to University of Michigan for college, graduating summa cum laude, and getting more dancing, acting, and singing chops through their theater program. “I was blessed to have a mentor, professor George Shirley, the first Black tenor to sing a leading role with the Met Opera, the oldest, wisest man ever. He laid into me the idea of being around like-minded people,” Hartwell recalls. He got himself an agent and moved to New York City after college in 2009, with the support of his grandmother and aunt in Brooklyn. (His mother remembers him helping out his Nana, a nursery school teacher, by performing as a clown for the little ones.) Soon, he was cast in his first show, part of an international tour of Dream Girls. “That tour felt like

finishing school; I got to meet other Black performers and understand that experience,” Hartwell says. “I was one of the youngest people in the cast, but got to learn from people whose shows I’d admired forever — Aida, The Lion King — and learn from their stories of the industry.” It was something, he says, that he couldn’t have learned at school. At Michigan, he says, there were 80 people in his program, but only nine who identified as BIPOC and few teachers of color: “It’s one thing to get an education, but it’s another to know that there are holes you can’t fill without getting experience.” After Dream Girls, he moved back to New York, where he booked his Broadway debut, part of the ensemble of the original cast of Memphis. He performed in that for two years, then did four more Broadway shows back-to-back — Nice Work if You Can Get It, Cinderella, Motown the Musical, and a revival of Hello,

Hartwell in costume for the Hello, Dolly! musical.

The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 53

Dolly! starring Bette Midler. It was a decade of performing eight times a week, every week. All along this successful but grueling run, Hartwell understood his love and passion for education. He’d spent his off hours teaching for arts organizations and soon created his own curriculum to monetize his artistic strengths. “It was really one of my directors who said, you have a gift and you need to share it,” Hartwell says. “He said, I’ll be here to support you, just don’t lose focus on touching families and making a difference in their lives.” He started The Broadway Collective in 2016, an online education platform to teach young people the skills they need to get into big-time theater; it also offers immersive summer programs in New York for aspiring performers. In 2019, Hartwell was hired to direct Memphis at North Carolina Theatre here in Raleigh. “It was such a gift, such a 54 | WALTER

full-circle moment, to come back here 20 years after my first role with them, to direct what was my Broadway debut,” he says. Melvin Gray Jr., a local actor in the Memphis ensemble, remembers the energy with Hartwell on board. “I went in to audition, and Robert just had this huge grin — he’s so sincere, so welcoming,” Gray says. For him, working with Hartwell was an inspiration: “Coming from the same area, seeing a Black male, like me, having success, it’s so invigorating for me. Like, if Robert can do it, maybe I can do it, too.” That March, director and crew came together for a production that felt special

in many ways. “Everyone’s heart was so invested — it’s a story of love and following one’s dream and race relations,” Hartwell says. “It’s such a rich and important story to tell.” For Elizabeth Doran, NC Theatre’s president and CEO, Hartwell’s involvement was the key. “There’s an intensity and beauty in how he directs. He’s from Raleigh, so there’s a sweetness, but he is a powerful performer and he makes others want to work as hard as he does,” she says. “The cast wasn’t doing just any production of Memphis, they were doing Robert’s production, with all the energy and glowing positivity that comes from

“He’s not just a performer with many Broadway credits; his positive energy is infectious, it rubs off on everybody involved.” — Eric Woodall

demic, NC Theatre brought Hartwell on as an associate artist, a role designed to bring a Broadway perspective to season planning, casting, choosing a theme and works for the season, and supporting the theater’s youth program. “NC Theatre has a dual mission as both a professional theater and teaching theater,” says Doran. “It makes sense for us to have a master artist on board who doesn’t just perform for the audience, but works to develop local talent further. Plus, we loved working with Robert.” Woodall agrees: “He’s not just a performer with many Broadway credits; his positive energy is infectious, it rubs off on everybody involved.” So for the last year, Hartwell’s been part of the NC Theatre family, joining monthly meetings with the local crew, lending his expertise to production and planning, and serving as a critical but supportive audience member on every opening night (with his mother as his

date). “My job is to support Eric’s vision; we complement and push each other,” says Hartwell. “We’ve been Raleigh boys at different times, so it’s great to move home and make art in the place that raised us.” This month, Hartwell was set to direct Sister Act. For those who remember the 1992 Whoopi Goldberg movie, this production will be a departure, one that relies less on jokes based on race and class and more on a multicultural cast to recenter the plot about celebrating the human spirit and coming into one’s own. “We have a responsibility to do a better job at telling stories, full stop, and it’ll be fun for the audience to see, for example, a congregation of nuns that look different from what we’ve seen before,” says Hartwell. “It’ll sound different, too — the delicious and powerful sound of a cool, multicultural vocal palette.” The production fits with NC Theatre’s season

courtesy of Robert Hartwell

working with this man.” Nights away from its debut, with Memphis fully staged and rehearsed, the pandemic shut everything down. It was crushing. “We were in this bubble of love and art and creation — these shows are ethereal, that’s the powerful thing about musical theater — and it came down like a hammer,” says Doran. They ran through the play one last time before sending everyone home. “It was incredibly emotional, coming together in this moment of uncertainty,” says Gray. “You could feel the love in that moment, each of us thinking, we’re all here, we’re going to be together, we’re gonna get through this.” The silver lining to the dark time: Hartwell had gotten to know Eric Woodall, NC Theatre’s artistic director, a Benson native and Broadway casting director who’d been recruited down to North Carolina after 27 years in New York City. Last January, despite the ongoing pan-

Left: Hartwell teaches class for The Broadway Collective. Right: It’s a balancing act!

The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 55

Hartwell with the historic home he purchased.


to enjoy Sister Act this year.” In the meantime, Hartwell will be busy: he’s already working on a totally different project, renovating an 1820s home in western Massachusetts, for a totally different media: television. It’s a joint production between HGTV’s Property Brothers, The Oprah Winfrey Network, and Discovery+. After an Instagram post about buying the home went viral — the sellers ex-pressed doubt that he, a young, gay ay Black man, could afford the all-cash ash sale — producers approached him m to follow his renovation. The show w will film through 2022 and debutt in 2023, focusing on the renovation of a grand, columned mansion that at hasn’t been a proper residence forr 60 years. “There’s a portion of thee show that will follow my life, and d I hope they’ll catch me directing,”” says Hartwell.

And come fall, Hartwell will be happy to share the fruits of his successful career with Raleigh audiences. “I can’t wait to sit in the theater where I saw my first Broadway play for a show that I directed and choreographed,” says Hartwell. “It’s going to be perfect.”

courtesy of Robert Hartwell

theme, “finding your voice,” and also reflects its commitment to diversity in its performances, from the subject matter to the cast to the backstage team. Gray, one of the first actors cast in the production, was excited to work with Hartwell again. “Robert is so understanding that it makes you willing to try anything,” he says. “He knows you’re doing your best, but he’s open to ideas. He’s this killer dancer, actor, and performer, and when he’s up there, it’s like, how can I move my body like that?” Alas, the production was postponed to September, another victim of spiking Covid rates. “We have adapted over the course of this pandemic and are grateful to our artists and audiences for adapting with us as we make changes to keep everyone safe and healthy,” says Woodall. Doran agrees: “We are grateful to have a solution which allows us to postpone instead of canceling, so we’ll still be able

when WALLS SPEAK Raleigh boasts dozens of murals that invite introspection on a morning commute or coffee run. These images inspired Leah Finch to write a collection of ekphrastic poetry — words in response to what she’d seen — on walks around town. by LEAH FINCH photographs by BRYAN REGAN


Let us go down to the fields together. The breeze brushes our faces in a soft kiss. Our time-worn legs part the sea of wildflowers, like an act of God. Skirts bundled in hands. Let us behold and gather. Behold and gather. You clip yours and I’ll clip mine. It’s freeing, this being and beholding. We’ll gather glory and wonder. The yield of sun and soil, water and seed plus time. An offering for our empty vessel.

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Louise Jones “Ouizi” (SUMMER’S WHERE YOU’LL FIND ME), 2110 Blue Ridge Road


FOR POSTERITY’S SAKE On the wings of my furrowed brow, Justice will fly. For when you call us to account, we are not found wanting. But Wanting, we have met her acquaintance. Only the brave give Wanting a voice. And we are brave. We daren’t falter at what is, But call forth what should be. For our bones, they testify. And these dry bones, they will live. For the sun must shine, the bird must fly, the deer must leap, and I must demand my birthright for our sake. I can’t look to the seen things with any weight. The landscape of “what is” has no bearing on me. For isn’t there empty before full, seed before tree, rain before rainbow, dark before light? I must see the unseen, for posterity’s sake.


Left: Scott Nurkin (SHAW’S 150TH ANNIVERSARY) 720 Blount Street; Right: Marlon Ferguson (BUTTERFLIES) 133 E. Hargett Street

ON THE WINGS OF A BUTTERFLY Fly me on the wings of a butterfly. Miles and miles to make my home here with you. For like the Israelites, I’ve heard a rumor of a promised land. And I yearn for milk and honey. So I shed my cocoon, unfurl my wings, and fly. Soaring on the breath of my ancestors My body points me towards that eternal haven.

forward to the generation ahead. Impossible To break a link In this great eternal chain. So I fly on history and hope. For what other option is one given? If it’s not given unto me, To be counted among the generation that sees their hope realized, I was given two wings.

The journey, almost impassable. The necessity, unavoidable.

These wings. I call them to action, I will soar. For like the Israelites, I’ve heard a rumor of a promised land.

I look back to the generation behind,

Towards milk and honey, I must fly. The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 61

THIS MOMENT, HOLY Cover me under a blanket of cornrows And I’ll hide under the shadow of your wing.

Sit in this familiar, sacred space, And I’ll receive your tenderness. Move your nimble, assertive fingers And I’ll canvas your artisanship. Purse your lips, set your gaze And I’ll reflect your determination. Manifest from memory, what you’ve been taught And I’ll link arms with generations. This moment, holy.


Left: Steven Powers (ANN & ALLEN IVERSON) 409 W. Martin Street; Right: Taylor White (ABSTRACTED MOTION) 410 S. Salisbury Street

Crown me with glory And I’ll submit to bestowed dignity.

A BULWARK FOR YOUR SOUL Would you lean into me when your yoke is heavy? I know we’re both shouldering burdens we can hardly bear, but I can lighten your load.

Take steps of trust towards me, and find me willing.

See, love, it believes all things, it hopes all things.

I am willing, I am waiting, to see you.

My love, don’t hide your face from me.

Disarm yourself, and find me here, a bulwark for your soul.

Blanket me with your concerns, baptize me with your tears, bury me under your pain.

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FALL THE COLORS OF THE RAINBOW How did you see me? Was I colorful, dynamic, more than one thing? Or was I hemmed in on all sides? Made flat and one-dimensional. To slide into the faulty narrative, you boxed me into? Tell me. Why did you insist on making me a caricature? Did it make you feel safe? Do you not feel terror in your forged role of author, deciding what story you’ll write over me? Do you not feel marred by deception, when you’ve robbed me of the rest of my “I ams,” when you insist on seeing just one? I am and I am Black. Black: The absorption of all colors, all light. I absorb all colors, all light, in order to reflect back what you see. I am a prism-keeper. Cut me open. You’ll only disclose the full-color spectrum hidden inside. I am a lighthouse. My skin absorbs all light. In my body, I house and carry light everywhere I go. Cut me open. The light will shine on you. But must it be so costly, for us both to be seen? If you forgo your role of author, I’ll lower my finger as accuser. Free from our burdens, we’ll dance. All this light, passing back and forth between us. And won’t we, together, be marvelous? We, the reflector and keeper of all the colors of the rainbow.


Left: Soniya Hardy (UNTITLED) 237 S. Wilmington Street; Right: Mayanthi Jayawardena/Serendib Creative (JUST FOR KICKS) Fayetteville Street

WE’RE GOING PLACES You and me, we’re going places. You have your laughter; I have my compassion. You have your resilience; I have my curiosity. You have your candor; I have my bravery. You’re going places. Will I be going too? Will I bear witness to the miracle of you? You now. You then. Will you behold what I become? When elements of past, present, and mystery, collide to birth my future. Will you be there to hear my new name? You and me, we’re going places. And now, we run ahead, in tandem, into the mystery.

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Shower me with kisses of empathy. Become weary under my burden before you weary me with your words. Let a thousand fields of flowers bear witness to your bearing witness to me. Countless footprints of the miles, you’ve walked in my shoes.

Daily, I’m confronted with sexual identity. Constantly affirmed, are your nature and preference and I’m glad! I join in the festive throng. I too, want you to be celebrated. I also want you to acknowledge me.

These shoes. Different, yet, the same.

Acknowledge that upon me was bestowed an invitation to a wrestling match you never had to fight.

Daily, you sit down to the table of majority culture, celebrated union, and plenty.

So don’t try to fix me, don’t try to welcome me, don’t try to incorporate me, don’t try to represent me.


I don’t need all those efforts, though, appreciate them, I may. Just come near. Shoulder to shoulder near. Close enough to bear my burden. Then you might know that love is love. As you find yourself truly loving me, for the first time.

Left: Casey O’Connell (LOVE IS LOVE), 237 S. Wilmington Street; Right: NC State University College of Design students (CITY MARKET FARMER’S MARKET), approximately 225 E. Davie Street.


YOU AND ME, IN THE GOOD OLE DAYS Remember when watermelon, as far as the eye could see, bridged your feet and the horizon? We’d roll them over, belly up, and look for black widow, finding respite in the cool of the shade. Farmer arms carrying each 160 pounder to meet its friends. Truck beds brimming, boasting their green bounty. Red truck with unboxed Lucky Strike, in cup holder, Making its home roadside, truck-bed down.

Passerby, spontaneously halt you share in the plunder. You burst one open on your knee. it ruptures to reveal the brilliant red goodness inside. Remember when our days were filled with watermelon, as far as the eye could see. You and me, in the good ole days.

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Though formless now, your hand on me will leave a mark. Let your imprints, serve as evidence of my being fashioned for a specific purpose, one assured long ago. You are one of the first, given a glimpse of what I might become. So like the watchman, marvel at my first hint of light. Proclaim to me the sun will rise.


Seek out majesty. Look for goodness. Hope for kindness, curiosity, and strength. Whatever natural spark you see in me, Fan the flame. I will remember, you stoked the fire.

Vernon Pratt (EDUCATION WALL 1992) 16 W. Jones Street

I am the clay and you are the potter. So gather only good sentiment and sense and mold me under your hands.


Hope that’s much closer to where you love, laugh and most importantly, live. By providing high-quality care and understanding your personal needs, UNC Rex Cancer Center will offer what matters most in a place that’s new, comforting and convenient. Compassionate care that makes all the difference to you is more than just a possibility. It’s a reality coming soon.


Conjuring Mardis Gras at St. Roch



his time of year in New Orleans, parades fill the streets with larger-than-life floats, while hordes of people vie for showers of tiny plastic beads, doubloons, and Moon Pies. It’s another world. It’s Mardi Gras. For Raleigh chef Sunny Gerhart of St. Roch Fine Oysters + Bar, it’s also part of his tradition — but not exactly as the tourists encounter it. “My memories for that are more family-oriented,” says Sunny. He loved watching Rex — a grand parade known for its elaborate floats — with his mom on St. Charles Street, where they’d get “the good seats” thanks to an aunt who worked nearby. One of his mom’s most treasured pictures is of a young Sunny proudly wearing a pair of underwear he caught at a parade… on his head. “Everyone knows the folks on floats are throwing beads, but they throw other stuff, too, including underwear,” laughs Shawn Gerhart, Sunny’s mother.


Friends and industry colleagues sit down with Sunny Gerhart (far left) for a meal inspired by Mardi Gras.

The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 71

Sunny at work in the St. Roch kitchen.

Though Mardi Gras translates to “Fat Tuesday,” it’s actually a nearly two-month celebration that kicks off on Feast of the Epiphany, Jan. 6, and runs until the night before Ash Wednesday. With roots in Catholicism and particularly practiced along the Gulf Coast, it’s a time to celebrate and indulge before fasting for Lent. In some ways, Sunny brings the experience of Mardis Gras in New Orleans to his S. Wilmington Street bistro all year long. Here, the walls are papered in a muted blue toile, designed by local artist Luke Buchanan. It features the wroughtiron gates of the historic St. Roch Cemetery, which is across the street from where Sunny’s late father grew up, along with voices of New Orleans like jazz legend Louis Armstrong, soul singer Irma Thomas, and rapper Big Freedia, plus oysters, river boats, a boom box, and a cocker spaniel. “These things are home for me,” Sunny says. “Some things make sense to others, some things don’t.” 72 | WALTER

He opened St. Roch in May 2017 after working under Ashley Christensen for years; before that he finished L’Academie de Cuisine culinary school in Maryland. “You know, as a kid he was interested in reading and playing sports — he never cooked for me!” laughs Shawn. “But that type of food — the beans, the crawfish, the gumbo — it was always around, he absorbed and does it well. I’m so proud.” The restaurant’s menu conjures Louisiana cooking, but that fare has roots in France, Spain, Vietnam, and South Africa. Sunny tries to keep those influences in mind as he plans his recipes. “I look at it from a broader scope. I’m not interested in just cooking étouffée and jambalaya,” he says. “There’s a lot of history in this food, and maybe it can inspire a conversation.” As Fat Tuesday approaches each year, Sunny adds two of Louisiana’s delicacies to the menu: crawfish and King Cake. Crawfish, the edible jewels of late winter and early spring, coincide conveniently with carnival season. “You can only have

PIMENTO CHEESE Serve this classic southern cheese spread alongside roasted oysters or on some good French bread. At St. Roch, it’s a popular starter with fried soda crackers. INGREDIENTS 8 ounces cream cheese 1 ½ pounds smoked cheddar cheese or regular white cheddar, grated 2 ½ tablespoons charred scallion, minced 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar 2 tablespoons gochujang (Korean chili paste) 3 tablespoons sriracha hot sauce 10 tablespoons grams Duke’s Mayonnaise 1 tablespoon roasted poblano peppers or raw; small diced or pureéd in food processor 1 ½ tablespoons kosher salt ½ tablespoon ground black pepper DIRECTIONS Whip cream cheese in a stand mixer until very soft. Add the remaining ingredients and mix well.

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Crawfish is a delicacy available only for a short time in late winter and early spring. Sunny boils his with button mushrooms, artichokes, new potatoes, and lots of spice.


those things for a short time, so they taste extra precious,” he says. These dark-red, hard-shelled crustaceans are smaller than shrimp, but pack a punch of flavor, each crevice absorbing the spices from the cooking liquid. Neither silverware nor plates are needed when eating these — but the smell of Zatarain’s seasoning will linger on your fingers for days after enjoying them. (You may be prompted to suck the head to get the tasty liquor out, before pinching the tail directly into your mouth.) Similarly, King Cake — an elaborate, pillowy-soft yeast roll traditionally braided and shaped into a crown — is meant to be consumed only during Mardi Gras. It’s filled with brown sugar, cinnamon, butter, sometimes cream cheese or jam, and a tiny plastic baby. By tradition, the lucky eater who gets the baby is the unofficial king or queen for the day; they’re also responsible for bringing next year’s King Cake. Alongside his Mardi Gras specialties, Sunny plates Louisiana staples like gumbo with buttery popcorn rice and trout roe.

“I’m not interested in just cooking étouffée and jambalaya. There’s a lot of history in this food, and maybe it can inspire a conversation.” — Sunny Gerhart

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SUNNY’S OYSTER PO’ BOY “Proper French bread is a must for po’ boys. We like to use Ledenhiemer or Gambino from New Orleans,” says Sunny. “It’s the perfect vessel because it has a crunchy texture on the outside that gives way to a delicate inside that truly wraps the filling of the sandwich.” INGREDIENTS 1 loaf of French bread 2 cups vegetable oil 4 to 6 cups all-purpose flour About 2 tablespoons of Old Bay seasoning 1 dozen raw oysters, rinsed and patted dry Hot Sauce Aioli (recipe on next page) 1 head iceberg lettuce, sliced Sliced tomatoes Salt and freshly cracked black pepper Bread and butter pickles


DIRECTIONS Slice the bread in half lengthwise, toast it, and set aside. Heat oil to medium-high in a stockpot or frying pan. Put flour in a bowl and season generously with Old Bay. Toss oysters in seasoned flour, then drop into the oil, around five at a time, taking care not to crowd the pot. Fry for 3 to 5 minutes until golden brown; remove and set on a paper towel. To build the sandwich: slather each piece of bread with Hot Sauce Aioli. Season sliced tomatoes generously with salt and pepper, then build the sandwich: lettuce, tomato, pickles, fried oysters, and the top piece of French bread. Slice in half. Enjoy.

HOT SAUCE AIOLI INGREDIENTS 2 cups Duke’s Mayonnaise A few dashes of hot sauce, like Crystal or Tabasco 1 to 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard Salt and pepper to taste DIRECTIONS Combine ingredients in a small bowl, taste and adjust accordingly based on spice preference.

GUMBO One of the most well-known and celebrated New Orleans dishes, gumbo is a comfort food for many Gulf Coast natives with its rich broth, spicy sausage, okra, and sometimes shellfish — and it gets better the longer it cooks. It’s similar to Jambalaya, but more of a stew. INGREDIENTS 6 ounces canola oil 2 pounds andouille sausage, sliced into rings


4 pounds bone-in chicken, whole or leg quarters (pre-cooked rotisserie chicken works well, too) 4 cups yellow onion, diced 2 cups green bell peppers, diced 2 cups celery, diced 4 ounces sherry or other cooking wine 4 ounces flour 4 quarts chicken stock 1 cup tomato paste 1 tablespoon gumbo filé (sometimes labeled filé powder, gumbo filé is ground sassafras found in the spice section of many grocery stores) TO TASTE AND GARNISH Fresh salt and cracked pepper Cayenne pepper Sliced scallions Minced fresh parsley DIRECTIONS Heat 2 ounces of canola oil in a large dutch oven or heavy bottom stock pot until oil is hot and lightly smoking. Add the andouille sausage rings and caramelize them slightly. Once the sausage is golden brown, remove with a slotted spoon, leaving the rendered fat and canola oil in the pot; set aside. If using raw chicken, sear the chicken skin side down until the skin is a dark golden brown. Flip the chicken and continue to sear until fully cooked. Remove the chicken from the pot and place it aside to cool. Once the chicken is cool enough to touch, pull all of the meat off and

reserve the bones to make chicken stock for your next batch of gumbo.


Turn down the heat. Add the diced onions to the pot and slowly cook, stirring constantly until the onions caramelize and are very dark brown, being careful not to burn. Take your time and be patient. Once the onions are a dark golden color, add your green peppers and celery. Cook the peppers and onions until soft and translucent, another 10 to 12 minutes. Add the tomato paste and cook for another 5 to 10 minutes until nice and caramelized. Deglaze the pan with the sherry, being sure to scrape the bottom of the pot to loosen the tasty bits and keep them from burning. Reduce the wine until it is almost dry.

A rare tradition where it’s OK to mix hot with cold, in the Deep South potato salad is often served scooped into a hot bowl of gumbo.

Add the remaining 4 ounces of canola oil and the 4 ounces of flour to the pot. Stir the canola oil and flour continuously (a wooden spoon works best) to make the roux. It is very important to keep a watchful eye and stir the entire time; it will burn very quickly. Keep cooking until the roux starts to caramelize and turns a dark brown color. Add the pulled chicken and andouille sausage back to the pot, stir well, then add the chicken stock. Bring the stock to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer. Let the gumbo simmer for an hour or two, depending on how much time you have — the longer it cooks, the better it will be. Season liberally with salt, lots of black pepper, and enough cayenne pepper to make you happy. Add the gumbo filé and stir well. Garnish with lots of chopped scallions and flat-leaf parsley and serve with sides of rice or potato salad. Sunny likes to have extra filé on the side so folks can add more if they like. Yields enough to feed about eight people, with leftovers.

INGREDIENTS 2 pounds red potatoes 1 cup Duke’s Mayonnaise 1 ½ cup sour cream ¼ cup Dijon or Creole mustard Sea salt or kosher salt 1 cup celery, diced 2 teaspoons celery seed ¼ cup sweet pickle juice ¼ cup Old Bay seasoning DIRECTIONS Fill a large pot with water. Add the Old Bay, potatoes, and enough salt for the water to taste slightly salty. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook the potatoes until very tender, almost falling apart. Once the potatoes are cooked, strain and let dry for 10 minutes in a colander. Once the potatoes are cool enough to handle, cut them into quarters and add to a mixing bowl. Add the celery, celery seed, and some mayo, sour cream, mustard, and pickle juice — just enough for the salad to come together (you can always add more). Taste and adjust the seasoning, then garnish with minced scallion and parsley. Enjoy.

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BRIOCHE KING CAKE WITH CREAM CHEESE ICING Only to be consumed during Mardi Gras season, Sunny makes a soft, fluffy brioche dough for his King Cakes (which, for the novice, is essentially an elaborate cinnamon roll flecked with gold, purple, and green). Louisiana natives know King Cake is fine for dessert — but even better warmed with a cup of coffee in the morning. INGREDIENTS 1 pound all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon kosher salt 2 ounces sugar, plus 1 cup 1 teaspoon instant yeast 5 eggs, room temperature cup warm water ½ pound butter, cubed and at room temperature ¼ cup ground cinnamon Cream Cheese Icing (see recipe) Purple, gold, and green sprinkles DIRECTIONS In a stand mixer, combine the flour, salt, sugar, and yeast. Add the eggs and warm water. Mix for 2 minutes until well combined. Add the butter and mix until emulsified, stopping to scrape the bottom of the bowl. When mixed well, pour the dough into a clean container or bowl that is at least twice the size of the dough. Cover with plastic wrap and let rise at room temperature until doubled in size. When the dough has doubled in size, scrape the sides of the dough to deflate and allow the trapped gas to escape. Cover again and refrigerate until cold, 4 hours or overnight.


Mix the remaining sugar with the cinnamon in a small bowl. Portion the cold dough into 2-ounce balls and roll in the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Place the sugared balls into a bundt pan, with enough space between them for the dough to double in size. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and allow to proof at room temperature for about 30 minutes or until the dough has almost doubled in size and is slightly jiggly. Bake in a 350-degree oven for 10 minutes, then rotate the pan and bake for another 2 to 5 minutes until golden brown, with an internal temperature of 185 degrees. Remove from the oven, then remove from the pan to cool on a wire rack. Once the cake has cooled to room temperature, sprinkle it with any remaining sugar/cinnamon mixture, then spread the icing over the top (I like the icing to be dripping over the sides). Cover with gold, purple, and green sprinkles.

CREAM CHEESE ICING Be sure to let your King Cake cool before adding this icing, a tangy, creamy topping to the soft cinnamoninfused sweet bread. Sunny incorporates the popular filling, cream cheese, into icing instead. Letting it cool will also help the colored sprinkles pop. INGREDIENTS 16 ounces cream cheese, room temperature 1 cup sugar 1 teaspoon vanilla extract Pinch of salt 1 cup heavy whipping cream DIRECTIONS Add the cream cheese to a stand mixer with the whisk attachment and whip on high until very soft, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed, until the volume of the cheese has almost doubled and has stiff peaks. Add the sugar and mix until well combined, then add the vanilla extract and salt and mix well. Turn the speed to low and slowly add the heavy cream. Slowly bring up the speed back to high, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Whip on high until the icing has stiff peaks.

This iconic dish was challenging to replicate for a restaurant setting, particularly because the dish’s foundation, the roux, requires time and precision. “We get a lot of people from New Orleans who’ll say, This isn’t my mama’s gumbo — but it’s damn good,” says Sarah Edens, a St. Roch employee (and also Sunny’s girlfriend). “It’s not what they were expecting, but the familiar is there.” Sunny serves the gumbo with a scoop of potato salad, a classic New Orleans food pairing. “The temperature combination of the hot gumbo with the cold potato salad is pretty amazing,” Sunny says. Though Mardi Gras may be about abundance, that’s not been Sunny’s experience the last few years. At the height of the pandemic, he found himself making and packing takeout orders alone. “I didn’t know what to do. I had to lay off my entire staff, I had no money,” says Sunny. “But I wanted to do something.” He got connected with the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle and started cooking large family-style meals for those

who needed them: chicken and vegetables, pasta, red beans and rice. “Sunny was my go-to, I could call him on a Sunday and say, I need 500 meals on Tuesday, and he’d do it,” says Kara Guido, food sourcing manager at the Inter-Faith Food Shuttle. “At one point, he was feeding 9,000 people a week. And the kids loved his meals.” For Sunny, it was both eye-opening and fulfilling. “For example, I made these frozen casseroles, but then I learned that some of the people getting them didn’t even have electricity,” he says. “It gave me a new perspective on food insecurity.” So it’s with gratitude that Sunny will dish up this year’s Mardi Gras celebrations for St. Roch guests, including his petite King Cakes, crawfish, and more. And in the spirit of sharing, you can recreate some classic Louisiana dishes at home with the recipes Sunny’s shared here.

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Stephen Hayes and the African American experience



COMMANDING PRESENCE Durham sculptor Stephen Hayes in front of a piece at The Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University


The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 81

e’re sitting in a mostly empty museum gallery, face to face, almost kneecap to kneecap. He has his mask on. I have my mask on. His words echo off the walls and high ceiling, but not with the plain thunder of his work surrounding us. To my right, his left, is Cash Crop! Stephen Hayes made it 12 years ago on his way to his Master of Fine Arts from the Savannah College of Art and Design in Atlanta. It’s wood and cement and steel. Fifteen naked figures, pockmarked, burnt in places, arranged in a triangle, standing against 15 wooden pallets. On the back of each pallet is a drawing of the infamous Brookes slave ship plan, its cruelty accentuated by its simplicity, a barbaric commoditization of kidnapped humans laid end to end, elbow to elbow, head to toe, row by row, to endure the inhumanity of the Middle Passage. The figures — casts of friends, family, even one of himself — are linked together by rusted steel chain, all gathering at a square wooden block. “It took me five months to create everything, start to finish. I did all the castings, the blacksmithing, the forging. Did all the carvings,” Hayes says. “Five months, day and night, not thinking about anything but making.” He calls it his “machine mode.” The figures are upright so you can look them in the eye, then walk around and imagine them as a mark on a diagram, an entry in a ledger, given barely enough room to survive, sometimes not even that. Walking between the figures “you might hit a chain,” says Hayes. “Always stumbling over the past.” Two weeks after he first showed Cash Crop! in Atlanta, Hayes was interviewed by CNN. “I didn’t know the weight of what I had created. I had an apartment 82 | WALTER

“It took me five months to create everything, start to finish. I did all the castings, the blacksmithing, the forging. Did all the carvings.”

Omar M Richardson/Rich & Company, FL (CASH CROP)


but I didn’t have heat. I had electricity work, Voices of Future’s Past, exhibited at but I didn’t have cable. I couldn’t watch the National Cathedral and currently on it,” says Hayes. He went to an AT&T store view at the North Carolina Museum of to see himself on the news. Art along with another of his works, 5 Making sculpture is a pricey endeavor lbs. In Voices, Hayes recorded young Black for a student, even a gifted one. “I knew men talking about their lives and experihow to penny-pinch,” he says. “My mom ences, and placed their words inside the helped me out with money here and busts of older African American men. there.” Hayes grew up in Durham, where “You have to get up close and kind of his mother, Lender, worked at the lean in to hear what the kid inside him is Durham County Department of Social saying,” says Hayes. Services on Duke Street. At night she After D.C., Hayes, who now teaches at cleaned the building as a second job. Duke University, was named the 2020 You might think that the line from recipient of the 1858 Prize for ContemCNN to a commercially successful career porary Southern Art. as an artist would be a more or less The exhibition hall where we’re sitting straight one, but you would be wrong. is in the Cameron Art Museum in Hayes knew how to create, but he didn’t Wilmington, where Hayes has a one-man know how to market. When he was an show closing March 20. The exhibition undergrad student at North Carolina of his work coincided with the unveiling Central University, one of his teachers, of Boundless, his sculpture honoring the Isabel Chicquor, went to his house, took United States Colored Troops who photos of all his ceramic work, built him fought in the Battle of Forks Road. The a portfolio and got him his first residenremnants of the old road and the vestiges cy at Alfred University in upstate New of eroding Confederate revetments are a York. He knew art — though he didn’t few yards from the museum’s parking call it that — he just didn’t know how to lot. On that day, a section of the sculpture navigate the system. When someone was being reinstalled after it was resuggested he apply to SCAD, he “stayed moved to add a plaque engraved with the on the porch of my house and built a names of 1,820 Black soldiers who fought bunch of stuff and took photos of it.” To there. Since 2006, the Cameron has his own surprise, he was accepted, left hosted a re-enactment of the battle that New York and went took place on its to Atlanta. That’s property on Feb. what got him on 20-21, 1865, when a TV — but it didn’t brigade of over get him a living. 2,000 USCT While Cash Crop! soldiers assaulted spent the next well-entrenched decade-plus touring Confederate museums from infantry and Montgomery, artillery through a Alabama, to narrow gap bePhiladelphia, tween swampy Pennsylvania, Carolina bays. — Stephen Hayes Hayes got teaching Reenactors repregigs here and there. senting the Ohio He returned to Durham and, at one 5th, a USCT regiment that included two point, worked in a shipping container recipients of the Medal of Honor, are yard. He was on the precipice of giving annual participants. up on the business of art altogether the In his book Glory at Wilmington, The night he got a residency at the Halcyon Battle of Forks Road, historian Chris E. Arts Lab in Washington, D.C., leading Fonvielle Jr. writes, “The headlong assault indirectly to another highly acclaimed by the bravest of the brave African

CASH CROP! Hayes’ installation Cash Crop!, which offers a powerful perspective on the cruelties of the slave trade.

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5 LBS Elements of Hayes’ work currently on display as as part of the NC Artist Connections exhibit at the North Carolina Museum of Art, including his 5 lbs installation.


IN STUDIO Hayes at work on a sculpture in his Durham space.

American soldiers and their comrades at Forks Road was a ‘brilliant little charge,’ reported one journalist. But the concentrated Confederate rifle-musket and light artillery fire along the narrow front doomed the attack… The 5th U.S. Colored Troops at the head of the attacking column suffered far more casualties than any other unit. The regiment’s 39 dead and wounded soldiers accounted for 74 percent of the total Union losses in the battle.” In 2019, after the museum’s deputy director, Heather Wilson, successfully wrote a grant securing funding for the sculpture, the Cameron commissioned Hayes to create Boundless. The museum’s executive director, Anne Brennan,

invited him to attend the reenactment of the battle that February. “He was captivated by imagining the sound of their marching boots,” says Brennan of Hayes. “He’s hearing their boots coming up the road. They’re chanting. He’s a brilliant sculptor but it was the dimensionality of sound that first struck Stephen: those boots.” The DNA of Boundless stretches in two directions, toward Cash Crop! inside the museum and toward Augustus SaintGaudens’ 19th-century sculpture of Robert Gould Shaw and the Massachusetts 54th on the Boston Common, 800 miles away. The story of the 54th was most recently retold in the 1989 movie Glory.

“We took away the commanding general. Took away that beautiful horse and focused on the infantry,” says Brennan. “There had to be ranks marching. The drummer and the color bearer advancing in full three dimensions activates the work. It’s an homage. It’s an inspiration. Stephen brings that contemporaneity to it.” For Boundless, Hayes did castings of the faces of seven USCT descendants and four USCT reenactors for the 11 figures — a color bearer, a drummer, and nine soldiers joined together in rows of three. “They’re moving forward. They’re in motion,” says Hayes. “Boundless is on the ground these soldiers actually marched on. I wanted it to be on the ground, not The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 85

on a pedestal, so people could walk through it and experience it. They weren’t on horseback. How did their footsteps sound? What did they sing? What’s going on in this man’s head?” Hayes’ sculpture has contemporary artistic roots, too, linking to the tradition of Black sculpture of the 1960s and ’70s and, in particular, to the work of William Ellisworth Artis, who was born in Washington, North Carolina. “Hayes is 86 | WALTER

following that tradition of humanizing the Black experience and really bringing it out in this figurative way,” says Maya Brooks, the Mellon Foundation assistant curator at the North Carolina Museum of Art. “He’s using symbols from across African American history to present themes of how an identity is formed within a community.” Hayes says, “Everything I’ve done is thematically joined. Cash Crop! is talking about the transporting of people, but if you take the roof off, you can look at it like a sweatshop in a third world country, with just enough room to produce as many goods as possible to ship to America. Boundless talks about freeing people of being slaves and how we’re still fighting for that kind of freedom.” Fighting for the freedom proffered by the slave owner who wrote, We hold these truths to be self-evident, that

all men are created equal… The day after the Battle of Forks Road, the Confederate Army abandoned Wilmington, its last link to supplies from the outside world, and the Union troops marched into the city. “Come daybreak, these men bury their dead and advance 3 miles to city hall,” says Brennan. “The USCT was on the front lines for Forks Road and then, come the victory march, they are in the back of the parade.” Hayes’ next big commission is in Charleston, South Carolina, where he’ll help create a memorial for 36 bodies of the poor and enslaved found in a mass grave nine years ago. “Every project holds a place in my heart,” he says. “I’m still pushing along, trying to make a name for myself. I’ve got to move on to the next thing.” Stumbling over the past, in machine mode.

Omar M Richardson/Rich & Company, FL (BOUNDLESS)

BOUNDLESS Boundless, a sculpture at the Cameron Art Museum in Wilmington, which commemorates the United States Colored Troops at the Battle at Forks Road.

THE WHIRL DH Photo + Design, LLC

Twins Kathleen Stephenson (left) and Alean Chavis celebrate their 100th birthday with family and friends.

WALTER’s roundup of gatherings, celebrations, fundraisers, and more around Raleigh.

89 100th Birthday Celebration 90 Picnics & Painting 91 Anchorlight Open House 92 Donate Sport Fall Event 92 Halo Championship Series 93 Nutcracker at Washington Duke Inn 93 Candlemaking at NCMA

To have your event considered for The Whirl, submit images and information at

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MEETING AMONG THE PINES SINCE 1895 Leave distractions behind at our quaint village and historic resort. Nestled in the Sandhills of North Carolina, Pinehurst is the perfect place to retreat and refocus. We’ve been hosting successful meetings and events for companies large and small since 1895, and we’d love to host yours. Consider Pinehurst for your next corporate gathering.

Tiffani Sheppard, Director of National Accounts Derek Knoll, Director of National Accounts 844.262.9785 •


DH Photo + Design, LLC (TOP THREE IMAGES); Teresa Davis (BOTTOM IMAGE)

100TH BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION On December 31, hundreds of family and friends honored twins Alean Chavis and Kathleen Stephenson on their 100th birthday with an enthusiastic drive-by celebration at Wake Chapel.

How do I love thee?

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Kathleen Stephenson, Alean Chavis

Alison Davis

Marvin Stephenson, Ashley Love

Kathie Benz, Tanya Henry, Kristi Dunston, Wendy Stephenson, Lashonda Stephenson

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Pigfish Lane Antiques & Interiors

THE WHIRL PICNICS & PAINTING Southern Picnics teamed up with Yelp, On Board Catering, and Joy Worthy Co. to bring Yelp Elites an afternoon of picnics and painting in Dorothea Dix Park. Guests enjoyed delicious, locally sourced charcuterie and a guided paint-by-numbers project.

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Courtesy Anchorlight

ANCHORLIGHT OPEN HOUSE In December, Ancholight hosted an Open House to showcase work by its artists. “It‘s always a great time, but this year I think was even more joyful,” says artist Elisabeth Effron. “We’re all eager to connect again after being online for so long. There is just nothing like seeing art in person.”

All You Need is Love and Popcorn

Guests visit Ryan Fox’s studio


Ann Marie Kennedy

Not to be “corny” but it’s time to celebrate that special someone on Valentine’s Day with a TRIO Gift Box or Gift Tin from Ella’s Popcorn. Visit our website at and feast your eyes on all ɈǘƵ ƮƵǶǞƧǞȌɐȺ ˜ƊɨȌȲȺ‫ خ‬ɐȲ ƊȲɈǞȺƊȁ ȯȌȯƧȌȲȁ ǞȺ Ɗ ȺɐȯƵȲǞȌȲ ƧȌǶǶƵƧɈǞȌȁ ɯȌɐȲ ȺɩƵƵɈǘƵƊȲɈ ɩǞǶǶ ǶȌɨƵ‫ خ‬ÀǘƵ ǿǞɮٌǞȁȺ ƊȲƵ ǞȁƮɐǶǐƵȁɈ ǞȁǐȲƵƮǞƵȁɈȺ ȲƊȁǐǞȁǐ from authentic Belgian chocolate to real berries, classic cookies, and ƦƵǶȌɨƵƮ ƧƵȲƵƊǶȺ‫ خ‬0ƊƧǘ ǶƊɯƵȲ ǞȺ ǏȌǶƮƵƮ Ǟȁ Ʀɯ ǘƊȁƮ Ǟȁ ƧɐȺɈȌǿ ȺǿƊǶǶ ƦƊɈƧǘƵȺ.


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THE WHIRL DONATE SPORT Donate Sport, Truist, and Implus gathered more that 30 volunteers to distribute over $160,000 worth of new sports gear and clothing to multiple organizations across Wake County, including Raleigh Boy's Club Haven House Services, Note in the Pocket, and Oak City Cares.

Volunteers deliver donations

HALO CHAMPIONSHIP SERIES From December 17 to 19, the Raleigh Convention Center hosted the Halo Championship Series Kickoff Major Raleigh 2021 at the Raleigh Convention Center. Teams from around the world battled in the first official Halo Infinite esports event ever, with enthusiastic spectators along for the ride.


The winning team, Cloud9

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David Kuhn (HALO), courtesy Donate Sport (VOLUNTEERS)

Fall in LOVE with our 2022 Valentine’s Day Collection

wrights v ille NUTCRACKER AT WASHINGTON DUKE Clara, the Sugar Plum Fairy and other special guests from Carolina Ballet were among the first to see the festive holiday décor on display at the Washington Duke Inn & Golf Club and the JB Duke Hotel. Dancers performed choreography from The Nutcracker to film a special holiday greeting for hotel guests.

b e ach

winter beach


Courtesy Carolina Ballet (BALLET), courtesy NCMA (CANDLES)

Ella Volpe, Laurel Dorn, Courtney Schenberger, Sam Ainley, Emily Fretz

Ella Volpe

CANDLE MAKING AT NCMA The North Carolina Museum of Art hosted Usu Company owner Stacy Ahua for a candle-making event in December as part of their Museum Store Maker series. Participants were challenged to think of past memories and family to create unique scents for candles to give as gifts or keep for themselves.


This getaway package includes an in-room culinary amenity and bottle of wine upon arrival, Prix Fixe dinner at EAST Oceanfront Dining, and breakfast in bed. A perfect excuse for a winter island retreat with your favorite person! Stacy Ahua and guests


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WIN i 20 22 PRE S E NTE D BY

Join us for our fifth annual WINi summit celebrating young women, diversity and innovation. Hear female leaders in our community share their career journeys — from overcoming obstacles and pushing boundaries to achieving their goals. Guests will also participate in workshops designed to sharpen problemsolving skills and creative thinking.

Sunday, March 13 Market Hall, Raleigh Heavy hors d’oeuvres and refreshments will be served For more information, please visit

Courtesy Visit Greenville (CAROLINA), via Instagram (TREATS), Anna Routh (ST. ROCH)

EXTRAS Take WALTER to go! There’s always something to discover on our website and social media. FOLLOW US @WALTERMAGAZINE




10 ICONIC FILMS YOU MIGHT NOT KNOW WERE FILMED IN NC From a post-apocalyptic blockbuster to a retro summer romance, these iconic movies have North Carolina connections.

HOW TO GIVE BACK BETTER IN RALEIGH Ready to donate your old stuff? Read this guide first so you can better help our local nonprofits.


Just in! Chef Matt Kelly will reopen downtown Durham’s @saintjamesseafood in late January. Can’t wait for a field trip in 2022! Congrats team! @baxmiller & @annarouth

February 5–May 8, 2022 The exhibition is organized by Aperture Foundation, New York and Kwame S. Brathwaite. The exhibition Black Is Beautiful: The Photography of Kwame Brathwaite and the accompanying Aperture publication are made possible, in part, with generous support from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Photographic Arts Council Los Angeles.

Major Sponsors

The Cathleen and Ray McKinney Exhibition Fund

PLAN YOUR VISIT Reynolda House Museum of American Art Winston-Salem, N.C. Kwame Brathwaite, Grandassa Model onstage, Apollo Theater, Harlem, circa 1968; from Kwame Brathwaite: Black Is Beautiful (Aperture, 2019). Courtesy the artist and Philip Martin Gallery, Los Angeles.

This ad is sponsored by the Twin City Foundation

The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 95


The Touch of Love by DAVID ROGNE


driver in the neighborhood rolled down her window and hollered, “You two are so cute!” A lady in our retirement home hallway paused and said, “My husband and I used to do that.” A lady at church said, “I wish we had done that more often. Be sure to keep it up!” What these passersby were referring to was a couple in their 80s, walking and holding hands. My wife and I were doing what we have always done: publicly demonstrating affection and enjoying having each other to love. Apparently it is a rare enough sight that it causes people to comment frequently. Mary Jane and I first took notice of each other at a youth group outing. She was 15, I was 16. We were on an evening bicycle ride around a romantic lake. She wore her hair in a ponytail and looked marvelous in a peach-colored pantsuit. I asked if I could accompany her home and she consented. We both attended the same high school, and I eventually began to carry her books for her. (There were no backpacks then.) Before long, we were spending a lot of time together, and I found that even if I carried her books, I still had a free hand to hold her hand. That gave both of us pleasure. The relationship deepened and neither of us ever thought of spending time with anyone else. It continued as I entered a nearby university, and we got engaged as she graduated from high school and entered the same school. We married when she was 20 and I was 21. We have now been married for 67 years.


I ask myself how hand-holding became such an important part of our relationship. I think we just naturally discovered that it is a form of communication. With a squeeze of the hand, we can say that all is well between us and that we are on the same page when responding to a situation. For example, if we are detained in a longer-than-expected conversation, a squeeze reminds the other that we need to move on. What I’m describing is nothing new. Many people do the same thing. But it’s a reminder that our hands are sensitive to communication. The largest organ of the human body is our skin, and it has numerous receptors for detecting such things as temperature, pain, discomfort, embarrassment, danger, the pleasure of a caress. During the pandemic, we have witnessed many scenes in which family members are in agony because they cannot come and touch their infected loved one. Nurses have spoken movingly of the comfort they try to bring to a patient who is unable to communicate, but who desperately needs to feel a warm touch. These are anecdotes, not a scientific study, but they support what my wife and I have learned in our decades of marriage.

Left: A recent photo of David and Mary Jane. Right: Their engagment photo.

If you have already discovered handholding for yourself, then remember to practice it often. If this hasn’t been your style, perhaps this Valentine’s Day is an opportunity to, as the song goes, “reach out and touch someone.” Happiness can be found in the hands of those we love, and those who love us. David Rogne is a retired United Methodist Minister. A native of California, he resides with his wife, Mary Jane, in Morrisville.

4401 Glenwood Ave, Raleigh, NC 27612

(919) 571-2881



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Your heart. Your choice.

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