WALTER Magazine - December 2021

Page 1

The Art & Soul of Raleigh


A Musical Journey



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MAKE YOUR WAY BACK Light up the holidays. From larger-than-life events like the N.C. Chinese Lantern Festival to one-of-a-kind restaurants and shops, many of your favorite Raleigh area experiences are open for you to enjoy with visiting family and friends. Make your way back to delight once again in that holiday sparkle you know so well.


Volume X, Issue 4 DECEMBER 2021


VAULT: Sequins & Lace A standout dress at the Gregg is a teaching tool


LOCALS: The Woodsman Burning old-fashioned fuel in University Park


HISTORY: Shop Talk The origins of the Village District


MUSIC: Friends & Lovers Singer-songwriter Kate Rhudy


NOTED: A Holly Raleigh Swissmas Blending holiday traditions


Editor’s Letter




Your Feedback



101 The Whirl 48

SIMPLE LIFE: Meaningful Happiness The extraordinary ordinary



112 End Note

112 On the cover: Jacqueline Saed Wolborsky on violin, photography by EAMON QUEENEY


Justin Kase Conder (RHUDY); Bryan Regan (ORNAMENT)


Happy Holidays

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Wet Christmas by Shelby Stephenson illustration by Jillian Ohl


Feast of the Seven Fishes Liz Grandchamp’s Italian tradition by Catherine Currin photography by Forrest Mason


Secret History An incredible musical journey by Susanna Klingenberg photography by Eamon Queeney


The Paper Project Students practice design by Colony Little photography by Justin Kase Conder


Poinsettia Power Colorful science at NC State by Ilina Ewen photography by S.P. Murray


Farm & Table Adorable goats and their owners Words & photography by Mick Schulte

76 12 | WALTER

Forrest Mason (CHARCUTERRIE BOARD); Justin Kase Conder (PAPER PROJECT)




One Swell Holiday But of course. The annual holiday card photo shoot had turned into a circus. How many tries would it take before all eyes were wide open, smiles were bright and nature behaved? The challenge had become the best part of it all. Now this, this was family bonding at its merriest.

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s far as my mom remembers, my younger sister and I were perfect children — at least, that’s what she says now. But I definitely remember getting in trouble, and there’s one time in particular that has become part of the family lore. It was sometime in elementary school, and we lived in this lovely historic house in Belleville, Illinois, just outside of St. Louis. The foyer had super-high ceilings. And that year, we got a super-tall tree. In my recollection, it was 14 feet tall (in reality, it was probably 8 or 10 — still, quite tall!). Anyway, it was spectacular, and I loved that tree. We had also somewhat recently adopted two cats from the shelter, Tigger and Rosie. (Right now I can hear my sister going, oh THIS story.) The cats liked the tree almost as much as I did — specifically, hiding behind it to escape, I’m imagining, the grabby hands of two girls who wanted to carry them around like a pair of rag dolls. So the cats were under the tree, and we went for them, shimmying under the branches. Annnnd the whole thing came tumbling down. The gigantic, gorgeous tree smashed to the ground with all the lights and tinsel and ornaments with it: the pearly-pink beaded garland I considered the peak of chic, the straw starbursts my parents had gathered when we lived in the Philippines, the little clay angels from our years in Honduras. I don’t remember what broke or what survived, but I do remember that I’d never before seen my dad that angry. (Except for the time we sprinkled garlic salt around the house pretending it was fairy dust — that day lives in infamy.) Fast-forward about 25 years, and I’m married with two daughters in our tiny Brooklyn apartment. We’re bustling around trying to get out the door for church, squeezing wool tights onto chubby toddler legs. Suddenly — without anyone near it — our little apartmentsized tree toppled to the floor. There were ornaments and soggy pine needles everywhere, and waterworks from the girls, not because it was anyone’s fault,

Tree-pocalypse, 2016. Tree-pocalypse 2016

but for the distressing sight of the whole thing splayed on the floor. I stayed back a few minutes to clean up the mess while my husband got our daughters out the door. While sweeping up shards of some particularly special ornaments given to us for our wedding — a taxi cab and a little bride — I finally understood why my dad was so upset. A tree is more than just decoration; it’s a collection of tiny souvenirs you build over the years, and you relive the memories as you pull out each ornament. When you lose them, you worry that you might lose the memories, too. Luckily, our collection was still new. We found replacements for the ornaments that broke, and have added a few new ones — crafted at school or picked up on our travels — as our tree, and our story together as a family, continues to grow.

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FORREST MASON / P HOTOGR A PH ER Forrest Mason is a food-focused photographer, video producer, and documentary filmmaker based in Chapel Hill. Quick to crack a joke or a crab claw, Mason has been moseying around the country making friends and art for many years. On shooting for The Feast of the Seven Fishes story: “What I thought would be a quick shoot on a random weeknight turned into one of the most memorable evenings of the year. Chef Liz Grandchamp (and her friends!) prepared an incredible marathon dinner over the course of the entire night that rivaled some of the best meals I’ve ever enjoyed. I arrived knowing no one, and left with 20 new friends. It’s a wonderful life!”

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EAMON QUEENEY / P HOTO G R A P HE R A Raleigh-based photojournalist, Queeney cut his teeth at The Columbus Dispatch in Ohio, and today explores the state for clients like The New York Times and The Washington Post. You’ll find him working with a camera or cycling around Raleigh while smiling a lot — wave if you see him, he’ll wave back! Working on this issue was a real joy for him. “The second Jacqueline started playing the violin, my heart nearly stopped. To hear such a talented artist so lovingly play an instrument with a storied history in an intimate setting was stuff for the soul. Coupled with the magic that’s in the history of Tony and Mindy’s family, it was an unforgettable moment. Hopefully the photographs can begin to do it justice.”

SUSANNA KLINGENBERG / W R I TE R Susanna Klingenberg is a writer, editor, and former North Carolina State University writing instructor. When she’s not helping researchers polish their prose, she’s collecting stories of local people and places — a venture that always leaves her revelling at the vibrant energy and rich history in the Triangle. This month, she took a dive into a complex history. “The instruments in Tony’s family have witnessed tragedy and resilience, and it was an honor to tell their story.”

Courtesy contributors (EWEN, MASON, QUEENEY); Rebecca Necessary (KLINGENBERG)

ILINA EWEN / W R I TE R According to Ewen: “My dreams of being a doctor were shattered when my performance in the requisite science classes was less than stellar. I reflected on my other interests and came upon some old report cards: the running theme from all my teachers was around my writing and creativity. Meeting Dr. Jackson rekindled my love of science, and spending time with him was more than a lesson in soil science and poinsettias. He clearly loves what he does and he brings so much joy to others by sharing his gifts.”

FEEDBACK We love to hear from you! Tag us when you’re out and about — or cozied up at home with WALTER. “Great stuff from David Menconi about R.E.M. (we’re fans, in case you didn’t know) and their early days here in N.C. The ‘Old North State’ was their home away from home.” —@finestworksongs, on Twitter

Retirement living. Better than you ever imagined.

We were pleased to run into Jeremy Stamps, an Elkin sommelier featured in our November issue, at a VisitNC event. “Literally tears are rolling down. This is beyond beautiful. Thank you so much!” — Matthew Busch

Welcome to a life that’s anything but ordinary. When you live at The Cypress, Raleigh’s preeminent Life Plan Community, you’ll experience luxury retirement living at its very best. Whether it’s the resort-style amenities, carefree lifestyle, world-class healthcare facilities, or the chance to own your own Cottage or Villa, The Cypress is the right choice for so many reasons. Get ready to rethink what you know about retirement living. Come see what’s possible at The Cypress of Raleigh. WALTER contributor Wiley Cash signs copies of his new novel, When Ghosts Come Home, at Quail Ridge Books


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OUR TOWN Capture the spirit of the season with light shows, concerts, festive crafts, and dazzling productions

Joshua Steadman



WRAL NIGHTS OF LIGHTS December 1 - 24 | 6:30 p.m.

Nights of Lights at Dix Park is back this year. The second annual event will boast even more twinkling bulbs and mesmerizing artistic displays, including new pieces by Raleigh neon artist Nate

Shaeffer. This year, the event will include more nights for guests to choose from and fewer cars per night to shorten wait times to see the display. Pack family or friends into the car for this festive mile-

long ride through the park, and tune in to a soundtrack of merry music to accompany the spectacle. $35; 1251 Goode Street;

The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 25

ALPHONSE MUCHA All month | See website Immerse yourself in the work of Alphonse Mucha, a visionary of the Art Nouveau design movement of the early 1900s. The celebrated Czech artist’s illustrations, photographs, sculptures, and more will be on display at the North Carolina Museum of Art. Mucha gained popularity for his fanciful, romantic advertisements, which often featured French actresses intertwined with classical imagery. $23.60; 2110 Blue Ridge Road;

HURRICANES GAMES All month | 7 p.m. If you’re not a Caniac yet, maybe it’s time. Cheer on our Carolina Hurricanes — the reigning division champions — at seven home games this month. Bundle up and pack a picnic to get to the parking lot early for the tailgating scene, then watch the team — led by captain Jordan Staal and 2020 Coach of the Year Rod Brind’Amour — bring the heat to the ice. December 2, 4, 16, 18, 19, 27; from $16; 1400 Edwards Mill Road;

THE ROAD TO MECCA Dec. 2 - 19 | See website See Burning Coal Theatre’s production of The Road to Mecca, directed by Jerome Davis, the true story of a woman from South Africa, Miss Helen, who finds her calling as a sculptor later in life. Written by Athol Fugard, this is the second time the popular play will be showcased at Burning Coal, and can be viewed in-person or through a livestream. From $20; 224 Polk Street;


BOYLAN HEIGHTS ARTWALK Dec. 5 | 12 - 5 p.m. The Boylan Heights ArtWalk transforms this historic neighborhood into an immersive gallery, with exhibits set up in the front yards and porches of the area homes. Collectors and casual observers alike will enjoy this juried show, which displays paintings, jewelry, pottery, stained glass, and more from nearly 100 artists — all for sale, just in time for the holidays. Lyman Collins, chair of the Boylan Heights ArtWalk chair and a neighborhood resident, says they’ve gone the extra mile to make this as COVID safe as possible. “We’re


Transport yourself back to the Victorian n era with this unique opportunity to peek inside a dozen century-old homes that are still in use today. This year is the 50th anniversary of the Historic Oakwood Candlelight Tour, and it will include some of the homes from the original tour, as well as visitor favorites from over the decades. After the outdoor-only version last year, the self-paced Candlelight Tour will again include interiors, where guests will have the opportunity to hear about the histories and architectural details of each home they visit. “Last year, we were pleased to offer a walking tour version of the Historic Oakwood Candlelight Tour, and it was an astonishing success.

so excited to be back in person. It feels like a real accomplishment. The biggest thing though we’ve done is reduce the number of artists, which was hard,” he says. In past years, multiple artists would be stationed on a single front porch or yard, but this year there will only be one artist per space. For food, Rebus Works will be up and running as usual and the neighborhood will have a food stand offering individually wrapped items. Free; Boylan Heights neighborhood;

JOY OF THE SEASON Dec. 7 | 7:30 p.m. Hear the North Carolina Master Chorale in a showcase of seasonal music featuring a range of genres, from a jazzy rendition of “Sleigh Ride” to the rousing “Go Tell it on the Mountain” and its annual, classic show-ender, “Joy to the World.” Accompanied by the North Carolina Symphony Orchestra, the program will take place in Meymandi Hall. From $35; 2 E. South Street;


But the real beauty and warmth of this event – and this neighborhood – is welcoming people and giving them the chance to enjoy these beautifully decorated homes,” says tour chair Kurt Hurelbrink. From $30; start at 418 N. Person Street;

courtesy North Carolina Museum of Art (MUCHA); courtesy Boylan Heights Artwalk; Tom Bagby (OAKWOOD)



Pigfish Lane Antiques & Interiors


A CHRISTMAS CAROL Dec. 9 - 12 & 15 - 19 | See website Theatre in the Park presents Ira David Wood III’s A Christmas Carol, a comedic, Raleigh-centric version of the Dickens classic that includes new twists every year to delight the audience. Performed since 1974, A Christmas Carol has been named one of the “Top 20 Events In The Southeast” and will be on view at DPAC and Raleigh Memorial Auditorium. From $36.50; 2 E. South Street and 123 Vivian Street, Durham;

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EVENING WITH ELVES Dec. 10 | 6 - 8:30 p.m. A night at the museum in pajamas that includes encounters with elves, a dance party, outdoor s’mores, and an appearance from a magical snowflake fairy? Sounds like holiday heaven for little ones. At this annual event at Marbles Kids Museum, children will receive a special elf name and the chance to explore arctic-themed play areas, with a visit to the North Pole Pizza Parlor available for an extra charge. $25; 201 E. Hargett Street;


HOLIDAY POPS Dec. 10 - 11 | See website Get into the holiday spirit with vocalist Yolanda Rabun and the North Carolina Symphony performing all your favorite holiday tunes at the Meymandi Concert Hall. Featuring show tunes, popular music, and the classics, this beloved local tradition is an inspiring Yuletide event for all ages. From $26; 2 E. South Street;

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Courtesy NC Symphony (WINTER SCENE); Bob Karp (WREATH MAKING)


All month | 6 - 7:30 p.m.

A CHRISTMAS STORY, THE MUSICAL Dec. 28 - 31 | See website The stage version of one of America’s favorite holiday movies, A Christmas Story, The Musical will hit DPAC just in time for the post-holiday lull. Set in Indiana in the ‘40s, this take still includes the infamous leg lamp, bunny suit, and ice-cold lamp pole — but this time in live-action, and with a soundtrack. From $25; 123 Vivian Street, Durham;

Head to Phillips Farm of Cary on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays this month for a hands-on wreath-making class. Gardening experts will teach you everything you need to know to craft a festive, one-of-a-kind wreath to adorn your front door out of evergreen branches. The ticket includes all the materials to make your first wreath — then use your newfound skills to make many more with clips from your y own garden. $57; 6701 Good Hope Church NOTED Road, Cary;

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courtesy The Gregg Museumof Art & Design (Gift of Susan Biggs and Myrta Spence)

SEQUINS & LACE A standout evening gown in the Gregg’s collection reveals history and craft by HAMPTON WILLIAMS HOFER


n the summer of 1909, a young woman wore an electric blue satin gown to an evening ball. It was adorned with a mesh overlay of iridescent sequins and glass beads, the intricate work of renowned French designers Marie Gerber, Marthe Bertrand, Régine Tennyson-Chantrelle, and Joséphine Crimont, known collectively as the Callot sisters. Creators of the label Callot Soeurs, these women were dubbed by American Vogue in 1916 as “foremost among the powers that rule the destinies of a woman's life.” “I can’t even imagine what it might have looked like in the low light of an evening event in the early 1900s,” says Jordan Cao, assistant registrar of the Gregg Museum of Art & Design in Raleigh. “It really is such a sight, with its deep, rich color, sparkling sequins, twinkling beads, and delicate lace.” On the interior waist stay of the dress, the words “Callot Soeurs PARIS” are woven into the ribbon, along with a stamp: “ÉTÉ 1909.” Decades later, another set of sisters, Susan Biggs and Myrta Spence, discovered that blue Callot Soeurs gown in a trunk in their mother’s attic in eastern North Carolina. They donated it to the Gregg in 2003, where the gown remains in the permanent collection. Conflicting memories about who exactly purchased and wore this dress have clouded its history, so while the particular event to which it was worn — and by whom — remains unknown, the staining and wear under the arms bear witness to the fun it saw that summer. The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 29


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Detail of the bodice of the Callot Soeurs dress.

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The dress came into the collection at the Gregg when Mary Hauser — now the museum’s registrar and associate director — was still in graduate school. When it first arrived, she did preventative work to stabilize some fragile components: securing loose threads and adding supporting material behind degraded netting on the arms. “Investigating the inner workings of a garment from another era or tradition teaches you to notice the details and intricacies of clothing and to question your assumptions about how things are made, what materials and methods are used, and why,” Hauser says. Where does this snap attach? How would the wearer feel in the garment? Could she put it on by herself or would she need help? If the garment has sleeves, why is it also boned? “You learn to become an investigator,” she says, “working backwards from the evidence in front of you to understand the garment and its story.” Once a small visual arts center intended to exhibit art reflecting the curricula of North Carolina State University, the Gregg is now a museum with more than 35,000 objects in its permanent collection on Hillsborough Street, all of which are used for research, teaching, and preservation. It boasts the largest collection of outsider art in North Carolina, as well as everything from carved Native American kachina dolls to NASA photographs. But textiles are a specialty, from embroidered Japanese dragon robes to batiks from Indonesia to 18th-century hand-stitched quilts to 1980s prom dresses from the United States. The Callot Soeurs evening gown shines among its comrades at the Gregg, but beyond its beauty, it’s a tool for learning at the university. “I think people are often surprised at the breadth of information to be gleaned from textiles,” says Cao. The College of Humanities and Social Sciences uses the dress to discuss religion, social systems, and technology. In considering styles across civilizations and geographies, the

courtesy The Gregg Museumof Art & Design (Gift of Susan Biggs and Myrta Spence)

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collection reveals intriguing cultural Beyond the glitz of the dress is connections, says Cao: “You can trace design mastery. “It’s the skirt that trade patterns from India to the U.K. really makes a statement to me,” says through paisley shawls, or look for Cao. For so long, dressmakers had American influence in Panamanian used hoops and corsets to simulate a mola designs,” says Cao. feminine shape that forced all bodThe gown’s empire waist and fishies into compliance. This gown’s skirt tail train represent a departure from relies on the wearer’s own form. the tight bustles and rigid corsetry “The central band of beading and the that molded women’s fashion in the angled stripes of sequins certainly late 19th century. The Callot sisters lengthen the body, but the overall were moving fashion forward, but form is dictated by the wearer's hips influences of the past are all over this and body shape,” says Cao. “A sheer gown. “Just as we do today, designers layer holding the sequins rests over a of their era used themes, structural satiny underskirt, allowing for natuelements, and silhouettes that harken ral movement in the sequin layer as back to previous eras to invoke sentithe wearer walks, further highlightments… or to present commentary or ing her shape.” critique of the current time,” Hauser The contrast of that extravagant says. When the dress was created, outer layer with the more utilitarian a century after Napoleon’s invasion inner layer creates a structural issue: of Egypt, the French had developed how to support the weight of all those a fascination with Egyptian culture embellishments and still keep the that seeped into art, décor, and dewearer somewhat comfortable. The sign. Lattice beadwork over the raw Callot sisters were serious pros, so the silk mesh at the neckline of the gown solution was both complicated and is reminiscent of the bead shrouds effective: the satin underskirt, reflecthat covered mummy wrappings tive and luminous underneath, was The front of the dress and the label from the interior found in Egyptian tombs from the backed with flannel to make it both of the dress. seventh and eighth centuries BCE soft and sturdy enough to hold the — though the wearer of the gown gown’s shape. That liner also protected likely had no idea that her neckline bore reference to ancient the train from snagging as it swept the ground. The underskirt Egyptian funereal practices. secures in the back, while the net layer is secured with a series “The most striking aspect of this garment’s physical apof hidden snaps under the waist and center front trim, all to pearance is the sheer quantity of embellishment that nearly maintain the dramatic V-shaped pattern on the back of the covers its surface,” says Hauser. “From square, round, and skirt leading to the fishtail train. fluted celluloid sequins and iridescent glass beads to stamped Within the Colleges of Design and Textiles, the Gregg’s metal ornaments and intricate filet lace with metal-wrapped collection — and this dress in particular — offers a means thread accents, the piece of exploring materials and is an endless display of manufacture. The Callot masterful design, techsisters had more than just a nique, and technological cutting-edge sense of style: innovation.” they required an understandDaughters of a laceing of physics and engineermaker, the Callot sisters ing to create a garment that made their own filet lace was both comfortable and with a long blunt needle structurally sound. Its comand thread, but they were also known for reusing fabrics from position still impacts the way Hauser creates garments and cosprevious eras. The lace on the bodice of this particular gown tumes. “Even though I’ve worked with this gown for nearly 20 is likely much older than the garment itself. The Callot Soeurs years, it’s still a favorite of mine,” says Hauser. “Not just for its shop location at 24 Rue Taitbout in Paris — only a block away overall beauty and elegance, and the balance of intricate detail from the Paris Opera — no doubt contributed to the ornate and broad, sweeping shapes, but for the complex construction and theatrical nature of their fashion creations. and materials that make all of those things possible.”

“It really is such a sight, with its deep, rich color, sparkling sequins, twinkling beads, and delicate lace.” — Jordan Cao

The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 31






the WOODSMAN In University Park, a retired professor with an unusual practice by AYN-MONIQUE KLAHRE photography by JOE PELLEGRINO


om Wolcott has led an interesting life. He and his wife, Donna, are both retired professors of marine sciences. They’ve studied sea urchins, ghost crabs, and the mating habits of blue crabs. Their research has taken them from California to the Carolina coast to the Chesapeake Bay, from Bermuda to Panama to the Virgin Islands — once spending months on a boat with their dog and two young children, a box of Legos, and weekly trips to the library to keep the kids occupied. But here, in landlocked Raleigh, and particularly in their University Park neighborhood, they’re better known for a different kind of scientific practice: the careful and conscious heating of their home through an old-fashioned fuel, firewood.

In 1973, Tom and Donna bought their “starter home” on Henderson Street. Modest though it was — a brick one-story, with Tudor flourishes along the facade — it was an easy walk to North Carolina State University campus, where both worked as professors. “It was all we could afford at the time, and not in too splendid of a condition, but not having to commute was quite a blessing!” says Tom. The home, built in the 1940s, was heated by a coal furnace in the basement which had been “clumsily” converted to oil. “It was horrendously inefficient,” says Wolcott. A tinkerer by nature, he soon found himself in the crawlspace looking for a solution, where he discovered the old coal grates. They sparked an idea: retrofit the furnace a second time, but this time to burn wood. It worked. The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 33

Give the gift of gear. Raleigh • Chapel Hill

LOCALS “I burned wood in that for a decade before it rusted out,” he says. He replaced the rigged-up furnace with a new one from a Minnesota company, Yukon-Eagle, that makes solid-fuel furnaces, and has been using that ever since to heat his home. “It has a stainless steel box, crossflow heat exchange, and a backup burner,” he says. Tech-forward and efficient, but still reliant on old-school fuel. “I’d see some smoke coming out of the chimney starting in September, but I didn’t pay attention for many years,” says neighbor George Allen. This spring, Allen had a large tree removed from his property. He notified neighbors about the tree service coming, and on the designated day, Wolcott arrived, too. “He was on the scene with his lumberjack plaid on,” says Allen. Their conversation turned into a tour of the Wolcotts’ property, where, tucked into a corner of the broad lawn, Allen encountered Tom’s wood piles for the first time. “They’re immaculate — they look like log cabins,” says Allen. Built upon cement risers are rows upon rows of neatly stacked firewood, arranged in crosswise trios, rising more than 7 feet high. Above the piles are peaked plastic tarp roofs made with plumbing pipes, to keep the firewood dry. Tom lets the wood cure for a year or more, then he and Donna start the painstaking process of moving all the firewood from the pile down to to the basement, tossing it through through the old coal chute. Tom and Donna use all hardwood, usually oak, which burns clean. They’ve gotten some red oak tree trunks up to 4 feet in diameter. Then Tom splits all his wood — in an afternoon, he can fill about half a level on one of his palettes — in an effort that continues year-round. “He chops wood every day,” says friend and neighbor Yvonne Wyche. “If it’s cold, he’s out there in his plaid shirt, if it’s hot, he’s in shorts.” “Well, as an academic, I don’t really get enough physical exercise, and I don’t have sufficient self discipline to exercise for the sake of exercise,” Tom says. “But with this, I get to see the physical results of my labor — and hit things, too!” Some woods, like sycamore, are harder to split. “The green is all intertwined,” says Donna. Tom’s got a well-worn splitting maul (an axe doesn’t have the heft for this work), and he’ll often use a wedge made of dogwood to split the wood. “It lasts a surprisingly long time, it’s no wonder people have used it for fence posts for so long,” says Donna. It’s labor, but there’s finesse, she says: “Sometimes you have to think like a piece of wood to figure out where to split it.” If he comes across a piece of wood with a particularly fine grain, he saves it for a project for himself or a friend — a pair of cedar stools in the living room are a testament to his skills. They gather wood every time there’s a storm: “High winds, hurricanes, an ice storm — he’s ready,” says Donna. “Whenever a tree falls across a driveway or a yard, Tom is right there,” confirms Allen. “I joke with my kids that Tom starts drooling when he hears a chainsaw start up.” The Wolcotts can’t collect wood from city property, but they can often convince tree companies to unload wood from a removal project into their driveway. “That’s my modus operandi,” says Tom, “I tell them,

courtsey Tom Wolcott (FURNACE)

this is much closer than the dump!” They use every part of the wood: they’ve found that bark makes good charcoal, and any ash left over from a fire is sorted, the larger coals used as a starter for a grill or smoker (the Wolcotts have so much they give it away to neighbors and friends), the ash to scatter over Raleigh’s notoriously acidic ic soil. On a very cold day, Tom will reload ad the fire four or five times. (“Sometimess it gets a little too hot,” he says, “this fururnace was built for Minnesota winters.”) ”) And a few years ago, he figured out that he could use the gas backup to his advantage. “I used to get up in the wee hours to light the fire to get the house warmed up in the morning,” Tom says. “But one day I realized, the gas backup can light the fire.” Now he loads in the firewood at night and sets the thermostat so the gas turns on around 5:30 a.m. on chilly nights. After about 15 minutes, the flame from the gas line lights the firewood. “We wake up to a nice warm house,” he says. Now about 10 years into retirement, Tom and Donna (who he jokes is his “first” wife: “We’re 53 years into our trial mar-

riage,” he laughs) are settled into their rhythm, in their cozy home that smells just slightly of woodsmoke. They haven’t left the ocean behind, either — they maintain a boat in Elizabeth City, another labor of love that requires frequent tinkering and rehabbing. But day to day here in Raleigh, it’s the rhythm of stoking the fire, splitting and stacking the wood, and keeping up the simple, sustainable life they’ve built. “We’re staying in our starter home,” Tom says, “and seeing how long we can keep sailing.”

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SHOP TALK The origins and history of the Village District by KATHERINE SNOW SMITH


aleigh native Ann Lichtner remembers visiting Santa Claus at the old Sears on Oberlin Road and grabbing a soda with her high school sweetheart, who later became her husband, at the Kerr Drug after school. Now in her 70s, she’s amazed at how much the area where these stores were centered, the Village District, has changed since then. “You could get anywhere in 10 minutes,” she says. “Our world was much smaller.” When what was then known as

Cameron Village opened in 1949, it was cutting-edge retail — part of “the story of a new trend in gracious, suburban living… planned with scientific thought,” according to a marketing pamphlet advertising for the new development. And just as Raleigh has changed over the last 80 years, the shopping center has gone through many incarnations to evolve with the times. “The original concept of six city blocks with storefront parking is here, but everything else looks completely different,” says Smedes York, a former mayor

of Raleigh whose father, Willie York, developed the property. Smedes, who’s now chairman of the board for York Properties, was 8 years old when his father opened the first suburban shopping center between Washington, D.C., and Atlanta. Cameron Village was built as a retail center with residential and office space, a departure from earlier shopping districts, which were typically built near a city’s established downtown. Its sales flyer boasted off-the-street parking and “wide, canopied sidewalks” to keep rain, The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 37



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Clockwise from top left: The Cameron Village Branch of Wachovia in 1950; a postcard featuring J.C. Penney’s department store; the shopping center circa 1950, looking northeast.

sleet, or snow off the shoppers there. The shopping center opened with four retail stores, and within a few years had 65 outlets, including Burton’s Fashions Inc., Nowell’s Clothiers, Willett’s Beauty Shop, Renn’s Toyville, Woolworth’s, Colonial grocery store (later Big Star), and Hollowell’s Esso Service station. “A dress or desk, a ham or hammer, a blouse or a house or a manicure… you can buy them all within a few steps,” boasts its early sales pamphlet. Medlin-Davis Cleaners, which opened here in 1950, is today one of the longest running of the earliest tenants. Lichtner remembers that many of the shops were owned by parents of her friends at Broughton High School — everyone knew everyone. “Kerr Drug, Jolly’s Jewelers, Burton’s, and, of course, the York family, I went to school with most of those kids,” she says. Balentine's

Cafeteria is a place she remembers as a town staple. “It was a big thing, you’d go in and see people you knew, you always saw friends and parents,” says Lichtner. “Mr. Balentine would walk out and speak to everyone, he’d call you by your name.” As a child, Smedes was a fan of The Hobby Shop for its model airplanes and Lionel Trains. He remembers winning a Schwinn bike at a raffle when Sears Roebuck and Co. opened in early 1950, and seeing his first movie — “Bedtime for Bonzo,” starring Ronald Reagan — at the Village Theater in 1951. He also liked the Stephenson Music Company: “I

wasn’t much of a musician, but it was a great place to go when my friends and I were playing hide and seek,” he says. His son, George York, the current president and CEO of York Properties, remembers buying cassette tapes at the Record Bar, which opened in 1968. He also bought concert tickets there for his first show, Genesis. But by the late 1960s, the advent of the shopping mall, with its climatecontrolled hallways and abundant parking, made outdoor storefronts seem obsolete. North Hills, built in 1960, was converted from open-air shopping to a mall in 1967, and when Crabtree Valley Mall opened in 1972, Sears — and many shoppers — headed there, too. Willie responded by adding parking decks around the shops to offer coverage during rainy or hot days. “That was his defense against the malls,” says Smedes. Unfortunately, the parking decks made shopping at Cameron Village a dark and dreary experience and blocked stores’ windows and signage. Chuck Millsaps, president of the Great Outdoor Provision Co., remembers the parking deck era with angst. “You’d be trying to tie a boat on top of somebody's car and the wind would swoop in under that deck and blow it off,” he laughs. So Willie tried a new tactic to attract shoppers: opening The Village Subway, an entertainment venue modeled after a similar below-decks spot in Atlanta. Located beneath the Boylan Pearce department store, where Fresh Market stands now, the clubs hosted big-name performers such as Bette Midler, Thelonious Monk, Barry Manilow, R.E.M., The Go-Gos, and Iggy Pop. Local television’s favorite piano player, Uncle Paul, serenaded guests during the daytime. “It was a different kind of entertain-

“A dress or desk, a ham or hammer, a blouse or a house or a manicure… you can buy them all within a few steps.”

The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 39

HISTORY ment experience, the underground part of it came alive,” says Lichtner. Crowds flocked to the Village Subway, along with popular spots like The Frog & Nightgown, Elliot’s Nest, and Café Déjà Vu. It was a boon for the nightlife, but a bust for the stores by day: The Village Subway closed in 1986, with complaints that the evening crowds left the parking lots a mess. Meanwhile, the pendulum started swinging back toward smaller scale, open-air shopping. The Yorks took down the parking decks, and some of the customers who had avoided the dark spaces returned. J.C. Penney, known simply as Penney’s to shoppers, closed in 1991. Thalhimers department store, which had been bought by Hecht’s, closed in 1992. It was time for a ‘90s makeover, so the Yorks worked with real estate consultants to move away from using department stores as anchors for the space, creating a village of smaller boutiques that was more pedestrian-friendly. Trees, planters, and generous sidewalks

invited shoppers to park and stroll its blocks, and acrylic domes over the storefronts provided shelter from sun and rain. The Yorks invited in newcomers who are now old-timers, like Cafe Carolina, H&H Shoe Repair, Bailey’s Fine Jewelry, and Johnson Lambe Sporting Goods. Regency Centers, a Jacksonville, Florida, investment group, acquired the property in 2004 (York Properties continues to manage it). And the area continued to burnish its reputation as a destination for shoppers. Millsaps remembers one funny moment from the late 2000s: then-governor Beverly Perdue, the state’s first female governor, got the high heel of her shoe stuck in one of the knotholes in the store’s creaky, old wooden floors. “She came in for holiday shopping and broke off her high heel. We were just mortified,” Millsaps

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said. “She was stuck there without a shoe. Her security attaché was there. They didn’t know what to do.” Ten years later, the advent of COVID-19 meant more rethinking of how vendors could continue to operate as best they could. The storefront parking turned out to be a godsend: soon, there were designated parking spaces for quick pick-ups, while other spots evolved into outdoor dining areas. “We were all in this together and we were trying to make it as accommodating as possible,” says George. “And I think the outdoor dining is here to stay.” Last year, to the surprise of many, the shopping center’s name was changed in a move to sever its association with the Bennehan-Cameron Plantation of the 1800s. The move was prompted by Raleigh advocacy group Friends of Oberlin Village. “Whether written, read or spoken, words are extremely powerful,” says Sabrina Goode, the group’s executive director. “To achieve inclusivity, Raleigh’s leaders, developers, and residents must be sensitive to words that can ignite versus unite.” While it has been a tough transition for many who are used to the prior name, most understand its importance as the way forward. “It’s hard because I’ve lived here so long, and out of habit often say Cameron Village, but I acknowledge the history and think that it’s important,” says Lichtner. As the pandemic eases, the Village District is bustling again, with teens grabbing Goodberry’s, young parents shopping at the Harris Teeter, and businesspeople sharing notes over lunch at Tazza. Alongside the locally owned businesses, boutique-style versions of retail giants Barnes & Noble and Sephora recently opened — and there’s even talk about reviving a club like the Village Underground. For longtime residents, the returned energy reminds them of the Village District in the early days. “It’s been nice to see it evolve and there’s a sense of vibrancy there,” says Lichtner. “Each generation continues to enjoy it in different ways.”

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FRIENDS & LOVERS Singer-songwriter Kate Rhudy connects with listeners through her heartfelt songs by DAVID MENCONI by JUSTIN KASE CONDER

ate Rhudy’s day job is actually a night job, working in various nightclubs and restaurants in downtown Raleigh as a server. But the singer-songwriter uses it to her advantage. “I carry around a notepad when I’m waitressing, so I use that for songwriting a lot,” she says. “And when I don’t have the notepad, I’ll use my phone to do voice memos, trying to capture a more melodic thing. Of course, I usually don’t get around to listening to it for months and months.” Maybe not, but it seems to work out well enough. Rhudy has two excellent albums to her credit, including the upcoming Dream Rooms, an inviting collection of songs that feel livedin. Andrew Marlin, the co-leader of Watchhouse (the band formerly known as Mandolin Orange) produced both Dream Rooms and Rhudy’s 2017 debut, Rock N’ Roll Ain’t For Me, with perfectly understated backup from his regular circle of Watchhouse players. The real draw, however, is Rhudy’s appealing underdog persona in voice and words. The 26-year-old Raleigh native’s songs are typically first-person reports from that murky zone between friends and lovers. It’s not surprising that she often meets people who think they know all about her through songs like “Kissing My Friends” or “I Don’t Like You Or Your Band.” “Yeah, I met this one guy who said, I feel like your songs revolve around my life, which is about drinking and [expletive] things up,” she says with a laugh. “I had another guy tell me once, Hey, listen, I’m a man. I get it. We’re the pits. But I write about very specific parts of my life in songs, which do not necessarily define my personality all the time. People who think they’re connecting to me because of my songs, but I think they’re just connecting things in their own lives and experiences to those songs.” Rhudy grew up playing violin and learned through the Suzuki method, which emphasizes playing by ear. Upon The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 43


Kate Rhudy at the North Carolina State Fair

graduation from Raleigh Charter High School, she went off to Appalachian State University to pursue music therapy. Three semesters in, she changed her focus to music industry marketing and management to try and get a performing career going, eventually dropping out to “take the real-life experience route” and join some bands. “I was the harmony-singer fiddle player who would get to sing one or two songs per set,” she says. “I’d usually do [Dolly Parton’s] ‘Jolene’ and [Loretta Lynn’s] ‘You Ain’t Woman Enough,’ my two polar-opposite songs. Always a fun three minutes.” She was writing songs of her own all along, too, and eventually put down the fiddle for a guitar, striking out on her own to pursue a solo career. “The first time I booked Kate was on the recommendation of a co-worker fresh out of college, who suggested her as an opening act for a much bigger artist,” says John Booker of Deep South Entertainment. “When someone says, You should hear my old college roommate, that can go a lot of

ways! Luckily, she knew what she was talking about.” Booker has since hired her for numerous shows. “I think Kate is well on her way to becoming one of the greats from here,” he says. Michael Lowder, executive director of Artsplosure, first worked with Rhudy at First Night Raleigh on New Year’s Eve 2017. “Her first solo album had created a lot of buzz, so I made a point of checking out her show that night,” says Lowder. “Her witty, yet heartfelt songs, her sense of melody, and sincere vocal delivery immediately won me over.” Her voice walks a fine line between wounded and stoic, sounding like someone unafraid to stand up for herself. All the same, her songs do tend to be suffused with sadness and regret. The Dream Rooms track “To the Nines,” for example, is a disarmingly frank evocation of being on the rebound from a breakup and getting dressed up in clothes you can’t afford for a night out — then wishing you’d just stayed home instead. As she sings:

I’m not having fun at this party This drink is making me tired And I don’t think the people here like me So I’ve been sitting and tending to the fire It’s times like these I almost regret Not picking up a cigarette habit Found better things to do with my hands Now that you don’t hold them You don’t hold them anymore. That last line sounds like Rhudy is laughing and crying at the same time, her voice cracking just enough. But it takes a lot of craft to get there. Though it’s only a little more than two minutes long, “To the Nines” was a song that Rhudy had to labor over and rewrite before getting it right. Not all her real-life moments make it into songs, either, as some feel just a little too personal to share. “All the time, I’ll start something and find myself going, You know what, I actually don’t want to talk about this —

and my parents don’t need to hear it,” she says. “My sister told me that my mom once asked my dad, Do you think Kate’s writing these songs from experience, or making up fiction? And my dad was, Oh, it’s her real life. Definitely. Then my mom said, I think she’s just creative. Well, I’ll take it.” As Rhudy works toward the release

of Dream Rooms, her fans are ready to hear more. “Kate is cut from the same cloth as many of my favorite singersongwriters — Tift, Gillian, Neko, Emmylou — and has a bright future ahead of her,” says Lowder. Booker agrees: “It’s cool to think where she might take it in the future, 10 or 20 years down the road.”


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When you think about it, the ordinary becomes extraordinary

Meaningful Happiness by JIM DODSON illustration GERRY O’NEILL


bumped into a friend in the produce holidays and said goodbye. She went off to the organic onions and I went in search section at the market. We had not seen each other since the start of the of the special spiced apple cider that only comes round during the autumn holidays pandemic — well over a year ago, if — an ordinary thing, it suddenly struck not longer — long enough for me me, that provides “meaningful” happiness to briefly forget her name, though maybe to my taste buds. For what it’s worth, I was just having the proverbial senior though too late to count, I also suddenly moment. remembered my friend’s name: Donna. In any case, when I asked how she’d Quite honestly, in all the years I’ve been, she simply smiled. “Like everyone, steeped my tin-cup it’s been pretsoul into the works ty challenging. Objects and possessions of great spiritual But, also kind of teachers, classical revealing. It may can certainly provide a philosophers, transound funny, but shot of pleasure, but scendental thinkers, I discovered that picking beautiful invariably lose their power Lake District poets, and street-corner vegetables to cook to possess us somewhere cranks, I’d never for my family down the line as rust and come across the makes me really phrase meaningful happy. Previously, dust prevail. happiness. shopping seemed But suddenly more like a nec— like an ear-burrowing TV jingle or a essary chore than a privilege. I guess I’ve favorite song from the 1970s — I couldn’t learned that the ordinary things provide get the idea of it out of my head. the most meaningful happiness.” Mankind’s search for happiness and We wished each other safe and happy 48 | WALTER

meaning, of course, probably constitutes the oldest quest on Earth, beginning with a fabled naked couple in a heavenly garden, though as any ancient sage worthy of his or her plinth will tell you, true happiness is not something you can acquire from the outside world. Even a fashionable fig leaf can only cover so much. Objects and possessions can certainly provide a shot of pleasure, but invariably lose their power to possess us somewhere down the line as rust and dust prevail. At the end of the day, as our wise old grandmothers patiently advised, true happiness can only come from the way you think about who you are and what you choose to do. As a famous old Presbyterian preacher once remarked to me as we sat together on his porch on a golden Vermont afternoon: “What we choose to worship, dear boy, is what we eventually become.” This curious idea of meaningful happiness, in any case, struck me as a highly useful tool — a way of defining — or, better, refining — what kinds of people, things, and moments in life are worthy of

our close attention in a world that always seems to be beyond our control and on the verge of coming apart at the seams. For most of us, like my friend Donna’s awakening among the vegetables, the art of discovering meaningful happiness simply lies in recognizing the ordinary people, things, and moments that fill up and grace an average day. My gardening hero, Thomas Jefferson — “I’m an old man but a new gardener” as he once wrote to a friend — was an inveterate list-maker. And so am I. So naturally, I began taking mental inventory of the blessedly small and ordinary people, things, and moments that provide meaningful happiness in a time like no other I can recall. I’m sure — or simply hope — you have your own list. Here’s a brief sampling of mine: Rainy Sundays give me meaningful happiness. The heavens replenishing my private patch of Eden. No fig leaf needed. Speaking of which, I’ve spent most of the pandemic building an ambitious Asian-inspired shade garden in my backyard, though probably more Bubba than Buddha if you want to know the Gospel. Even so, it’s granted me great peace and purpose, untold hours of pondering and planning, no small amount of dreaming while digging in the soil, delving in the soul, bringing an artist who works in red clay a little bit closer to God’s heart. Unexpected phone calls from my farflung children provide this papa serious meaningful happiness. They grew up in a beautiful beech forest in Maine, assured by their old man that kindness and imagination could take them anywhere in the world. Today, one lives in Los Angeles and works in film, the other is a working journalist in the Middle East. They are telling the stories of our time. This gives the old man simple joy from two directions, East and West. Courteous strangers also make me uncommonly happy these days — people who smile, open doors for others, wear the world with an unhurried grace. Ditto people who use turn signals and

don’t speed to make the light, saving lives instead of time; those who realize the journey is really the point. For this reason, I always take the back road home. Mowing the lawn for the first time in spring makes me surprisingly happy, as does mowing it for the final time in autumn, bedding down the yard. In summer, I love nothing better than an afternoon nap with the windows wide open; or watching the birds feed at sunset with an excellent bourbon in hand, evidence of a growing appreciation for what our Italian friends call Dolce far niente — “The sweetness of doing nothing.” Ditto golf with new friends and lunch with old ones, early church, old Baptist hymns, and well-worn jeans. My late Baptist granny would be appalled. Let me be clear, eating anything in Italy makes me wondrously happy — for

a few blessed hours, at least. Watching the winter stars before dawn makes me blessedly happy too, along with wool blankets, the first snow, homemade eggnog, the deep quiet of Christmas Eve, the mystery of certain presents, long walks with the dogs, writing notes by hand, and my wife’s incredible cinnamon crumb apple pie. This list could go on for a while, dear friends. It’s as unfinished as its owner. But time is precious, and you have better things to do this month — like shop, eat, and be merry with the friends and family you may not have been with in years. Let me just say that I hope December brings you true meaningful happiness. Whatever that means to you. Jim Dodson is a New York Times bestselling author. He lives in Greensboro. The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 49

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A Holly Raleigh Swissmas Embracing traditions, new and old by HAMPTON WILLIAMS HOFER


n the still-dark hallway outside of my parents’ bedroom door, my three siblings and I whispered in our nightgowns and socks, holding whatever noisemakers we had scavenged from our rooms: a whistle, a Wake County-issued recorder, my brother’s church shoes with the heels that clapped like hooves. We counted down with the pounding in our chests — three, two, one — and then unleashed our strange chorus, hooting and stomping, messy hair flown back, a barbarous symphony: Wake up wake up wake up! It’s CHRISTMAS! Parents and grandparents emerged, moving at a glacial pace through the ritual at the top of the stairs. We sat poised for our wild descent, arms around shoulders,

sleepy smiles. The camera flash was the starting pistol. For once, we didn’t care who elbowed us on the way down. At the bottom waited the glittering, merry scene, proof that the visitor had come, and we slid in on our knees, tugging at ribbons and paper, gasping when it was more than we’d wished for. Somehow even more. Later, when the frenzy had settled into little mountains of festive detritus flickering with the lights on the tree, when we had folded up the nicer gift bags to go back in the drawer of Mom’s wrapping chest, when we had eaten the buttered love feast buns and Dewey’s bakery sugar cake, Barbies and baseballs at our feet, I would sit on my grandmother’s lap by the fire. In a hangover of delight, I would

lean my head back to breathe in the smell of her Elizabeth Arden face cream, with no notion that there would ever come a Christmas when I wouldn’t hear the tsktsk of her slippers on a hardwood floor. It was a morning when the best of everything was real: Dolly Parton coming home with bells on, a gingerbread house now ripe for little fingers, and still in my head the ringing of the sleigh bells I was certain I had heard. Two decades later, I heard something different: “Yeah, we don’t really do Christmas morning,” my then-fiancé said, his Swiss accent still thick, his dark hair without a gray in sight. “You what?” I blinked at him. The horror. I knew that marrying an immigrant would involve some cultural The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 51

We like to socialize. Follow along and don’t miss a thing.


blending, but by God there had to be lit only on Christmas Eve. I traded Santa Christmas morning. Claus for the Christchindli, a fairy-like “There’s no Santa in a sleigh, colorful child with angel wings who delivers lights, stockings — none of that,” he presents through the window. (I had a said. He had only ever known nighttime lot of logistical questions on that one, present-opening, formal Christmas Eve but I went with it). It turned out “Silent celebrations in blazers, organized singing Night” sounded pretty good in German with snow-capped mountains outside like after all. Morning or night, dress clothes the picture on a hot chocolate box. A Raor pajamas, there was still a room full of leigh Christmas would be a lot to learn. people who love each other, bellies full of And since I knew that it was too late to good food, gifts both seen and unseen. It call Jim Adams the priest and change our was just like the Christmas mornings of plans, I would simply have to teach him, my childhood — more than I had wished to win him over to the better side. for. Somehow even more. Our season starts and ends with black Now, come December, I turn on Marieyes, I explained: the first from a Black ah Carey as my husband hangs a stocking Friday brawl outside of Target, and the with his name next to mine, next to four last in the form of more that we’ve peas stewing next added through the I knew that marrying to collard greens for years. He says y’all good luck. He was hop in the car as he an immigrant would already looking at me an NC hat over involve some cultural pulls like I was nuts. But his salt-and-pepper in between comes the hair and we take blending, but by magic. It’s breathing our children to meet God there had to be on your hands as you the elves at Marbles. Christmas morning. size up the Christmas We come home and trees at Logan’s. You’ll light real candles on know the one when an Advent wreath, you see it. It’s Ira David Wood on a stage, the house warm with the smell of Swiss and spiced Moravian cookies, and the mulled wine, and we’ll bake Mailänderli little red kettles of the Salvation Army, and Chräbeli for our neighbors. Because and that house on Whitaker Mill with of course, just like on Christmas Day in the best lights. I’ll show you the one. It’s a 1914 somewhere in a field in Belgium — lot of hanging: stockings, lights, garland, when the soldiers put down their guns mistletoe. Get ready for the Clark Griswold to sing “O, Holy Night,” voices in English jokes. It’s an old book and new pajamas and German echoing across the battleand visions of sugar-plums dancing in field — there isn’t a better side. heads. It’s going straight outside in those I recently asked my sister which one of pajamas to try the new bike, because us started the whole wake-the-house-onthis is North Carolina. I’ll tell you about Christmas routine in the hallway with 2010, the only white Christmas we’ve had in the instruments, and she couldn’t remema century. It’s kneeling in a wooden pew, ber having done it at all. She remembered touching your candle to your neighbor’s making up dances to Sir Mix-a-Lot on until the whole church comes alive, as we her boombox after the sugar cake kicked sing together. Glory streams from heaven in. Even in the same household, we had afar, with love’s pure light, a savior is born. lived it all differently. It’s Christmas. As I watch my children create their A couple years into marriage, at our own little snow globes of memories, I first Christmas with my husband’s famrealize it doesn’t matter which bits they ily in Switzerland, I traded eggnog for hold onto, because when time sends all mulled wine, strings of colorful lights that snow and glitter to settle at the botfor real candles on small, natural trees, tom, it will be the joy that remains.


October 23, 2021–January 23, 2022

Become a member today! From the streets of Paris to North Carolina—immerse yourself in Mucha’s influential art nouveau style in this exhibition featuring sumptuous late 19th-century posters, illustrations, and rarely seen sculptures, photographs, and self-portraits. As a Museum member, your visit is free and comes with special discounts in the Museum’s stores and cafés. In Raleigh support for this exhibition is made possible, in part, by the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources; the North Carolina Museum of Art Foundation, Inc.; and the William R. Kenan Jr. Endowment for Educational Exhibitions. Research for this exhibition was made possible by Ann and Jim Goodnight/The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation Fund for Curatorial and Conservation Research and Travel. Alphonse Mucha, The Precious Stones: Amethyst (large detail), 1900, color lithograph, 26 ХШЕК × 11 ПСШЕК in., Mucha Trust Collection, © 2021 Mucha Trust

2110 Blue Ridge Road, Raleigh

Wet Christmas for Richard Hood by SHELBY STEPHENSON

I’m cooking a pizza in the oven. Every bit of steam’s frolicking. Snug on my high bed, the sheets listen. From dawn to dusk the barnyard lights glisten When I crease my covers whiter than snow, For I am loving no flakes this Christmas. With every yellow daisy popping up, The meadow turning even more golden, And the full moon, coming up now, blossoms To let the elephants and flocks go by. They flop out of sight like exclamations, Arriving in wonder, McGee’s Crossroads, To prep and string popcorn in rows of clouds. There is no snow on Paul’s Hill this Christmas, Just dollops of dewy lichens on posts. May sweaters spring red, blue, white, brown, lacey, Minds lift away from neutrally racy Swears to mark the weather this morn. I put suet out for the woodpeckers. Not a one in sight will leave me undone. All my button-holes I keep unbuttoned For breezes to make my lashes whistle, This merry Christmas day, Cricket snores. The front door’s purposefully half-open, My heart singing a sprig in awe of spring. illustration by JILLIAN OHL

The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 55

Culinary camaraderie in a meal crafted by many hands

feast of the

SEVEN FISHES by CATHERINE CURRIN photography by FORREST MASON recipes by LIZ GRANDCHAMP holiday decorations courtesy ACQUISITIONS, LTD. 56 | WALTER

The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 57


f you’ve eaten out in downtown Raleigh long enough, chances are you know Liz Grandchamp — or at least recognize her signature grin and backwards cap. Grandchamp has worked in kitchens her entire life, from sandwich shops to fine dining establishments. Born and raised in Bethesda, Maryland, she moved to Raleigh in 2007 to attend North Carolina State University, followed by the Culinary Institute of America in St. Helena, California. Here in Raleigh, she’s worked front of house at Crawford & Son, Locals Oyster Bar, and Oakwood Pizza Box, and has consulted for Standard Beer + Food as well as Plates Kitchen. Sitting at Grandchamp’s table is always a treat — food and drink flowing, deep conversation with folks you’ve known forever or maybe just met. She fondly calls her chosen family her “land of misfit toys,” a gathering of former colleagues, vendors 58 | WALTER

she’s built relationships with, and customers who turned into friends. “I want to be that person that brings so many eclectic groups together,” Grandchamp says. And with this many culinary pros in the mix, any dinner is as much about preparing together as it is about sitting down to eat, each person lending their talents, expertise, and traditions in a delectable jumble of festive dining that often goes well into the night. One of Grandchamp’s family traditions is the Feast of the Seven Fishes. It’s an Italian-American meal typically served on Christmas Eve that incorporates a variety of fish and other seafood. “It’s something my parents grew up doing in Rhode Island,” she says, but until recently, she’d never hosted it herself. So she made a plan: Grandchamp would host 20 or so of her friends for her take on the family-style meal. Jenny and Mike Farmer — some of her customers turned

friends — offered to host the feast in their recently renovated Oakwood home. “We met Liz at Crawford & Son, and bonded over our love for Napa,” says Jenny. “We began following her, and she has the coolest friends! We always enjoyed sharing food and conversation with them.” For this many guests, they needed both the dining room and living room, with two folding tables and a dozen loaner chairs added to their regular setup. Tablecloths and a long centerpiece of greenery — graciously loaned by the folks at Acquisitions, Ltd. — pieced them all together, and candlelight cozied the space right up. For the menu, Grandchamp incorporated longtime family recipes, like steamed New England clams, and some on-the-fly improvisations, like a saffron fish stew over pastini. “I wanted to pick food that I like to eat, but also introduce new dishes and ingredients,” says Grandchamp. “Some of the dishes, like whole fish and octopus

PREP TIME Opposite page: Paul Tuorto, Rachel Poe, Halsey Merritt, and Liz Porcelli working on the meal. This page, clockwise from top: Pink porgy on a bed of salt; fettucine in progress; Liz Grandchamp samples the fish stew.

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STARTERS Clockwise from top: Beverages; Boulted Bread with buffalo milk butter and razor clams; guests dig into the antipasto platter, which features tinned fish. Opposite page: Bubbles from Raleigh Wine Shop.


MENU Italian Antipasto Board Tinned fish, marinated vegetables, cheese, cured meats, fruit Boulted Bread with Buffalo Milk Butter Topped with tinned razor clams New England Steamed Clams Narragansett beer, celery, onions, butter Saffron Fish Stew Onion, fennel, shrimp, langoustine, pastini Radicchio Salad Celery, shaved bottarga Squid Ink Pasta Shrimp, garlic butter Fettuccine with Mussels White wine, garlic Roasted Vegetables Cauliflower, fennel, broccolini Italian Desserts Pizzelles, rainbow cookies, sfogliatelle, cannolis


salad, are traditional to Seven Fishes, but some are just what I enjoy.” The meal started around sunset, at a coffee table on the front porch loaded with a fish-centric charcuterie board, featuring cheese and salami from North Raleigh purveyor Bongiorno & Son. On the side, crusty Boulted Bread smeared with buffalo milk butter and a scoop of razor clams — each crusty, buttery bite offering a salty finish. Then the guests moved into the kitchen, where the island became a happy mess of slathering clams in butter with Grandchamp and her sous chefs bustling through the food prep. Before everyone sat down, Grandchamp offered a quick toast, a thanks to her parents and friends for making the night happen. Then guests squeezed in elbow-to-elbow at the table, where there was just enough space to set down a radicchio salad topped with shaved bottarga, the fish stew, and two types of shellfish-infused pasta, each cooked al dente with a

perfect blend of sauce and spices. Guests debated their favorites; most couldn’t choose. For the main course, Grandchamp prepared whole snapper from Locals Seafood two ways — one salt-cured, cooked on a bed of lemons, and another baked with potatoes, olives, and salsa verde — served family-style around the boisterous table. Grandchamp’s take on fish melts in your mouth, especially topped with one of her decadent, homemade butters (infused with herbs, pesto, or bone marrow) on top. And along the side — for anyone who still had space — she served roasted fennel, cauliflower, and broccolini. The only breaks in conversation were sighs of contentment, or the quick pop of bottles as more wine was poured. For those who made it to dessert, well after midnight: rainbow cookies, sfogliatelle, and mini cannolis from Bongiorno & Son, with a homemade batch of limoncello and pizzelles, courtesy of friend Paul Tuorto.

Antipasto boards are the charcuterie boards of Italians, and typically include an assortment of marinated vegetables, cheese, cured meats, dried and fresh fruit, and in this case, tinned fish. “When building an antipasto board, you want to make sure you’re hitting all the flavors: salty, sweet, sour, and bitter,” says Grandchamp. “And don’t forget to add a pop of color to your board, like roasted red peppers, olives, or salami.” She finds cured meats and sides at Alimentari at Left Bank, olives, peppers, and dried fruits at Wegmans and Whole Foods, and tinned fish at Raleigh Wine Shop. “The best way to eat tinned fish is to start with bread with butter — in this case, ciabatta from Boulted Bread and the Delitia Buffalo Milk butter from Bongiorno & Son in Lafayette Village — and then scoop your choice of fish on top,” says Grandchamp.

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New England Style Clams

Saffron Fish Stew

2 to 3 24-ounce Narragansett beers

3 leeks, thinly sliced

1 cup kosher salt

3 heads of garlic, thinly sliced

4 large white onions, roughly chopped

1 pound carrots, thinly sliced

4 heads of garlic, cut in half

1 whole stalk of celery, thinly sliced

2 heads of celery, roughly chopped

2 fennel bulbs, thinly sliced

100 littleneck clams (depending on the season, find at Locals Seafood or Wegmans)

Seafood Stock (see recipe on page 65)

1 stick butter

2 pounds uncooked shrimp

Fill a large stockpot halfway with water and add beer to get equal parts beer and water. Add salt and bring to a boil, then add vegetables. Lower to medium heat and cook for 20 minutes, until the vegetables are starting to get tender.

1-pound white fish (bass or flounder), cut into cubes

Add the clams, bring to a boil and cook until clams start to open. In a separate bowl or cup, melt the butter.

Salt and pepper to taste

Strain clams and tender vegetables into a bowl, pour some butter over them, and enjoy.

In a large pot, sauté onions, leeks, and garlic together, until soft and translucent (not brown). Season with salt and pepper. Add in your carrots, sauté until soft, and then add celery and fennel. Season with a little more salt and pepper.


4 white onions, thinly sliced

2 cups pastina pasta, cooked

1 pound langoustine 12 to 15 threads of saffron 1 cup Italian parsley, chopped

If you start to get color on your vegetables, deglaze the pot with your seafood stock. Once all the vegetables are soft, but not completely cooked through, add in half of your saffron strands and stir. Add in the remaining saffron threads and enough stock to cover the vegetables, stir, and bring to a boil. Once it’s come to a boil, cover and simmer on low. While your soup is simmering, cook your pastina in a small pot. Reserve and set aside. When you are ready to serve, remove the cover, and add in your fish. Stir until partially cooked. Add in your shrimp and langoustine. Remove from heat, and continue to stir until the shrimp is pink. Add in your pastina, season to taste, finish with chopped parsley and serve!

NEXT COURSE Opposite page: Sharing New England style clams. This page, clockwise from top: The clams; mussels over fettucine; saffron fish stew with shrimp and langoustine; radicchio salad with shaved bottarga on top.

APRIL 2020 || 00 The The Art Art & & Soul Soul of of Raleigh Raleigh 63

MAIN COURSE Clockwise from top: Roasted fennel; baked fish with potatoes, olives, and salsa verde; squid ink pasta with garlic butter shrimp; roasted cauliflower and broccolini. Opposite page: Guests at the table for the meal.

00 | WALTER 64

Grandchamp’s parents, Patty Barrett and Gary Grandchamp, were there to assist, helping chop, assemble, and oversee the family recipes. And at every part of the meal, Granchamp’s “misfits’’ pitched in: Tuorto and Halsey Merritt, a wine representative — both longtime friends of Grandchamp’s — worked together to prepare a handmade linguine that was tossed with mussels. Liz Porcelli and Rachel Poe from the Raleigh Wine Shop ensured drinks were flowing all night, from dry French bubbles for toasting to a light Sicilian red that paired with the decadent pastas. “I had friends take off work to help me prepare for this,” says Grandchamp. “They all have their own jobs, lives, but are still there to help.” This camaraderie — and the collaborations across restaurants, shops, and vendors that Grandchamp has found across the hospitality industry — are,

she says, what make Raleigh so special. “I love that there is a bond between the hospitality community here,” she says. It’s with the help of these folks that she’s taken the leap from front-of-house to her own outfit, recently launching Grandchamp Hospitality, a full-service catering operation that’s approachable but full of flavor, as well as a spring and summer sandwich popup, The Shop: “We make food that is easy to enjoy and understand, even if you’ve never experienced it.” For Grandchamp, food is more than a recipe: it’s a community built with people across the industry. “Raleigh is a tightknit community where we have each other’s backs. We treat each other with the same hospitality that we offer our guests, and we just love being together to eat and drink and just relax,” she says. “Food and wine are the vehicles in which we build our connections.”

Seafood Stock 6 white onions, quartered 1 pound carrots, roughly chopped 2 stalks of celery, roughly chopped 2 tops and bottoms of fennel (fronds included) 3 tops and bottoms of leeks 3 to 4 spines from white, mild fish (flounder, bass) 2 pounds shells, tails, and heads of shrimp Place all the vegetables, fish, and shells into a large pot. Fill with water and bring to a boil. Once boiling, bring down to a simmer for 2 to 4 hours (the longer it simmers, the more concentrated the flavor). Strain the stock and discard the bones. This should yield 10 to 12 quarts of stock.

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Baked Fish with Potatoes, Olives & Salsa Verde 3 to 4 whole pound Pink Porgy (you can also use snapper, sea bass, or another thick, white fish) 1 bag rainbow baby potatoes 1 cup salt 1 cup pitted Castelvetrano olives 4 lemons, sliced into wheels Salt and pepper to taste Head of garlic, peeled and roasted (optional) Salsa Verde (recipe below) Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Fill a large pot with water, bring to a boil, and add the salt, then bring to boil again. Add the potatoes, and bring to a simmer for 20 minutes (or until barely fork tender). Drain into an ice bath. Score the fish skin along the sides in strokes. Rub both sides of the fish with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Set aside. Mix the potatoes, olives, and two lemons with a little bit of olive oil, salt and pepper (can add roasted garlic, if desired). Place the mixture onto the bottom of a lined baking pan, then place the fish on top. Put in the oven for 15 to 18 minutes. Check the fish: if the skin starts to get too brown, you can tent it with aluminum foil. Cook for another 3 to 4 minutes, until the flesh looks white, or you reach an internal temperature of 145 degrees. Remove from the oven and rest. Take the remainder of your lemons and arrange them on your serving platter. Spoon out the potatoes, olives, and lemons from under the fish. Place the cooked fish on your platter. Add salsa verde on top or serve as a side.

Salsa Verde

Squid Ink Pasta with Shrimp Butter 3 pounds whole shrimp

2 bunches parsley

1 cup salt

1 bunch dill

2 sticks unsalted butter

1 bunch cilantro

5 garlic cloves, peeled and roasted

2 tablespoons capers Zest and juice from 1 lemon

2 pounds squid ink pasta (can be found at Alimentari)

2 teaspoons red pepper flakes

Zest of 2 lemons

Salt and pepper to taste

2 tablespoons chives

2 cloves of garlic, grated

1 bunch of parsley, chopped

Extra virgin olive oil

Remove the shells, heads, and tails from your shrimp. Place these pieces into a pot, fill with water and bring to a boil. Keep at medium-high heat for 45 minutes to an hour to create a stock, then strain out shells and set aside the stock.

Add herbs to a food processor. Once slightly chopped, add in capers, lemon juice, salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and garlic. Start to add your olive oil slowly, until you start to get a paste-like consistency. Taste and adjust seasoning. It should have bright acidity, with a briny finish.

Fill a pot with water and cup of salt, bring to a boil. While the water comes to a boil, in a separate large saucepan, place one stick of butter on low, along with the roasted garlic. Heat on medium, and once bubbling, deglaze with your shrimp stock. You want to have a medium-thick consistency, and can always add more butter. Take your shrimp (seasoned with salt and pepper)


and place in shrimp butter. Sauté on low until slightly pink. Add your chopped parsley and lemon zest and stir. Once your water has boiled, drop in the squid ink pasta and cook 4 to 5 minutes or according to package directions. Once you have an al dente noodle, use tongs to remove the pasta and place directly into your shrimp sauce. Toss until the pasta is coated, season with salt and pepper to taste. Remove off the heat, plate and finish with chives for a pop of color.

EAT, DRINK, & BE MERRY! Opposite page: Liz Grandchamp. This page, above: Friends and family offer a toast to the chefs at the extra-long table. Below: Italian treats alongside homemade limoncello from Paul Tuorto.

APRIL 2020 || 00 The The Art Art & & Soul Soul of of Raleigh Raleigh 67


Separated by tragedy, a piano and violin find their new home in Raleigh



nside a North Raleigh home, a 1792 Zwerger violin and 1905 Blüthner piano hold pride of place. They’re exquisitely crafted of wood, strings, and ivory, but it’s the story they carry — one that spans centuries and continents — that gives these instruments their souls. The lives of the piano and violin first intertwined through sisters Grete and Natascha Wilczynski, a promising pair on the performance scene in Munich, Germany, in the early 1900s. Musical partners and best friends, they often played duets in concert halls around the city. The two sisters had a striking stage presence with very different musical approaches. On the Blüthner, Grete was a technical, no-nonsense musician. On the Zwerger, Natascha was a free-spirited bohemian. Their musical strengths lifted and complemented each other, making the whole greater than the sum of its parts. With the rise of Nazi rule, everything changed for Germany’s Jewish population. Passage of the 1935 Nuremberg Laws — the Reich Citizenship Law and the Law for the Protection of German Blood and German Honor — meant that the life Grete and Natascha had known, including their appearances on the stage, was no longer safe. Natascha was scheduled to play her violin live on the radio with the Munich Radio Symphony, but the morning of the concert, she received a telegram — because of the new laws, she could no longer play. “You have been cancelled,” it read. The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 69


A PROMISING PAIR Opposite page, clockwise from top left: page from top left: A promotional image of Natascha Wilczynski; Natascha and Grete, promotional poster of Natascha as lead; family friend Paula (on mandolin) with Wilczynski family members Friedl, Grete, Leo, Ruth, Samuel and Natascha (on balalaika). This page, from top: Friend Paula, Natascha, and Grete; Wilczynski family circa 1929 (Rosl, Natascha, Friedl, Jakob, Ruth, Samuel, Grete, Leo); Ruth and Grete in the 1930s.

Natascha fled to Italy with her violin soon thereafter, but in 1938 was deported to France, where life was equally perilous. With so much uncertainty, she left the Zwerger with her brother, Jacob, in Strasbourg. Her fears proved all too prescient. Natascha was arrested and sent to Drancy, a transit camp in France, then transferred to Auschwitz on August 31, 1942. She was murdered there, the date of her death unknown. Meanwhile Grete, who had married and then divorced, fled to Jerusalem with her young daughter Ruth, leaving her beloved piano behind in Munich. Grete offered a former neighbor everything in her old apartment — all of her worldly possessions — if he could somehow rescue the Blüthner and get it to her in Jerusalem. Her neighbor succeeded, allowing Grete to carve out a meager living giving piano lessons in her Jewish quarter apartment, the sound of the piano bringing moments of normalcy to their new home. Once Ruth was grown and living on her own in Jerusalem, Grete remarried and immigrated to New York, bringing the piano with her. When she retired to Florida in 1986, she sold the Blüthner piano to Stewart Kellerman, a writer and editor for The New York Times. He had received piano lessons from Grete’s great-niece, Daniela Morcos, while she was a student at The Juilliard School. Stewart was drawn to the sound and feel of the piano, but also the history of the instrument. “Knowing its story added to the pleasure of playing it,” he said in a recent interview. Ruth also eventually immigrated to the United States, marrying a Catholic man and converting to Catholicism. On her way to the United States, her ship stopped in Nice, France, where Natascha’s brother, her uncle Jakob, gave her the Zwerger. Ruth settled in Dayton, Ohio, but never mentioned to anyone — not even to her own children — that she was Jewish. It was a safe life, a deliberate step away from the persecution in her past. The violin, a physical reminder of her family’s story, was tucked in a closet, hidden for nearly 40 years. The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 71

That’s where her son, a curious, young Tony Morcos, found it. “She’d ask me to go get something from that closet, and I saw the case there and wondered. And I just kept wondering,” says Morcos. “For a long time, I didn’t have the guts to ask my mom about that violin in the closet.” Once he started asking questions, he couldn’t stop. The story of his greataunt Natascha sparked an interest in his roots and a recognition that his love of music, already a hobby, ran deeper than he realized. By 1991, the 22-year-old Morcos was a college grad and fledgling musician, into “partying and guitars” and living in a tiny San Diego apartment. He decided to learn how to play his greataunt’s violin. “I got that thing restored and took it to my teacher,” says Morcos, “and she said, Now this is a violin!” He began playing in coffee shops, bars, anywhere in San Diego that would have him. As his talent as a musician grew, so did his desire to reunite the violin with his grandmother Grete’s piano. In the late ’90s, Morcos looked up Kellerman and asked if he’d be interested in selling the Blüthner. He wasn’t. But in 2015 — now settled in Raleigh — Morcos got a call from his cousin Daniela. “She said, He wants to sell!” he recalls. “I couldn’t believe he remembered me and took the trouble to track us down.” Morcos bought the piano and had it shipped from New York to his house in Raleigh to welcome it back to the family. After nearly a century, the instruments were reunited. Morcos decided to surprise his mother, Ruth, with a concert for her 90th birthday. It would feature the two instruments she hadn’t heard playing together since her childhood in Munich. On August 29, 2015, the Zwerger violin and the Blüthner piano sounded their first duet in over a century. In honor of Grete and Natascha, they were played by two women with Jewish ancestry: Jacqueline Saed Wolborsky, principal second violin for the North Carolina Symphony Orchestra, and 72 | WALTER

A THING OF BEAUTY Opposite page: A detail of the Blüthner piano; Grete at the piano in the early 1980s. This page: The piano.

“Knowing its story added to the pleasure of playing it.” — Stewart Kellerman

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A HEARTBREAKING SUSPICION In 1993, Tony Morcos took his great-aunt Natascha’s violin for an appraisal at Sotheby’s in Beverly Hills. The appraiser was drawn to the bow, noting some missing embellishments. He confided a heartbreaking suspicion to Morcos: that Natascha had removed and sold the bow embellishments — gold and mother-of-pearl, most likely — to earn money for her escape. “He had seen this story before: a desperate Jewish violinist couldn’t sell her violin — that’s her livelihood — but she could sell the accoutrements,” remembers Morcos. He began to piece together the puzzle: “We found evidence in old letters that Natascha was trying to raise the equivalent of $10,000 to get to Cuba, including selling the decorative accents from her bow, she was trying to survive, trying to get out, but was not able to.” Ten years later, Morcos landed in the Raleigh workshop of world-renowned bow expert Jerry Pasewicz. After examining the bow, Pasewicz confirmed the appraiser’s suspicions and restored Natascha’s bow to its original beauty, forever a reminder of a life tragically lost.


HISTORY UNFOLDING Natascha’s violin, nicknamed “Nettie,” and original violin case.

“The violin was dark and soulful, like a sultry woman.” — Jacqueline Saed Wolborsky

THE SOUND OF MUSIC Jacqueline Saed Wolborsky with the violin. Tony Morcos with his wife, Mindy.

Mimi Solomon, an accomplished chamber pianist and lecturer at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. That night, the violin and piano filled the air with Brahms and Beethoven, their sound undiminished by their age and history — enhanced, perhaps, by the strength of their many caretakers over the years. “The violin was dark and soulful, like a sultry woman,” says Wolborsky. Richard Ruggero, the longtime Raleigh piano tuner who maintains the Blüthner, describes its sound as “warm and romantic.” For the musicians and guests, the songs of the violin and piano awakened powerful feelings. “That evening was a life-altering experience for me,” says Wolborsky. “The stories of oppression these instruments represent the history of my own family, and of so many Jewish families — their voices represent survival. This violin was not quieted. She still speaks.” For Ruth, the instruments recalled decades of pain, the fortitude of building a new life and family, and the joy of music. “Mom and I cried when Jackie and Mimi played,” says Tony. “They were telling my mom’s story. She survived. The party honored her life and all she had been through to get to her 90th birthday.” Though Ruth passed away last year, Morcos is grateful he was able to offer her this celebration of resilience. Now, Ruth’s story lives after her, a haunting reminder of darkness and hope, rendered in wood, strings, and ivory.

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Student experiments in form, function, and movement Age: The Grandmother Project

showcases eight models who make it clear that true beauty is timeless




n a sunny October day, first-year students from the North Carolina State University College of Design turned the courtyard into an outdoor runway. Known as the Paper Wearables Parade, students modeled wings, horns, exoskeletons, Elizabethan ruffs, spikes, armor, and veils — all created from simple white paper (with a few old WALTER magazines mixed in). The event marked the culmination of a six-week interdisciplinary studio intensive course for first-year design students aimed to spark creativity and challenge their approach to critical thinking. “White paper is the primary tool, but they can do anything with that as a raw material,” says Sara Queen, the director of undergraduate programs and curriculum coordinator. “Anything


is open — casting, molding, folding, sewing, ripping, burning — as long as they use this material.” This year’s project was themed Movement, Light, and Gravity, and students were challenged to create a design that isolated and mimicked a part of the body in motion. It kicked off with a simple exercise in observation. “They began by studying the human body as it walks to see how all the little pieces of the human body move,” says Queen. “Some people get fascinated by the bounce of the head or the twist of the hips or the flex of the foot, and then they create these constructions that occupy that area of the body and amplify or are activated by those movements.” Testing, adjustments, tweaks, and pivots are important steps in the students’ design process. Student Julie Powers recalled the iterative changes within

ERIN SECOSKY Graphic Design Raleigh, NC

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her design called “Spinopractor,” a conceptual mash up between a spinosaurus and a chiropractor. “Originally when we were doing all of our observational drawings, I was most interested in the legs, and then as I was doing testing, everything started moving toward the back and how the human spine can show more movement,” she says. “The biggest learning curve for me was accepting that not everything I am going to do is going to be a winner. But you can go back to your early ideas and get inspiration from anything.” Students quickly learned the value in taking something familiar and challenging their assumptions around it. “They take an object that they have known for their entire life, their bodies, and try to study it with new eyes,” says Queen. “We use photography, drawing — we even do these big body drawings with sand on the ground — to truly understand this thing that we know in the most intimate way.” These in-depth observations manifest in the paper wearables they create, she says: “Some of the creations transform, some of them shimmer or shake, but often they make movements that we don’t pay attention to.” For student Vyemini Singh, who is also a classically trained Indian dancer, hip movement and costuming became her focal points, as well as incorporating elements of the natural world. She was also inspired by fashion designer Iris van Herpen’s Spring/Summer 2021 collection, called Roots of Rebirth, which featured laser-cut designs that resemble the lacy gills found on the undersides of mushrooms. Singh’s piece, titled “Angler,” was fashioned to resemble the architecture of fish bones. “Forcing my brain to think in that grey area has been the most challenging thing that I have made myself do,” says Singh. The experience gave students foundational building blocks that they will carry with them in future studies. Student Seraphina Bieniek prioritized materiality and form in their project with such a laser focus that it resulted in some experimental blind spots. “The biggest critique that I got was that I should have 00 || WALTER WALTER 78

Above: MACY HAYNES Architecture Nags Head, NC Left: LILY BARBER Art & Design Asheville, NC Opposite: WYLIE PHU Art & Design Archdale, NC

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Above: EMILY BRUNO Graphic Design Raleigh, NC Right: LAUREN HIRIAK Industrial Design Asheville, NC Opposite: ELLE NEWKIRK Architecture Wilmington, NC


explored more,” says Bieniek. “So that’s what I’m really trying to bring into the next project: starting with one idea, trying it, and testing it, then moving onto something else to see what I like and what I can do differently — pushing it all forward.” Student Erin Secosky stressed the importance of experimentation in lieu of the temptation of becoming wedded to a single concept. “Before college I took a lot of graphic design classes, but I was always set on one idea, it was about ideation and creation,” says Secosky. “With the paper project you learn that you are missing a step, and that’s testing. That testing process is such a crucial element of design.” Students also learned early in this process that the ego can easily become one of the greatest barriers to creativity. “We had a lecture at one point where we talked about not having your ego be attached to your work,” says student Emma Woo. “That’s something that I really had to learn through this process. There is room for improvement.” Throughout this first studio session, students documented observations of their process through self-critique, and prior to the courtyard parade each student gave a 20-minute presentation of their project to their studio section. The whole experience exposes students to aesthetic and functional aspects of design that may not naturally mesh with their chosen major. Says Queen: “In this first semester everybody is together so all the design disciplines — architecture, graphic design, industrial design — are doing this project regardless of what they’ll specialize in.” The resulting sculptures are a delight to behold, and an exercise that truly expands the minds of the students. “Because of that process, I look at things completely differently now,” Singh says. “I’m finally starting to understand what it means to change the way we think.”

TheArt Art&&Soul SoulofofRaleigh Raleigh| |00 81 The


Far left: SERAPHINA BIENIEK Graphic Design San Antonio, TX Near left: ABIGAIL HARRIS Graphic Design Cary, NC Below: VY HOANG Graphic Design Belmont, NC Opposite: RYANN HORN Graphic Design Clayton, NC

“White paper is the primary tool, but they can do anything with that as a raw material. Anything is open — casting, molding, folding, sewing, ripping, burning — as long as they use this material.” –Sara Queen

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Above: BRENNA BELCHER Architecture Charlotte, NC Near right: NIYANA HANEY Graphic Design Greensboro, NC Far right: LYDIA SPEARS Art & Design Winston-Salem, NC


PAPER PARADE Scenes from the showcase of student work on campus. Often, this work becomes a prelude to Art2Wear, an annual juried showcase of College of Design students’ work that takes place in the spring. “A2W has been at the college for 20-plus years now,” says Queen. Twenty-five pieces from the Wearable Paper project were selected for the annual student-produced show. This, Queen says, brings the first-year experience full circle for students: “This project is a gateway for students to get excited about the sculptural and performative sides of fashion.”

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poinsettia POWER

Dr. Brian Jackson’s soil research colors our holiday world by ILINA EWAN

photography by S.P. MURRAY

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round the holidays, you can find poinsettias just about anywhere, from grocery stores to big box outlets to nurseries and florists. But in Raleigh, they flourish in the greenhouses at North Carolina State University. And while most folks enjoy poinsettias for their lovely holiday colors, horticulture professor Dr. Brian Jackson grows more than 29 varieties of the plant for soil research — their beauty just happens to be a colorful complement to hard science. A respite from the chill of winter, Jackson’s greenhouse is a delight to the senses, warm and humid with rows upon rows of colors from ruby red and brilliant fuschia to a lime-tinged ivory and delicate pink, all connected by a tidy network of hoses. For eight years, Jackson has started seedlings in July to experiment with different soil properties. And each December, he’s ended up with an array of grown plants as a byproduct of his research. “I’ve always loved poinsettias as a horticultural crop, and it’s a great indicator plant,” says Jackson. “It tells you if the soil has the right properties or if there are any toxicity problems.” Fellow researchers study the poinsettias themselves, developing new colors and more aesthetically pleasing varieties. But Jackson uses the plants as the basis for his research into new organic materials that can be used to grow plants. “Dr. Jackson’s poinsettia research helps the plant industry understand optimal conditions to grow and to make potted plants beautiful,” says Dr. Richard Linton, dean of the College of Agricultural and Life Sciences. “I find ways to use local materials to grow plants more efficiently and more abundantly,” Jackson says. When pressed, he’ll tell you it’s his favorite project of the year, which can often be filled with the administrative aspects of working as a professor and running research projects. “It’s nice to do what I’ve been trained to do, to get my hands in the dirt. This is my


outlet to do that, because I know it serves the industry, serves my program, and it is just a beautiful, fun crop to grow.” Once that year’s plants have served their purpose, Jackson finds the 800 or so poinsettias new homes, giving them away to friends, family, and members of the campus community, as well as small businesses, public schools, and nursing homes. His friend Rusty Sutton, owner of the Green Monkey, has had the pleasure of using them in his shop windows. “I love the classic red ones because red is my mom’s favorite color,” says Sutton. “I’m always excited to add color and natural beauty to our store windows and to our home.” Jackson’s poinsettias have even graced the Executive Mansion, becoming part of its celebratory holiday display. “I call Brian the Poinsettia Prince because he reigns over those two greenhouses full of poinsettias that seem to go on forever,” says Jere Stevens, a longtime friend from horticulture class. “It’s a sight that takes your breath away and makes you anticipate a happy holiday.” Jackson has had his hands in the dirt since his early years in Lumberton, where he worked on his grandfather and uncle’s tobacco farms during the summer months. “I had incredible parents; they instilled a tremendous work ethic,” he says. “Back then, the only access to the world I had was the encyclopedia set.” Jackson came to NC State as an undergraduate student, the first in his family to go to college. He had his eye on studying agronomy soil for a career in agriculture, but a scheduling glitch landed him in an introduction to horticulture class, where an esteemed educator changed his mind. There, he says, “Professor Bryce Lane was so passionate that he lit the spark in me

about this discipline. I switched majors the second week of my freshman year.” It was through this course of study that Jackson learned that he loved growing plants and sharing that knowledge with people. That propelled him to earn a masters from Auburn University, where he studied growing tomatoes in compost, his first encounter in growing plants without typical soil. From there he went on to earn a PhD in horticultural science from Virginia Tech, where he worked with a professor who had the idea of engineering pine wood fiber to use as a local renewable, sustainable growing medium. While he left his home state to study, Jackson was drawn back to his roots, and soon returned to NC State, where he and Lane are now close friends and colleagues. In addition to his research, Jackson teaches both undergraduate and graduate students about horticulture, soil, and soilless media, igniting the same fire he experienced years ago. “He is magical in the classroom — I wish I could take his class!” says Linton. Students bond in the greenhouse as they help tend to the plants as tenderly as their professor does. Jackson finds joy in these vibrant plants that peak just before the holidays, but also in what they represent: the months of careful work and collaboration with students who share his passion. Each growing season brings new discoveries that inform his research and influence his plans for future poinsettia projects. As Jackson says: “I love that my research can impact the lives of people, the climate, and global society.”

“It’s nice to do what I’ve been trained to do, to get my hands in the dirt. This is my outlet to do that, because I know it serves the industry, serves my program, and it is just a beautiful, fun crop to grow.” — Dr. Brian Jackson

Clockwise from top left: Dr. Brian Jackson in his greenhouse; the most vibrant part of the poinsettia is actually not a flower, it’s a type of leaf called a bract that changes color; Jackson points out the flowers in the center of a poinsettia; Jackson points out a bract in the process of changing colors, which he says is his favorite part of the growing process.

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The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 91

courtesy Brian Jackson

POINSETTIAS: A BRIEF HISTORY The Euphorbia pulcherrima, known commonly as poinsettia, is a photoperiodic plant that blooms during times of shorter daylight. Its colorful petals are actually foliage, called bracts, that change from green to another color in cooler temperatures. In addition to the traditional red poinsettia, there are more than 100 varieties of the plant, in shades from deep aubergine to golden yellow to hot pink. The plant is native to Mexico, where there’s a holiday legend to it: a long time ago, there was a girl who could only offer simple weeds as a gift to Jesus on Christmas Eve. When she brought them into church, they blossomed into the plants we know as poinsettias, or Flores de Noche Buena, Spanish for “flowers of the holy night.” In addition, the bright yellow flower in the middle is often considered a symbol of the Star of Bethlehem. The plant was first introduced to the United States in 1828 by Joel Roberts Poinsett, the U.S. minister to Mexico, but a California nurseryman, Paul Ecke, is regarded as the father of the American poinsettia. His family’s nursery developed a grafting technique that made the plants grow fuller and bushier — and also made the smart decision to send poinsettias to television stations to serve as set decor during the holiday season. By the late 1980s, the plant even made its way onto the Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson as part of his opening monologue, fueling the debate of the proper pronunciation of “poinsettia.” Are you team poyn·seh·tee·uh or poyn-set-uh? Today, the poinsettia is the top selling flowering plant in America, with about 70 million sold, on average, in the six weeks leading up to Christmas.

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Guests visit Elodie Farms, where the owners host dinners and meet-and-greets with their friendly goats.


The kids are alright at Rougement’s Elodie Farms

farm&table words & photography by MICK SCHULTE

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ed Domville and Sandra Vergara are never alone on the steps of their historic farmhouse in Rougemont. Wherever they go, their kids follow and gently nudge their parents — with their horns. The young goats at Elodie Farms are filled with the same mischief and desire for affection as human children. And before long, the nudges work: Domville scratches Frankie behind the ears, while Vergara admonishes Coconut for eating the table centerpieces. Seventy-two goats live on Elodie Farms, which sits 40 miles north of Raleigh. The animals roam freely around 24 acres of land peppered with barn buildings both old and new. Each of the goats has its own name and unique personality — like Imanster, a “super

rant called Six Plates and Vergara was working towards her PhD in genetics at Duke University. After she graduated, they moved to Worcester, Massachusetts, for Vergara to continue post-doctoral training. However, being a native of Colombia, South America, Vergara was not used to the long, cold winters. “We lived there for five years before I couldn’t take it anymore,” says Vergara. “On a freezing morning in January of 2016, I asked Ted if he would consider moving back to the Triangle.” That same day, Domville came across a Facebook post about Elodie Farms being for sale. “I half-jokingly said, Make the call, and seven months later we were fully moved in,” says Vergara. Now Domville works at the farm full-time as a cheese maker and chef, and Vergara splits her time between the farm and a scientific career in Research Triangle Park. Like any new parents, when Domville and Vergara started their journey in raising goats, the learning curve was steep. “To say that we were ill-prepared for a life of farming is a gross understatement,” says Vergara. “Every day was a different challenge: Goats a-roaming. Opposite page: Sandra Vergara and Ted Domville. goats breaking legs, goats on the shy” male who doesn’t particularly like roof, goats having babies in the middle human interactions (though once in of the night… you name it.” a while he surprises Vergara with a But Domville and Vergara quickly snuggle), and Frankie, who’s the first fell in love with the animals. They both to greet guests and finds his way to the became vegetarians and decided that center of every occasion. “The goats Elodie Farms would be a no-kill dairy, have vastly different likes and dislikes,” even if it meant sacrificing profits. “We says Domville. “They’re intelligent don’t breed our goats yearly, and we let and curious problem solvers, and they mama goats raise their own kids,” says respond so much to affection.” Vergara. The couple met in Durham in 2008 Today, Elodie Farms makes goat while Domville was a chef at a restaucheese, goat milk, and whey crackers,


and they sell the items on their website for either pickup or delivery. They also host farm dinners about twice a month, where guests can meet the goats and eat a five-course meal created by Domville. One recent menu included corn cakes with oyster mushrooms, roasted squash salad, and a braised beef shank with turnips, wild rice, and wojape (any meats they serve are pasture-raised and come from small North Carolina farms that are certified Animal Welfare Approved). Domville prepares everything in the farmhouse kitchen with a small staff and volunteers to help serve customers, and the menus are developed with an eye toward sourcing local. “Whenever we can, we get veggies directly from individual farmers, and we source all our organic vegetables from Happy Dirt,” says Domville. On these evenings, the quiet farm comes alive as people wander the fields with wine in hand. Guests dine under a large pavilion outdoors, starting with a cheese plate featuring, naturally, goat cheese in their seasonal flavors, served alongside Elodie Farms crackers. “I love my time at the farm — you can always expect a nice tour, happy interactions with the goats, and a delicious dinner,” says Eric Hastie, a Durham local who’s a frequent patron of the dinners. Many of the people who attend the dinners are already familiar with the goats, and might even have a favorite. Thanks to Instagram, Vergara has created a nationwide fan club for her animals, including Captain Jack, Poppy, and Casper the Friendly Goat, to name a few. “I always laugh when they sneak up behind you to get a scratch between the horns,” says Hastie. “They are funny animals with a lot of personality.” Inviting folks to sample their farm life is a highlight for Vergara: “The dinners are one of the things we love most about our farm — bringing people here to enjoy it and sharing our experiences as farmers.”

“Every day was a different challenge: goats breaking legs, goats on the roof, goats having babies in the middle of the night… you name it.” — Sandra Vergara

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Guests interact with the goats at the farm. Ted Domville explains their farming practices.


Chestnut soup with brown butter, topped with herbs and crispy parsnips.

Domville in the kitchen prepping dinner, and a few of the offerings at the farm.

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Photo by Workshop Media

e m o H r u o Y s y a d i l o H e for th this holiday oxyard RTP d Visit us at B ue shops an iq n u r u o f o season! All wned so the -o y ll a c lo re eateries a spend will money you to home. stay close



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WALTER’s Taste of the Wild at Boxyard RTP

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

102 WALTER Presents: Taste of the Wild 104 Closing of White-Wall Auto Repair 105 An Evening of Hope Gala 107 Color Interactions Exhibit Opening 108 Beaufort Historic Site Fall Party 109 CAM Connections Artist Dinner No.2

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

The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 101



n Oct. 13, WALTER presented its annual event that celebrates the joy and deliciousness of sourcing local, Taste of the Wild. Held in the courtyard of the recently opened Boxyard RTP, the evening included a mashup of offerings from several culinary pros: chefs Jake Wood and Sunny Gerhart, oyster fisherwoman Ana Shellem, and brewer Sean Wilson. As guests checked in, staff passed oysters sourced by Shellem, offered with a tart rosé mignonette, and guests sampled beers from Fullsteam Brewery and wine from RTP Uncorked. For the first course, Wood and Gerhart came up with a smoked boudin with chow chow aioli, and the second course includ-

102 | WALTER

ed smoked mussels served in a creamy coconut curry broth. Desert was a tres leches cake, and each course included wine and beer pairings. During the dinner, each of the culinary professionals had a chance to talk about their connection to supporting North Carolina farming and fishing. WALTER would like to thank its presenting sponsor, Great Outdoor Provision Co., and supporting sponsor, Green Front Interiors & Rugs, for making this event possible. Thank you also to our partners Fullsteam Brewery, Lawrence BBQ, Shell’em Seafood, St. Roch Fine Oysters + Bar, RTP Uncorked, and Workshop Media who made the whole evening delicious, informative — and fun.

Workshop Media


Milburnie Fishing Club in Raleigh, N.C.

Clockwise from above: Mussels roasting; chefs Jake Wood of Lawrence BBQ and Sunny Gerhart of St. Roch Fine Oysers + Bar; oyster fisherman Ana Shellem of Shell’em Seafood; Chuck Millsaps of Great Outdoor Provision Co.; the WALTER team; serving up mussels; Sean Wilson from Fullsteam Brewery; wine from RTP Uncorked. Opposite page: the event.

The Art & Soul of Raleigh | 103


Courtesy White-Wall Auto Repair

CLOSING OF WHITE-WALL AUTO REPAIR This summer, Jimmie White, owner of longtime car repair and detailing shop White-Wall Auto Repair on Hillsborough Street, sold his business. In July, he hosted friends and neighbors to say goodbye to the space.

Jimmie White and guests

Inside White-Wall

Jimmie White

8411 Glenwood Ave., Ste. 107, Raleigh, NC 27612 919-783-7100 | 108 E. Chatham St., Cary, NC 27511 919-467-6341 1201-J Raleigh Rd., Chapel Hill, NC 27517 919-929-1590 | 4209 Lassiter Mill Rd., Ste. 130, Raleigh, NC 27609 919-600-6200

WILL HINTON PATTERNS OF JOY A series of carved and slip decorated earthenware plates AN EVENING OF HOPE GALA On Nov. 4, the Raleigh Rescue Mission hosted its An Evening of Hope Gala at the Carolina Country Club. The event celebrated the 60th anniversary of the Mission. ABC11 news anchor John Clark served as emcee, and Mission CEO John Luckett spoke about the past and the future of the organization.

Cypress Swamp, 12 x 12 x 4, earthenware, 2021.

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THE WHIRL COLOR INTERACTIONS EXHIBIT OPENING On Sept. 28, Charlotte Russell Contemporary celebrated their inaugural exhibition at their Five Points location, Color Interactions. This two-person exhibition featured photo sculptures by Durham-based artist Mar Hester and abstract paintings by Raleigh-based artist Wiley Johnson.


courtesy Charlotte Russell

Mar Hester

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From our Enchanted Airlie package, to a Holiday Cabaret celebration, and our exclusive New Year’s Eve Package there are plenty of ways to celebrate the holidays at the Blockade Runner. Visit our website to see what packages and events we have in store for this holiday season. Hayes Finley, Charlotte Russell 855-421-2884

THE WHIRL BEAUFORT HISTORIC SITE FALL PARTY On Oct. 2, the Beaufort Historic Site hosted its annual Fall Party, which featured live jazz music, fine art, and delicious food. The event benefited the organization’s Old Jail Restoration Project. Scarborough Fare Catering provided the food, and Blue Moon Jazz kept the guests entertained.


Joe Smith, Megan Ziglar, Will Ziglar, Tricia Phillips, Charles Phillips

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CAM CONNECTIONS ARTIST DINNER NO.2 On Nov. 15, Raleigh’s Contemporary Art Museum hosted its second CAM Connections dinner with photographer Mikael Owunna and filmmaker Marques Redd to discuss their latest body of work, the film Obi Mbu (The Primordial House): An Igbo Creation Myth. The evening included cocktails, a film screening and discussion, and dinner by John Upsal of SPREAD Catering.

Marques Redd, Colony Little, Lakea Shepard, Mikael Owunna

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SEAN FOWLER ON 10 YEARS OF MANDOLIN We caught up with the owner of this Hayes Barton restaurant to chat its early days and how he’s celebrating the milestone.

Weddings Corporate Events Holiday Parties Make a Statement with this Downtown Raleigh Architectural Landmark

BOOKMARK THESE STUNNING & SPACIOUS CABINS IN WESTERN NC Amazing rentals with wood-burning stoves, panoramic views of the Blue Ridge Mountains, hot tubs — and plenty of room for friends or family.

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Just in! The Willard, a rooftop lounge at the @achotelraleighdowntown in Glenwood South, is now open!

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In Stitches Nancy Brenneman’s intricate craft by KATHERINE SNOW SMITH photography by BRYAN REGAN


ancy Brenneman is always stitching on something. The longtime Raleigh resident started with needle and thread when she was around 9 years old in Alexandria, Virginia, where she grew up. Her parents collected antiques for their home and knew all about needlepoint — they even stitched the seats of their dining room chairs — and passed along their expertise to their daughter. Over the years, she’s stitched cummerbunds for her husband, rugs with Peter Rabbit scenes while pregnant with her two children, and stockings for her two grandchildren, along with countless graduation presents and baby gifts. But her biggest collection is her handmade Christmas ornaments. Brenneman started making them about 15 years ago, whenever she had downtime — in the carpool line, in the evenings, watching sports, pretty much anywhere. Today, her Christmas tree is filled with more than 150 detailed ornaments. “I don’t know if I have a favorite, but I love the different stitches and beading for the Santas. There are great ways to do a beard, and you can do puffs for the fur and cinch knots that give depth and texture,” Brenneman says. “I like to stitch the snowflakes with a frosty, metallic white so they look icy.” Brenneman is always on the lookout for ornament canvases on her travels, whether it’s a Christmas pattern or a souvenir

112 | WALTER

of the destination, like a colorful cowboy she picked up on a family vacation to Big Sky, Montana, and the Eiffel Tower she found in Paris. “I have a lot of energy, so people ask me how I sit still for so long,” says Brenneman. “Stitching is very relaxing to me.” The best canvases don’t require Brenneman to go far, she says:, the brick-and-mortar store on Hillsborough Street, has a great selection. In addition, Brenneman has attended several needlepoint retreats hosted by shop owner Nancy Young. “From each of those, I have a loose-leaf notebook explaining some of the stitches,” says Brenneman. “There are hundreds of stitches and some of them are very involved.” Her son Carter Brenneman remembers watching his mom make a cummerbund for his dad — it featured an alligator with a red bow on its tail — when he was around 5 years old, and many of his favorite memories with his mother involve stitching. “Every year we go to the Masters. There’s a lot of downtime, so while we’re sitting on the 6th or 10th green, she pulls out whatever project she’s working on,” he says. “It’s always a good conversation starter with those sitting around us.” Carter has more than 20 needlepointed belts and a handful of cummerbunds made by his mother. “I wear them with pride since I know the love and hours that went into them,” he says. “It means a lot more to have a belt made with her hands.”

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