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Road Trips – Traverse City MI, Middleburg VA, Etc.

It’s been a busy month!

I’ve been a fan of Michelle Tock-Yorks ceramic sculpture since I discovered her 7 years ago and purchased my first piece. When I heard she was having a workshop in Traverse City I had to go, the only downside was the fact that it was at the end of March. I never want to go to Michigan in the winter but since she never does workshops I could not pass it up.

The trip up was uneventful, but the day of the workshop it snowed 7 inches. Thank heavens she decided not to cancel it and we had a great day watching her demonstrate then using some of her techniques to do some work of our own. By time time we were ready to leave the plows had been out, it was still snowing but the roads were clear enough for me to get back to my hotel once I got out of the parking lot. I remembered enough about getting stuck in snow to think to back into the parking spot. By the next day it was sunny and bright.

Here are two of her pieces I own, I love them!

There are some places I cant be wirhin 100 miles of and not visit. Its often just a drive – like the Tunnel of Trees north of Harbor Sorings, MI. Other places like that I can’t pass up are driving around Ocean Point near Boothbay Harbor, ME, driving ”around the lakes”, Devils and Round lakes where I grew up in southern Michigan. Driving down the Keys, Front Street in Beaufort, NC. To name a few. Some of that need to take these drives comes from my Dad. Like the Tunnel of Trees and driving around the lakes. Interesting what we inherit from our folks, from my dad, wandering, love of maps, interest in photography. From my Mom writing, obsession with paper, love of reading and researching, disorganization. Whenever I return to Michigan it it sends me off on a journey of nostalgia.

The trip home was not so great, I made it to Chicago but then next flight was delayed delayed delayed then cancelled. I had to fly to LaGuardia then home. Missed that flight too but did finally make it home at one in the morning, well to Rdu anyway, I was wired so ended up driving home and got there at about 3 am. The good part of it was I got to see the renovations they have done at LaGuardia, The last time I was there it looked like a bus depot. Now its beautiful.

I can’t seem to sit still for too long so I headed to Virginia a couple weeks later.

On the way up there we stopped in Norfolk to drop off my Shades of Green painting to a national show that takes place every year during Virginias Statewide Garden Week. I was honored to get in since there were 772 submissions from 39 states, 65 pieces were selected from 53 artists from 23 states! I haven’t entered shows like this in 25 years but since I’m kind of retired I thought it would be fun to try. I also entered a national juried show in Hilton Head, and my Charleston College Painting got in there as well!

Oil painting By Jan Francoeur at Bok Tower in Florida
Shades of Green Oil painting By Jan Francoeur at Bok Tower in Florida

I don’t know how Middleburg, Virginia got on my radar, or why it never got on my radar before, but My friends and I drove up there for a couple days, what a treat! The weird thing is ever since we moved here in 1989 and I visit family in Michigan, 95% of the time go to Fredricksburg, then go west through Winchester, to Berkley Springs , etc to Michigan. I’ve made this trip about 20 times.

So I’ve been very close to Middleburg, that many times but never knew any thing about it. What a neat town and the whole area is full of horse farms, neat side roads, old mills, stone fences, rolling hills, lots of wineries, and beautiful homes.

We could not have picked a better way to enter Upperville, we took Delaplane Grade off of Hwy 17 and the first thing we saw was Delaplane which consisted of these few buildings. Then as we headed north we were on this beautiful country, winding road.

Out of the blue we started seeing very large contemporary sculpture in a field. We hoped it was a public garden but it turns out it is a private collection that belongs to St. Brides Farm. We could not see all of the sculptures but could see a few of them.

We rented a vrbo in Upperville, a nice little cottage , 2 bedroom, 2 bath, with 3 beds.

Upperville is a tiny town with a population of 178, but it’s full of neat old buildings. And we were lucky that we just happened to be there when the red buds and dogwood were in bloom. The entire town of Upperville is a Virginia Historic Landmark and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.  It is affectionately called the town that is “a mile long and an inch wide” because most of the houses line Route 50. 

Down the block from our house I saw this sign!

Middleburg is about 8 miles from Upperville, it has a beautiful main street lined with shops and restaurants. Many of the shops cater to the horsey crowd.

They were having a fund raiser called Foxes on the Fence. There were a bunch of painted foxes and rabbits! Proceeds benefit beautification projects and promote the arts for the Town of Middleburg.

We ate dinner at the Red Fox Inn, which was established in 1728, before the town itself was established. Some of the notable people that have dined there, besides us (!!) include President John F. Kennedy, who held a press conference in the upper Tavern and Jackie frequently overnighted there while on foxhunting holidays.

I always like taking photos of quirky signs.

We headed west on 50 and stopped in Paris and Millwood.

One of the nicest things was just riding through the countryside.

Another directional sign to add to my collection from The Plains.

The Aldie Mill was certainly worth a stop.

Built between 1807 and 1809, the Aldie Gristmill was once the largest factory of its kind in Loudoun County. The mill’s tandem metal waterwheels are operational and they offer grinding demonstrations certain times of the year. It was pretty impressive.

Our last evening was spent at the Hunters Head Tavern almost across the road from our cottage. It’s an authentic English Pub that serves local farm meats and produce harvested from neighboring Ayrshire Farm. The town of Upperville was founded by, and originally named for, Joseph Carr, a grandson of John Carr who had emigrated from Ireland to just south of Leesburg in the 1750’s. Joseph Carr purchased McPherson’s farm, mill and log cabin, and later opened a general store, the building that now houses the Tavern. He established the town of “Carrstown” in 1797, and eventually it was renamed Upperville, no one seems to know why.

Our dinner was great and the atmosphere lovely, and service outstanding. After packing up the next morning we took a leisurely drive south through Warrenton and Culpepper, stopping at a couple nice plant nurseries, down to Interstate 64 avoiding being on I-95 altogether. Two days later I was on the road again to visit my niece in Rock Hill, SC.

It was a quick trip. A stop along the way in Pinehurst, then Waxhaw. I haven’t been to Waxhaw in many years, wow, it’s really taken off.

I arrived in Rock Hill and got a major tour of the town. It has a population of 70,000+. The Downtown is not huge but it has some nice shops. The Center for the Arts had a nice display of abstract paintings and mixed media sculpture.

Right next door is a small museum (free) dedicated to Jail No Bail – How 30 Days impacted the Civil Rights Movement. In 1961, young African American students from Friendship Junior College in Rock Hill staged a sit-in at the segregated lunch counter of McCrory’s Five and Dime. These young men were immediately arrested after ordering their food and sentenced to pay a $100 fine each or spend 30 days in jail. They chose jail. Very interesting and sad commentary on civil rights in the USA.

We toured the White House where five generations of the White family lived between 1837 and 2005. Over the years, the home transformed from a one-room cottage into an eighteen-room, two story house. You can start your walking tour of the neighborhood and Downtown here.

I guess two thinks really stand out for me about Rock HIll is that there are 31 parks in the city, my nephew works for the Parks Department and says there are 200 employees in the Parks Dept. He currently oversees Glencarin Garden.

A gift of love, Glencairn Garden’s roots go back to 1928 when David and Hazel Bigger received a gift of a few azaleas from a friend. By 1940, the private garden at their residence, 725 Crest Street, was said to contain some 12,000 azaleas and camellias.

By 1958, Dr. David Bigger had passed away and his widow deeded Glencairn Garden to the City of Rock Hill. Then, under the expert direction of renowned landscape architect, Robert Marvin, Glencairn Garden was transformed into a botanical experience with thousands of azaleas, complete with a tiered fountain, Japanese footbridge, and trails passing beneath canopies of dogwood, stately oaks, cherry trees, Japanese maples, winding past camellias, crepe myrtles, day lilies, lily ponds and thousands of bulbs.

Refurbished in 2006, the Bigger House serves as the administrative office for the Come-See-Me festival and as an office for the York County Master Gardeners who offer garden services on Friday mornings during the warmer months of the year. It is a beautiful park more like a botanical garden and is free and open to the public.

It is beautiful with fountains, streams, and flower beds.

The other thing about Rock Hill is all of the outdoor and indoor sports venues and they seem to be adding more all the time.

Here are a few shots from my trip home, I always have to take the scenic route.

Whats next? It’s going to be a busy summer with a lot of traveling. My next small trip will be to go see the 28th Annual Sculpture in the Garden show in Hillsborough, NC. Then the next big trip in early June will be to the San Juan Islands, Bellingham, Seattle, Portland and the coast of Oregon. Oregon is the only state in the lower 48 that I have not been to!

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Road Trip – Another Two Weeks in Paradise

There are several places I’ve been through the years that I can’t get out of my system. Castine, ME, Amsterdam, NL, Bruges, BE, and Key West, FL. I was lucky to be in the Keys in the early 80s, a little late to the party, Michael came many times in the 70s, I wish I would have seen it them. But even in the 80s, when we lived on Big Pine, KW was still pretty funky. And I still find some vestiges of that today. I love everything about it, the water, the sun, Old Town, the art, the people, all keep calling me back.

I’ve photographed pretty much everything in KW at least once and done paintings of some. But I still find something new each time. I love the weird and wonderful.

What I REALLY love is walking the Old Town neighborhoods and seeing the conch houses and the flowers and and gardens around them, the shadows from the bright sun and the interesting fences cut into different shapes.

On the way down I like to take the Card Sound Road and see if Alabama Jacks looks any different. It does not! However these days there are as many BMWs as there are bikes. One of my favorite stories about it, I’ve told many times, is about our crazy friend Daryl who lived in on a boat in a not so nice marina in Little Havana in Miami. We were going to Key West and on the way stopped at the Bar. There was a “no swearing” sign with a jar full of quarters. In his usual fashion Daryl’s language was peppered with four letter words. The waitress pointed at the sign with her other hand out. Daryl slapped a $20 in it and said “come back when I’ve used that up and I’ll give you another.”

Every year i walk up Olivia Street near the cemetery and see what new addition is on the directional sign there. It changes a little every year. I Love it! I take photos of directional signs all over the world but this one is my favorite of them all.

This years visit was Michaels kind of visit, more time sitting at the pool and reading. I’m trying to resist buying any more art right now, instead I bought books.

The book about No Name takes place in 1935 when the hurricane destroyed Flaglers railroad he was building through the Keys – we lived about 1/4 of a mile from No Name on Big Pine. I drove out to the end of the main road when the Ferry Terminal was. The island now has electric lines going out there, which only happened in 2013! But it’s still a place where people live that want to live on the edge. No way would I live there! There really has been little development on Big Pine in the past 30 years with the middle of the island still looking uninhabited with dirt roads to no where.

The second book is about a guy, Karl Tanzler, also known as Count Carl von Cosel, a radiologist in Key West, Florida, who developed an obsession for one of his patients, Elena Milagro Hoyos. Elena died from tuberculosis in 1931. With her parents’ permission von Cosel had an above ground mausoleum built for her. He visited the tomb every night and by 1933 he had taken the body home. Creepy!! The author is the husband of artist Helen Harrison, and co owner of Harrison Gallery, that I visit every year.

The third book is a collection of stories by people that lived in Key West during the 60s, 70s, and 80s, with all the wild, and beautiful things that went on then. Its written by the wife of a guy Michael worked for on Big Pine.

One day I spent the afternoon with artist friend Mike Rooney and his wife Annette, listening to Mike play at the Pineapple Pool.

This visit was full of art, I visited all the galleries, went to a street fair and saw friend Tommy with his beautiful wood working, attended a huge show with a painter, a metal worker, a wood sculptor, and a collection of art “after” Mario Sanchez at the Studios of Key West. I met a lady in a shop who told me about an opening for her husband at Salt Gallery so I attended that and met some more new people. Went to the opening of a show at Jag Gallery, by Lincoln Perry, Muralist, then went to hear him speak at the Studios of Key West.

Lincoln Perry

I painted pottery, started painting a couple watercolors, sat by the pool and on the beach, read a lot and rested.

These are some of my paintings of Key West I’ve done previously.

Key West Bait and Tackle
Blue Heaven SOLD
Key West Gate – Available
Cuban Food Truck – Available

The trip home was fun as well. We stopped at the Flea Market on Big Pine that has been going for over 40 years.
Then we visited the Design District and Wynwood in Miami.

We even got to see one of Buckys geodesic domes, quite an entrance to a parking garage.

Jeanie Taylor Folk Art Gallery in Sanford is well worth a trip if you are anywhere close. And the Downtown of Sanford has really taken off the past few years, very nice!

Then we spent the night with friends in Gainesville, also former gallery owners whose gallery was on Los Olas in Ft Lauderdale and had a wonderful evening talking shop and reminiscing, and enjoying their fabulous art collection. Then I dropped my friend off in Columbia and spent the next night with my niece.

Where to next? I found out about a clay workshop in Traverse City Michigan at the end of the month with an artist Michelle Tock York, who I’ve admired for years, and I am also fortunate to have two pieces of her work. I will be going off to that, not really the time I would pick to go to Michigan but what can you do!

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Little Talk

To end our show at the Arts Council Carol and I did a little talk. In this blog post I’m including some tidbits that I did not share during the talk, like the part about what we did when we lived in Aspen. And I’m only posting my part of the talk!

Some of this is a repeat of my last post but I did not have the photos there. This is how my life in art unfolded.

I didn’t particularly do any art as a child but when I was a junior in high school I needed to take a foreign language for college. They only taught German in our school but they started an exchange program with another school, where I could take Spanish, which I thought I would have more use for. We went two days a week and could take a second class while there. I chose to take an art class. We had art classes at our school but the teacher was terrible and if you weren’t a cheerleader she didn’t have any time for you.

Well the art teacher in the other school changed my life. We did wire sculpture, clay, painting, drawing, pretty much anything you could think of and I was hooked. It wasn’t long before I went home and told my folks I wanted to go to art school, they said you need to get a real education, so I chose Siena Heights.

I still had a year of high school ahead so I started painting with the neighbor lady and eventually we started going to art shows together and selling our work, we continued to do that all through my 20s.

Once at Siena Heights I concentrated on drawing and printmaking. I went to school part time, worked full time, and went to art shows on the weekends, all over Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana. Some where along the line I saw a steam locomotive and I was enthralled with it. All the intricate detail, gears, pipes, even the sound.

I searched out more of them and started noticing the depots, and the distinctive architecture of them, which is what got me started with my love affair with architecture.

My Mom was very involved with the local Historical Society and she, I, and the executive director cooked up the idea of me doing drawings of historic sites around our county, we’d do a calendar, they would sell them, I would sell the originals. I did those calendars for about 10 years.

I continued to draw depots, eventually doing drawings of about 40 of them in Michigan. The Michigan Historical Society bought most of them and used some in this publication.

Like I said I worked full time while going to college, which is why it took me 10 years to get my degree. I worked as a senior citizen coordinator, eventually designing and printing a newsletter for them which went out to 10,000 seniors. This is what got me into the printing industry. I worked for a commercial printer and would do drawings for different publications along with typesetting, pasteup, darkroom, running press, even working in the bindery. A lot of people didn’t like working in the bindery but I wanted to learn all aspects of the business. I worked there until 1982 when I got married and we moved to Colorado.

There I began to draw the areas architecture and went to work for the Arts Council and the Aspen Times. We also lived in a beautiful estate on the top of Buttermilk Mountain, which we watched over while the owners were in their Beverly Hills home, or their home in Portland, Maine. Michael worked for John Denver as land manager at his Windstar Foundation. We met all kinds of people while in Aspen, it was pretty exciting. Again people started wanting to use my drawings for advertising and I had a nice little business going doing drawings of peoples homes. And I was once again doing art shows all over the region.

I did a series of drawings of a carousel in the middle of the state. I did prints and notecards of it which I sold at shows and in some shops.

I also continued to draw railroads. At one show the curator at the Western History Collection of the Denver Public Library saw my work and ended up purchasing all these railroad drawings for their permanent collection.

We had a great time in Aspen but eventually started looking for a new home, where it didn’t snow and there was water. But before we left I did a simple drawing for some folks for their wedding invitation, the style would come in handy when we got to New Bern.

We left Aspen in our motor home and traveled to San Diego, the Texas Coast, the Gulf Coast, and eventually to the Florida Keys where we stayed for a year.

We started looking for our new home on paper, and telling people we wanted a place on the coast that was on its way but hadn’t gotten there yet. A guy we met from the Outer Banks said you should look at New Bern, it sounds just like what you are looking for. We wrote to the City of New Bern and the Chamber, Arts Council, and Swiss Bear. They all filled our box up! And yes it DID sound just like what we were looking for. I did not say this in my talk but in 1989 you could have shot a bullet down the street in our Downtown and not hit anyone. But they were working hard at changing that. I loved the architecture and we both loved the water, the size of the town, and the walkability of the Downtown and historic district.

We parked our motor home at what was then Yogi Bear. It was not as nice like it is now as a KOA, so it wasn’t long before we wanted somewhere else to live. We were not sure we could make a living here so Michael said lets buy a boat, he’d always wanted to live on one.I said I guess if I can live in a motor home I can live on a boat. So we were the 2nd boat at what was then the Ramada Marina (now Bridgepoint). Within a few days of us coming to New Bern I walked into the Arts Council and picked up a newsletter that said, Welcome to Carol Tokarski our new gallery director, graduate of Siena Heights College. You’ve got to be kidding I thought, my graduating class was less than 100 so to find another Siena person here and one in the arts was pretty amazing. I called her up and said I’m not big into this alumni stuff but I went to Siena too, and we have been friends ever since.

So I started drawing the town, using that simplified style I had started in Aspen.

By this time it had been so long since I had worked in color I had to learn that all over again. So I had prints done of my drawings and would hand color them.

I did a lot of drawings of birds and once again did prints and hand colored the prints.

I drew all the historic churches, hand colored prints, and eventually did watercolors of all of them.

I eventually figured out watercolors and began painting the town.

In 1992 Carol and I had a show at the Arts Council called New Bern City Streets. Hence the name of our current show “Francoeur & Tokarski – 30 Years Later.”

Going back to my simple drawings. Somewhere I heard that Dale Chihuly could get more mileage out of a single idea than anyone. You could say the same about me with these simple drawings. I did a series of little drawings of flowers, herbs, fruit, vegetables, etc, did prints of them and hand colored them. People started asking if I did tiles of them, no, but that’s a good idea! So that was the start of our Celebration Pottery which has continued to evolve through the years.

I started doing a New Bern Christmas card the 2nd year we were here, so I guess I’ve probably done 30 or so!

When we moved here there weren’t many, or any, good souvenirs, so I made that a mission. I’ve done about 30 New Bern Ornaments, I design them then send my image off to a place in Rhode Island that makes the ornaments. It’s the same place that does the White House ornaments. And I’ve done New Bern calendars for over 15 years, which causes me to paint at least 12 paintings of New Bern each year.

And people started wanting to use my images on their advertising pieces, cookbooks, etc, like they did in Colorado and Michigan.

I’ve done the artwork for the Spring Home Tour for the past 15 years or more.

Through the years I managed to do a successful oil painting now and then but it would be so far in between, like a year or two, it was like I had never done one before, starting from scratch each time.

From 1989 through 1995 we were on Middle Street where Earth Wind & Fire are, renting space where we basically had a booth, then we moved to Pollock Street and that is when our business really took off. Up until then I had been selling and promoting my own work, once we moved I was selling and promoting about 50 other artists as well as myself. Someone asked why have other artists, why not just sell your own work. I said I wanted to build a business that I could sell when it was time to retire.

We were in the building on the right for 7 years. And eventually bought the building on the left. An ad salesman told me that he had a hardware store but the only reason he was able to sell his business and retire was because he also owned the real estate. We bought the building and found a partner to help us develop it. After renovations we made it into a commercial condominium and each owned our own space. After moving there business took off even more. And I started really promoting not only our business but our whole downtown.

We had quite a few painting workshops at my studio with different artists.

Business went on and grew and grew. Some of my friends that were artists and then owned a gallery quit doing their art, I said that would never happen to me, and it never did. I continued to paint and do my pottery while still running the gallery.

Michael putting up storm shutters before a hurricane!

After 25 years I got tired and decided it was time to retire so sold the business in 2017 but I continued to be the resident artist. The business has just sold again in 2023 and I will STILL be the resident artist. I’m grateful to still have a place to sell my work, because I still love doing it everyday.

Since “retirement” I’ve been traveling a lot. I always wanted to do paintings from my travels but didn’t want to have a bunch of big paintings laying around, which no one but me would be interested in. So I started doing these tiny 6 x 9″ watercolors, and much to my surprise other people HAVE been interested in them.

And I’ve even done the occasional abstract, these are done with cold wax.

When Carol and I were asked to do this show I decided it was now or never to learn to paint in oil. So we spend from October 2021 to November 2022 doing all the work in the show. It was a great year for me!

So now what? Our show – 30 years later – was a huge success, I will continue to paint in oils, and am back doing some sculpture for the garden for a show at Carolina Creations in March.

I’m looking forward to what 2023 brings.

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Last Road Trips of 2022

I thought I was done traveling for the year – not so!

A quick trip to Myrtle Beach was followed by a trip to see the North Carolina Chinese Lantern Festival!

Then I got a call from a friend asking me if I wanted to go see the Sergeant show at the National Gallery in DC. Off we went!

And at Quantico there was a show by the fabulous Mary Whyte. She did a painting of veterans, one from each state, in their rolls after leaving the military.

The last stop was in Richmond for lunch at the Jefferson Inn, we had a great lunch and it was beautifully decorated.

Happy New Year! 2022 was a great year of growth for me and I’m really looking forward to another great one in 2023.

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Francoeur and Tokarski 30 Years Later

Charleston College, oil painting by Jan Francoeur

It’s been a great painting year for me. In the fall of 2021 I agreed to have a show at the Bank of the Arts with Carol Tokarski, former director of the Craven Arts Council. Thirty years ago we had a show together there so this is our 30 year anniversary show.

Carol and I are both from Michigan and went to the same small college, Siena Heights College (now University), in Adrian, Michigan. We were there at the same time but did not connect. When I arrived in New Bern in 1989 I went into the Arts Council and picked up one of their newsletters. One article said – Welcome to our new gallery director, Carol Tokarski. Wow I thought, what are the odds, since the graduating classes each year at that time were pretty small.

I called her up and said, ”I’m not really big on this alumni stuff but I went to Siena too.” The rest is history and we have been friends ever since. After the Craven Arts Council Carol ran the Kinston Arts Council for a few years but eventually moved back to ours. Carol has always been an oil painter. I’m just a new comer at it.

Dogwood on Johnson Street – SOLD

Through the years I’ve done a successful oil painting here and there but always reverted to watercolors because I never really had the time to experiment and really learn the medium of oil. Not that I’ve conquered it but at least I’m beginning to get the hang of it.

Why do I want to work in oils? To paint bigger, faster, more drama, and you don’t have to frame them under glass, or frame them at all if you work on gallery wrapped canvases.

Two Icons on Craven Street – SOLD

My background is in ink drawing, doing very tight drawings (then later watercolors) of buildings. So loosening up, not having precise lines, is foreign to me! But slowly I’m making progress on that front.

Here are more of the paintings in the show.

My life in art has been a journey that started in the late 60s. I was a junior in high school and needed to take a foreign language to get into college. The only foreign language at our school was German and I wasn’t interested in learning that language for some reason (I CAN count to 10 in German!). A neighboring school had Spanish. I thought that would be more useful. We had an exchange program where we would be bussed to that school for two afternoons a week, Since we were already there we could take a second class. I chose art. We had art classes at our school, Addison, but the teacher was uninspired and not interested in anyone but the cheerleaders, so I too was uninspired. But the teacher in the other school, Hudson, Michigan, was fabulous.

Shades of Green, Bok Tower, Florida

We did wire sculpture, clay sculpture, drawing, etc. I was immediately hooked. I went home and told my folks I wanted to study art, and go to the American Academy of Art in Chicago. They said you need to get a real education. So instead I went to Siena, I still studied art, but had other college classes as well. I worked my way though school, going part time and working full time. It took me 10 years to get my degree! I do often wonder where I would be today if I had gone there. But I’ll have to say I have done pretty well as is.

Resurrection, Paynes Prairie, Florida – SOLD

Marie de Medici Fountain, Paris

In college I was not taught to paint, work in clay, or draw really. What college did was say, “here is your list of supplies, now paint, and afterwords we will tell you if its any good or not.”

Attmore Oliver Garden – SOLD

After Sorolla

Small watercolors from my Travel Series

I’m not a natural born artist. I’ve learned how to draw and paint and work in clay by experimenting, taking a workshop here and there, and studying other peoples work and figuring out how they did it. What I WAS born with, that comes naturally to me, is my sense of desIgn.

Pottery in the Show

Farm Series

I use underglazes like watercolors and the lines come from working in ink so long. All the pottery is dishwasher, microwave, and food safe. Fired to 2000 degrees.

New Bern Series
Flower Series
Dark Flower Series

Just a short history of my life in art

It started in the late 60s as I already stated. While in college my favorite things were drawing and printmaking. I started going to art shows and selling my work. I was mostly drawing buildings. I went through a phase where I would draw railroad depots and locomotives, then birds, but I’ve always mostly been interested in architecture. At one artshow a young man asked if I had ever used a rapidograph. I said no, didn’t even know what one was, bought one and used one of those drafting pens for the next 20 years. Somewhere along there a friend was going to watercolor classes once a month with a local teacher, so I started doing watercolors for a while, but eventually reverted to ink. We moved to Colorado and there I started to draw birds. The backgrounds were in ink but I added watercolor to the birds.

We left Aspen and spent the next 6 months traveling, ending up in the Keys (where we were on a previous visit and where Michael proposed to me). There I continued with the combination of ink and watercolor, again sticking to the bird theme. We told people we were looking for a place to move to that was on it’s way but hadn’t gotten there yet, was on the water, and had interesting architecture. A fellow we met on Big Pine said – “you should look at New Bern, it sounds just like what you are looking for.” So we started writing to organizations in New Bern and learned about Swiss Bear Projects, what the Arts Council was doing, and what was happening with the downtown.

We moved here in 1989, I started drawing the town, drawing East Front Street in ink. Having prints done of it, and then hand coloring the print. This is how I really learned to mix colors, I was unsure of how to do it after working in black and white so long. People would say ”I love your colors”, which I always found interesting since it was so new to me.

We moved here in our RV and stayed at the KOA (then it was a Yogi Bear), across the river, and decided yes we liked it but weren’t sure we could make a living. Michael said ”I’ve always wanted to live on a boat, if it doesn’t work out here we can move it somewhere else.” I said I guess If I can live in an RV I can live on a boat. So for the next 3 years we lived at what was then the Ramada. I really worked hard at my watercolors so eventually quit combining it with ink. We purchased a house on Pollock Street and I wanted to somehow put my mark on it and decided to learn how to paint on clay with underglazes to do a mural of town. That was the start of us working in clay. Michael asked to help me roll the tiles and said one day, ”I really like working with this clay.” I said ”why don’t you get a wheel and learn how to throw.” And so he did. He made the pottery, I decorated it. I painted pictures, he framed them, we were a great team. That was the start of our Celebration Pottery.

In 1990 we started Carolina Creations where we sold our work and that of other artists. That was on Middle Street, we moved to Pollock Street in 1995, and in 2002 purchased the building that Carolina Creations is currently in. I became interested in oil painting sometime around there and took a workshop here and there but due to the fact that I was running a business and also doing work to sell – I didn’t have time to experiment with learning a new painting technique so I might do one but not do another for a year.

Each time I started an oil it was like i had never done one before. Michael died in 2016, I sold Carolina Creations in 2017 and started working on the house we had built in 2007 getting ready to sell it. It was too big for just me. The only thing i really had to do was redo the floor of the two outside balconies and dress up the garden in the back of the house. I waited a year for a contractor who said he would do it, and did not. In 2019 I met a landscaper and I met a contractor.

The contractor tackled the porches and the landscaper not only helped me with the yard but also became my handy man and caretaker for the house when i’m gone. Still with all this going on there was no time to learn oil painting. By 2020 I was ready to put the house on the market, I found a house on Rhem which I purchased and renovated, once I had a place to move my kilns to I went to work to seriously sell East Front. Six months of moving stuff didn’t allow much time for painting. By then I was 2021 when we cooked up the idea for this show.

I thought to myself. It’s now or never, you’ve been talking about learning oils for years, now is the time. So here is the result.

I hope you will come to the show. It went up on November 19, 2022, come say hi to Carol and I at ArtWalk on Friday, December 9 and January 13 from 5-8pm. We will do a “Little Talk” on January 19, and the show will be up until January 26, 2023. The “Little Talk” is a ticketed event from the arts council.

It’s been a great year. Thank you for following me!

By Jonathan Burger, Craven Arts Council & Gallery, Inc.

Where are you from and how did you end up in New Bern?

I’m originally from Michigan, my husband and I left there in 1982 and spent six years in Aspen, Colorado. From there we traveled in an RV and spent the next year in the Florida Keys. It was from there we started looking for a new home. We told people we wanted a place on the water, was on its way but hadn’t gotten there yet, and had history and neat architecture. A fellow from Duck said, “New Bern sounds just like what you are looking for.” We came here, in our RV. We weren’t sure if we could make a living here or not so Michael said he’d always wanted to live on a boat. I thought “if I can live in an RV I can live on a boat.” Which we did for the next 3 years before we bought a house. That was 33 years ago.

Do you have any formal training or are you mostly self-taught?

I have a BA from Siena Heights University in Adrian, Michigan where I concentrated on drawing and printmaking. Through the years I’ve taken a workshop here and there as well. But much of what I do has come from experimentation.

You work in several mediums, including watercolor, oils, and painting on pottery. What sort of relationship do you see between these different lines of work?

It has been a progression, one building on the other. I worked exclusively in ink, black and white, for 20 years and doing calligraphy as well. Then I started adding color to my drawings with watercolor, then I started doing straight watercolor. We bought an old house on Pollock Street and I wanted to put my mark on it  by doing a tile backsplash. I worked with underglazes in a watercolor fashion, adding lines to define the buildings. Which led me to develop a line of pottery I call Celebration Pottery. You can see the progression. I’ve dabbled in oils off and on but never really had the time to feel like I had a handle on it until now. For the past year that is what I’ve been concentrating on for this show and I’m pleased with the results. In a way my background has hindered me working in oils because I really want to paint looser. So I’ve had to work at not being so tight, many of my oil paintings in this show are loose and I’m pleased with that.

Is there a central theme to your work, or several themes?

I love architecture and gardens so that’s what I’m mostly doing right now. And I love our town so that is in many of my paintings. On the pottery I do gardens, beaches, buildings, often with a quote around the edge. Which combines the line, the watercolor like painting, and the calligraphy.

You started and owned Carolina Creations for many years, what sort of relationship do you see between that business and your art?

I loved owning Carolina Creations and all the artists we represented. Often if you are represented by a gallery and there is one look that you do that sells well for them, they want you to keep repeating that. Because I owned the gallery I could put in whatever I felt like doing, drawings, paintings, clay, whatever, so I didn’t have to keep doing the same thing over and over. When we came to town I didn’t think there were many nice souvenirs so I made that a mission. Either I made the souvenirs or found other people to make them for me using my images, Christmas ornaments, Christmas cards, coasters, magnets, etc.

Do you have any behinds the scenes advice for artists looking to sell their work or get into more galleries?

I think just keep working and improving and put yourself out there where people can see your work. Approach a gallery in a professional manner with a body of work.

In there another artist whose work you admire or inspires you?

There are many artists I admire, right now I’m obsessed with Sorolla, a Spanish artist, some call the painter of light. I was lucky to go to his home and garden in Madrid this summer. A couple of paintings in the show at the Bank of the Arts are of his garden.

What artwork, exhibition, or award are you particularly proud of, and why?

In this show at the Bank of the Arts I’m particularly pleased with my painting of the College of Charleston, the light, the colors, the looseness of it. As far as awards, I received the Bernie Award from the Arts Council, Entrepreneur of the Year from the New Bern Chamber, Main Street Champion from the NC Department of Commerce, and quite a few awards for my watercolors. Our gallery won many Niche awards for top Craft galleries in the US, I’m very proud of those  Niche Awards since it was the artists that made the choice. 

Is one sentence, what is art to you?

It’s what I do, recording the things I love.

I know you’ll be having an exhibition at Bank of the Arts in late November through January, but where else can people find your work?

Carolina Creations, 317 Pollock Street, and on their website  is the main place you can always find my work and I have a blog where I write about what I’m doing artwise and my travels

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Road Trip – Quick trip to Boston

I got to spend a few days in Boston with friends. Our accomodations were in a condo in the Navy Yard in Charlestown, right across the river from Downtown Boston.

Known also as the Boston Naval Shipyard and the Boston Navy Yard, the Charlestown Navy Yard opened in 1800 as one of the first navy yards of the US Navy. It consisted of 130 acres. It closed in 1974 and 30 acres became a national historic site and the rest are now privately owned. Many of the shipyard buildings have been turned into condos, restaurants, hospital, and shops. . Part of The Navy Yard belongs to the National Park Service. There is a museum, and it is the home of the USS Constitution and the USS Cassin Young. Both of which you can tour.

Some of the buildings are ronavated Barracks, one is a Chain Forge which is currently under development.

Reading about the Chain Forge was interesting. They made chains for large ship anchors, including one that each link weighed 360 pounds and the whole chain 26,000 pounds!

Anchor chain is not measured by the width of the link. Rather, it is measured by the thickness of the metal rod used to make that link. Thus, the 4 ¾ inch anchor chain, the largest produced in the Chain Forge, is not 4 ¾ inches long as the name would indicate. Instead every single link is 4 ¾ inches thick and weighs 360 pounds.

Photo from the National Park Service

View from my friends condo.

I have only flown through Logan before I never exited the airport so it was neat to be able to take the shuttle to the ferry and ride across the river to Downtown or to the Shipyard where I was staying.

It’s been about 40 years since I walked around the city so we took the hop on hop off bus and barely scratched the surface of what there is to see.

Each year in the Ship Yard there is a display of sculpture. This years artist is Michael Alfano who is known for creating figurative + surreal sculptures that convey philosophical ideas and abstract concepts. 

Probably the most interesting thing we visited was The Mapparium. It’s is a three-story, 30 foot wide, stained-glass globe in the Mary Baker Eddy Library in Boston. It was lit in 1935. When you stand at the center of the perfect sphere, you can hear your voice in full 360-degree surround sound.

Mary Baker Eddy was an American religious leader widely known as the Discoverer of Christian Science. She is particularly recognized as the author of Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, the book that explains her system of Christian healing. She founded The Church of Christ, Scientist, which today has branches around the world. She also established The Christian Science Monitor, a respected global news source that has won seven Pulitzer Prizes.

This image is from the Mapparium Website since you are not allowed to take photos inside.

The chandelier below is also a calendar!

Boston Common is Americas oldest park established in 1634. ”Here the Colonial militia mustered for the Revolution. In 1768, the hated British Redcoats began an eight-year encampment. George Washington, John Adams and General Lafayette came here to celebrate our nation’s independence. The 1860s saw Civil War recruitment and anti-slavery meetings. During World War I, victory gardens sprouted. For World War II, the Common gave most of its iron fencing away for scrape metal. ”

The swan boats had already been put away for the winter but I still remember seeing them on my last visit to the park.

“In 1941, Robert McCloskey wrote and illustrated a children’s book about a pair of mallard ducks and their search for an ideal location in Boston to raise their brood of ducklings. At first they like the Boston Public Garden and its little lake with an island but after Mr. Mallard is almost run over by a bicycle, Mrs. Mallard decides that this was no place to raise baby ducks. 

They fly around the neighborhood surrounding the garden and ultimately fly out to the Charles River and settle on a spot near the water. Mrs. Mallard lays eight eggs and they hatch into ducklings named Jack, Kack, Lack, Mack, Nack, Ouack, Pack and Quack. 

Mr. Mallard then wants to discover the rest of the river and asks Mrs. Mallard to meet him at the Public Garden in a week. The book then details her journey back to the garden with her eight ducklings.

The window boxes on Beacon Hill were beautiful.

Trinity Church in Copley Square is pretty impressive. With all the exterior decoration it reminds me of the Cathedrals I’ve seen in Europe.

I’ve heard mixed reviews of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum through the years and now I see why. The building itself if amazing with the four story atrium.

“The Gardners loved Italy, and Isabella was especially passionate about Venice. In the summer of 1897, Isabella and Jack traveled through Venice, Florence, and Rome to gather architectural fragments for their eventual gallery. They purchased columns, windows, and doorways to adorn every floor, as well as reliefs, balustrades, capitals, and statuary from the Roman, Byzantine, Gothic, and Renaissance periods.

As much as any single work of art within the Museum, most visitors take away the experience of the Courtyard, where the stonework arches, columns, and walls create an unforgettable impression.“
Second to the courtyard, my favorite is this painting by John Singer Sargeant.

There was just not enough time to see more, we were off to Westfield and Springfield. I had no idea Dr Suess came from Springfield. They have a fabulous museum of his work and the sculpture garden with bronzes of some of his characters is charming.

The Big E had just opened in Springfield, a multi state Exposition. We didn’t go to it but I was interested in hearing about the Avenue of the States. There are replicas of each New England state’s original statehouse sitting on land actually owned by that state. In each of that state houses you can purchase food and other items from that state. It would be fun to go to the Big E just to see them.

Photo from Big E Website of some of the State Buildings

Lunch at the Student Prince was great. The interior is full of collections, including a huge collection of beer steins, the largest such collection in the US.

Other than read a few of her books I really knew nothing about Edith Wharton. We visited her home in Lennox called The Mount. I was surprised to read that she won a Pulitzer Prize, and that she was a moving force for womens righs.

There is a sculpture show at the Mount called Sculpture Now. It runs through October 19.

So for a quick trip I think we did a lot. Next up? Key West the end of January but I can’t imagine I won’t go somewhere before then. Right now I’m preparing for my show at the Craven County Arts Council with Carol Tokarski (30 years after our first show there) which will open on November 18 and go through January 26..

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Road Trip – Mid-Coast Maine

I’ve been to Maine 5 times but never seem to have enough time, so this year my friend Pam went with me for 2 weeks. And there still wasn’t enough time!

Our adventure started even before we got there. We let Siri change our route, mistake, however we did end up in Morristown, NJ. where my great, great, great, great Grandfather David Trowbridge, lived from 1730s until his death in 1768. He and his children and many grandchildren lived on a mountain that was called Trowbridge Mountain.

Also Pam just happened to be reading a book about Alexander Hamilton and we saw statutes of Hamilton and many references to his time there.

We had lunch across the street from the Square and enjoyed the sculptures and the flowers at 1776 by David Burke.

Our first stop in Maine was at a neat garden shop I had discovered last year near Kennebunkport called Snug Harbor Farm. So beautiful! In fact we stopped there a second time on our way home. I can see several paintings coming from these photos!

We visited Maine Art Hill and saw some neat whimsical work by David Witbeck.

We saw A LOT of art during this trip!

And we swung by to see Bush’s home on Walker’s Point, which has been in their family for over 100 years.


Our first four nights in Maine were spent in Blue HIll at the Blue Hill Inn which was built in 1830.

Blue Hill was a convenient place to start our tour of the Blue HIll Peninsula. The town was incorporated in 1789. It was a ship building and lumber center, also the granite quarried in the area was used to build the Brooklyn Bridge and the New York Stock Exchange.

This is the Peninsula just south of Bar Harbor.

We stopped by Nervous Nellies which wasn’t open but we did get some shots of the grounds. A very funky place indeed.

At the end of that road is Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, it was founded in 1950 as a research and studio program in the arts, offering one and two-week studio workshops in visual arts, music, literature and science. I’ve thought about going there for a clay workshop, and now seeing its location, I might just go.

I can never resist photos of weird signs and directional signs.


Stonington is a sweet little town at the end of the peninsula on Deer Island with a working harbor.

A gallery in Blue Hill – Jud Hartmann’s Gallery – concentrates on Jud’s bronze work. We were lucky to meet him and hear about his work. He’s been working on a series of limited-edition sculptures entitled: The Woodland Tribes of the Northeast.

He was very interesting and also told us all about the Indians playing lacrosse. Who knew? 

He has been doing sculptures of Indians playing lacrosse for some time and is now working on a small clay sculpture to present to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor (not far from my hometown) for a future installation there.

Here is a link to an article about him and his work. 

“The sport has its origins in a tribal game played by all Eastern Woodlands Native Americans and by some Plains tribes in what is now Canada. Among Native Americans it is still referred to as the “Creator’s Game,” and every tribe has its own mythology about it. I read that sometimes the games would include thousands of players covering miles.

You never know what you are going to learn on vacation.

We ran across these little sailboats going back and forth, just a few yards back and forth. When we got close we realized it was an art installation!


In addition to the flowers drawing me back to this part of the country, Castine was the other. Last year I had just a few minutes to spend there and I was enchanted by the storybook flavor of the town.

We took a walking tour of Castine offered by the Castine Historical Society, which clued us in on the history of this lovely town. This free tour is offered every Friday, Saturday, and Monday at 10 AM during the summer for season 2022, and is run by knowledgable volunteers.

“Castine, Maine is a quaint and historic seaside village on Penobscot Bay with more than 400 years of history to explore. The town is on the National Historic Register and home to the Maine Maritime Academy, Dyce Head Lighthouse, several historic military forts, and much more. “

It is one of the oldest towns not just in the state but in all of New England. It was founded in 1613 by Claude de Saint-Etienne de la Tour as a small, coastal trading post. That’s seven years before the colony at Plymouth. There are more than 100 historic markers highlighting points of interest.

One thing we heard about, which is guess anyone who has studied American warfare knows about, is the Penobscot Expedition, which took place here. The Penobscot Expedition was a 44-ship American naval armada during the Revolutionary War carrying more than 1,000 forces under the command of Lt. Colonel Paul Revere. Their goal was to reclaim control of mid-coast Maine from the British, and it was the largest American naval expedition of the war. We lost and the Expedition was the United States’ worst naval defeat until Pearl Harbor 162 years later. There were 560 killed, wounded, captured or missing, 19 warships sunk, destroyed or captured, And 25 support ships sunk, destroyed or captured.

While we stayed in Blue Hill, we met a couple that stayed at the Pentagoet Inn in Castine and raved about it.

In the Historical Society Building they had a beautifully presented and curated exhibit about Clark Fitz-Gerald, a name I was not familiar with. He was a brilliant sculptor, writer, and 2 dimensional artist.

When Fitz-Gerald moved to Castine in 1956, he had already made a name for himself as a sculptor. Throughout his long career, he achieved regional, national, and international renown for his work. There were also his drawings, historic photographs, and writings displayed.

Also on display is the Castine Bicentennial Quilt which is 6” x 24” which was created in 1996. The seven panels of the quilt depict the history of Castine from its settlement in 1613 to its bicentennial in 1996. It was designed and constructed by sixty members of the Castine community and presented to the Historical Society.

We also learned about their Elm trees. “In the 1930s a shipment of logs imported to Ohio by a furniture company for making veneer was infested with a bark beetle. This fungal infection wiped out 77 million elm trees over a period of decades. It was first detected in the Netherlands in 1921 thus the label Dutch elm diseease.

Castine is one of the few towns in the entire country where a large number of elms survived. Many are over 150 years old. A Dr Richard Campana of the University of Maine experimented on the trees with a serum he created to protect the trees from the disease. The town adopted a disease prevention program to monitor the health of the elms. A survey of the trees was done and each tree received a tag with a number.