Although time seems to slow down during the gray days of winter, the arts in all their vibrant sounds and colors lie just below the surface, waiting to lift our spirits and revive our imaginations. From a funky folk art retreat to a jazzy component of February’s Black History Month to a colorful coastal carving tradition, you’ll find a soulful revival Down East in North Carolina.
Cabin Fever Reliever at Pocosin
Pocosin Arts Folk School, the innovative arts facility in Columbia, partners with the Rocky Mount Art Center to present “Cabin Fever Reliever,” an annual arts retreat that promises to shake you out of your winter doldrums. Workshops are offered in jewelry and metals, wildlife photography, hand building and wheel-throwing clay, landscape drawing, and mixed media. The retreat will be held Feb. 19-22 at the Eastern 4-H Center, a 250-acre site featuring woodlands, meadows, pocosin forests, wetlands, creeks, and rivers. Its diverse attendees include people seeking creative direction as well as professional artists exploring new areas.
North Carolina Jazz Festival
Jazz is alive and well in North Carolina, and Black History Month in February is a fitting time to honor this indigenous art form. In Wilmington, the North Carolina Jazz Festival, presented in partnership with the Cape Fear Jazz Society, enters its 29th year with “Lionel, Red, and Bunny: A Tribute to Lionel Hampton, Red Norvo, and Bunny Berigan.” A Thursday night performance by the UNC-Wilmington Big Band traditionally kicks off this three-day weekend, to be held on Feb. 5-7, 2009.
If you can’t get to the coast, the 32nd Annual Carolina Jazz Festival in Chapel Hill Feb. 24-28, 2009, includes not only performance but also education and scholarship. Highlights include The Neville Brothers and Dr. John (Feb. 24), the Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Festival (Feb. 26), The North Carolina Jazz Repertory Orchestra (also Feb. 26), and the Branford Marsalis Quartet (Feb. 27).
A participant carves a duck decoy at the
Core Sound Decoy Festival
Wooden decoy carving has long been a traditional craft practiced by residents living around Core Sound in Carteret County. Although the great flocks of wildfowl that once populated the Sound and provided a major source of food for its residents have waned, practitioners of decoy carving remain, and their work continues to shine a light on the region’s artistic and occupational heritage. Some, like Homer Fulcher and Julian Hamilton, Jr., have been recognized for their talents with a North Carolina Folk Heritage Award. There are several opportunities to immerse into this region’s traditional heritage. The 21st annual 2008 Core Sound Decoy Festival features a decoy carving competition, children’s decoy painting, exhibits and sales of decoys, and a “world famous loon calling competition.” It takes place at the Harkers Island Elementary School and the H. Curt Salter Guild Building on Harkers Island, Dec. 6-7, 2008. For nearly a decade The East Carolina Wildlife Arts Festival & NC Decoy Carving Championship has been held in Washington. Sponsored by the East Carolina Wildfowl Guild, Feb. 6-8, 2009, the weekend event includes a competition for the best carved decoys as well as a raffle of more than 100 decoys and pieces of wildlife art. Listen to goose and swan calling while exploring other local art, crafts, and food in and around the historic Washington Civic Center.
The Core Sound Waterfowl Museum on Harkers Island, open year round, offers symposia, exhibits, and educational programs. It is currently facilitating the creation of a community quilt to celebrate the opening of the Museum Gallery planned for the spring/summer of 2009.