High Point to Monticello…


I spent two nights with my friends Katy and Scott in high Point, NC. Their two dogs, Loolie and Hershey, and Max got along famously – playing outside in their beautiful fenced yard until all three were worn out. Max, still being a big puppy at 15 months, was still rough and ready after a short break – trying to jump around and play inside, which none of us non-canines really wanted!

Katy and Scott had a great trip to Amsterdam and Italy while I was traversing the US, so we had some catching up to do on all our travels. They are great hosts – welcoming us with open arms and hearts, and providing us with a comfortable separate sleeping space, as well as taking me on a marvelous three museum tour on Saturday.

On the way to our afternoon of art touring, we stopped at Skippy’s – the benchmark [mine] hot dog place that I’ve been comparing to all over the country since our visit there back in January.

SECCA (Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art) had two fabulous shows on when we visited. I’ll let the description from SECCA explain:

Oscar Muñoz: Imprints for a Fleeting Memorial
March 12 – June 5, 2011 (12 weeks)
Organized & Toured by Prefix ICA; Curated by José Roca

The work of Colombian artist Oscar Muñoz lingers – in both visual and political terms – at the vanishing point. Drawing upon his experiences of a society where fellow citizens “disappear” with regularity, Muñoz creates work that memorializes the ephemeral with the ephemeral. In the poignant five-channel video installation Project for a Memorial (2005), we see a hand rapidly painting portraits with water on hot stone – only to see these faces slowly evaporate. In combination with ten other works that create fragile portraits in/with everything from cigarette burns and sugar cubes to charcoal dust floating upon water, Imprints for a Fleeting Memorial surveys the poetics of a profoundly important, but still unheralded artist.

American Gothic: Aaron Spangler & Alison Elizabeth Taylor
April 21 – August 21, 2011
Organized by SECCA; Curated by Steven Matijcio

This two-person exhibition mines the connotations of wood as a contemporary artistic medium in the dialogue between Minnesota-based Aaron Spangler and Alabama-born, Brooklyn-based Alison Elizabeth Taylor. Marrying folk traditions, craft techniques and subject matter spanning rural exodus to utopian dreams, these young artists propose a renovated portrait of the American heartland. With large, intricate reliefs carved out of slabs of basswood, Spangler creates darkly comic visions of post-apocalyptic ruin. A slightly more monotonous, seedy world plays out in the veneer “paintings” of Taylor, who breathes new life into the inlay technique known as marquetry. In the process, both artists translate venerable Renaissance techniques into a vehicle to document the changing face of society’s fringes. ”

Both were powerful, and left me with a lot to think about…

On to the Weatherspoon at University of North Carolina Greensboro for a stunning 70th Anniversary Exhibition from their permanent collection. Works were arranged by decades, and included some really wonderful works from Degas to Rauschenberg to Pollock and De Kooning, and every major artist you can imagine. It was a visual feast, well curated and tastefully hung.

In addition, they had an impressive several galleries of works from the Dorothy and Herbert Vogel Collection: 50 Works for 50 States. From the Weatherspoon website, here is a brief description of this exhibit:

“A retired postmaster and librarian, the Vogels began collecting contemporary art in the early 1960s, developing close relationships with many of the artists whose works they acquired. With the help of the National Gallery of Art, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Institute of Museum and Library Services, the couple decided to gift 2,500 works from their collection of 4,000+ to public institutions throughout the nation, calling the program The Dorothy and Herbert Vogel Collection: Fifty Works for Fifty States. The Vogel’s generous donation to the Weatherspoon is celebrated in this exhibition that features the work of Stephen Antonakos, Robert Barry, Lynda Benglis, McWillie Chambers, Charles Clough, Richard Francisco, Don Hazlitt, Jene Highstein, Ralph Iwamoto, Bill Jensen, Stephen Kaltenbach, Steve Keister, Alain Kirili, Michael Lucero, Joseph Nechvatal, Richard Nonas, Lucio Pozzi, Edda Renouf, Judy Rifka, Alexis Rockman, Lori Taschler, Daryl Trivieri, Richard Tuttle, and Mario Yrissary.”

In between, we made a brief stop at Wake Forest’s art gallery, where a mixed bag of student work was mostly unimpressive…

When we returned home, all three dogs greeted us at the front gate. Max was beside himself with joy to see me and came over for a quick wiggle, lick, and then he was off running after Loolie! Jeesh! Welcome home, Mom! Missed ya – gotta go!

Last night, we left the dogs resting at home, and went out to Thai Chiang Mai – a restaurant owned by Scott and Katy’s friends – and a marvelous dinner. Their two young daughters, Vanessa (9 years old) and Angelina (four years old), came to visit us at our table after dinner, and provided some lighthearted entertainment before we headed back to the house. There was a young man playing jazz on keyboard, and Scott got up and improvised some great Scat between courses. He never ceases to amaze me with his multi-talents!

This morning (Easter Sunday) I headed north again – this time on Route 29 towards Charlottesville, Virginia. What a beautiful road this turned out to be! We drove through gorgeous rolling fields, and on into a more hilly area – with occasional glimpses of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the distance. Our first stop was to be Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, just outside Charlottesville.

I was excited to go, because Jefferson was Rufus’ hero and role model. When we got there, I took Max out for a walkabout, then went up to the visitor center to buy myself an entrance ticket. When I got there, I asked one of the women guides about taking Max on the grounds and was told that he could be on leash anywhere except the buildings, which I had expected.

Next, she offered to hold him while I went in to buy a ticket. Best of all – when I came out, she said, “If you’d like me to dog sit while you do the tour, I’d be happy to do it.” Wow. Talk about dog friendly… I decided to take her up on her offer, and went to the car to get treats, dog bowl, and water for while I was gone.

Getting off the shuttle by the main house, I was so impressed with the beauty of the house, the amazing mountaintop location, and the stunning views. Dogwood and lilacs were blooming, as well as lovely borders of tulips, and everything was green.

The north entrance at Monticello – this was where guests arrived in Jefferson’s day also.

Lilacs blooming by the path to the north entrance.

Another view of the north entrance at Monticello.

We weren’t allowed to take any photos inside, but trust me when I say it was really wonderful. I learned a few things about Thomas Jefferson that I didn’t know before. For example, I knew but had forgotten that he was 6’2-1/2″ tall, with bright coppery hair and freckles.

In addition, I got to walk into his public entrance hall, and his private rooms – the parlor, his book room, bedroom, office, the main parlor filled with musical instruments, the dining room where one of his daughters is quoted as saying, “Some of the most stimulating conversations in the world have taken place in this room.”

Our tour guide, Brandon, was not just knowledgeable, but he clearly loves Jefferson, and his love and enthusiasm made our tour such a great experience. At times, I had tears in my eyes, thinking of Jefferson there in his home that he loved, imagining Rufus just bursting with excitement and questions…

After the tour, I walked around and took a few pictures, before going back to retrieve my curly boy – who was so happy to see me that he pulled Robyn over, then sat at my feet, and was promptly rewarded [by me] for his polite behavior!

Some of the gardens at Monticello.

Mulberry Row at Monticello was the site of workshops and slave cabins.

This fish pond at Monticello was where fish caught in nearby rivers were held until needed for cooking.

This was originally a 16'x20' slave cabin on Mulberry Row. Later, it became the gravesite of Rachel Phillips Levy (1769-1839), mother of Uriah P. Levy (1792-1862), who purchased Monticello in 1836, and whose descendants ultimately gave the property to the Trust which now maintains it.

Viewed through a border of tulips, Monticello has a timeless feel.

A view of the south side of Monticello.

I don’t know what kind of tree this was, but can’t you imagine how immense it was!

I noticed this exquisite old tree as I was heading for the shuttle to return to the visitor center. Look at those limbs reaching down to the ground!

This path near the parking area, leads to the African Cemetery at Monticello.

Max was happy. I was happy. Onward to Charlottesville and our hotel… After checking in, I went on dogfriendly.com to see where we could go in Charlottesville for dinner, and found Bang! – an Asian Tapas place not far away. In addition, they offer specialty Martinis, and one caught my eye: Honeyed Ginger…

We had a lovely table on their front porch overlooking 2nd Street, a Honeyed Ginger Martini and water all around was delivered right away. Next, Mushroom dumplings with chili sauce – four crisp triangles with a sumptuous mushroom filling and a hint of cinnamon in the crust. Steamed edamame (fresh soybeans in their pods) dusted with pepper and salt, and a beet/goat cheese salad arrived right after and I was set for a delicious dinner.

Max behaved really well – lying at my feet and sharing an occasional soybean, a beet, and some goat cheese in addition to random dog treats. For dessert, I ordered Asian doughnuts with homemade vanilla ice cream and chocolate drizzle, and an espresso. Ooh La La!! Three small, warm, sugary doughnuts, creamy ice cream… chocolate sauce. What more could I ask for??? I’m not sure if it was a mistake or a miscommunication, but the espresso turned out to be an individual French Press with a little pot of cream. Didn’t matter…

After dinner, we walked around the Downtown Mall – a beautiful street that has been turned into a pedestrian mall with two rows of tall trees lining the center, lots of outdoor eateries, little shops, and freestanding vendors that was alive with people, music, laughter, food, and soft summer breezes.

I think we’ll go back tomorrow morning before leaving town.

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About Maureen Farr

I am a graphic and web designer – and the publisher of the print version of Arts Guide, a free guide highlighting the arts, dining, events, and more on the coast of Maine. In addition, I am a visual artist working in mixed media and encaustic, as well as creating found object jewelry. I am currently at work revising a short novel that I wrote as a participant in the 32nd Annual 3-Day Novel Contest.
This entry was posted in Coffee, Eating out on a road trip, Friends along the way, museums, North Carolina, On the Road, Traveling with a dog, Traveling wth a poodle, Virginia and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to High Point to Monticello…

  1. Nice post and loved all the pictures of Monticello’s exterior–I’ve looked at the website before and they show some shots of the interior, but you couldn’t have visited at a more beautiful time of year, huh? I can imagine you feeling teary about Rufus during the trip–Jefferson is a big hero of mine too, and I can totally picture him being one of Rufus’ heroes. You’re almost home, Momo! We can’t wait to see you and Max–Happy Easter! love, Cin

  2. sarah doremus says:

    sounds wonderful! I think our weather is waiting for your return to enter spring. We miss you. sarah

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