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Folk School exhibit features local artist

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Walking the Line, a series of drawings inspired by 16 years of attendance at the John C. Campbell Folk School’s Friday Night Concert series, is now on display at the Folk School’s History Center.

Walking the Line, a series of drawings inspired by 16 years of attendance at the John C. Campbell Folk School’s Friday Night Concert series, is now on display at the Folk School’s History Center. The drawings, done by Ocoee artist and resident Marie Spaeder Haas, will be available for viewing in the Folk School’s History Center through the summer.

According to Haas, she and her husband Frank attended their first of the concert series in 1996 in the Keith House.

“This was before the concerts moved to the show barn during the summer,” she said. “So it was hot; a fan was rattling behind us and we were seated toward the rear of the room.”

Haas said the group performing that night was The Skillet Lickers, and it was her first real experience with bluegrass music. She was instantly hooked.

“I am an artist and I love to draw, so I picked up my pen and paper and started to draw as the musicians picked, grinned, and sang. The faster they played, the faster my hand walked – almost danced – across the paper,” Haas said, adding “Thus began regular Friday concerts for us and also a series of drawings of musicians that frequented the stage over the next 16 years.”

The drawings inspired by the music are drawn quickly and simply – spontaneous responses to a movement, a feeling, an attitude with simple line.

Haas has been painting and drawing since she was a child growing up along the shores of Lake Erie in Pennsylvania, far from the mountains of Appalachia. After a number of years teaching Biology and doing her art “on the side,” she began doing serious studio work in 1984. She soon established herself as an avid watercolorist in northwestern Pennsylvania where she had her own Sycamore Gallery and conducted watercolor and drawing classes.

“We moved to Shooting Creek, NC, in 1986 (down the road apiece from the Folk School) and found a real sense of home in the mountains,” Haas said. “Currently I work out of my studio in Ocoee and near the Gulf beaches in Bradenton, Florida.”

According to Haas, the selection chosen for Walk the Line is merely a fraction of the hundreds of drawings inspired by her experiences at John Campbell Folk School.

“With gratitude to the Folk School, the performing musicians and to the music itself, I am pleased to present this collection.”

Haas has been a contributor to the annual Benton Arts and Heritage Days festival held in downtown Benton the last weekend in October, doing watercolor demonstrations and discussing her techniques with visitors. Some of her watercolor paintings can be seen and purchased inside The Newspaper Book Shop in Benton.

The exhibit will be open Monday – Saturday from 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. and Sundays from 1-5 p.m. All the art in the exhibit and more is available at www.SpaederGaasGallery.com or Haas can be contacted directly at emshaas@gmail.com.


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