Posted January 10, 2023

Hanging Tree Guitars: Freeman Vines’ powerful exhibit of hand-carved guitars opens, Jan. 27

Join Piedmont Arts for an opening reception in honor of the museum's new exhibits, Friday, Jan. 27, 5:30-7:30 p.m., at the museum.

Hanging Tree Guitars features the work of Freeman Vines, an artist, luthier, and spiritual philosopher. Vines’ life is a witness to the truths and contradictions of the American South. He remembers the hidden histories of the eastern North Carolina land on which his family has lived since enslavement. For more than fifty years Vines has transformed materials culled from a forgotten landscape in his relentless pursuit of building a guitar capable of producing a singular tone that has haunted his dreams. From tobacco barns, mule troughs, and radio parts, he has created hand-carved guitars, each instrument seasoned down to the grain by the echoes of its past life. In 2015, Vines befriended photographer and folklorist, Timothy Duffy (b. 1963) and the two began to document Vines’ guitars and his life story. In addition to Vines' haunting sculptures, this exhibit also includes a number of tintype photographs by Duffy.

"Hanging Tree Guitars" is organized by Music Maker Foundation, a non-profit that provides financial grants and assistance to senior and vulnerable artists — those marginalized by age, poverty, race, gender, etc. — because these are the artists least likely to have the resources to share their musical messages with the world. Since 1994, Music Maker has served over 500 musicians whose work spans the entire history of American music.

Rodney Scott "Rupe" Dalton (1965-2022) was a nationally recognized artist from Henry County, Virginia. His paintings depict scenes from the everyday lives of his friends, family and neighbors and speak to the traditions of many Black Southern families. Often called a renaissance man, Rupe was a barber by trade, a comedian at heart and a born artist who used airbrush to create works with depth and soul. His work elevated airbrush to new heights and his powerful subject matter invites memory to play an intimate roll in viewing his work.

The World Beside the Rails features photographs by Richmond, Virginia native, Robert Wright Forsyth IV (1952-2021). Forsyth often found himself at odds with society and the world outside the forest cottage he called home. As a link to the world around him, he began photographing the natural world. Forsyth was fascinated with the interplay of light, object and motion. When he began work with Norfolk Southern Railroad, machines took on a larger role in his photography, incorporating a sense of space very different from the wooded home he loved. The natural world and the mechanical world formed a union that he explored until his death. This exhibition is on loan from the Robert Wright Forsyth Estate and Trust.

The Lynwood Artists Gallery features work by Rocky Wall. Wall is a photographer and self-described "tech geek" from Axton, Virginia. He works in 35 mm, digital photography and graphic art. His scenes range from landscapes to wildlife to night photography, and include many shots of southern Virginia scenery.

The opening reception is free and open to the public. Complimentary wine and light refreshments will be served. Music by Ann Nichols. Artist talk with Music Maker founders Denise and Timothy Duffy at 6:15 p.m., followed by the unveiling of a never-before-seen work by Rupe Dalton. RSVP required by Jan. 24 to 276.632.3221 or online at

Exhibits will be on display Jan. 28-March 18. Exhibit admission is always free.

Exhibits and reception sponsored by Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., Kappa Delta Omega Chapter Sorority, Sharon and Bob Bushnell, Ashley and Ronnie Fultz, Olivia and Pres Garrett, Harold Jones, Karyna Jones, Susan and John Kellett-Forsyth and Lynwood Artists.

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