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We are so happy to welcome Ted Cooley as our Music and Dance Coordinator. Ted has an illustrious history with the Folk School. He’s twice served as a host, and then settled in the area to help launch our JAM (Junior Appalachian Musicians) Program in 2005. He taught and served as the JAM Program coordinator for 8 years. Ted has taught over 40 Folk School classes over the years. He served as the Nature Studies Resident Artist, and is currently the Storytelling Resident Artist. I talked to Ted about his experience in the Folk School community, and his thoughts on returning as the Music and Dance Coordinator. Enjoy our interview!

CP: What originally brought you to the Folk School?

TC: Like so many of us, I found out about the Folk School by happening upon a catalog, and I was amazed that you could study so many different things at one place! At the time, I was a graduate student at ETSU and I immediately decided to take a break from my studies and apply for the Host position. The rest (as they say) is history.

CP: What’s it like returning to the Folk School as a full-time employee?

TC: It has been wonderful reconnecting with the greater Folk School community! Though I have been teaching in Virginia, it feels, in many ways, as though I never left. One of the magical qualities of the Folk School is that you always feel at home here.

Ted playing a fiddle tune outside the History Center.

CP: What are the strengths of the music and dance program at the Folk School? What are you excited to bring to the table?

TC: The Folk School is unique in regard to the amount of programing offered in music and dance. There are weekly opportunities for folks to study a wide variety of musical instruments and dance styles. There are also opportunities for the larger community to attend live concerts and participate in weekly dances at the Keith house. There is always something being offered!

I have a deep love for traditional music and dance. During the last few years my social life revolved around playing music at weekly jams and going to dances around the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia. I also enjoy running sound and coordinating events. One of the advantages that I have in my new role is that I have been working for the Folk School for many years. I have been a host twice, been a Resident Artist and Recreation Leader for our youth programs. I not only have met a lot of artists connected with the School, but these opportunities have also given me a unique perspective that I feel will be helpful during my tenure here! [click to continue…]

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Executive Director and Auction Emcee Jerry Jackson welcomes a full house for the live auction.

The 2018 Gala & Benefit Auction brought close to 200 Folk School friends together for a lively evening of bidding, mingling, and entertainment. The event, an annual highlight in our community, featured offerings by artists and donors as near as Brasstown and as far away as Belgium.

Chef Jarrett Palmer fills the Olive Dame Campbell Dining Hall with delicious treats from the forthcoming Folk School Cookbook.

Musicians Annie Fain Barralon and Jonah Graves welcomed guests to the first part of the evening with traditional mountain music on the porch of Olive Dame Campbell Dining Hall. Through the screened porch door, folks were treated to their first glimpse of a stunning display of over 100 silent auction pieces in a variety of mediums, from jewelry and paintings to baskets and pottery. Attendees also dined on featured dishes from the forthcoming Folk School Cookbook, including “Mushroom Turnovers” and “Cheese Pennies and Stars with Green Tomato Marmalade.”

During the second portion of the evening, guests were invited to the historic Keith House to view and bid on nearly 50 unique pieces from artists and other Folk School supporters. Throughout the live auction, solo auctioneer and longtime Folk School friend Tim Ryan kept the crowd engaged and entertained with his signature wit and charm. [click to continue…]

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Tim Ryan with a bonsai tree

Tim Ryan will be our auctioneer at our Gala & Benefit Auction this Saturday. Tim has been involved in the Folk School in so many different ways: instructor, Folk School Board member (1994-2004), Resident Artist in Gardening and Homesteading (2000-2015), storyteller, gardener, auctioneer, kettle cooker, and blacksmith. Let’s get to know him a little bit better!

CP: Let’s talk about auctions since the Gala & Benefit Auction is this Saturday. How did you get into auctioneering?

TR: Benefit auctioning is a niche. I got into it because of Jim Batson, who teaches knife making here at the Folk School. Years ago, at the 2nd Alabama Blacksmith reunion, I took a green coal class and made a great poker with a wizard head on the end. I was finishing the project up and was so proud of it. My instructor came over and picked it up and said, “This is going to sell so good at the auction tonight.” I said, “WHAT?!?” He said, “Oh, you didn’t know? Everything we make in green coal we donate to the auctions to fray the cost of the conference.” I really could have cried. [click to continue…]

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Gala & Benefit Auction: June 2

by Cory Marie Podielski on May 24, 2018

in Community Events

Join us for an evening of friendly camaraderie, delicious food and drinks, and live music. Our annual Gala & Benefit Auction will take place Saturday, June 2 from 5–8 p.m. You’ll help support the Folk School’s programs by purchasing fine craft, art and other unique items donated by talented friends of the school during our live and silent auctions.

Visit our auction website for more information and to see a preview or the auction items.

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Do you have a basic understanding of your DSLR camera and want to learn more in-depth techniques for improving your photography? Check out The Photographic Tool Box on July 22–27, 2018 with instructor Stephanie Gross. Summertime at the Folk School provides an abundance of photographic material: pastoral landscapes, interesting folks, gardens, old buildings, barns, music, dance, craft studios. Stephanie has a BFA in Photography from the Rhode Island School of Design and has been making and thinking about photography for 25 years. Enjoy our interview!

CP: How did you get started in photography?

SG: I had an amazing photography teacher in high school who is an incredible photographer and was also a great teacher (not always the case). We’re still friends  and I occasionally shoot with him. I assisted him after I graduated high school, through college.

I was interested in both photography and ceramics. I chose RISD because I could do both. I could make pots, but they were a creative dead end for me. Photography was scary and I had to struggle to learn to make pictures, but it’s been that struggle that’s kept me interested for 30+ years.

CP: What is your favorite subject matter to shoot?

SG: Stories, specifically people with stories. I suppose that’s anyone from the right point of view, but it’s more the search for what makes someone or some place interesting that’s my favorite.

Even in the most boring situations, I start to look at faces, at the light, playing with the background, composition, etc. It’s like a game. You know something fascinating is going on, but how do you show it? [click to continue…]

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