This is the first in a series of three articles featuring artists chosen for the upcoming Fiddle Crawl in downtown Mount Airy.
Downtown Mount Airy’s Fiddle Crawl launches with a free Fiddle Crawl Reveal event at the Historic Earle Theatre and Old-Time Music Heritage Hall on May 2 at 5 p.m., with music from the Mountain Park Old Time Band. Fiddle sculptures will be placed on the sidewalks of North Main Street from May 3 through October, for all to enjoy. On May 3, artists will be standing alongside their fiddle creations, during the Budbreak Wine Festival. On Oct. 24, fiddles will be auctioned at Old North State Winery, with three of the fiddles becoming permanent public art on the sidewalks of downtown Mount Airy.
For more information about the Fiddle Crawl, visit www.mountairydowntown.org or the Downtown Mount Airy Facebook page.
Here is information on four of the featured artists.
Mike Lowe —“Cradled in the Blue Ridge”
For more than 50 years, Mike Lowe has been creating art, including scrimshaw, leatherwork, song writing, storytelling, and most recently, painting. Lowe works as a bus driver and tutor for Surry County Schools and was born and raised in Surry County.
For Lowe, creating art is a way of holding on to memories and capturing moments and traditions before they fade away — a way to preserve, to explain, to hold on to joy, or even the sadness of a moment.
The beginning of leatherwork for Lowe was when he saw the movie “Jeremiah Johnson” and said he really loved his bearskin boots: “You couldn’t buy that type of thing in Mount Airy, so I started working with leather.” Lowe said he later discovered his grandfather worked with leather, creating harnesses for his horses. Now Lowe primarily creates leather book and Bible covers as well as special orders. He recently created the ship’s log and a photo album for the USS North Carolina nuclear submarine. His work can be seen in the Village of Yesteryear every October at the North Carolina State Fair in Raleigh.
Lowe’s fiddle design “Cradled in the Blue Ridge” was inspired by a cabin, built in 1785, at a museum he and his wife Carol worked at in Boone. His fiddle was purchased by McArthur’s on Main restaurant for permanent installation at that location.
Talent runs in the family — Lowe’s daughter, Maggie, is a storyteller and is working on writing her own novel and children’s book. For more information about Lowe, visit his website at www.mklowe.com.
Lizzie Morrison —“A Little Downtown Diddle”
Lizzie Morrison grew up in Mount Airy and studied under art teacher Keenia Beck at Mount Airy High School. She received a Bachelor of Fine Arts with a concentration in painting/drawing from Auburn University and works as the Main Street Coordinator for Downtown Mount Airy Inc.
Morrison recently created an information hub and support group for local artists on Facebook, the Surry County Visual Artists page.
She shared that she loves to create opportunities for local artists through events like Art Walk and Fiddle Crawl and teaches art classes for people of all skill levels and ages, including Paint the Night away classes at Surry Arts Council and Vino & Van Gogh classes at Old North State Winery. Morrison enjoys painting, drawing, printmaking, and collage, and loves combining different styles and mediums, considering herself to be a mixed media artist.
Morrison’s fiddle, “A Little Downtown Diddle,” is inspired by downtown Mount Airy, and meant to “heighten feelings of excitement and nostalgia that locals and visitors experience when they’re downtown.” Her fiddle is sponsored by Main Oak Emporium, and will be featured in front of that location.
Morrison shared that she “feels certain that each of our talents are a gift that is given to us by God, and we are meant to share that with everyone.”
For more information about Morrison, visit www.lizziejmorrison.com.
Maria Skaskiw — “The Singing Fiddle”
Skaskiw shared that she embarked on exploring her interest later in life, which led to a “wonderful new chapter and adventure.” She began taking continuing education class, workshops, and demos to membership in the New York Art Students League and the Alliance of Queens Artists when she lived in New York.
Watercolors and pastels, including still-life, landscapes, and figures, are Skaskiw’s passion, and they adorn the walls of her home. Her works have been featured on covers of school publications, in private collections, exhibitions, and commissioned work.
Skaskiw was born in the Ukraine, and raised in New York City. She moved to Mount Airy in 2011, where she undertook a new chapter in her life as a grandmother. The natural beauty of the surrounding area of Mount Airy is appealing to her, and provides her with artistic inspiration. She was a participant in last year’s Art Walk and teaches workshops on Ukrainian Easter eggs each year at the Mount Airy Museum of Regional History.
The design for Skaskiw’s fiddle arrived as soon as she looked at the shape of the fiddle sculpture. She didn’t expect to be picked, and was overwhelmed with joy at the news she was chosen as one of the artists. Skaskiw’s fiddle was sponsored by Patterson and will be located in front of Scarlet Begonias.
Contact Skaskiw by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kayla Ellis — “Origins”
Kayla Ellis was born in Arkansas, near the Mississippi delta. She earned a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in Art Education from Austin Peay State University in Tennessee and lived in Virginia and Missouri before settling in Mount Airy.
Ellis is a national board certified teacher and an art educator, working as the art teacher at Franklin and Flat Rock Elementary Schools and teaching art at Surry Arts Council.
Her mother was a seamstress, who taught her how to sew, and her father was a farmer, who Ellis said taught her how to appreciate the constantly changing sky and look for funnel clouds. She said she grew up entertaining her self with arts, mostly drawing, and today really enjoys using oil pastels and acrylic paints.
She is a quilt-maker who loves to sew by hand and enjoys the “shared aspects of quilting and painting: color, design, grids…and all the straight lines that evoke the straight horizon of the flat Arkansas landscape.”
Ellis shared that she heard about the Fiddle Crawl when she was with a friend: “We both got excited just talking about it, and I am so busy working as a teacher that I find I’m not making art for myself.” This led Ellis to apply for the project “right before applications were due,” submitting a design that was “inspired by the form of the fiddle itself, how feminine it is,” adding inspirations from her love of quilt-making, sewing, and nods to female artists who inspire her, such as Georgia O’Keefe.
Ellis chose to incorporate tissue paper from vintage patterns into her design: “I liked the texture of it and the immediacy of putting it down and using the modge podge to add it, with the lines telling you which direction to cut and the folds giving it an architectural quality.”
Ellis’ fiddle, “Origins,” was purchased by F. Rees Company for permanent installation at that location.
Reach Jessica Johnson at 719-1933 and on Twitter @MountAiryJess.