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North Carolina Museum of Art Home to Noted Christmas Image

“Madonna and Child in a Landscape.” Image from the N.C. Museum of Art.

On October 21, 1993“Madonna and Child in a Landscape” a work by the Italian Renaissance painter Giovanni Battista Cima de Conegiano that is part of the North Carolina Museum of Art’s permanent collection, was selected as the U.S. Postal Service’s Christmas Stamp.  The Museum’s collection of Italian paintings ranks among the finest in the country.

Since the initial acquisition in 1947 of 139 works of European and American art, purchased with a $1 million appropriation of state funds, the North Carolina Museum of Art has grown to be one of the nation’s finest museums.

Housed in a state of the art building completed in 2010, the permanent collection includes European paintings from the Renaissance to the 19th century, Egyptian art, sculpture and vase painting from ancient Greece and Rome, American art of the 18th through 20th centuries, and international contemporary art. Other strengths include African, ancient American, pre-Columbian, and Oceanic art, and Jewish ceremonial objects.

The Museum also is home to one of the largest museum art parks in the world. The park includes over a dozen works of art set on 164 acres.

Visit: Madonna and Child in a Landscape is in the North Carolina Museum of Art’s permanent collection. The museum is open six days a week in Raleigh.

Other related resources:

For more about North Carolina’s history, arts and culture, visit Cultural Resources online. To receive these updates automatically each day subscribe by email using the box on the right and follow us on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest.

Gospel Music’s First Lady, Shirley Caesar of Durham

Image from the State Archives.

On October 13, 1938, Shirley Caesar, an award-winning gospel singer and preacher was born in Durham. Her beginnings were humble. She and her 11 siblings lost their father when they were young. She immersed herself in church and family life, and in singing, which she began at age 10.

When Caesar was 19-years-old she met Albertina Walker, a famous gospel singer, who was impressed with Caesar’s raw talent and invited her to join her group, the Caravans. Performing across the United States, she saw the racial adversity that was prevalent in America during the late 1950’s and early 1960’s.  After eight years with the group she opted for a solo career, giving her the opportunity to preach and to affect change.

Caesar’s many accolades include 11 Grammy Awards, 15 Dove Awards and 13 Stellar Awards.  She has released more than 20 albums and a dozen singles, and she is commonly known as the “First Lady of Gospel Music.”

Caesar continues to be active in the Triangle community, preachingat Mount Calvary Word of Faith Church in Raleigh and has operated her Outreach Ministries in Durham for more than 40 years, inspiring many through her talent and selflessness.

Other related resources:

For more about North Carolina’s history, arts and culture, visit Cultural Resources online. To receive these updates automatically each day, subscribe by email using the box on the right and follow us on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest.

Jazz Giant Thelonious Monk of Rocky Mount

Monk plays the piano in September 1947. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Monk plays the piano in September 1947. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress.

On October 10, 1917, Thelonious Monk was born in Rocky Mount. Though Monk lived most of his life in Manhattan, his North Carolina roots ran deep.

Monk’s style was original and unorthodox, incorporating elements of stride piano and gospel to create a “rhythmic virtuosity,” striking dissonant notes and playing skewed melodies. He collaborated with Charlie Parker, John Coltrane and many other noted jazz musicians of the time. Along with Dizzy Gillespie, another of his collaborators, Monk is credited as an architect of bebop; The third composition he copyrighted, and his first as sole composer, was also his best-known, “’Round Midnight.”

Personally, Monk had a reputation as the ultimate hipster, with his goatee, skullcap and bamboo-rimmed sunglasses. He often left his keyboard to dance while onstage and, at random moments, on the street or in public spaces, would twirl for several minutes. Viewed by some as temperamental and eccentric, he is described by his biographer Robin Kelley as essentially rebellious. Kelley documented that Monk suffered from bipolar disorder most of his adult life.

In 1972, Monk withdrew from public appearances and was hospitalized intermittently until his death. Among his last extended stands was a week at the Frog and Nightgown in Raleigh’s Cameron Village in 1970. A park in his hometown has carried his name since 2000.

Other related resources:

For more about North Carolina’s history, arts and culture, visit Cultural Resources online. To receive these updates automatically each day, subscribe by email using the box on the right and follow us on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest.

Thomas Wolfe of Asheville, North Carolina’s Greatest Writer

Wolfe and his mother on the front porch of her home, circa 1930-38. Image from the N.C. Museum of History.

On October 3, 1900, famed writer Thomas Wolfe was born in Asheville. Wolfe attended public schools in Buncombe County for seven years while living in his mother’s boardinghouse with the rest of his family.

Growing up in Asheville formed the basis Wolfe’s thinly-veiled autobiographical novel Look Homeward, Angel, published in 1929. The area’s residents easily recognized themselves in the text, and Wolfe received letters from irate readers who felt wrongly portrayed in the book.

Wolfe wouldn’t return to his childhood home until 1937, and by that time he had published many short stories and a second novel, Of Time and the River. Although he planned to spend the summer writing in a rented cabin, Wolfe worked little, being continually disturbed by visitors and consumed by family strife. He began to ponder the many implications of the phrase “You can’t go home again,” the title of his novel that would be published in 1940, two years after his death.

His mother’s former boardinghouse known as the “Old Kentucky Home,” made famous as “Dixieland” in his first novel, is now a State Historic Site.

Visit: The Thomas Wolfe Memorial in Asheville, Wolfe’s childhood home. The site will is celebrating October as Thomas Wolfe Month with specials tours and workshops and 5K race.

Other related resources:

For more about North Carolina’s history, arts and culture, visit Cultural Resources online. To receive these updates automatically each day subscribe by email using the box on the right and follow us on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest.

Welcome to Year Three!

Today marks the start of our third year of the This Day in North Carolina History project. As we pass this milestone, all of us at the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources want to extend our thanks for your continued support of our efforts and to let you know about a few exciting things coming up.

229216501First, we’re happy to announce that beginning November 1, you can see the stories we tell on this blog across the state on Time Warner Cable News. The stories will run in an abbreviated format several times throughout the day, usually right before and after commercial breaks.

We also want to let you know that while you may have seen some of the stories we tell this year before, we’ll continue to bring you as much fresh content as we can. To that end, if you have ideas for stories that we haven’t yet covered, tell us about it. We’ve set up a nifty form on our website that makes submitting an idea easy.

Last thing—we’ve tried to be consistent in tagging each post with the city and county of the event or the person we’re covering and with relevant subjects, so we encourage you to use the search feature to discover more interesting tidbits about your hometown or county, or about the subjects that interest you most.

Thanks again for following us! We hope you enjoy reading these posts each day as much as we enjoy researching and writing them.

Village People’s Cowboy Hailed from Raleigh

The original Village People. Randy Jones is on the far left. Image from Getty Images.

On September 13, 1952, singer Randy Jones of the disco group Village People was born in Raleigh.

Jones grew up in Wake County, graduating from Enloe High School in 1970. After attending the North Carolina School of the Arts and UNC, he began to dance and act professionally in New York City.

The concept of the Village People group was the brainchild of record producer Jacques Morali. Jones was cast as the original cowboy in 1977, and remained with the act for three years. The idea of a concept group was not a new one, but the Village People were imbued with such energy, irony and campy enthusiasm that they were wildly successful. In fact, some form of the group has been performing since the Village People scored their U.S. first hit with “Macho Man” in 1978.

The group racked up a number of big hits in the late 1970s and early 1980s with “Y.M.C.A.,” “In the Navy,” “Go West” and “Can’t Stop the Music” among others. That period of great creativity was the group’s heyday.

Jones, appropriately, lives in Greenwich Village. He continues to perform and act.

Other related resources:

For more about North Carolina’s history, arts and culture, visit Cultural Resources online. To receive these updates automatically each day, subscribe by email using the box on the right and follow us on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest.

Guy Owen and the Flim-Flam Man

Image from the State Archives

Image from the State Archives

On July 25, 1981, N.C. State University professor and writer Guy Owen died at the age of 56.

Born in Clarkton in Bladen County, Owen grew up on a tobacco farm. Years of clerking at his father’s general store provided the author with much eventual grist for his creative mill.

Owen enrolled at UNC in 1942, and after taking a three-year break from his studies for service in World War II, he earned bachelors and doctoral degrees in English. Brief teaching stints followed at Davidson, Elon and Stetson in Florida, before he joined the faculty at N.C. State in 1962.

Owen found his greatest acclaim as the author of The Ballad of the Flim-Flam Man, the tale of an aging confidence man. A bestseller, the book was adapted into a film in 1967 starring George C. Scott.  Mordecai Jones, the protagonist, appeared in two other books by Owen.

Today Owen is also remembered for his courses at N.C. State. He edited several anthologies of state and regional fiction, lectured and conducted workshops across the state and helped shape the state’s eventual literary renaissance.

A recipient of the North Carolina Award in 1971, Owen was one of the inductees into the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame in 1996, its inaugural year.

Other related resources:

For more about North Carolina’s history, arts and culture, visit Cultural Resources online. To receive these updates automatically each day, make sure you subscribe by email using the box on the right, and follow us on FacebookTwitter and Pinterest.

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