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- [Announcer] "Tennessee Crossroads" is made possible in part by. - [Ad Presenter] You can't predict the future, but you can count on Tennessee Tech always putting students first. Our faculty, staff, and students have shown strength, compassion, patience, and kindness during these trying times. For us, it's personal. That's what you can count on at Tennessee Tech. - This time on "Tennessee Crossroads," we journey up to Joelton to a hardware and hamburger haven. Then discover an ancient and challenging art form in Nashville. We'll go on a wild animal safari without leaving the state, and meet the talented rocking chair man of Spring Hill. That's the lineup for this edition of "Tennessee Crossroads," everyone. I'm Joe Elmore. Sure glad to have you. We all know big box stores have made it hard for hometown hardware stores to survive. But we found a place to buy your air filters, nuts, and bolts, as well as a great burger. Tammi Arender takes us to Joelton Hardware Feed, and Farmacy. That's farmacy with an F, by the way. - [Tammi Arender] If you're not looking for it, you'll miss it. Or if you're not listening for it. Only if you're on a mission to find a hardware store or maybe grab a bite to eat, or listen to some great music. Wait, all of this under one roof? - Well, this is just a little hometown hardware store. It's been an independent hardware store, family owned and operated in this little town Joelton since 1964. This way, sir. We're going to the painting aisle. - [Customer] I need two of these rascals. - [Kris] Those rollers? And then the cox are here. - [Tammi Arender] Joelton Hardware, Feed, and Farmacy, farmacy with an F, is way more than just a hardware store. Kris McCarthy Houser and her husband purchased the store a few years ago. - My husband and I picked it up when it was time for me to go back to work. Had a couple little babies and I didn't wanna go back into the corporate world, and so we had chickens of our own and the guy had started selling feed in the hardware store and that was interesting to me. And so we looked at the bottom line and said, well, maybe we can make this work. And so we purchased it and I sat in there the first year and I almost ran it into the ground 'cause I didn't know anything about hardware. - [Tammi Arender] But the learning curve for Kris obviously evened out. She not only got a handle on the hardware business, but she decided that this little spot could be be so much more. And when the space next door came on the market, she jumped on it. - [Kris] The whole reason we moved it down to this space was because it was better for the retail environment that the old woman had a slack in the doors and taking people in the back to show 'em the feed and worried that I was missing people up front. But more importantly, we had a space to add a kitchen. So we pulled some permits, and we built a little small kitchen, and I really wanted to incorporate local food. - [Tammi Arender] Local food has become a big part of this establishment. - It just provides local goods all the way around from local honey, local produce, local food coming in and out of the kitchen, and local music, local beer. - You know, not many places you can get your air filter, your nuts and bolts, and a grass fed burger along with homemade, hand cut, locally grown potatoes. I'm fixing to have a lot of fun here at Joelton Hardware, Feed, and Farmacy. While I get ready to chow down on my locally sourced burger and fries and run through my mental shopping list, I wonder if I need to purchase anything from the hardware store. I hear. On this evening, which happens to be a Monday, It's Greg Garing. A big name in bluegrass music. Someone who just happened to drop by when they had their grand opening. - He kind of meandered in, was like, "What's going on here?" And he's kind of taken over booking the stage, and we get to hear him every Saturday night. Some of the best authentic country music in the city every Saturday night from six to nine. - [Tammi Arender] So Kris often steps on stage and helps out with the vocals. She even tries out her new songs on the crowd that she and her husband have written. - [Kris] I just started writing songs with him. Like, I would be folding clothes and he'd play the same riff over and over again and I'd say, blah, blah, blah and he'd say, "That's a great idea. Let's write that song." And so we just started writing songs together. And so we discovered later in our marriage and after children that we like to write songs together. And so we would spend just hours doing it. ♪ Be back to you ♪ - [Tammi Arender] Kris's passions range from the music to the homegrown ingredients. She not only gets her chef, Lee Miller, to use the fresh produce for the items on their menu, but she also offers up the fruits and veggies to the customers. - These are so delicious this time of year. We definitely seem to probably make more money in the restaurant side of it, but we need a local hardware store. We need a local feed shop. That's the other part that we added. - [Tammi Arender] For Kris and her husband, Joelton Hardware, Feed, and Farmacy is all about a feeling, a place to gather, get necessities, and get that connection that only music and a meal, when shared with others, can provide. - [Kris] Just sense of acceptance, and love, and fun. You know, we love everybody. The doors are open to all people. So just that kind of home towny place where people are hanging out and great pickers are picking, and cold beer is being served and, you know, people are talking about whatever the day's events are, and, you know, being neighbors. - Thanks, Tammi. For those of us who might be considered artistically challenged, we understand the struggle of drawing. But just imagine having to draw backwards. In our next story, Miranda Cohen meets a natural artist who is perfecting one of the most challenging and ancient forms of artistic expression. - [Miranda Cohen] Ashley Seay is a young artist who has mastered one of the oldest forms of art. Relief print making dates way back to the ancient hieroglyphics found on walls well before the invention of papyrus. - Relief means the mirror image. All right, so when I carve, I'm carving the image backwards to print the relief, okay? So basically the relief is a term in the printmaking world for mirror image. It began in Africa, all right? So if you think about Africa, Rome, all of those stone tablets, those are called reliefs. So there's that word again, right? So it's a stone relief. Some of the oldest texts in the world were carved into stone, right? Now, at this time they didn't have paper. So when paper was invented, now we had a way to print on the paper, on the fabric. And so it really got popular in China and Africa because they started printing on paper and fabric. - [Miranda Cohen] Even as a young artist, Ashley knew her medium would be a little different. And luckily, her family encouraged her talent. - [Ashley] I used to draw on the walls. My mother was mad because then I was drawing with the furniture. Seriously, I was drawing on everything that had a surface. And my grandmother, she saved me because she was like, "Don't discipline her for that. She's, you know, she has talent. So buy her coloring boobs, buy her, you know, crayons and stuff like that. Embrace that gift." - [Miranda Cohen] As a native of Lebanon and a graduate at MTSU, studio art held her attention for a while until she learned of the challenging and intricately detailed art form called print relief. - It's something new, never heard of it before. So I took the class and I just loved it, but it was eight hours a day for a month. So for eight hours I was carving. - First she will begin with a sketch, then transfer the sketch onto a block of sturdy wood like birch. Then she will begin the tedious task of carving out all the negative space, ensuring a clean and precise print block. Ashley's work is absolutely phenomenal, but you have to remember she is always working in the negative. What she is doing is cutting away the negative space. So anything that is left is actually the print. And anytime you see lettering, she has to carve it backwards. - [Ashley] I wanna carve out the negative space. So that's what you're doing. You're carving out the negative space, and what you're doing is you're leaving a stamp. So it's really cool. I know it sounds crazy, but it really does work. It's very, very meditative because you have to take your time. This is not an art form that you rush because if you rush, then you make mistakes that you cannot put back into the blocks. So it forces you to be one with yourself and to take your time. - [Miranda Cohen] Because Ashley uses extremely sharp tools and is always carving a reverse image to be applied to her canvas, she has to have a steady hand and a very calm spirit. - [Ashley] You have to be completely at peace. Once I carve this, that's it. I can't put the wood back. I have to always keep in mind the end result of what the print is going to look like in my mind because the moment that you let that go, it's over and you gotta start over. - [Miranda Cohen] The meticulously carved wooden stamp will then be inked and pressed into paper or cloth. - [Ashley] So usually I just start with the center. And this is the rise of the north print inspired by the tornado. - [Miranda Cohen] By creating a one of a kind wooden block, she is able to tell a story through the grooves, density, and natural grains of the wood. Depending on the thickness of the ink and the pressure applied, no two pieces are ever alike, and her work reflects what she treasures the most. - Well, I love nature so I love being out in the woods, around water, I spend a lot of time with my family and friends, but also my cultural background. I love to incorporate all these little details into the art, but I have a special affinity for pattern design. - [Miranda Cohen] Seay also wants her work to have a message, and to bring awareness to cultural issues. An ancient art form reflecting modern day events. Her Nashville shop is called Supernatural Relief Printmaking Studio. A nod to her own spirituality and fondness of science, astrology, and engineering. Ashley Seay is achieving her goals one at a time. First, having her own studio, winning multiple awards, and then drawing national attention to her work by featuring her pieces at acclaimed galleries like the Frist Art Museum. She is also offering workshops and trying to create more interest in this ancient and beautiful form of expression. - It was a way for me to share my art form without having to really part with it. I put that all into the art, but it's for a reason though because I want people to look at it and have their own interpretation for the art. It's abstract and you really, it depends on who's looking at it. And I love that because everyone can look at it and find something special in it. - Thanks, Miranda. How would you like to go on an animal safari without leaving Tennessee, or even your vehicle for that matter? All you have to do is journey up to northwest Tennessee near Alamo. What you'll find is a family adventure that brings you up close to some exotic and usually hungry creatures. - Visitors wanna see animals in a naturalistic area. Large open spaces. I mean, people just don't wanna see animals in cages anymore. - [Joe Elmore] Since Tennessee Safari Park opened in 2007, it's become one of the top tourist attractions in the state. A drive through zoo where you traverse seven and a half miles of open territory inhabited by about 150 species of exotic, free roaming animals. Most are very glad to see you, and for good reason. This 300 acre park is part of the Conley family farm, which has been around since the 1850s. According to John Conley, the idea was a result of economics as well as a special love for exotic creatures. - We had to figure out a way to make the family farm work. We had a few exotic animals here, and we loved it. The family came together and said, we've gotta make it work. We really didn't have any other choice, and so we started small, grew ourselves into it, and it's been an amazing adventure. - [Joe Elmore] Well, here's how it works. You drive up to this window where you purchase tickets. Cash only, by the way. And don't forget to buy some buckets of feed for the fun part. Then you slowly drive through the open park and stop wherever you wish, and here you'll quickly discover some animals like ostriches have terrible table manners. - You know, they want close up encounters with animals, you know? They don't wanna see 'em from a distance. Our concept creates a perfect opportunity for visitors to see animals from around the world in a safe environment. And they wanna see big, beautiful, healthy, fat animals, and lots of babies, and this is the place to come. - [Joe Elmore] By the way, unlike traditional zoos, this one does not use tax dollars or donations to thrive. It's totally self-sustaining, and even a boon to the local economy. - We brought a $50 million economic impact to this area, which I mean, that in itself is amazing. The park has the highest grossing ticket sales in the state history, and that's of any zoo. And so that brings an amazing accomplishment to my family, and just kinda hammers home what we're doing, we're doing it right. So these are Greater Kudu from South Africa. - [Joe Elmore] While Safari Park is mostly known as a tourist attraction, it's also an ambitious breeding center for rare and endangered species. - A lot of these animals are extremely endangered, and the work we're doing is gonna save these animals for future generations. She's expecting a calf. And so, like I said, we have 16 of the painted camels, and so they come in all different color variations. And spotted, and the blue eyes are probably the most striking feature. - A Brazilian Tapir. Pretty rare occurrence. And he's so, man, he's built well. - Yeah. - [Joe Elmore] I do not look like food. You'll often find John's wife, Whitney, at work behind the scenes in the nursery. Today nurturing some ostrich eggs, chicks, so they become healthy adult birds. After you complete your ride through the exhibit area, there's also a 20 acre walkthrough park and petting zoo. Here, you can even get a close feeding encounter with a giraffe. Visitors can easily spend two to three hours at Safari Park, which by the way is open year round except for holidays. For John Conley, every day is unique and demanding, but he wouldn't have it any other way. - You know, we're always doing something new and exciting. Animals are being born daily. Yesterday afternoon, I delivered a Bactrian camel. And before that we were working on plants and flowers, and so literally it's something different every day. There's... No day is the same. The public obviously loves the concept, and so we just keep growing on what works. - When it comes to something like woodworking, some folks are all thumbs. Heck, some folks might lose a thumb. Yet others seem to be born to do it. That's the case of our final story. Ed Jones met a Spring Hill man who lives up to his title, The Rocking Chairman. - The idea is to look at the chair and have these these hard lines and soft lines kinda pull your eye around the chair, and so that you get to enjoy the whole thing. And actually the chair, I think if it's done well, kind of invites you to sit. - [Ed Jones] If anything is more inviting than Charles Brock's rocking chairs, it's the retired school teacher turned craftsman himself. Chuck is one of those genuinely friendly, easygoing types that's never met a stranger. And that laid back temperament is perfectly suited for the labor he loves. - I got started while I was teaching school with some tools I borrowed from a neighbor, and I just saw, wow, I can do this. I can have a vision and I can build it. Building furniture made sense to me. And so I started in the late '70s, and I started doing projects for others. Building tables, and chests, and things like that, and really pushing my skills. - [Ed Jones] Chuck's skills would be pushed to new heights by a friend who asked him to build a rocking chair. - So I got into looking at rocking chairs and trying to come up with something that he would like. And kinda after two years, I got to a point where I had something. I called him up, he came over and looked at it and he said, "I'll take two." That was an opportunity to move from kind of general woodworking projects into a specialty. And so we're all of a sudden we're building rocking chairs and loving it. - [Ed Jones] And that love shows in every line around every curve of these functional works of art. - I love them because I can make a rocker, and have a friend or somebody sit in it, and when they sit down, I'd say 999 times out of a thousand, they're going to smile. They're gonna feel comfortable, and that's what you're after. This is some great curly walnut here. When you put some oil and wax on it, you see all of these lines, these curls where the grain is reversing. - [Ed Jones] At this point in the story, it would seem that Chuck had found what he was after. But realizing his gift for making rockers that make people happy would not be the final chapter. - I started getting close about 15 years ago to retirement, and a couple of things hit me. I had been a teacher, been a woodworker, and if we put those two things together, I can teach woodworking. We're just gonna let the spindles kinda run wild behind it, and I see you've got number seven here. So that's where that goes, and then number six. One of the great things about it, about teaching, most of my students are my age. It might be 15 years less, or even 15 years more but they always wanted to be able to build this rocker, and to give them, help them find purpose, and like I have at a later age. What a great gift for them to switch from being a lawyer, or a doctor to doing something that is different, growthful, and engaging. - [Ed Jones] The popularity of Chuck's classes inspired him to reach a larger audience through video with his own woodworking series, and some pretty famous guests. - This meant a lot to me. I started woodworking on a practical matter. I worked on a farm with my daddy and I learned, you know, saws and hammers. - Wonderful things I like about getting the students out here, they get to see why America is such a, you know, the woodworking heritage here. - Nick Offerman. - Nice to see you, Chuck. - Nice to see you. Tell you what, last time I saw you, we were in New York City on a special show for woodworkers. What was that show? - "Martha Stewart." - Yeah, "Martha Stewart." - [Ed Jones] But fame hasn't changed Charles Brock one bit. He remains a humble craftsman content to share his incredible talent with others. - The Lord had a better plan for me than I had for myself, and it really just it's gotta be that because I went from the garage wood worker, to teaching classes, to being on the "Martha Stewart" show to having my own show. So you can't really beat that, especially between the ages of 60 and 70 years old. All I have to sell really, besides the chair to sit in, are dreams. That they can build it to have a legacy. - Well, that's gonna do it for this edition of "Tennessee Crossroads." Say, why don't you download the PBS video app so you could watch our show and others anytime, anywhere. Meanwhile, check out our website, tennesseecrossroads.org. You can follow us on Facebook, of course. By all means, join us here next week. I'll see you then. - [Announcer] "Tennessee Crossroads" is made possible in part by. - [Ad Presenter] You can't predict the future, but you can count on Tennessee Tech always putting students first. Our faculty, staff, and students have shown strength, compassion, patience, and kindness during these trying times. For us, it's personal. That's what you can count on at Tennessee Tech.
October 20, 2022
Season 36 | Episode 13
Tammi Arender finds more than hammers and nails at Joelton Hardware. Miranda Cohen explores the art of Ashley Seay. Joe Elmore communes with nature at Tennessee Safari Park. Ed Jones visits master craftsman Charles Brock.