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- [Announcer] Tennessee Crossroads is made possible in part by: - I'm Tennessee Tech President Phil Oldham. Here in Cookeville, Tennessee's college town, we are bold, fearless, confident, and kind. Tech prepares students for careers by making everyone's experience personal. We call that living wings up. Learn [email protected] - This time on "Tennessee Crossroads," we'll profile a portrait artist who captures her models in plain old charcoal. Then a story about farming and brewing in Columbia, we'll visit a farm in Montgomery County where you can handpick your favorite fruit. Finally, take a tour of a Tullahoma museum preserving the heritage of Beechcraft aircraft. All those stories on this show. I'm Joe Elmore. Welcome again to "Tennessee Crossroads." Portraiture is an art form whose roots go back thousands of years to ancient Egypt. Well, today portraits are created mostly with paint or photography. But Rita Maggart is a portrait artist whose medium is none other than, well, plain old charcoal. Portraiture is undoubtedly the most predominant genre in painting. It's also one of the most challenging. The artist must capture a precise representation of the human form, while emphasizing their physical, mental, and even spiritual characteristics. The origins go back thousands of years to ancient Egypt, and for many decades before the invention of photography, a painted or drawn portrait was about the only way to record the appearance of someone. Da Vinci's portrait of the Mona Lisa, painted in 1503, is perhaps the most famous portrait in the world. A few famous artists, such as Rembrandt, were even known for their self-portrait works. Everyone knows this famous portrait, but does Grant Wood's "American Gothic" depict the artist and his daughter, or his wife? Well, neither. The models are his daughter and his dentist. In the 19th century, photography made its indelible mark in the world of portraiture, and for many years the medium has been used to capture famous faces of the modern world. Then there's Rita Maggart. For this Nashville artist, the medium of choice is plain and simple. Charcoal. - I love charcoal because it takes away the color. It allows you to just focus on the essence of a drawing. Charcoal is forgiving. It allows you to put down a mark and then readjust it, erase it, smear it, smudge it, move it around. It's the most forgiving art medium I've ever worked in. - [Joe] Rita hones her skills at Warehouse 521, a gathering place for artists to learn, create, and be a part of a community full of creative comradery. - Working from life is the best way to draw, it's all there. You don't have to guess, you don't have to wonder the angle of her ear, or where, what their eyes look like. Nothing has to be invented when you can work from life. So June Perry's with us today, the models work hard, just sitting. They come in about 9:30 in the morning and the the day is until from 9:30 to 3:30 with an hour for lunch. They sit for 20 minutes, they're off for five minutes, and so it's a long, hard day just holding a pose that long. The lighting is so important, and the staging, and getting you comfortable. - [Joe] Rita is also a creative writer who composes poems that compliment many of her works. Her latest book is called "Portraits, Poems, and Prayers." Here's a poem and portrait she calls "Poetic Artistry." - Faces are fascinating, and the human form is beautiful. When art is finely tuned, we experience poetic artistry. For me, the writings and the drawings can come together, and sometimes I never know which is gonna be first, whether I'll do a drawing and then go look for something that I've written that seems to just fit, or if something I've written calls me to draw in a certain way. And every face, and every person, is so different and so interesting. I find myself looking now at people's ears, and the back of their head, and to just see what their eyes are saying, if their eyes are alive. I've noticed that when there's a little catch light in the eye, then you know that person is alive. - [Joe] Since many artists are commissioned to create portraits for money, I was surprised to learn that Rita avoids all that. But if somebody like myself said, Rita, would you draw me? I'll pay you. - Well, I will probably say, let's talk about it. - For now, Rita Maggart is content to create more and more portraits of real people, capturing faces, emotions, and stories using her simple yet powerful tools. In fact, her feelings could be summed up in this excerpt from a poem she calls, "Something to Say." - But I'm most concerned with the emotion of the art. Does the viewer linger for a moment and look deeper? Or does the viewer take a quick glance and move on? Does the art say, "Look at me, "I have something to say?" - Our next story is for the farmers and beer connoisseurs in our audience. The two are partnering more than ever to create the perfect craft brew, all made in Tennessee. Well, Laura Faber taps into the details of the story from a brewer and hops farmer in Columbia. - [Laura] The craft beer is flowing in Columbia at Bad Idea Brewery. All over the state, craft beer breweries have exploded. Since 2010, the number has more than doubled. Three out of four Tennessee beer drinkers say they prefer craft beer, and are willing to pay more for a local flavor. - I kind of had my great beer awakening after college. We went to grad school in Memphis, and you know, I was used to Bud Light, Natty Light, stuff like that, college beer, gas station beer. And had my first true craft beer at the Flying Saucer. And it was Dogfish Head's Midas Touch, you know, it has saffron and Muscat grape in it. And I thought, my God, you can put all this stuff into beer, and it tastes cool? And from then I was hooked. - [Laura] Zac Fox, owner of Bad Idea Brewery in Columbia, Tennessee, is also the town librarian, a Master's of Science Information professional. After his first taste of craft beer, Zac says he checked out every book in the library and started studying how to brew beer. It took 10 years of research, home brewing, and exhibiting his beer before Zac made Bad Idea, the best idea he ever had, besides marrying his wife, Cassie. - I've got an awesome partner and we were sitting around, couples, you know, eating dinner, and we kind of flushed out a business plan, and my wife looked at it. She said, this is a really bad idea. There were a few more expletives in there, but you know, probably not public television friendly. - [Laura] The experimentation is the thing with craft beer, actually getting a taste of local culture and community. Bad Idea doesn't have a flagship beer, they've created 200 unique flavors so far. - Usually hits me when I'm like, standing in front of the refrigerator at 3:00 AM, grabbing a a snack or something, or when I'm in the, you know, junk food aisle at the grocery store. - [Laura] The other good idea that was always important to Zac was to source ingredients locally as much as possible. His hops come from Eric Landis of Columbia's Tipsy Mule hops farm. Originally from Oregon, Eric knows that latitude is key to growing great hops, and at 35.6, Columbia is just in the right range. - I bought six plants, just thinking maybe, let's see what happens. The six grew, the next year I had a hundred, year after that, I think I had 250, and now I'm up to 500. I have four varieties of hops. I have nuggets for bittering hops, and then the other three varieties I have, cascades, cashmeres, and chinooks, are technically, they are aroma hops. That in the last 10 years, the acreage of hop production in the United States has doubled, and now it's at at 60 some thousand acres of hops in the United States. So that doubling, and then if you look at the varieties that are being grown, it has changed over those 10 years, and it's become more aroma hops. There's bittering hops and aroma hops, and it's become a lot more on the aroma side. So I think it's reflective of the consumers, maybe new consumers, you know, new age groups, coming and and tasting beers, and being a little more experimental with what they want. - [Laura] Craft beer brewers are chemists, and both Eric and Zac love the scientific collaboration. So does the Tennessee Craft Brewers Guild. Executive director Sharon Cheek says this natural partnership is actually an official state initiative, called Farm to Tap. - Beer from the very beginning was all about using local ingredients, going back thousands of years. And so I think, you know, we've seen that trend lately, in the last several years, especially since the pandemic. People wanna shop local, they wanna know where their money's going, and in our case, we wanna keep money right here in Tennessee. So if a Tennessee brewer can buy ingredients from a Tennessee farmer, and all of that money stays right here in our communities, it's better for our state, and it's better for our industries. - [Laura] Beer is a personal thing, and the creativity with craft beer flavors is what drives the cult following. Okay, Eric, so this is what you deliver to brewers. - [Eric] This is correct. - Okay. - This is what I deliver to brewers, either in a dried state like it is now, or straight from the plant. - Okay, now what is, there is a money part. - There is a money part to this, and we can open this one, and is lupulin, which is inside each hop, and is the yellow, you see a yellowish powder in there, basically. - [Laura] And why is that so important? - And that is where all of the oils and the acids are in the plant. So that's what the brewer is going to extract. When they make their beer, they're extracting that out of the hop. - [Laura] On this day, what is boiling in the fermentation tank is a special Tennessee Crossroads brew, made with products that the show has featured over the years. - We're gonna be throwing in Moo Pies, Goo Goo Clusters, Willa's shortbread, Colonel's popcorn, and then we're gonna be making a a stout with that, we're gonna be boiling that down, adding in hops from Tipsy Mule hop farm, and then the resulting product we're gonna be pitching Bootleg Biology yeast, that was propagated here in Tennessee as well. - [Laura] Temperature is important. A change of one or two degrees can impact the mash. - This water's going in at 170 degrees, and we're shooting for a target mash temperature in here for like 154, since we're making a stout today. - [Laura] So what's in here right now? - [Zac] So right now it's grain, there's Goo Goo Clusters, and there's shortbread in there right now. So you're gonna just, - [Laura] Whole thing? - [Zac] Whole thing. You're just gonna aim for the hole there. - [Laura] Woohoo! It's this organic mashing together of two passions that gives everyone something to drink to. - It's that connection. I'm not taking my hops, I'm not processing them into pellets and sending them off to a brewery I've never been to. - You know, you're lifting up someone else in your community that's got a business that's, you know, helping your product and you're, you know kind of giving them a platform too, to say, hey, you know, I contributed to that, and, you know, we did something awesome together. - Thanks, Laura. You know, for many of us, nothing says summer like fresh, ripe strawberries, and if you've ever had one handpicked right from the field, hey, you'll never forget it. In our next story, Miranda Cohen travels to a strawberry ranch in Montgomery County, to meet a man who's become famous for his picking and personality. - [Miranda] Billy McCraw is somewhat of a legend in Clarksville, Tennessee. He has lived on this property in Montgomery County all of his life, and is well known by everyone in town for one thing in particular. - Everybody knows me as the strawberry man. We've won quite a few awards. - [Miranda] And the strawberry man had big plans for these nine acres from a very young age. - I bought this when I was 14. Yeah, I just turned 75. So yeah, and I was born on the home place. - [Miranda] Having grown Tennessee crops his entire life, even McCraw could never have imagined his fields would blossom into what they are today. - Hi, how are you doing? - Hi, how are you? - [Miranda] McCraw's Strawberry Ranch is one of the most popular places in Tennessee to pick your own berries right from the field. - [Billy] Well, it's fun. It's fresh, you know, they know what they're getting, and they just love to come and get fresh produce, you know, and like you say, they just like getting out in the country air. I believe this is the 11th year that we've had strawberries, and each year we get more and more and more, but the last four years we've topped out at about 100,000 strawberry plants. And that's about all we can handle. - More picking? - Mm hm. - [Child] How many picking? - I don't know, however much fills up your basket. - [Miranda] Through word of mouth and social media, Clarksville's sweetest secret is getting out, and people will flock from all over to get the hands-on experience. - You wanna pick strawberries? - Sure. - She wants a bucket, and then I want four. - When we start picking, then the cars just start coming in. You know, we might have 15 or 20 the first hour, and then they just keep on coming. There's nothing to have 100 people, 150 people a day. But here, so about 75% of the berries are picked by the customer. They generally start out with about a gallon, and then they're so easy to pick, and it tastes so good, they'll pick another gallon. And then we usually have the buckets sitting all over the field. So they reach down and get another empty bucket, and they'll fill it up. - Do you want one? - Yes. - Thank you. - [Miranda] Choose your container, and the McCraws will assign a row just for you, ensuring social distancing and the very best berry experience. - [Billy] We have a hand washing station down there and we insist that they wash their hands before and after picking the berries. We try to run a clean place, you know. - [Miranda] And tending to these gorgeous red berries is nearly a year round job. The rows will be planted in September, nourished throughout the fall, and then kept warm through the winter and early spring. And the fruits of their labor are well worth it. - [Billy] Now, the berries you buy in the store, when you bite into 'em, they're hollow. The reason is that berry just didn't develop before they picked it. When they pick the berries here, they're ripe. Those berries that you get at the store, they were probably green when they were picked. And then they gas 'em to make 'em turn red. But that don't make 'em sweet, and that don't make 'em good. These berries are solid all the way through. They're not hollow, and they're sweet, just like candy. - [Miranda] When it comes to strawberries, McCraw Strawberry Ranch offers two delicious types of berries. And chances are, if you're a local, you probably want them both. Sweet Charlies will ripen first, then come the Ruby Junes. - We've got two varieties. We've got a Ruby June berry, which is a nice huge berry. And then we've got Sweet Charlie's. Sweet Charlies is a nice big berry. People come and they start picking the Sweet Charlies, and then they come back and get the Ruby Junes, and they just keep coming, just keep coming - Keep 'em cold, when you're ready to eat 'em, pop the cap off, damp paper towel. - Okay. - All you need to do. - Great, thank you. - You're welcome. - [Miranda] And the work doesn't end when the pickers pack up and head home. - We close down here at 6:00 at night, on the picking for the customers, and then we make the preserves, and we usually get to the house around 9:00. - [Miranda] Fresh, homemade strawberry preserves are made daily, and sell out nearly every day. And strawberries aren't the only thing making the McCraws famous. They will load you up and give you a tour of their ranch. And if you look very closely, you might even see what Billy claims are some very famous descendants from the Herman Melville novel. - [Billy] We've got a lake down here that, Moby Dick lives there. - [Miranda] Moby Dick. - [Billy] Yeah, Moby Dick's kids, mainly. Yeah, yeah. - [Miranda] How did you get that famous Moby Dick, the white whale? How'd you get his children? - Well, Moby Dick, you know, was a large white whale, well, we've got 27 of his kids down here. - Billy McCraw loves the berries, but he loves people even more, and he hopes McCraw's Strawberry Ranch will become his legacy. - I'm hoping that my family's going to get interested in it, and my kids and, they'll take it over. I love strawberries. I love strawberries. No, I don't get tired of 'em at all. - Okay, Miranda, thanks a lot. You know, around the state, there are all kinds of museums that are dedicated to preserving many different artifacts. Well, one Tennessee museum may be unique to the entire country, since it is dedicated to preserving the memory of one particular brand of airplane. Rob Wilds takes us on a visit to the Beechcraft Museum in Tullahoma. - [Rob] In a room full of airplanes, a group of fans and friends gather, and the talk turns to just how they first fell in love with a particular make of airplanes. - Here it came up over the trees, it was a red Staggerwing Beechcraft, and all of a sudden I could see landing gear going up. I had never seen an airplane that had landing gear. This is 1936, '37, somewhere in that era. It was one of the fascinating things that I remember in my childhood. - [Rob] Childhood dreams like that come to life just about every day at this museum in Tullahoma. Executive vice president Charles Parrish says the place was started almost 50 years ago, to house the snazzy Staggerwing. - At that time, it was just the Staggerwing museum. That's a particular type of aircraft that Beechcraft made back in the '30s and the '40s. But now we're the Beechcraft Heritage Museum. We now brought in the whole lineage of the brand Beechcraft to our museum. - [Rob] Eventually the name of the museum was changed to reflect the popularity of all varieties of Beechcraft. - [Charles] Beechcraft was the top of the line. Compare it to a car manufacturer, but it was the Cadillac, if you will, of the general aviation aircraft. But they also made military aircraft as well through the years. - [Rob] So it's a natural gathering place for lovers of the Beechcraft. But Charles says it's not just for them. - We have artists that like to come do their artwork. We have photographers that don't own aircraft, don't necessarily have a pilot's license, but enjoy taking photographs of them. Engineers that just like to see mechanical things work and fly and operate. So it is kind of a neat thing that you don't have to be a pilot, you don't have to be a Beechcraft owner to find yourself here and enjoy yourself here at our event. - [Rob] I think you get people who are just interested sort of in the history of it. - Absolutely, I mean, I'm a history buff, and this is the history of Beechcraft. There really is no other place that has it all encompassed in one location like we do here, at the Beechcraft Heritage Museum in Tullahoma. - The museum's a pretty spectacular place to come anytime, but once a year, planes are flown here from all over. Beech lovers gathering for what they call the Beech party. Like a flock of homing pigeons, the Beechcrafts arrive. After all, for Beechcraft lovers, - [Tony] This is the homecoming here. This is the mecca that you go to when you have a Staggerwing. It's really unique. Good to see you again. - [Attendee] Welcome back. - Yeah, thank you, thank you. - [Rob] Tony Debevic flew down from Ohio for the Beech party. He's in the wine business up there. So when he saw this Staggerwing, it was love. - It's a merlot color. So when I saw this aircraft, I looked at a number of Staggerwings, when I saw the merlot aircraft, my wife said, buy it. So that's what we did. It's a lot of fun to fly it. It has a lot of unique characteristics. Of course, it takes off very quickly. Has a large engine. So it's great for grass airstrips, which we fly it out of all the time at our place, and it climbs very well. Has a good speed. So it's great for traveling. - [Rob] Traveling is what Beechcraft lovers do, particularly to the annual Beech party to see and learn from the best, who are all here too. - [Charles] Seminars on how to operate some of these round engines that are different than most engines you see on modern airplanes, the radial piston engines, and how to operate 'em, how to maintain 'em. And so there's just a world of knowledge here, history, maintenance, safety, good airmanship, and best ways to operate them. - [Rob] Time to study, time to catch up with old friends, and make new ones. - Good to see you. - Good to see you too. - [Rob] With so many pilots here, you know you're going to see some flying. - There's a good group that come in, that know how to do awesome formation flying, and everything's safe. Everything's nice and high, but we're a non-controlled airport here in Tullahoma, and we have the freedom to do that. So you'll see some nice organized, orchestrated formation flying this afternoon, and very well safely organized and well done. - [Rob] Well done by these talented pilots, and well done by the folks who give them a happy place for a safe landing, the Beechcraft Heritage Museum in Tullahoma. - Well, we're cleared for takeoff, so we gotta go, after I remind you about the new PBS video app you can get, and watch all your favorite shows, anytime, anywhere. Of course visit our website, tennesseecrossroads.org. Follow us on Facebook, and join us next time. I'll see you then. - [Announcer] "Tennessee Crossroads" is made possible in part by: - I'm Tennessee Tech President Phil Oldham. Here in Cookeville, Tennessee's college town, we are bold, fearless, confident, and kind. Tech prepares students for careers by making everyone's experience personal. We call that living wings up. Learn more at tntech.edu.
May 11, 2023
Season 36 | Episode 36
Joe Elmore profiles a portrait artist who captures her models in plain old charcoal. Laura Faber tells a story all about farming and brewing in Columbia. Miranda Cohen visits a farm in Montgomery County where you can hand pick your favorite fruit. And Rob Wilds takes a tour at a Tullahoma museum preserving the heritage of Beechcraft airplanes.
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Beechcraft Air Museum
It's hard for most of us to explain why we really like a particular thing. All we know is what we like, whether it's cars, peanut butter or airplanes. That's right, different makes of airplanes attract fans and collectors. One of the most dedicated groups regularly makes a pilgrimage to Tennessee to experience all things Beechcraft. Rob Wilds recently joined them in a very special celebration at the Beechcraft Heritage Museum in Tullahoma, TN. Watch this and more episode segments of Nashville Public Television's Tennessee Crossroads.