Arts

Chris NothnagleIn middle school in 1966, a shop teacher showed interest in three students out of a class of 20. Chris Nothnagle, along with the two other classmates, sat at their own table, continually working with what he called “the utmost encouragement.”

After that class Nothnagle said he envisioned that he would one day have his own shop. The vision stayed with him through high school and college until he could afford tools a little bit at a time. Nothnagle has been doing woodworking for 50 years.

The first pieces he designed were after college when he started working and had a basic two-room flat. One room functioned as the shop and the other room was his bedroom. He started by reading woodworking magazines and following diagrams and procedures to build projects from plans given. With experience, he was able to make his own plans to build what he saw or visualized.

“The length of time to finish a piece depends on how many times I have built one,” Nothnagle said. “For any new project I start with the prototype, then I make adjustments until I am pleased with the result. After three constructions I can go into mass production. If it is a special piece I may work on it for a month or more. My longest project was an oriental desk set that had Asian motifs.”

Nothnagle’s work is amazingly intricate. The painstaking attention to detail is obvious in the execution of his designs. Known for his checkerboard cutting boards, pepper mills, tables and even wooden cell phone holders, Nothnagle not only produces beautiful work but keeps function in mind.

“Currently I am making three dimensional-looking cutting boards that are a challenge to meet the precise cutting arrangements,” he said. Some of Nothnagle’s favorite challenges have been Queen Anne antiques with cabriole legs. But for Nothnagle, designing and building something unique is not just a hobby but therapy. Add a comment

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Linda Bethke paintingThis year, the annual People’s Choice Award Show, sponsored by the Fluvanna Art Association (FAA), was full of surprises. It featured a variety of artists and an eclectic mix of mediums. Unlike the annual show judged by a professional, the public chooses the three best in each category.

Also, School Board member Carol Carr stopped by the show and reception to accept a check for $500. Of that total $250 will go to the Fluvanna County High School art department and $250 will support the Fluvanna Middle School art department. The proceeds came from the recent art tag sale held in July. Carr also had a look around and talked with artists.

As art itself evolves, so do the methods and tools contemporary artists use. No longer is art in its purest form the norm. The subjects were wide and varied, from abstracts to landscapes, collage, still life photography, illustrations, wood carvings and unfinished work. It was a difficult choice for many. Add a comment

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Michael WestmorelandMichael Westmoreland first discovered ventriloquism at 10 years old when he received an Emmett Kelly puppet and ventriloquism instructions for Christmas. Jay Johnson from Soap, a television show, inspired Westmoreland to become a ventriloquist. Like many ventriloquists, his goal is to entertain and make people laugh.

Ventriloquism evokes images of Edgar Bergen, Charlie McCarthy and Paul Winchell with Knuckle Head, Jerry and buxom blond Tessie.

“Don Knotts and Johnny Carson had been ventriloquists,” Westmoreland said. “Actually Edgar Bergen was not that good and was often moving his lips when Charlie was talking. But then he was on the radio so no one really knew.”

Westmoreland admired Paul Winchell, who revolutionized ventriloquism. He and his contemporaries agree that learning ventriloquism is a fraction of the skill – learning to be funny and entertaining is key.

Considered a late 18th century and early 19th century stagecraft, ventriloquism gained popularity in Vaudeville. Ventriloquism is the act of “throwing one’s voice,” and is less of a trick and more of an actor’s art. Changing voice, switching character and acting along with the figure are seen nowadays as more of an art form than a quirky novelty.

Decades later, ventriloquists like Jeff Dunham and Terry Fator are keeping ventriloquism energized and novel. Many, including Westmoreland, have added singing. His figure, Scotty, loves to sing and does it quite well. But the magic comes in staging a performance. Add a comment

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BreathingThe breath is the first step in most mind-body relaxation skills. Deeper breathing is one of the classic paths to balancing the brain and body. It is the most portable stress reduction skill. You can take it anywhere. Certain breathing practices can restore peace and give us a pause that allows the “wise owl” part of our brain to take charge, preventing overreactions that hurt health and relationships.

The benefits of taking a belly-breathing breath break include:

  • Clearing the mind;
  • Fooling the brain into thinking we’re relaxed;
  • Helping our wise mind get in charge rather than letting the stressed “reptilian” or “hot reactor” part of the brain call the shots;
  • Neutralizing or toning down strong emotions;
  • Setting the stage for calmness;
  • Oxygenating blood, which may enhance alertness and performance; and
  • Exercising the diaphragm in a manner similar to laughter.

If you’ve ever watched a baby breathe, they’re doing a version of belly breathing. You see their abdomen going up and down. For most adults, when we’re not paying attention, our breathing is often shallow and involves just the upper part of the chest. Add a comment

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Loli StamsLoli Stams was an artist who will be remembered by Painters at the Lake and the Fluvanna Art Association (FAA) as a talented, enthusiastic artist who had a strong presence wherever she showed up.

Those who knew her were shocked to hear of her sudden passing on Aug. 22. “I just can’t believe it,” said FAA President Susan Lang.

A longtime member of both groups, Stams encouraged her fellow artists, teaching and sharing with them new ways of using their imaginations.

She asked no less of herself than she did of others, always challenging herself with new ideas and emboldening others to fly a little higher. Stams never believed in setting limits for herself or anyone else. She set higher expectations for herself and others because she believed artists who practiced their art could do better and that it would eventually show in their work. Add a comment

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