The Southern Agenda: June/July 2012
A trip to the beach doesn’t usually include making hats with Princess Diana’s milliner, John Boyd, or getting design tips from Jonathan Adler and Natalie Chanin—unless you’re at Studio b., the brainchild of prolific food and lifestyle photographer Colleen Duffley. This summer, the Emerald Coast’s four-year-old creative-arts hub finds a new home in WaterSound, where an impressive lineup of artists, authors, chefs, photographers, and designers from the South and beyond school students in the tricks of their trade. No homework required. studiobthebeach.com
From Atlanta skyscrapers and Louisiana wetlands to the Delta blues, the latest additions to the High Museum of Art’s Picturing the South series (opening June 9) feature seventy-six thought-provoking images captured by acclaimed photographers Martin Parr, Kael Alford, and Shane Lava- lette. A bonus exhibit, Revisiting the South, presents twenty-one new photos by photographer Richard Misrach. Commissioned by the Atlanta art museum in 1998 to photograph the landscape of the Mississippi River, Misrach was so inspired by both the beauty and the destruction he saw that he returned to the project twelve years later—this time with his lens trained on the industrial corridor of the river between Baton Rouge and New Orleans, the infamous Cancer Alley. high.org
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Ask a native Kentuckian and he’ll happily tell you that pimento cheese, though suddenly trendy on big-city menus across the land, has nothing on his beloved beer cheese. As much a part of the state’s culinary heritage as Ale-8-One soda and mint juleps, the savory spread (a distinctive mix of sharp cheddar, beer, and spices) was introduced to the Kentucky palate in the 1940s by brothers John and Joe Allman. Each year, some 10,000 devotees pay tribute at the two-day Beer Cheese Festival (June 8–9) in Winchester. On Beer Cheese Boulevard, crackers, chips, and veggies make handy dippers for the hundred-plus amateur and professional recipes. beercheesefestival.com
Birthplace of the Sazerac, the Ramos Gin Fizz, and Pat O’Brien’s syrupy-sweet Hurricane, New Orleans is the natural venue to celebrate the art of the mixed drink. Come July, dozens of the world’s savviest bartenders, chefs, and authors converge on the Crescent City for the Tales of the Cocktail (July 25–29) festival, which marks its tenth anniversary this year. Five days of spirit-centric dinners, tastings, competitions, and excursions—check out the Street Food and Go-Cups fair at Lafayette Square and the Urban Farming craft cocktail field trip—showcase the best of bottle and barkeep. talesofthecocktail.com
With so much to see on Maryland’s Eastern Shore, it’s easy to forget that there’s another side to the state’s landscape. But Mountain Maryland Plein Air (May 29–June 10), hosted by the Saville Gallery in historic Cumberland, is worth a side trip. During the event, thirty handpicked artists trained in the practice of painting en plein air (“in open air”) spend three days immersed in the Allegany County landscape to capture the wild beauty of western Maryland’s mountain region. Maps provided by the gallery allow art enthusiasts to observe the painters in the field and see the works in progress. Once completed, the resulting collection will be on display, and on sale, June 3–10. alleganyartscouncil.org
Hill Country blues are not Delta blues. Characterized by fewer chord changes and driving rhythms, the distinctive Hill Country style of bluesmen R. L. Burnside and Junior Kimbrough first grabbed the spotlight in the mid-1990s and has since inspired national acts such as the Black Keys and the North Mississippi Allstars. Experience the unique sound firsthand at the annual North Mississippi Hill Country Picnic (June 29–30). The two-day festival, held outside rural Waterford, celebrates the region’s musical culture with live performances by local legends, among them DuWayne and Gary Burnside (grandsons of the late R. L.). If you’re an aspiring player, you might want to bring your slide guitar for the one-on-one craft workshops led by local musicians. But picnickers cannot live on tunes alone. Fried catfish, barbecue, and watermelon are also on the menu.