Foxes on the Fence 2023 Recap

Written by Willow Podraza | Photos by Callie Broaddus

Last month, the streets of Middleburg underwent a stunning transformation. The return of the beloved annual event Foxes on the Fence brought a menagerie of butterflies, marine life, bunnies, and more to East Washington Street. As the installation wrapped on May 13, two artists shared what the event meant to them.

Foxes on the Fence is a celebration that brings together artists, residents, and businesses in a shared vision of promoting the arts and beautifying Middleburg. The installations are not only admired but also auctioned off, with the proceeds supporting various projects that beautify the town and promote the arts. This commitment to community and to nurturing the local arts scene is what attracts so many artists year after year. Lydia M.E. Schraeder, a returning artist, explains, “I love participating in Foxes on the Fence because it’s a positive and public-facing event that encourages the arts. In Roger Scruton’s ‘Beauty’ he says ‘art moves us because it is beautiful, and it is beautiful in part because it means something. It can be meaningful without being beautiful; but to be beautiful it must be meaningful.’ I think this perfectly captures why I continue to donate my art to this cause — because it’s meaningful.” 

Schraeder’s entry “The Call Home” is a meditation on the community that raised her and on the meaning she as an artist finds in home. This year, Schraeder was sponsored by The Red Fox Inn and took the opportunity to express the depth of what the Inn symbolizes to her: home. She says, “Middleburg is my own glimpse of Heaven … painting Hunt Country is one of the greatest honors of my life.… This particular painting for the Foxes on the Fence depicts the roads I ran and walked throughout my years in Virginia — through childhood and into adulthood … that have made such an incredible impression on my life.”

Another returning artist, Margaret Caroll has been participating in Foxes on the Fence since its inception in 2017. Her first entry was a landscape-adorned fox, and since then she has strived to embrace more creativity in her art. This year, her Beatrix Potter-esque hare did just that. Her entry was composed of “three little paintings in one” in which bunnies dine in their burrow, hedgehogs do their laundry, and a duck strolls through the garden with a smartly suited fox. Like Schraeder, Caroll finds Middleburg to be a well of artistic inspiration. She describes her entry as “a peek into the lives of those who live under Middleburg.” “There is so much going on in the town, but there is also so much happening underneath the town as well,” says Carroll. 

However, Caroll sees Foxes on the Fence as more than just an art installation. She emphasizes the event’s ability to draw in artists of all ages and is continually impressed by the contributions of young artists. She believes the “whole community embraces the youth pulse” and recognizes the importance of nurturing and showcasing young talent. In her opinion, it is the young artists who infuse the annual event with a sense of freshness. Malena Beach’s fourth-grade class and their “Kaleidoscope Hound” are just one example of some of Middleburg’s youngest artists embracing the opportunity to contribute their creativity. Their abstract design was the result of a group effort, in which each student painted their own swatch of color, epitomizing the community-minded spirit that lies at the heart of the event and makes Foxes on the Fence such a meaningful event for artists and residents.

More 2023 Foxes on the Fence entries:

Posted on June 1, 2023

Go for a Drive in Loudoun’s Countryside for the Western Loudoun Art & Studio Tour

Written by Lia Hobel | Photos by Wade Creative 

Western Loudoun’s serene countryside, sprinkled with villages and towns, boasts many working artists who choose to call the area home. On any given day, a traveler can see how this portion of Loudoun could inspire creators with its beauty and tranquility. However, artists may not always have their studios open to the public. That’s why for the last 16 years, volunteers have collectively hosted a three-day, self-guided tour for the community known as the Western Loudoun Art & Studio Tour. The tour is entirely free. 

“One of the great things about the studio tour is that the artists are in their studio,” shared G’Ann Zieger, chair of the planning committee. “They’re working studios and they’re demonstrating their process, so they get a chance to engage with the public.” The tour is the largest of its kind in Northern Virginia, notes Zieger. 

The variety of art is what makes this tour spectacular. There are paintings, pottery, jewelry, photography, drawings, fiber, sculptures, and more. Those who’ve been on the tour in the past know the brilliance showcased. 

This year’s event will be held on June 2-4. Over 50 artists are participating in more than 30 locations. The public is given a map, available in person and online. From there, they can choose where they wish to stop on their road trip. There are a handful of newcomers to this year’s tour. 

For more, visit ML

Grand Opening of White Post Studio, Inc.

WHITE POST, VA — White Post Studio, Inc., a new design studio and art gallery in Virginia’s verdant Shenandoah Valley, will open June 3, 2023. International artist and designer Nanu Al-Hamad (Whitney Biennial, Salone del Mobile Milano, Mitchell-Innes & Nash, etc.) converted this historic railroad warehouse into a countryside hub for contemporary art, design, and assorted creative endeavors. Forthcoming exhibitions include a midsummer group show of local artists, the solo showcase of Carlo Cittadini, a Brooklyn-based painter, and, in the inaugural show this June, an exhibition of Al-Hamad’s new and experimental work.

As a gallery, artist residency, and regional nonprofit, White Post Studio careens forward in an experimental approach to gallery dealings — a direct challenge to both the artist and the collector. The gallery abides by three “commandments” as its foundational pillars:

  1. Your money’s no good here.
  2. Art may only be acquired by essay, trade, or direct donation to the artist.
  3. Unacquired artwork will be destroyed on the last day of the exhibition.

Artists at White Post Studio will have full control of artwork acquisition, with an emphasis on nonmonetary exchange; otherwise, the artwork risks destruction. Collectors who cannot or will not afford a donation may provide a nonmonetary exchange; those who can are encouraged to acquire work more aggressively, saving it from destruction. These principles create a pointed conversation about the commerce of art and the role of artist and collector.

“Cerulean Sleeper,” White Post Studio’s premiere exhibition, is an experimental departure for artist Nanu Al-Hamad. In exploring the creation of a new material, these works utilize cement, paint, canvas, found items, and specified objects to create wall sculptures and conceptual furniture. In “Cerulean Sleeper,” Al-Hamad attempts, admittedly in vain, to freeze moments in time and convert them into something concrete. The material’s rapid curing process minimizes the time allowed to capture a creation. These fleeting flashes of actualization force a method that is grounded equally in careful planning and careless improvisation.

The Artist & Owner: Nanu Al-Hamad is an artist and designer recently transplanted to White Post, Virginia, via Kuwait, California, and New York City. Al-Hamad’s practice is a unique hybrid of interlocking art collective GCC, of which he is a founding member, and POWERHOUSE, a concept design duo. Al-Hamad’s work has been exhibited at the Whitney Museum of American Art, NY; Storefront for Art and Architecture, NY; Swiss Institute, NY; Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, Paris; Sharjah Art Foundation, UAE; Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing; New Museum, NY; MoMA PS1, NY; Contemporary Art Platform, Kuwait; Sultan Gallery, Kuwait; Kraupa-Tuskany Zeidler, Berlin; Project Native Informant, London; Mitchell-Innes & Nash, NY; and design fairs ICFF, Downtown Design Dubai, and Salone del Mobile.

Cerulean Sleeper” runs from June 3 to July 16, 2023, with an opening reception June 3, 5 to 7 p.m. For press inquiries or appointments, email [email protected]

Posted on: May 11, 2023

“Metronome” at the Byrne Gallery

The Byrne Gallery in Middleburg is proud to announce its show for the month of May, “Metronome,” featuring paintings by Andy Hill and sculptures by Richard Binder. The form and structure of Hill’s colorful acrylic paintings and Binder’s stainless steel sculptures evoke the rhythms and cadences of music to the viewer.

This show will be on display from May 3 to June 4. There will be a special reception for the artists on Saturday, May 13, from 4 to 7 p.m. Both the show and reception are free and open to the public, and all are welcome to attend.

Andy Hill

Andy Hill is a D.C.-based artist who creates “art that opposes indifference.” He greatly values his creative process and, much like the music that inspires him, he views his finished works as completed performances. In his canvases, the artist seeks to elicit an emotional response from the viewer, whether negative or positive. This reaction to his work is of utmost importance to him, rather than no reaction at all.

Hill’s art strikes a balance between nostalgia and contemporary aesthetics by combining neon colors with neutrals, and metallics on tan and white backgrounds. The works included in Hill’s latest series, “The Metronome Collection,” form a front of symmetry from afar and can be distilled down to a detailed cadence when viewed up close. Most of his paintings for this exhibition are done on larger canvases which are influenced by his love of music and time spent in the music industry. “The Metronome Collection” is designed with a fluidity that carries the viewer through the paintings.

Richard Binder

I create sculpture using steel as my medium because it has the benefit of permanence, which is very important to me. In my previous profession as a physician, I had hundreds of my patients die, so you can understand why this sense of permanence resonates with me. “Life is transient; Steel has permanence!”

My work continues to evolve as I learn to manipulate steel in new and expressive ways. Many of my pieces are geometric forms; others are forms that are static; while still others appear to have a sense of motion or movement, often rising up into the free space above. They reflect the different dimensions of my own life as an engineer, a physician, and now a sculptor.

My hope is that my sculptures give meaning to those who view them, that they bring beauty into their vision of them, and that they make the viewer smile and feel better about the future.

Visit the Byrne Gallery to see “Metronome” on display for May 2023. The Byrne Gallery is located at 7 West Washington Street in Middleburg, Virginia. Gallery hours are Monday and Tuesday by appointment only, Wednesday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday noon to 5 p.m. Contact the Byrne Gallery for more information at (540) 687-6986, [email protected], or visit

“Endurance” on Display at NSLM: Secretariat’s Triple Crown at 50

Written by Dulcy B. Hooper

It has been 50 years since Virginia’s most famous racehorse, Secretariat, was propelled into the annals of history after winning the American Triple Crown of horse racing: the Kentucky Derby, the Preakness, and the Belmont Stakes in 1973 — setting a track record at the Preakness that has yet to be broken.

Curated by Colleen Yarger, Ph.D., George L. Ohrstrom, Jr. Curator of Library Collections at the National Sporting Library & Museum, the exhibition opened on January 26 and will run through May 14.  

Dr. Yarger joined NSLM last July and immediately began to research and put together  “Endurance.” “It seemed such a natural topic to highlight,” she says, “and NSLM has such significant holdings around which to base this exhibition.” Prior to joining NSLM, Yarger had served as Assistant Curator for European Art and the Mellon Collections at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

Such was Secretariat’s success that those who understood the significance of his epic accomplishments set out to document in print, photography, and art what they had seen with their own eyes. “Endurance” offers a fine-tuned presentation of all the above.

Yarger notes that “There are more people alive now who did not see these races than who did see them — and that includes me.” As to the exhibition, Yarger shares that she “loves a story, and for me, a story has to add up; it has to move from one piece to the next and then the next.” 

“Endurance” includes books, photographs, and art. Among the focus areas is “Breeding for the Perfect Racehorse.” National Sporting Library founder Alexander Mackay-Smith (1903–1998) pinpointed Breeding Racehorses as the first text to publish a system of metrics to identify the most important pedigrees of dams within Thoroughbred breeding.

One of the books highlighted is “The X Factor: What It Is & How to Find It: The Relationship Between Inherited Heart Size and Racing Performance” by Marianna Haun, which explores the theory that Secretariat had been born with a genetic makeup that led to a larger-than-average-sized heart. Haun’s book details the theory that many successful racehorses have bigger hearts, tracing the linkage of this genetic quirk to the X chromosome. At the root of this quirk: a larger-than-average heart is only heritable from father to daughter or from mother to offspring.

“The description of Secretariat’s ‘tremendous heart’ was more than just metaphorical,” says Yarger. “While the average Thoroughbred’s heart weighs between eight and nine pounds, Secretariat’s heart was estimated to weigh 22 pounds.”

“Endurance” includes an understated but deeply impactful visual of Secretariat’s stride — one worth returning to see again. Secretariat’s length of stride was considered large, measuring 24 feet, 11 inches long, while training for the Preakness. Because he was so well-muscled and with such significant cardiac capacity, he could out-gallop competitors at nearly any point in a race.

Another book highlighted in the exhibit is “The Secretariat Factor: The Story of a Multimillion-Dollar Breeding Industry.” Written by Thomas Kiernan and released only two years after Secretariat’s first crop of foals had become eligible to race, “The Secretariat Factor” chronicles the intrigue surrounding that first crop by focusing on their successes and failures, providing a behind-the-scenes look at the various factors affecting the decisions of members of the Secretariat syndicate.

Among Yarger’s favorite aspects of the exhibit is “something I was not expecting but found and was affected by in NSLM’s Richard Stone Reeves Archive.” Reeves was one of the foremost equine portraitists in the second half of the 20th century. Included in his archive (donated to NSLM by his children, Nina and Tony Reeves) is a folder containing a series of black-and-white prints of Secretariat’s renowned groom, Eddie Sweat, holding a lead shank and moving Secretariat around. Along the edges of the photos are chestnut-colored fingerprints, made as Reeves referenced them in painting Secretariat. 

“Now, every time I find a chestnut-colored fingerprint in the Reeves archive, it brings a smile to my face,” Yarger says. “Seeing actual fingerprints on the photos makes it easy to imagine Reeves, in his studio, working on the painting and selecting a photo to reference. It’s a very human thing to do. I am so grateful that Reeves saved them.”

Shortly after Secretariat ran his last race as a 3-year-old on October 28, 1973, he was retired from racing and transported to Claiborne Farm, embarking on life as a sire. Members of the syndicate sent mares to breed, hoping to enhance their chances of producing a worthy contender. By the time Secretariat died in 1989, he had sired 16 crops of foals, producing three stakes winners who would ultimately achieve over $20,000,000 in earnings.

“There is a method when telling a story,” Yarger explains. “You have to believe that one-third will know nothing; one-third will have a general idea of what it is about; and one-third will be supremely interested. I hope that this exhibit touches all of those individuals.” ML

“Endurance: Secretariat’s Triple Crown at 50”
Forrest E. Mars, Sr. Exhibit Hall
National Sporting Library & Museum
102 The Plains Road
Middleburg, VA 20117

Published in the April 2023 issue of Middleburg Life.

The Byrne Gallery’s April Show: “Flora!”

MIDDLEBURG, VA — The Byrne Gallery is proud to present “Flora!”, an exhibition for the springtime by five talented local artists: Craig Arnold, Caroline Cutrona Hottenstein, Cathleen Lawless, Lynn Mocarski Maurer, and Carolyn Marshall Wright.

Traditionally, since the time of the Renaissance, flora has been the personification of spring, as artists captured the beauty of flowers and gardens to represent the new life that comes with the season, a Renaissance in itself. This exhibition will feature a range of artistic media. Caroline Hottenstein works in watercolor on paper, as does Carolyn Marshall Wright, who also uses other water-based media like acrylics; Cathleen Lawless, Lynn Mocarski Maurer, and Craig Arnold are all oil painters. Please come enjoy these artists’ celebration of the return to a season of vibrant color!

The exhibit will be on display from April 5 to April 30. There will be a reception for the artists on Saturday, April 15, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. The exhibition and reception are both open to the public and everyone is cordially invited to attend.

Craig Arnold

Craig Arnold is currently retired from the University of Maryland at College Park having worked there as an Assistant Director/Academic Advisor for the School of Music. While having enjoyed his administrative work at the university, his passion has always been for painting and drawing, which has occupied his spare time over the years in addition to running marathons and traveling the world. He has shown his work at Art-omatic’s May 2009 show and at Touchstone Gallery’s August 2013 Minisolo show. Mr. Arnold has two bachelor’s degrees from the University of Maryland: 1981 B.A. General Studies, and 1990 B.A. Studio Art.

Craig writes about his art, “I’ve always been inspired by the awesome spirituality of nature and the depth and breadth of its beauty. With that in mind, I endeavored in my earlier years to capture that sense of power in nature by painting panoramic landscapes of expansive vistas with atmospheric conditions such as a storm over a wheat field or the full moon in winter. Then in 2010, I turned my eye from the outward vastness to the inward minute intricacies of nature, specifically that of delicate flowers. I began painting large 36-by-36-inch paintings of a single flower with the intent of highlighting the detail of its parts, the subtle gradation of color and light, and the delicate texture of the petals. By enlarging a single flower to a grand scale, it becomes the object of greater scrutiny and adoration. I was often asked whether I was emulating Georgia O’Keeffe. While I certainly find her work inspiring, I did not set out with that intention. And yet in this journey, I have become mesmerized with the fleeting beauty of the flower and have worked at capturing its essence in several other configurations.”

Caroline Cutrona Hottenstein

Caroline Cutrona Hottenstein is a native Northern Virginian. At an early age, art was part of her life. She has an A.A. from Marymount University, and a B.A. in graphic design and an M.F.A. (thesis in etching) both from American University. A freelance artist since 1973, she has worked in various media. Caroline has taught in the Fine Art and Fashion Merchandising programs at Marymount and freelanced at National Geographic’s Book Service Department. 

As a botanical illustrator since 1986, her artistic observations have been expressed through traditional watercolor, pen and ink, and graphite techniques. Other artistic interests include landscapes, still life, and historical and nature subjects. She has taught classes, lectured, and presented programs related to art and textiles. Caroline is represented in Carnegie Mellon’s Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation and is a member of the American Society of Botanical Artists.     

Cathleen Lawless

Cathleen Lawless’s still life oil paintings harken back to themes from her childhood, often incorporating family heirlooms that impart a sense of nostalgia. In her most recent florals, she uses diffuse cool light to illuminate her subjects, creating a soft atmospheric quality and subtle shadows.

Cathleen says, “I am inspired to capture the character of flowers, which in life are so fleeting, as a way of preserving their loveliness for others to behold. One of the delights of being an artist is that by necessity I spend hour upon hour contemplating beauty.”

Lynn Mocarski Maurer

Lynn Mocarski Maurer received her B.F.A. from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, where she studied under the renowned Rita Deanin Abbey and sculptor John McCracken. She also studied trompe l’œil with Bonnie Chumley (New York artist John Chumley’s daughter) and figure studies with SoHo artist Jack Beal. In 2000, she returned to oil painting on canvas, board, and copper plate as well as highly detailed, large-format graphite studies.

From her studio in Old Town Winchester, Virginia, she has mounted shows in oil and graphite as well as delivered commissioned sharp-focus still-life oil paintings and elaborate graphite drawings. Her solo shows and selected exhibitions including a Corcoran Museum of Art juried exhibition and two one-woman shows for DuPont Circle’s Gallery A. Currently, Lynn’s work is also on display at Michelin four-star Inn at Little Washington Tavern shops. Lynn has received two Washington Post articles and a delightful review by Mark Jenkins for her exhibit, “Passing Impressions.”

Carolyn Marshall Wright

After over 20 years of working with watercolor, Carolyn remains fascinated by this medium that conveys such luminosity and light. After reaching a certain level of mastery in watercolor, her explorations with color and structure then led her to begin working with acrylics and collage. Carolyn frequently melds the abstract with the representational, creating pieces that are expressionistic, playful, and full of joy. Her paintings are an emotional response to the world around her. When she is astonished by beauty, she wants to acknowledge it — not by precise representation, but by creating space for the viewer to have their own encounter with beauty through her work. 

Carolyn is a signature member of the Virginia Watercolor Society, a member and past president of Potomac Valley Watercolorists, and a frequent exhibitor in juried exhibitions in the mid-Atlantic region. She has been profiled in “Artists Magazine” and “Watercolor Artist.” Her work has hung in the Museum of the Shenandoah Valley, in the World Bank, and is in numerous private collections around the world. 

Please come visit the Byrne Gallery to see “Flora!” on display for April 2023. The Byrne Gallery is located at 7 W. Washington Street in Middleburg, Virginia. Gallery hours are Monday and Tuesday by appointment only, Wednesday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday noon to 5 p.m. Contact the Byrne Gallery for more information at (540) 687-6986 or [email protected] Visit our website at

Posted on: March 14, 2023

The Story of Alexander and Diogenes

Written by Richard Hooper

Among the paintings on display at the National Sporting Library & Museum in the exhibition Identity & Restraint: Art of the Dog Collar is one titled “Alexander and Diogenes.” The original was by Sir Edwin Landseer; first shown at the Royal Academy in London in 1848, it now hangs in the Tate Gallery. The one in the exhibition at the NSLM originated from Landseer’s studio.

At first glance, the painting is a gathering of dogs posed around a wooden barrel. The snarling dog inside the barrel represents Diogenes, the Greek philosopher. In reality, at one period during his life Diogenes did reside in a large clay vessel. He embraced poverty and was highly critical of Greek society and human foibles and folly in general. In the painting, the lantern in the lower left depicts the one he would carry in daylight in search of an honest man. Beside it are a few simple tools representing self-reliance, and potatoes representing his sparse diet. He was included in a group of philosophers known as Cynics. The word cynic comes from the Greek kynikos, meaning “dog-like,” and it was applied to them due in large part to their behavior. Diogenes, reaching the pinnacle of such display, was singularly referred to as a dog, kynos. Quarrelsome and annoying, yet extremely clever and imaginative at times, he was known to publicly behave in disgusting ways, unashamedly, as could a dog. 

The story goes that one day Alexander the Great came across Diogenes. Actually pleased to meet the philosopher, Alexander asked if there was anything he could do for him. Impertinently, Diogenes responded along the lines of, “Yes, stand to the side; you are blocking the warmth of the sun.” This is the moment the painting captures. Alexander, the imposing white bulldog or bull terrier type of dog at the center of the painting, has his head pulled back in surprise, and the sycophantic entourage of other breeds are all looking askance with shock and indignation. Attempting to soothe the situation with magnanimity, Alexander stated that, “If I were not Alexander, I would wish to be Diogenes.” Unimpressed and beyond the lure of flattery, Diogenes responded, “If I were not Diogenes, I would still wish to be Diogenes.”

The exhibit will be open at the NSLM until March 26. It then will travel to New York to the AKC Museum of the Dog (the home of the painting) where it will be on display from April 5 through September 4, and then to Pebble Hill Plantation in Thomasville, Georgia, where it will be on display from November 3 until May 3, 2024.

Posted on: March 10, 2023

Art In The Burg: Middleburg’s Town-Wide Arts Celebration

What: On Saturday, May 13, the Middleburg Arts Council and the Town of Middleburg will host the spring installment of its biannual arts celebration, Art in the Burg: Celebrate the Arts. Artwork from local and regional artists of different styles, forms, and subject matter will be on display on South Madison Street and Federal Street from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. This year’s event will also feature live music, a fashion show, cooking demonstrations, art activities for kids, and a special Mother’s Day-themed Wine Garden.

Where: The Town of Middleburg
South Madison Street and Federal Street
Middleburg, VA 20117       

When: Art in the Burg on Saturday, May 13, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Additional Information: For additional information, please visit or email [email protected]. Follow Middleburg Arts Council on Facebook for updates.

Directions: Middleburg is located approximately 45 minutes from Washington, D.C., and is in close proximity to Dulles International Airport. To get there from metropolitan Washington, take I-66 West to Route 50 West (Exit 57B) toward Winchester. Drive approximately 25 miles to Middleburg.

Posted on: February 28, 2023

Search for Sugar Man, Find Yourself

Written by Kaitlin Hill 
Images courtesy of
Sony Classic Pictures

Editor’s Note: This article includes a mention of suicide.

This October marked the 10th anniversary of the Middleburg Film Festival, bringing with it A-list celebrities, exclusive screenings, packed houses, and standing ovations. Ray Romano made his directorial debut with “Somewhere in Queens” and Brendan Fraser’s triumphant return to the spotlight was celebrated by raucous applause as credits rolled on “The Whale.” But, arguably, the most powerful moment of the festival occurred on its closing afternoon, in the intimate and understated auditorium of The Hill School, in front of a modestly sized crowd. 

The documentary “Searching for Sugar Man,” produced by Sony Classic Pictures, tells the most curious tale of Mexican-American, Detroit-based singer and songwriter Rodriguez. If the name doesn’t ring a bell, that’s the point. Unlike Prince, Elvis, Sting, or Madonna, the single name is not a signifier of notoriety. Instead, the documentary explores how an artist of a similar caliber of talent could live in absolute obscurity in the United States with, unbeknownst to him, Elvis-level fame in South Africa. 

“Searching for Sugar Man” opens on a winding Cape Town highway with a disturbing rumor. “He set himself alight on stage and burnt to death in front of the audience,” says Stephen Segerman, a South African record shop owner, as he navigates a twisting road high above an endless expanse of steel gray water.

Over the course of 86 minutes, interviews with Segerman, guitarist Willem Möller, American music executive Clarence Avant, “Bonanza” actor and record producer, Steve Rowland, Detroit bar owner, Rick Emmerson, and others explore the rise of Rodriguez in South Africa and the shroud of mystery surrounding him as they seek to discover whether he is dead or alive. 

Rodriguez’s story unfolds to the soundtrack of his on-the-nose lyrics, percussion guitar, and soulful voice. In his song, “This is Not a Song, It’s an Outburst: Or, The Establishment Blues” from his first album “Cold Fact,” released in apartheid South Africa in 1971, Rodriguez lays bare the delusion of the American dream, pinpointing concerns that still dominate headlines over fifty years later. 

“The mayor hides the crime rate 
council woman hesitates 
Public gets irate but forget the vote date 
Weatherman complaining, predicted sun, it’s raining 
Everyone’s protesting, boyfriend keeps suggesting 
you’re not like all of the rest

Garbage ain’t collected, women ain’t protected 
Politicians using, people they’re abusing 
The mafia’s getting bigger, like pollution in the river 
And you tell me that this is where it’s at.” 

“To many of us South Africans, he was the soundtrack of our lives,” Segerman explains in the film. “The message it had was ‘be anti-establishment’…We didn’t know what the word anti-establishment was until it cropped up on a Rodriguez song, and then we found out it’s okay to protest against your society, to be angry at your society.” 

And music journalist Craig Bartholomew-Strydom adds, “This album somehow had lyrics in it that almost set us free as an oppressed people.” 

While some songs provided inspiration for the anti-apartheid movement, years later, others offered clues for Segerman and Bartholomew-Strydom in their search for Rodriguez’s origin and outcome. 

As the film demonstrates, they used the following lyrics from “Can’t Get Away,” on Rodriguez’s sophomore album, “Coming from Reality,” to find him. 

“Born in the troubled city
In Rock and Roll, USA
In the shadow of the tallest building
I vowed I would break away.”

To share too much more of the plot would be to deny potential viewers the chance to experience a masterfully captivating mystery, complete with dead ends, breakthroughs, multiple identities, moments of self-reflection, and a surprise ending. But perhaps the biggest plot twist was the Q&A following the film, where Rodriguez, yes, the Rodriguez, appeared to answer questions from the crowd. 

As the audience heaped on their praise, Rodriguez proved to be witty, soft-spoken, and above all, humble. 

When asked how he managed to stay so grounded considering his fame in South Africa, he answered simply and with a small laugh, “I’m from Detroit. We are accustomed to some noise.” 

And responding to an inquiry from the crowd on what message he would share to inspire others, he stopped, contemplated, and said “Copyright your music.” 

Though the crowd gathered at The Hill School was undoubtedly eager for more, Rodriguez, purposefully or not, didn’t deliver, continuing the legacy of mystery that has characterized his whole life. He ended simply by saying, “Goodbye, good luck, and stay well,” a sentiment similar to his song “Forget It” from “Cold Fact.” 

“If there was a word, but magic’s absurd
I’d make one dream come true
It didn’t work out, but don’t ever doubt
How I felt about you

But thanks for your time
Then you can thank me for mine
And after that’s said
Forget it.” 

This article first appeared in the November 2022 issues of Middleburg Life.

IDENTITY & RESTRAINT: Art of the Dog Collar

Story by Richard D. Hooper

Another must-see exhibition will open at the National Sporting Library & Museum (NSLM) on October 7. The exhibit highlights more than 60 dog collars from the 187 collars donated to the museum by Dr. and Mrs. Timothy J. Greenan in 2014. The exhibition is a collaboration between the NSLM and The American Kennel Club (AKC) Museum of the Dog in New York City which is sending 48 works of art from its collection to accompany the collars.

The first section of the exhibition focuses on collars and art from the 17th century into the middle of the 19th century. Among these collars is a very practical hinged, iron collar, and another iron collar of flattened disks with upturned spikes connected by iron rings. Both are from the 1600s.

Some collars in the collection are engraved with the dog’s name, the identity of its owner, or both. Others don’t have either but still convey the high status – its own form of identity – of its owner through both design and richness of material. One such example is an extremely large 18th-century collar from India which would have graced the neck of a Tibetan mastiff. The horsehide leather is set with brass-mounted, agate cabochons along with elaborate metalwork. Two other 18th-century leather collars are from Germany; one is adorned with brass seashells and bosses, the other with stylized initials. 

Silver collars conveyed a similar cachet. Of those included in the exhibition, there is one identified as being from the year1834. It is a simple design, and, although the dog is not named, it identifies the owners, Miss C. & E. Senhouse. Their names are elegantly engraved above their beguilingly named abode, “Nether Hall,” a structure in Cumbria at the northwest corner of England with portions dating from at least the 1400s. 

Pierced metal collars from the 18th and 19th centuries are certain to be among the highlights of the exhibition. These were made from wide bands of brass with sections removed leaving dates, letters, and designs as the surface. Contrasting leather was usually used as a liner, stitched to the collar through small holes near the upper and lower rims. An unusual example in the show has a metal liner with round-ended spikes bent over its rims.

The earliest painting on display is “The Lion Hunt,” dating from 1605 by the Flemish artist Paul de Vos. The Dutch artist Abraham Hondius is represented by several pieces including “The Amsterdam Dog Market” painted in the early 1670s. The scene is generally considered to be an imaginary construct. Nonetheless, it is an amazing painting with more than 40 dogs depicted, possibly to advertise Hondius’ expertise in painting them. In the lower right of the painting, an array of collars is laid out for perusal. Among other artists in this section of the exhibition are Philip Reinagle, George Morlandl, Henry Alken, and two paintings by Sir Edwin Landseer, including the well-known painting “Alexander and Diogenes.”

The other sections of the exhibition focus on particular breeds or types of dogs such as mastiffs, terriers, bulldogs, pointers, and setters. Included here is Richard Ansdell’s “The Poacher at Bay,” depicting a poacher trying to protect himself by desperately clutching to the collar of the gamekeeper’s mastiff. Some of the other artists on display in these sections are Percival Rousseau, Gustave Muss-Arnot, Arthur Wardle, George Earl, and George’s daughter, Maud Earl. 

Collars extend through these portions of the show as well, displayed alongside breed types or by use. These collars feature styles that were becoming more broadly available through means of manufacturing including collars with linked metal plaques or bands and interlocking, delicate chains. Many of these were for simple practicality; others strove for a high degree of decorative pleasure.

The catalog of the show contains contributions by Dr. Timothy Greenan, Claudia Pfieffer, the deputy director and George L. Ohrstrom, Jr. Curator at the NSLM, and Alan Fausel, adjunct curator at the AKC Museum of the Dog. 

The show will run from October 7 to March 26, 2023, before traveling to the AKC Museum of the Dog in New York where it will be on display from April 5 through September 4, 2023. Finally, it will be at Pebble Hill Plantation in Thomasville, Georgia, from November 3, 2023, until May 3, 2024.

This exhibition was made possible through the generosity of Dr. and Mrs. Timothy J. Greenan, Garth Greenan Gallery, Mark Anstine, and Marianna Lancaster. ML

This article first appeared in the October 2022 issue.