Ash Devine concert opens Appalachian photo exhibit at the Flood


On Thursday, Dec. 7, Ash Devine will showcase her Maybelle Carter/Pete Seeger-like guitar playing and ukulele talents during the opening of  “Appalachia A Hundred Years Ago,”  an exhibit of photographs by William Barnhill depicting Western North Carolina residents demonstrating traditional crafts. The free concert and exhibit, from 6:30-9 p.m., will be at Flood Fine Art Center, 2160 U.S. 70, Swannanoa.

For three years in the early 20th century, William Barnhill hiked the mountains around Asheville to take candid images of the people living there

Inspired by Horace Kephart’s new book, "Our Southern Highlanders," Barnhill in 1914 came to Asheville as a 25-year-old Philadelphian bent on establishing a commercial photography business. Barnhill’s passion was to hike into the mountains around the town to take candid images of the people living there and crafting everyday necessities with their hands. He did that for three years, unaware of the Appalachian crafts revival occurring at that time.

William Barnhill got to know many of the people he photographed around the Asheville area a century ago.

In 1959, Barnhill produced prints of those images for Pack Library in Asheville, as well as the New York Public Library and the Library of Congress. Some of the images appeared in American Heritage and Life magazines. He gave negatives for the images, as well as many other scrapbooks and items, to Mars Hill College (now Mars Hill University) in 1982.

A friend explained how Barnhill was able to capture the portraits of the mountain people he met.

“He often shared their mode of living for short periods of time - the cornhusk mattresses, the hogback and greens," the friend said, "and it was this acceptance of him as a friend which made it possible for him to obtain the many intimate studies of their way of life.  He repaid their hospitality with copies of the photographs, and many of these are still cherished by the families.”

Some of the families have been invited to speak at the Dec. 7 opening at Flood Fine Art Center about their interactions with Barnhill prior to his death in 1987.

Ash Devine's breathy and rich vocals and finger-picking guitar styles have been described as a marriage of Maybelle Carter and Pete Seeger.

Devine, an award-winning songwriter, folk/Americana/country musician and multi-talented humanitarian performance artist, is based in Asheville. Her classic folk sound and stage presence have been compared to Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger.  Recently seen on stage with Grammy-winning folk artists David Holt and Sheila Kay Adams, Devine’s folk fusion-style gleans sounds of Appalachian traditional folk, Americana-pop and classic rock.

She is an accomplished instrumentalist on finger-style and Carter Scratch Guitar and an innovative ukulele player.