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July 2017

As power couples go, we’re all familiar with Anthony and Cleopatra, Martha and George, Jack and Jackie. But do you know about the North Carolina power couple Juliana and Jacques Busbee? If so, indulge me as I tell you a story, and if not I hope you are curious enough to read further!

Born Julia Adeline Royster and James Littlejohn Busbee the couple were married in Raleigh in 1910. By that time Julia had become “Juliana” and James had become “Jacques.” They were movers and shakers in the art and literary circles of Raleigh and throughout North Carolina in the early part of the 20th century. Juliana’s passion for and knowledge of art, coupled with her organizational skills, had earned her a reputation as a well-respected lecturer and arts advocate as head of the art department of the North Carolina Federation of Women’s Clubs. In that capacity, she traveled the state promoting pine needle basketry and other traditional crafts, frequently acting as a judge of local crafts at fairs around the state. Juliana purchased her first piece of pottery at a fair in Lexington. Jacques Busbee was a painter who had trained in New York and Europe. He received numerous commissions for both portraits and landscapes. He too was a well-respected art lecturer and traveled around the state fulfilling his commissions.

Photo courtesy NC State ArchivesWhile “overwintering” in New York City in 1916 Juliana and Jacques became modern art enthusiasts. During that visit, they were invited to exhibit North Carolina pottery and basketry at the New York National Society of Craftsmen’s 10th annual exhibit and sale. According to Juliana, The North Carolina pottery was the hit of the show. The simplicity of the design and the fine color were a refreshing touch in a time that was just shuddering free from the gimcrackery of the gingerbread house with the walnut parlor and the fringed velvet drapes. That experience in New York convinced us that we were right; that there was a demand for native North Carolina pottery. Considering the Busbees’ philosophy at this point in their lives (Juliana would have been forty and Jacques forty-seven), it is doubtful they would have described themselves as entrepreneurs. But indeed they were. At the time World War I was raging in Europe; consequently, handcrafted peasant items could not be imported. Juliana thought it was the perfect time to promote an American craft. She remained in New York, opening her Greenwich Village tea shop and selling North Carolina pottery. Jacques returned to North Carolina in search of pottery and potters to supply Juliana’s shop. And, what a success the shop was! The pottery flew off the shelves.

Their love story and their shared passion for North Carolina and its people led them to create a cottage industry that boosted the economy in one of the state’s most impoverished regions in the early part of the 20th century. Their passion for the preservation of this American folk craft honors the simplistic beauty and functionality of native pottery. As he worked with the potters, Jacques’ artistic knowledge and expertise served as the impetus for the enhancements of simple, utilitarian stoneware, broadening its appeal. Jacques, soon after its genesis, claimed that Jugtown Pottery was not a “revival” but a “survival.” Its tradition was not founded so much by the recovery of a dead art but by the continuation of a folkcraft entrenched in history, carried on by artisans capable of making “new ways for old jugs,”  writes Stephen Compton.
 
As Jacques and the potters worked together it became obvious that their products needed a trademark. They settled on “Jugtown Ware." It was a controversial choice because the original “Jugtowners” were potters in Lincoln and Catawba counties. Oftentimes, the term “Jugtown” had come to mean any section of the state where two or three potters congregated. The “Jugtown” which achieved the distinction of a post office was in Catawba County…And so we took “Jugtown Ware” for a trademark as a certain historical significance was implicit in the name itself, Jacques explained. Some of the potters Jacques was working with traveled from the backwoods of North Carolina to New York City to study firsthand the ceramics collection at the Metropolitan. The resulting inspiration from those study trips was influential in elevating the simple functional pottery of the Sandhills to an art form that is loved and collected around the world.

Such were the beginnings of Jugtown and the beautiful pottery for which the area has become known. We owe a debt of gratitude to this power couple, Juliana and Jacques Busbee, for their passion and commitment to preserving and growing this folk art that has come to be recognized throughout the world for its beauty, warmth, graceful lines, understated elegance and functionality. North Carolina pottery can be found in the Louvre, the Metropolitan, and public and private collections around the globe. Today, there are more than 70 potters in the Randolph, Lee, and Moore counties area. No other state possesses such a large, diverse, and continuous ceramic heritage. To learn more about North Carolina’s pottery heritage Stephen C. Compton’s new book Jugtown Pottery, 1917-2017: A Century of Art and Craft is Clay provides an immersion experience into this story.

2017 marks the 100th anniversary of Jugtown Pottery. On September 27, we will be traveling to Seagrove to explore the North Carolina Pottery Center, the first state pottery center in the nation, meet internationally acclaimed third-generation potter Ben Owen III, and visit JugtownLearn more and register today. I hope you'll be able to join us!

Happy travels!

maryesther@visitncconcierge.com
visitncconcierge.com
(919) 302-0574
Seagrove Pottery Adventure
September 27, 2017

Explore the rich culture of the ancient craft of pottery as we travel for a day to the heart of North Carolina’s pottery traditions in Seagrove. Seagrove is approximately an hour and a half from Raleigh, and is notably, according to the Seagrove website, “the largest concentration of working potters in the United States … no other state possesses such a large, diverse, and continuous ceramic heritage.” The North Carolina Pottery Center is our first stop, where we will enjoy a docent-led tour of the museum’s permanent and special exhibits followed by a pottery demonstration. As the first state pottery center in the nation, its mission is to “promote public awareness and appreciation of the history, heritage, and ongoing tradition of pottery making in North Carolina through education programs, public services, collection and preservation, and research and documentation.”

After lunch, we will visit the studio of Ben Owen III, named a North Carolina Living Treasure by UNC-Wilmington Museum of World Cultures in 2004. Ben’s grandfather, master potter Ben Owen Sr., introduced his grandson to pottery when he was 8 years old. Ben will chat with us about his family’s unique connection to the art and craft of clay.

Our final stop before returning to Raleigh will be Jugtown, the oldest, continuously operating pottery seller in the Moore and Randolph counties area. It’s off the main road and practically hidden amongst the trees, a step back in time. 

Learn More
Reconnaissance Report: 
Roanoke Island

In the May newsletter, I mentioned traveling to Roanoke Island on a recon mission in June, promising to give you an update in the July newsletter. Modern North Carolina history began on Roanoke Island. The first English settlers arrived in the New World on the shores of Roanoke Island in 1587. Later that year the first English child born in the United States, Virginia Dare, was born on Roanoke Island. What a terrific destination for a visit NC concierge trip!

Roanoke Island has two towns at opposite ends of the island. Manteo’s abuzz with visitors in a charming commercial district that capitalizes on the beautiful waterfront. Its boardwalk invites a leisurely stroll savoring the breeze blowing in from the Roanoke Sound overlooking the many pleasure boats docked alongside. Festival Park and the Elizabeth II, a replica of one of the ships on which the colonists sailed, calls from the opposite shore. The historic courthouse has been turned into an art gallery. Further afield the beautiful Elizabethan Gardens and Ft. Raleigh, home to The Lost Colony, beckon.

This is just the beginning of all there is to see and explore on Roanoke Island. There’s a fabulous aquarium, one of three along our coast, and a visit to Wanchese. Wanchese??? More to come on Wanchese later. Keep your eyes peeled for more information about a trip to Roanoke Island in 2018!

Support Your Local Farmers Market!
Fred Thompson, the Weekend Gourmet columnist for the Raleigh News & Observer, recently wrote an article about one of my favorite summer vegetables, fresh peas. It reminded me how fortunate we are to have access to delicious fresh fruits and vegetables in the summertime. You may want to remind me that fresh fruits and vegetables are available all year long in our grocery stores. Yes, that’s true; HOWEVER, they just don’t taste the same as what comes straight from the garden or the nearby farmers market in the summertime. Like Fred, Dixie Lee peas are my favorites. Add an ear of fresh corn, Silver Queen or Fantasia, and some sliced tomatoes and nothing could be finer. Goodness Grows in North Carolina. Support your local farmers market and enjoy the tastes of summer!
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What Our Guests are Saying About Us

We loved the carriage tour through the historic district. The homes and buildings were beautiful. We loved everything we did and thought each stop was delightful. Exceeded expectations.
~ Suzie and Rob D.

Very pleased with all. What a beautiful city (Wilmington). So glad I got to visit. 
~ Doe S.

It seemed just right. The best part was the variety and no sense of rush. Exceeded Expectations.
~ Duke and Nancy T.

Mary Esther is always available to answer any questions you may have and with great patience. She also is very willing to help solve any problem you may have. She is an excellent planner, director and tour guide. Her trips have been super!
~ Billie M. 

Contact us to book your tour today! 
919-302-0574
info@visitncconcierge.com
visit NC concierge is a premier hospitality company dedicated to providing the discriminating traveler unique experiences savoring North Carolina’s history, geography, and culture at a leisurely travel pace while enjoying the state’s finest sites, cuisine, and lodgings. Itineraries are subject to change at the discretion of the company. Group size: minimum 10; maximum 30. Registration for each tour closes 30 days prior to tour start date. For more information, visit us at visitncconcierge.com
 
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