Danville, KY is a quintessential, small, American, Southern town with a Main Street and all. We were driving here to attend my Aunt’s memorial service. Fortunately, we were also able to attend the Brass Band Festival — one of its main tourists attractions. I had never heard of it before but it was a huge deal on Centre College’s campus. The music was a mix of traditional Sousa type brass, jazz and classical. Folks from Louisville attended setting up themed tables in which they competed for the best decorations. It made a somewhat emotional time enjoyable. We missed the hot air balloon part, but coincidentally I wrote about balloons last Friday, as it was occurring in Danville.

brass band fest in Danville, KY

danville brass band festival 09. Photo by C. Ashley Spencer

danville-brass-band. Photo by C. Ashley Spencer

My son told me about this band, Yesterday’s Last Quintet — very jazzy, hip-hop and electronic blues influences by the musical artist Madlib. Worth checking out at LastFM for more tunes. A little  jazzy brass to Kick-start your weekend.

Cherry Blossoms, Tribute & Anniversary

Sorry not to post yesterday. I needed a mental health day of recuperation after the NOHGS. When I returned the first thing I noticed was the Cherry Blossoms have popped and are in full bloom. Gorgeous! Then I entered my house, and no pets to greet me. That was a strange feeling and one to get used to.

flowers-for-dad. Photo by C. Ashley Spencer

Today is the day for many remembrances. Today is the 2nd year anniversary of my father’s passing. I remember how beautiful the cherry blossoms looked when he died. Yesterday, my 91 year old Aunt Katherine, my father’s sister, passed away. This is more than a bit uncanny in the timing. She was my eccentric, artistic namesake. My first name is Cathryn and although, I do not go by it, I keep it in my name as C. Ashley as a tribute to her. She taught me a lot about art at an early age and about connections. She introduced me to my Venetian cousins, who have since become dear friends and she discovered when I was working at the National Gallery that my boss’ wife was related to a family friend. Coincidentally it’s that family friend who owns the funeral home that is taking care of her now. She was full of surprises. I always enjoyed listening to her many stories. Sometimes, she’d just show up, having driven all the way from Danville, Kentucky with her trunk full of shoe boxes (I never quite figured that one out), and we’d go painting.

I know I have more recent pictures but here is one of my Aunt when she came to visit in 1997 (one of those, Hi, I’m here times). Piers was 8 and Jackson was @ 4 years old and my sister Lindsey, who was living in the area at the time is the photo.

Aunt Katherine Jackson. Photo by C. Ashley Spencer

Here’s a photo of my illustration studio with some of Aunt Katherine’s artwork. She knew I loved Venice and when I asked her to please paint something for me, she copied some well known pieces and wouldn’t sign her name to them; even though, they were her stylistic take on the originals, so she signed for the original artists, giving them the rightful credit. She never felt comfortable about her artwork, however, and was always resigned to be humble about her talent. She was quite prolific and would paint au plein air when and wherever the mood struck — even if it meant climbing over a convent wall just to capture the moment in the nuns’ private garden. I think she got caught that time but they let her go when they saw her work.

My Studio with Aunt Katherine\'s artwork. Photo by C. Ashley Spencer

Timing is more than a mysterious thing sometimes. My sister Hilary is having her first baby today and his name will be John, named after my father. I just got the call and mother, baby and father are doing fine.  As all three of the older generation of Jackson siblings are now gone, my Aunt makes way for another to enter the world….Beyond mortal explanation, I think.

Just a side note that I also find timely and something I just learned. VanGogh’s birthday was on March 30th: http://bestbooksreview.com/2009/03/famous-birthday-today-vincent-van-gogh/

I’ll post again on Monday with more news from the trade show that we attended. Have a great weekend!