THOM 5 | Fall / Winter 2015

ThomArts

Volume 3 | issue 2

fall/winter 2015


Volume 3 | Issue 2

Fall/Winter 2015

9

Editor & Publisher

Michele Arwood

CREATIVE Director

Haile McCollum

Associate Editor

Callie Sewell

Production Manager

Margret Brinson

Development Manager

Mallory Jones

copy Editor

Lauren Eberle

Designers

Lindsey Strippoli

85

Photographers

Mark Atwater

Jay Bowman

Meghan Davis

Gabe Hanway

Luke Hok

Brian Metz

Abby Mims

Alicia Osborne

Daniel Shippey

Becky Stayner

Writers

Alison Abbey

Lauren Eberle

Susan Ray

Nadia R. Watts

Jennifer Westfield

INTERN

Becca Harris

thomasvillearts.org

600 E. Washington Street

Thomasville, GA

229.226.0588

Cover photo by:

RL Ireland “Birds of a Feather”

97


contents

Fall/Winter 2015

Creator

5 A STORY OF STYLE

Niels van Rooyen

Holland & Holland

Visionary

9 From Cairo to Cairo

Keith Summerour

Summerour & Associates Architects

collector

15 All the world’s a small town

Kathy Vignos

Foodie

19 The Hottest Table in Town

Chris Hastings

Birmingham’s Hot and Hot Fish Club

91

27 THOM’S GUIDE

thinker

85 what about bob

Bob Ireland

CONDUCTOR

91 EVERYBODY LOVES RAYMOND

Raymond Hughes

TASTEMAKER

97 SON OF THE SOUTH

William Lamb

Wm. Lamb and Son

connector

101 Touching Lives, from reel to reel

Covey Film Festival

5

105 Featured Artists


Letter From

the Editor

CHOO choo choo choo…. CHOO choo choo choo…..CHOOOO CHOOOO!!!

It was 1861. The winter snow was deep in the

North and Thomasville had just become the

terminus for the South-bound railroad. By now,

most folks around here know it was then when

loads of Northerners with the financial means and

gumption boarded the trains and headed our way

to soak up our Southern hospitality and mild winter

climate. What followed was a golden era when the

visionaries of the day bought our old antebellum

plantations and shaped them into world-renowned

sporting properties.

Now more than 150 years later, the Red Hills is a

veritable quail hunting mecca due to the ingenuity

and commitment of our forefathers and their

families who have intentionally cultivated the land

for generations. Their dedication to preserving this

rich aspect of our culture allows us to say we are

home to more than 100 plantations and hundreds

of thousands of acres of quail hunting land that

contribute to our strong economy.

Those of us committed to strengthening our

community through the arts know that it’s not

just the land and quail that attract guests and

new neighbors. As they say, “birds of a feather flock

together,” and like our feathered friends, people

desire to be in the company of others who share

similar ideals, values, and tastes. So this season

we’re honoring the other side of what makes us

great: remarkable artists and visionaries who live,

play, and create here because they love our land and

fine hunting traditions.

You’ll meet a Cleveland-born world traveler with a

penchant for collecting wildlife art, a London-based

South African who is influencing our field fashion

sense, a NYC Creative Director who balances his

big city life with a love for the Southern hunt, an

internationally acclaimed architect who retreats

to a stone tower house, and a James Beard Awardwinner

whose table flavors are influenced by his

ancestors.

It’s a natural time for us to profile this covey of

creatives as we celebrate the 20th anniversary of the

Center for the Arts’ Plantation Wildlife Arts Festival.

Each of them will leave their own distinct mark

on Thomasville as a festival art collector, designer,

speaker, artist, or patron.

As we rollout this issue, we continue to be inspired

by the deep well of talent shaping our community

here and from afar. After five issues, I still get

excited when someone asks me, “Why do you

feature people who don’t live in Thomasville?”

I LOVE this question because it’s actually at the

root of why we started the magazine. We believe

what makes us a great city is the exchange of ideas

between locals and friends in other cities. People

and their contagious ideas are what make our city

great today, just as they did when our Northern

friends found their way here on the trains destined

for new lands and opportunity at the turn of the

20th century.

If you’re a member of the Center, you’ll enjoy a

special experience this season tied to our cover

partners, Holland & Holland and Kevin’s. Stay tuned

for details closer to PWAF. If you’re not a member

yet, you’ll want to become one now!

Michele Arwood

Editor + Publisher

3


Instagram Influencers

Nine Instagram feeds that keep us inspired and connected

@birddogoftheday

We sure do love bird dogs

around here, pointers, setters,

spaniels, oh my!

@waitingonmartha

A curator of everyday fun, stunning

images and trendsetting style, plus

the occasional cute dog photo

@brothersandcraft

A trifecta of keen eyed brothers

presenting artful photos of menswear

in a decidedly southern context

@georgiaseaturtlecenter

Keeping it all in perspective by

watching a passionate team save

turtles on Jekyll Island

@sidandannmashburn

Alabama may have Billy and Natalie

but Georgia has Sid and Ann

@thomasvillelandmarks

Sometimes you have to look at the

details to appreciate the big picture

@swallowsanddamsons

Wait until you see what comes

from a little flower shop in

Sheffield, England

@jamestfarmer

It’s like you are following an old

friend. Really we just want to move

into his new house, Farmdale

@bookshelftville

Because “life enriched by books is

the best kind of life”and we love

their videos

4


5


CREATOR

Written by

Susan Ray

Photographed by

Holland & Holland

Between his busy travel schedule, his role as Creative Director of the exclusive

outdoor brand Holland & Holland, and a six-hour time difference, I felt fortunate

to catch up with Niels van Rooyen. Niels tells stories with such charm that

despite our accent differences (his fast-talking South African English and my slow

Southern drawl), I was quickly drawn into his world as if we were old friends.

While Niels resides in London now, he grew up in South Africa. His mother, who

was an English ballet dancer, and father, who was a South African farmer, both

had big influences on his sense of style and design. His mother first piqued his

interest in design by introducing him to the classical look and through her love of

Diana Vreeland. Niels’ father — whose advice was, “let nature be our master” —

also had an impact on Niels’ design.

Niels shared his mother’s admiration for Diana Vreeland because he liked Diana’s

belief in creating your own style. “I loved her way of thinking and how she would

mix for a great look.” Diana launched another one of Niels’ favorite designers,

Cristobal Balenciaga. But perhaps it was the glamour of Diana’s most famous

patron, Jackie Kennedy, who captivated his textile and design interest the most.

Niels’ biggest sense of style always goes back to nature. “It gives us the most

amazing colors in the world,” he says. Elements of nature, such as reptile skins,

influence his sense of texture, while he looks to things such as bird feathers for

his beautiful color combinations. It’s this appreciation of nature that inspires the

themes of each seasonal collection Niels designs for Holland & Holland. This year’s

spring/summer collection, “Safari”, is based on his travels to Africa.

6


For Niels, the process of creating is about storytelling. You

can see this with the theme of this year’s autumn/winter

collection: The MacNab Challenge. It’s an old tradition

in Britain where a hunter attempts to catch a salmon,

shoot a brace of grouse, and stalk a deer in a day. Niels

designed one-of-a-kind tweed for this collection that was

produced by weavers who trace back to the 16th century.

Holland & Holland collaborates with various artists to

create exclusive in-house designs for their customers to

compliment each theme.

“The scarves are absolutely

beautiful,” says Niels.

“There will only be 27 of

them in the world. Each will

have an individual number

and a signature.”

In addition to looking to nature and stories, Niels relies

on travel and the notes he takes while on his journeys

for inspiration. His travels back to his roots in Africa

particularly spark his design ideas. He likes to study

the African tribes and their intricate paintings to use

elements for his collections.

This year he’ll make his way to Thomasville to introduce,

alongside Kevin’s Fine Outdoor Gear & Apparel, a limitededition

scarf based on a painting by artist Sue Key to

commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Plantation

Wildlife Arts Festival. “The scarves are absolutely

beautiful,” says Niels. “There will only be 27 of them in

the world. Each will have an individual number and a

signature.” He’s looking forward to the visit as he says, “I

love the hospitality in the South. And I had my first key

lime pie there.”

20th Anniversary

Plantation Wildlife Arts Festival

Limited Edition Scarf

Photo by: Brian Metz

Niels’ passion for food and great cooking almost rivals his

passion for design. He not only enjoys dining out around

his neighborhood, but his favorite room in his house is his

kitchen, which has a huge table in the middle where great

conversations take place. In the summer he pretty much

dines on fish and salad. But, he loves all the hearty foods

that are available in winter such as wild boar, pheasant,

7


CREATOR

and sausage. Niels says, “I love game — South African

cuisine is all about game.”

Unfortunately, Niels’ busy schedule doesn’t leave him

much time for hunting anymore. He does, however,

enjoy designing collections for the hunting lifestyle.

The autumn/winter collection is the most important

one for Holland & Holland, since that’s the shooting

season. Hunting attire differs in England from the

United States in that the British put together an entire

hunting wardrobe. They have something to wear before

the shoot, such as cashmere sweaters and corduroy;

something to wear to the shoot, such as tweed shooting

jackets; and then something more elegant to wear in

the evening, such as dress suits and blazers.

The fine materials and the finishing of the garments

that Holland & Holland designs are both very

important. “Everything is British-made,” says Niels.

“People like buying British and we prefer to promote

British craftsmanship.” This is what guides the Holland

& Holland principle for designing. For instance, the

Holland & Holland collection contains shooting

stockings that are all hand-knitted using wool sheared

from HRH The Prince of Wales’ organic flock of Lleyn

Sheep at Highgrove. The socks come with a certificate

of authentication from the Prince of Wales.

One trend that Niels has noticed in recent years is that

the country safari look has been urbanized. “At one

time it would have been unheard of to wear hunting

clothes in town for everyday activities. Nowadays it

seems that everyone is pairing a shooting jacket with

jeans and boots to wear around town,” Niels says.

Niels loves that the Holland & Holland pieces are

so unique and that there’s a story behind each one

and the care that has gone into the design and the

materials. “And that’s a nice change to a world that’s

gone mad with too much plastic.”

Niels van Rooyen

Holland & Holland

hollandandholland.com

8


From

to

Written by

Jennifer Westfield

Photographed by

Jay Bowman

Luke Hok

9


VISIONARY

10


I ask architect Keith

Summerour to paint

me a picture of his

earliest influences

drawn as a boy

summering on a dairy

farm in the rolling

prairie lands an hour

outside of Selma,

Alabama.

“There wasn’t anything to do,” he laughs, considering

the avid outdoorsman he’s since become. “There was

no television, no air-conditioning. We’d come up with

ideas like climbing my grandfather’s silos, or when

a silo was empty, going inside, looking up and seeing

the sky as a big round oculus.”

Many years later, he says, he was standing in the

Pantheon in Rome and looked up. “There was this

flash of seeing the same thing in South Alabama—

the memory of this rustic childhood mixed with

the realization that these forms, these shapes—the

architecture of man repeats itself.”

An architect of international acclaim, Keith has

earned a name among a group dubbed by historian

William R. Mitchell, Jr. as the “Georgia School

of Classicists,” descendants of, among others,

Lewis Crook, Ernest Ivey, and Philip Shutze. His

predecessors graduated from Georgia Tech and then

traveled to Italy, returning to design projects that

were uniquely Southern and classical.

“I didn’t go to Georgia Tech,” Keith says, “I went

to Auburn and studied in Italy for a while. I’ll

never forget how I came back and saw the world

differently. From that moment forward, I was

compelled to design things that had a more

permanent quality to them.” He says this doesn’t

mean that everything has to have columns, but

rather, must be designed with a certain attention to

proportion, order, form, and materiality.

“Permanence” and “classic” are words used

frequently to describe Keith’s projects, which are

largely concentrated in the southeast, although he’s

built across the country. His process, however, is

anything but traditional.

Looking at his designs, it’s not difficult to see that

the surrounding land plays a significant role in

shaping how they’re conceived. Before anything

else happens, Keith walks the project site. “The

first discussion,” he says, “will involve how the

architecture will grow from the land: where the

buildings fit and how it will respond to the property.”

The next day, he sits down with the client and

holds a design charrette where he puts together

an esquisse, a rough sketch of the property, based

on what the client describes. “Seeing it actually

come to life in front of them,” he says, “with a lot of

char·rette

SHəˈret/ (pronounced [shuh-ret])

is an intensive planning session

where citizens, designers and others

collaborate on a vision for development.

It provides a forum for ideas and offers

the unique advantage of giving immediate

feedback to the designers. More

importantly, it allows everyone who

participates to be a mutual

author of the plan.

11


VISIONARY

interaction back and

forth, not only builds

confidence in the

team, but it also builds

momentum; in that

excitement, the client

will often reach further

for what they’re hoping

to get by being a part of

that process.”

Typically, architects

listen to their clients’

ideas, take notes and

then use those notes to

design, whether alone

or in a professional

team. “In doing that,”

Keith says, “it’s a

well-studied plan, but

eliminates the initial excitement the owner might

feel by participating in that design process in front

of them.” After he sketches out a design during the

charrette, Keith tells his clients to “put it up on the

refrigerator, think about it for a couple weeks, and

take some notes” before they reconvene to finalize

the plan.

Towerhouse Farm, a residential hunting lodge and

one of Keith’s personal retreats, is perhaps his

most unique design—a 70-foot-high stone tower

in Georgia’s Meriwether County, modeled after an

18-century shot tower. The single-family residential

structure is what Keith says is “a good example of

having a piece of architecture bring value to a piece

of property and the form itself becoming a part of

the land on which it’s built.”

“I studied in Italy and I’ll never forget

how I came back and saw the world

differently. From that moment forward,

I was compelled to design things that

had a more permanent quality to them.”

properties, by building high, I was able to capture

these amazing mountain views along the Pine

Mountain Range.”

Towerhouse Farm exemplifies another practice Keith

frequently employs in his designs: using readily

available raw materials. “The stone literally came

from 30 feet from the building site,” he says.

While the idea of family tower-living may seem

odd, the form is as old as man—though Keith and

his guests will likely not be warding off hordes of

barbarians from the tower’s topmost floors.

The tower is situated on a piece of rolling farmland

in the town of Gay, population 130. “The land was

beautiful,” Keith says, “but pretty featureless in

terms of some exciting landform like a cliff. Because

the property is slightly higher than surrounding

12


In fact, Keith believes he is probably one of few

nationally known architects interested in the

Towerhouse Farm-brand of agrarian building and

living. “If you think about architects who might

like, or own, farms,” he says, “and who are really

into the lifestyle, there are probably not a lot of

us—I could be wrong, but I don’t know of many.”

This is why, he says, he felt he had much to

offer when approached to speak at this year’s

Plantation Wildlife Arts Festival. “To this end,”

he says, “I wanted to explore the new plantation

dwelling considered from the point of view of

our time, where the white Greek temple house of

the past is our glass and camouflage of today.”

In a lecture called “From Cairo to Cairo”—Egypt

to Georgia, that is— Keith will discuss the

ancestry of Greek revival architecture as it made

its way from the land of the pharaohs to Greece

and Rome, then to London and Paris, and finally to

the United States and South Georgia in the mid-

19th century. “That legacy is more interesting for

me in the South,” he says, “because of its vernacular

adaptations.”

He describes how Alexander’s conquest of Egypt

exposed the Greeks to the building blocks of what

would become the three orders of architecture;

after making their way to England and France, Keith

says, “it’s no surprise that the new wealth of the

Americas sought European classical models to build

their monuments and houses. Imagine the imposing

white temple-house amid the hand-planted cotton

fields: a symbol of power, authority, and worldly

fashion in stark contrast to everyday life in Georgia.”

The vernacular adaptations that interest Keith are

those, he says, that are sometimes indiscernible

to the eye: the structural and material nuances

necessary to adapt the property to the demands

of the land and climate. “There is little expression

of the interesting vernacular disorder among the

classical order and there lies the unique quality of

architecture that we as Southerners have inherited

from our ambitious forefathers.”

The Cracker Homestead is one vernacular example

unique to North Florida and South Georgia: a

19th-century single-story, wood-frame house that

was typically raised off the ground and given a

wraparound porch, metal roofing, and a “dogtrot”-

style central hallway—all for maximizing ventilation

and preventing rot in what were some of the most

humid areas in America. Architectural Digest featured

Keith’s take on a Cracker Homestead, Broadfield

Plantation, in 2004.

At that time, Broadfield was Keith’s first adaptation

of the Cracker vernacular; his designs had and

would continue to lean toward the classical. Still,

with him, everything begins and ends with the

land. In his PWAF lecture, he says, “I’m going to

talk about our contribution, in our generation, to

the land and show how the ideals of classicism

can be translated—how our buildings can be

13


VISIONARY

“The scale and multitude of buildings and their

assemblages are things you see over and over again—

it’s all just clothed differently. I’m convinced that this

happens organically based on the needs of the land.”

given contemporary camouflage but still meet the

demands of the outdoors and lifestyle of the South.”

One thing he says he learned about agrarian

architecture as he observed it all over the world was

that—whether in Provence, Tuscany, or Tennessee—

it is essentially the same. “For the most part,” he

says, “the scale and multitude of buildings and

their assemblages are things you see over and over

again—it’s all just clothed differently. I’m convinced

that this happens organically based on the needs of

the land.”

into the ceiling with light pouring in from above—a

view from below that would very much resemble

one from inside the Pantheon or looking up from

within an empty silo in rural Alabama.

Since those dog days of summer on the dairy farm

outside of Selma, Keith has found plenty to do

outdoors. “I really think it’s an important part of

life,” he says, “to be able to explore, climb mountains,

fly fish, hunt, and be outdoors. Being inside is a

necessary evil in the architecture business. If I could

do it all outside, I would.”

If, as Keith says, the architecture of man repeats

itself, one need only look at a study in Eagle House,

one of his Atlanta designs, to see a half-dome cut

Keith Summerour

Summerour and Associates

summerour.net

14


15


COLLECTOR

All the World’s

a Small Town

Written by

Jennifer Westfield

Photographed by

Mark Atwater

Alicia Osborne

When I catch up with her, Kathy Vignos has just arrived at her summer home in

Maine. She’s busy packing for a weekend trip to see American Pharoah win the

Triple Crown, before heading to Montana where her Labradors are competing

in national field trials, and finally to Normandy, where she’s headed for a group

bike tour.

“I’m a little frazzled most of the time,” she laughs. “Like today.” Her voice is husky,

confident, and so like Lauren Hutton’s, it’s almost unbelievable. “There’s a big

world out there with lots of fun, fabulous things to do and people to meet. I don’t

want to miss anything,” she says.

Kathy, the granddaughter of one of many Clevelanders who purchased land

here in the early 20th century, is the fruit of deeply-dug roots, a third-generation

steward of hallowed hunting grounds and an active champion for culture and

philanthropy —two items that go hand-in-hand in Thomasville in so many

successful ways, from the Plantation Wildlife Arts Festival and Thomasville

Antiques Show to the Covey Film Festival.

“There’s a big world out there with lots

of fabulous and interesting things to do

and people to meet. I don’t want to miss

anything.”

It may seem unlikely that a town of just over 18,000 people could raise $2 million

for over 25 local charities from an antiques show until you meet someone like

16


Kathy, a Sarah Lawrence graduate with an NYU

degree in international studies. She has lived and

worked in New York and Paris and for several

major antique and auction houses, and has called

Thomasville home for nearly 30 years.

Kathy comes from a long line of extraordinary. Her

grandfather, David Ingalls, was the first ace in United

States Navy history. Her father, Dr. Paul Vignos,

Jr., helped discover the gene behind Duchenne

muscular dystrophy, which led to breakthroughs in

prognoses for children affected by the disorder.

the area during Thanksgiving holidays. She instantly

fell in love with both the natural setting and the

sporting culture.

“The quail hunting life was kind of magical,” she

says. “You can ask almost anyone who came down

as a child. There was something about the live oaks

with the Spanish moss, the dogs and the birds—

especially for a young person. The first time I shot

a shotgun, I was 13. I could be exaggerating,” she

laughs, “but I believe I hit two birds the first time I

shot and then it went downhill quickly after that.”

The late Dr. and Mrs. Vignos were avid collectors and

Kathy was exposed to art and world cultures early

on, during trips to museums and galleries in New

York and Europe and during stops on family drives

from their native Ohio to Maine.

It was her grandfather, though, who first purchased

southern land, who along with Robert Livingston

“Liv” Ireland, co-owned Foshalee Plantation, just

south of Thomasville. Ingalls eventually purchased

Ring Oak Plantation, where Kathy would first visit

Kathy’s parents purchased Milestone Plantation in

Thomas County from George Magoffin Humphrey,

former Treasury Secretary under President

Eisenhower. “Eisenhower used to come down to

hunt,” she says. “Now I have the property and I’m

thrilled to own such a beautiful and historic place.”

While in town, Kathy hunts at Milestone at least

once a week.

After moving to Thomasville from New York in 1987,

Kathy used her background in the auction business

Kathy’s parents purchased Milestone Plantation from

George Magoffin Humphrey, Treasury Secretary under

President Eisenhower. “Eisenhower used to come down

to hunt,” she says. “Now I have the property and I’m

thrilled to own such a beautiful and historic place.”

17


COLLECTOR

to get involved in the planning of the Thomasville Antiques Show. “I’ll

never forget the meeting,” she says. “It was at Marguerite Williams’

house and I remember everyone who was there — about six of us —

Ben Grace, Mercer Watt... Marguerite was interested in antiques and in

anything that would improve the cultural lifestyle of Thomasville. The

aim was to give all the proceeds to children’s organizations in town.”

Because of the quality of the dealers the show got a reputation as

one of the best small antiques shows in the country. Both Kathy and

several of her former co-chairs agree that the show was taken to new

heights with the onset of its series of nationally and internationally

known lecturers and guest speakers, from Alexandra Stoddard to,

most recently, international lifestyle maven India Hicks.

I ask Kathy about what she personally collects and about the art in

her Maine home, a mix of 18th and 19th century English, American,

and Chinese furniture, with a solid smattering of folk art, particularly

dog paintings and early hooked rugs. The dog paintings are a nobrainer

when I learn of her nine Labradors, including the field

champion dogs she’ll be taking to trials later in the week.

At Milestone Plantation, she says, a Marcus Kenney deer head draped

with beads and plastic grapes represents the more eclectic side of her

collection.

“I love antiques from everywhere,” she says. “I’d much rather have an

antique piece of furniture than something from a big-chain furniture

store — it has more character and craftsmanship and is much more

beautiful to look at — the lines, the wood, the patinas.”

She talks more about the biking trip in Normandy that she’ll take after

the field trials, about how great it is to be outdoors rather than on a

bus tour and to meet new people; she has taken similar biking tours of

Italy, China, Vietnam, and Burma.

“I just know that there’s a big world out there,” she says, “with a lot of

fun and amazing things to do. There are very few people I meet and

don’t like — and from everywhere, all walks of life. I think that’s what

keeps you alive: connections you have with people, the places you go,

the memories and adventures.”

Kathy Vignos

President, Thomasville Antiques Show Foundation

thomasvilleantiquesshow.com

18


19


FOODIE

{“Some of my fondest

childhood memories revolve

around food,” he says.

“There’s a special thing

that happens when you break

bread together.”

Written by

Susan Ray

Photographed by

Becky Stayner

Talking to Chef Chris Hastings, I quickly see “What’s for supper?” was not just a

simple question in the Charlotte, North Carolina home where he grew up. Food

was a way of life and planning for the evening meal was a large part of the day’s

conversation. “Some of my fondest childhood memories revolve around food.

There’s a special thing that happens when you break bread together.”

Chris’ mother and grandmother, who were both great home cooks, influenced

his love of cooking at a young age. His mother kept backyard food gardens and

shopped at the local farmers markets to prepare fresh and flavorful meals

for the family. In 1995, Chris brought this tradition to Birmingham when he

opened The Hot and Hot Fish Club with Idie, his wife and fellow chef. The pair

introduced the city to the farm-to-table trend before it became a national

movement, and in 2012, Chris was recognized for his influence on the region’s

cuisine when he won a James Beard Foundation Award for Best Chef of the

South.

Low Country INFLUENCE

Chris’ richest food memories trace back to Pawleys Island, South Carolina, the

charming stretch of shore where his family spent a lot of time in the summer.

20


Chris remembers those carefree days, “My job on

those trips was to serve as creek boy for the family.”

He’d cast a net for shrimp and flounder and bring

them back to the house along with crabs, clams,

and oysters. His mother would gather fresh corn,

tomatoes, and other vegetables to create a hearty

succotash to serve alongside his catch. “I’ll never

forget learning how to shuck crabs,” Chris says of his

time on Pawleys Island. “That will definitely be my

death-bed meal.”

Diners at The Hot and Hot Fish Club also have that

succotash to thank for the most-requested item on

the menu, the Tomato Salad. It’s the one dish that

Chris makes that hasn’t changed over the years.

The lure of the Low Country runs deeper for Chris

than the colorful dishes he prepares. The area

also inspired The Hot and Hot Fish Club name.

An ancestor on his mother’s side of the family,

Benjamin Hugh Fraser, moved his family from

Scotland to Pawleys Island around the late 1700s

and early 1800s to become a rice planter. In those

days men would join clubs around the island that

matched their interests, such as rifling or fishing.

Fraser belonged to a group who was into eating and

loved great seafood. They named themselves The

Hot and Hot Fish Club and were known for making

epic meals that they would then write about in their

diaries.

“They’d retreat to their clubhouse and close the

door behind them,” explains Chris. “It served as an

escape from the complications of the day.” Idie and

Chris have recreated that feeling at their Hot and

Hot Fish Club. When you step across the threshold

of the restaurant, you can either dine at the chef’s

counter with a front-row view of the kitchen or sit

around one of the many tables. Either way, the everchanging

menu that blends French, Southern, and

California cuisine invites you to enjoy a great meal

with friends and leave your worries on the other side

of the door.

21


FOODIE

Hunting wild quail

in the Southern

traditional way that

has been done for a

long time is a privilege.

As an outdoorsman

it’s the holy grail of

the outdoor experience.

Outdoor Pursuits

It comes as no surprise that Chris’ love of the

outdoors extends beyond fishing into wing

shooting. Because so much of his time is spent

working at his restaurant and other projects, he

welcomes any chance to escape to the outdoors.

That’s one reason he’s thrilled to cook for the

Longleaf Affair at the Plantation Wildlife Arts

Festival in Thomasville. In addition to looking

forward to getting to know the folks who own

the great plantation, he enjoys hunting quail and

turkey in that part of the South. “Hunting wild

quail in the Southern traditional way that has

been done for a long time is a privilege. As an

outdoorsman, it’s the holy grail of the outdoor

experience.”

His love of both the outdoors and working with

his hands led him several years ago to pursue

a newfound hobby. Chris makes a pilgrimage to

Canada each October to shoot woodcock, and

then heads to Louisiana in February when the

woodcocks migrate South. On one of his hunting

trips to Louisiana, he had a cocktail at the Pecan

Island School Lodge garnished with a hawthorn

needle tied with woodcock feathers and skewered

with an olive. Chris was so intrigued by the

garnish that he took the idea to tie those feathers

to a hat or lapel pin to give a homemade gift to

folks who invited him to fish and hunt. Chris

says what started as a creative outlet turned into

a sought-after side

business. “I entered

them in the Garden

and Gun ‘Made in the

South’ contest a few

years ago, where they

became quite popular.”

Runners-up in the

Style category, the pins

were so well-received

that Chris took orders

for several years.

22


HOT AND HOT TOMATO SALAD

6 large beefsteak tomatoes, cored,

sliced into ¼-inch thick slices

2 large golden delight tomatoes, cored,

sliced into ¼-inch thick slices

2 large rainbow tomatoes, cored,

sliced ¼” thick slices

½ pint sweet 100 tomatoes

¾ cup plus 3 tablespoons Balsamic

Vinaigrette (recipe follows), divided

Kosher salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 smoked ham hock

1 large onion, peeled and quartered

1 fresh thyme sprig

1 cup fresh field peas (black-eye, pink-eye,

crowder, or butter beans)

3 ears of yellow corn, shucked

2 tablespoons peanut oil

4 cups vegetable oil

30 pieces whole baby okra, stems trimmed

¼ cup whole-milk buttermilk

¼ cup corn flour

¼ cup cornmeal

¼ cup all-purpose flour

6 slices applewood-smoked bacon,

cooked to crisp

¾ cup chive dressing (recipe follows)

6 tablespoons chiffonaded fresh basil

In a large bowl, combine the tomatoes with ¾ cup of the balsamic

vinaigrette; season with salt and pepper to taste. Combine the ham

hock, onion, thyme and field peas in a medium stock pot with

enough cold water to cover the peas. Bring the peas to a simmer and

cook until just tender, approximately 12–15 minutes, stirring

occasionally. Drain and cool the peas, removing and discarding the

ham hock, onion quarters and thyme sprig. Place the peas in a bowl;

set aside.

Shave the kernels off the corn cobs into a medium bowl, discarding

the silk hairs. Heat peanut oil in a large skillet over medium-high

heat. Add corn kernels and cook until tender, about 8–10 minutes.

Season the corn with salt and pepper, and remove from the heat,

allowing to cool slightly. Add the corn and the remaining 3

tablespoons of balsamic vinaigrette to the cooked field peas. Set the

mixture aside to marinate at room temperature until ready to serve.

Meanwhile, pour the vegetable oil into a large, deep skillet to a depth

of 3 inches. Preheat the oil until a deep-frying thermometer reads

350˚F. Place the okra pods in a small bowl with the buttermilk. Toss

until well coated.

In a separate bowl, combine the corn flour, cornmeal, all-purpose

flour, and season with salt and pepper. Drain the okra from the

buttermilk and toss it in the cornmeal mixture, shaking off any

excess cornmeal mixture. Place the okra in the preheated vegetable

oil and fry each okra pod for 2–3 minutes, or until golden. Remove

the okra from the hot oil with a slotted spoon and place it on a

paper-towel-lined plate. Season the okra with salt and pepper, to

taste. To serve, arrange each of the different types of tomatoes on 6

plates. Divide the pea and corn mixture on top of the tomatoes.

Arrange 5 pieces of fried okra around each plate and place 1 slice of

crispy bacon on the top of each salad. Drizzle 1–2 tablespoons of the

chive dressing over the salad and garnish each plate with 1

tablespoon of the basil.

CHIVE DRESSING

1 small garlic clove, peeled and finely minced

6 tablespoons finely chopped fresh chives

1 large egg yolk

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Kosher salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

1 cup olive oil

¼ cup crème fraîche

Balsamic

Vinaigrette

¼ cup extra virgin olive oil

¼ cup olive oil

½ cup finely chopped fresh chives

½ cup balsamic vinegar

¼ cup chopped green onions

Kosher salt, to taste

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Combine garlic and chives in a small bowl. Add the egg yolk

and next 3 ingredients; whisk to combine. Add the olive oil in

a thin, steady stream, while whisking vigorously to create an

emulsion. Whisk in the crème fraîche. If the mixture is too

thick, add a few drops of water. Cover and chill for at least 20

minutes before serving. This dressing will keep refrigerated

in an airtight container for up to two days. Yields 1¼ cups.

Whisk together all of the ingredients in a large

bowl. The vinaigrette can be used immediately

or stored in an airtight container in the

refrigerator for up to five days. Bring the chilled

vinaigrette to room temperature and whisk

well before serving. Yields 1 cup.

23


FOODIE

Spreading Wings

He’s also expanding his restaurant business beyond

the Southern, French, and Californian influence

of the Hot and Hot Fish Club to incorporate new

cuisine. He and Idie are excited about a new

restaurant that they just opened in Birmingham’s

Pepper Place called Ovenbird. What’s unique about

this new venture is that it will be an all-wood

restaurant. As Chris says, “we’re using wood in

different ways that go beyond barbecuing.”

D.C. And just like his upbringing of breaking bread

with family, Chris continues that tradition, too:

“Whether it is a big holiday meal, dinner at home, or

traveling around the world and eating great food, it’s

what we do together.”

With all that Chris and Idie juggle in their busy

lives, it’s easy to see that family and food play the

most important role. Gathering with their two boys,

Zeb and Vincent, is a central part of who they are.

Chris enjoys taking his family on trips, just as his

grandmother used to do with him on old railroad

cars from Charlotte to New York and Washington,

Chris Hastings

The Hot and Hot Fish Club

2180 11th Court South

Birmingham, Alabama 35205

hotandhotfishclub.com

24


PLANTATION WILDLIFE

ARTS FESTIVAL

Cheers to 20 Years

Written by

Callie Sewell

Photographed by

Alicia Osborne

Daniel Shippey

There is something special about Fall in Thomasville. The season welcomes a

coolness in the air, marks the opening of hunting season, and celebrates special

experiences like the Plantation Wildlife Arts Festival. PWAF has become one of

Fall’s favorite highlights — and this year, the Festival turns 20.

PWAF started as dinner party conversation between Margo Bindhardt and Robert

P. Crozer, speared by Louise Humphrey and the Thomasville Center for the Arts

Board. Together, the group turned a dreamlike idea into a calendar-marking

community event inspired by the history of Thomasville’s vibrant plantation

culture.

Throughout the ante- and post-bellum periods, sporting and wildlife artists

often journeyed to local plantations to observe wildlife, enjoy the sporting life,

and practice their craft. PWAF pairs this rich cultural history to the tastes and

needs of great wildlife artists and art collectors today.

At the heart of the Festival is a fine arts show featuring 65 of the best sporting

and wildlife artists and artisans. This year, instead of selecting one Featured

Artist, we have tapped many of PWAF’s past Featured Artists to create an Encore

Gallery. Each artist is creating original work of the Red Hills Region and painting

landscapes and wildlife of the area solely for the 20th celebration.

PWAF calls for cocktail dresses and cowboy boots, bourbon bars and bird dog

statues, global sporting artists and Southern makers. It is an event that is special

to Thomasville because it brings to life the very best of what our beloved city has

to offer — a hunting culture, an artistic culture, a stylish culture, and a giving

culture.

And there are surprises in store! Think a “soul bent swamp-rocker,” a sporting

attire fashion show, an en plein air paint out and much more… We cannot wait to

celebrate 20 years with you!

25


EVENTS NOT TO MISS

NOVEMBER 13:

The Longleaf Affair Dinner with Birmingham’s award-winning Chef

Chris Hastings and a Game of Chance at Pebble Hill Plantation

NOVEMBER 14:

Meet the Master Cooking Demonstration with Chef Chris Hastings

at Sweet Grass Dairy Cheese Shop; Wildlife Photography Exhibition

Opening Reception featuring the works of Elmore DeMott at Studio 209

NOVEMBER 15:

Afternoon in the Field and 20th Celebration Concert with JJ Grey &

Mofro at Pebble Hill Plantation

NOVEMBER 16 WEEK:

“For the Love of Game” Taste of Thomasville Food Tour

NOVEMBER 18:

Wildlife Flora Workshop with St. Simon’s The Vine event designers

Bryce Vann Brock and Kelly Revels

NOVEMBER 19:

Women of Wildlife Painting Workshop with Sue Key and Christina

Hewson; En Plein Air Paint Out with C.D. Clarke and Clive Tyler; Kevin’s

of Thomasville presents Holland & Holland Fine Shooting Attire

Runway Show with Holland & Holland Creative Director Niels van

Rooyen

NOVEMBER 20:

Encore Gallery Underwriters Preview & Silent Auction; Commercial

Bank presents Opening Night Preview Party at Thomasville Center for

the Arts

NOVEMBER 21 & 22:

Sporting and Wildlife Fine Art Show and Sale

NOVEMBER 21:

Wildlife Conversation “From Cairo to Cairo” with Atlanta architect Keith

Summerour; Commercial Bank presents Bird Dog Bash at Pebble Hill

Plantation

PLANTATION WILDLIFE ARTS FESTIVAL

For tickets and more information,

head to pwaf.org or call 229.226.0588.

26


You cannot depend on your eyes

when your imagination

is out of focus.

- Mark Twain


Celebrating 20 years as a proud underwriter of the

PLANTATION WILDLIFE ARTS FESTIVAL

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2015 Holiday

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December 3rd, 4th & 5th

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85


THINKER

Bob Ireland spends his days

making media magic in Manhattan.

But he’s also one of Thomasville’s

biggest champions. It’s a beautiful,

beneficial balance. Learn why.

Written by

Lauren Eberle

Photographed by

Meghan Davis

Alicia Osborne

Looking out over Madison and 48th from his eclectic,

Don Draper-like office, Bob Ireland comments on

the light: “I love it. I need it. Light helps me with my

thinking.” As the Creative Director of New Yorkbased

Sharp Communications, it’s quite literally

Bob’s job to ponder possibilities, to plan big, to

challenge the norm, and to deliver results for his

clients.

But as the light pores in, dancing off rock-n-roll

photographs (most of which feature the Rolling

Stones), I can’t help but wonder if Bob’s lean toward

light is a reflection of his constant yearning for the

great outdoors. It’s ingrained in Bob, you see. His

passion for the land, for the sky, for sweeping woods

86


“If I’ve had time in the Red Hills, I think people

find me more pleasant, more entertaining, and

certainly more creative.”

87


THINKER

and quiet waters — that’s all in his DNA. And

that’s all because of Thomasville.

Bob’s ties to this community began generations

before his birth. “My parents, grandparents, greatgrandparents,

and great-great-grandparents have

spent time here — some part-time, some full-time

— since the late-1880s,” he says with a twinge of

well-deserved pride.

It’s hard for him to turn

off. Until, of course, he

comes South.

Born in 1967, Bob grew up in New York City,

but for as far back as he can remember, every

holiday was spent in the Thomasville area. Here,

surrounded by kin, the Irelands made a home

away from home. For a short spell while his

parents were building a house in the area, Bob

was even enrolled at the local Episcopal school.

“It’s amazing the things that stick with you,” he

says, reflecting on those kindergarten days. “I

don’t think I can tell you what I ate yesterday, but

I remember that period of 1972.”

Photograph by: RL Ireland

Smart Work

Indeed, the easy breezy outdoorsy days in the

Red Hills made quite an impact on the born

Manhattanite. College took him to Hampden-

Sydney in Virginia, where he majored in history.

The summer before graduation, Bob interned at

Saatchi & Saatchi, sealing the deal on his draw

to the advertising biz. In 1989, at 22 years old, he

threw himself into agency work, cutting his teeth

on big brands like Tylenol, Champion, Paramount,

Castrol, and Court TV. Soon he met Jim Brodsky

and the two creative forces began dreaming up

their vision of a more holistic communications

company that would offer a blend of services and

superb client relations.

88


Since 2004, Bob has spearheaded the advertising, graphic

design, digital development, and corporate identity work for

Sharp Communications’ clientele. Add to that the due diligence

he spends researching other companies, balancing his team,

developing future business strategies, and learning new

technologies, and it’s easy to see why he doesn’t sleep much.

“People ask me what I’m reading and I laugh. There’s no time. I

read constantly, sure, but it’s rooted in the industry. It’s to stay

relevant. At this frantic pace, I can’t miss a moment — I can’t

miss an opportunity to know about the latest thing. The latest

technology. The latest trend.” It’s hard for him to turn off. Until,

of course, he comes South.

Field Work

Added up, Bob estimates he spends about 42 nights a year in the

Thomasville area, especially between November and April. “It’s

the tonic I need,” he says of these visits. “It’s the disruption in my

life — yes, I mean disruption — that lets me really think. It helps

me unwind so I can return home and be better at what I do.”

Not that his Thomasville time is all leisure, no. “My family

taught me from a very early age that you should get involved

and engage with the things that you truly care about.” For the

Irelands, that’s the Red Hills. To that end, Bob is active with

the Thomasville Center for the Arts, Due South, Plantation

Wildlife Arts Festival (which was founded by Bob’s cousin, Margo

Bindhardt), Tall Timbers, and the Red Hills Initiative, to name a

few.

He’s humble about his contributions, but fellow board members

tout his talent with an appreciation for the contemporary edge

and “dream bigger” spirit that Bob fearlessly and unapologetically

infuses into everything he touches.

When Bob’s around town, people tend to know — the guy simply

stands out. Six-foot-something with big hands and a husky build,

he wears the standard Thomasville khaki and plaid with a belt

and boots, but walks and talks a bit faster than we’re used to.

That’s because he’s thinking. Always thinking.

I have to imagine he catches eyes in New York, too, with his

rugged charm and wild-at-heart wit. A Southerner in the city, if

89


THINKER

you will. Not by birth, of course,

but rather because we claim

him — and he claims us. “If

I’ve been down South recently,

people can tell,” Bob says. “I’ll be

in a meeting and I will suddenly

drop ‘well, y’all’ and the whole

room will look at me strangely. I

think it shows in my demeanor,

too. How I present myself. If I’ve

had time in the Red Hills, I think

people find me more pleasant,

more entertaining, and certainly

more creative.”

Art Work

And his creativity isn’t limited

to the advertising world — he’s

also an accomplished artist.

Seven or eight years ago Bob was

headed on a fishing trip when he

stumbled upon his sister’s old

Pentax camera. He shot a few

black-and-white rolls, and when

the film developed, so did a new

passion: photography. Encouraged

by friends and coworkers, Bob held his first solo

show in New York three years ago and has been a

participating artist at PWAF for the past two years.

His work, most of which features unique

perspectives on the outdoor world, lives in private

collections world-wide. And although he doesn’t

have much bandwidth to devote to it now, Bob

continues to shoot whenever he can. “I’m always

building my body of work,” he says. “When time

allows, I curate it. Who knows? This might just be

my great second act.”

“My family taught me from a

very early age that you should

get involved and engage with the

things that you truly care about.”

know if Thomasville will be the new Charleston,” he

admits, “but I don’t use those analogies. Thomasville

is certainly the creative cultural capital of the

region. And it’s continuously finding itself! It’s full of

human capital, and entrepreneurs who are using it

to better the community. This is a mission-oriented

region of people that love the land, hunting, fishing,

and stewardship. You blend all that together, and

what do you get? An interesting cocktail.”

Cheers to that.

Lasting Work

When people hear he’s a descendant of one of this

community’s most deeply rooted families, Bob is

often asked to project what’s next. “They want to

BOB IRELAND

rlireland.com

90


Written by

Alison Abbey

Photographed by

Brian Metz

91


CONDUCTOR

92


“We’re the same people no matter where we are.

Whether we’re in New York or whether we’re in

Thomasville.”

From his early years in Thomasville to his

globetrotting career in music, the former Chorus

Master of the Metropolitan Opera carries his

hometown history with him wherever he goes.

Speaking with Raymond Hughes for the first time,

it’s easy to forget how accomplished (and completely

intimidating) he is. With an easy-going Southern

charm and predilection for the phrase, “oh my dear,”

a chat with Raymond feels more like catching up

with an old friend than an interview with one of the

musical world’s most important personalities.

A Thomasville native, Raymond was inspired by the

people and history of his hometown. And his own

family was a big part of that history. His great-great

grandfather came to Thomasville from Germany

in 1840. As Raymond tells it, destined for Roman

Catholic priesthood and a stint in the Prussian army,

the family’s patriarch said, “thank you very much,”

and escaped his prearranged destiny with his best

buddy in tow. They were headed for New York, but

somewhere along the way, the two found themselves

on a detour that dropped them in Thomasville. They

quickly made their marks on the town.

“My great-great grandfather, John Peter Arnold,

started Arnold Brick Company, which was in

business for more than 100 years,” he says. “There

was a big fire in the town in the 1850s and he said,

‘If you people had the sense to build your houses out

of brick instead of wood, they wouldn’t have burned

down. Let me show you how to do this.’”

The Arnold Brick Company began making the bricks

that would quite literally rebuild the town. The

historic importance of the bricks are a point of pride

for Raymond. “They sell for a lot of money now,” he

says. “When old buildings were demolished, people

wanted to collect the bricks and save them and

use them. And that’s how far my roots go back in

Thomasville.”

As for his great-great grandfather’s best friend? You

may have heard of his name, too. He Anglicized it to

Jerger and started Jerger Jewelers, which was a staple

downtown from 1857 until 2013.

Listening to Raymond share the rich local history

of his family makes you forget his international

renown. But it’s also deeply engrained in his DNA

and an enormous part of his success.

93


CONDUCTOR

“I grew up in Thomasville,” he says. “I went to Thomasville High School and did all

of those wonderful things you did in as a teenager.” One of those activities: seeing

concerts. “My father was a founding member of the Thomasville Entertainment

Foundation in the 1930s,” he says. “TEF staged concerts the caliber of which one

would hear in New York. I heard major symphony orchestras play in Thomasville.”

And while his early exposure to music was enjoyable, he didn’t initially realize it

was his calling. “You kind of take it for granted when you’re growing up around it,”

he says. “You think everywhere is like Thomasville, and then of course, nowhere

is. It’s completely unique.”

He went on to study Liberal Arts at the University of Georgia, and that’s where

he had what he refers to as his “Road to Demascus” experience.

“When I was a senior at UGA, the Metropolitan Opera would go on tour

around the country and I went to several of the performances in Atlanta.

I realized I could not possibly be happy doing anything other than

pursuing this profession.”

Despite his lack of musical schooling (but thanks, he says, in part

to the cultural exposure Thomasville gave him), Raymond was

offered an apprenticeship under a Hungarian conductor at the

University of South Carolina. “He said, ‘Work for me for two

years and I will teach you everything I know. You can do

anything you want when you’re done.’”

And he did. Straight out of graduate school, he was

offered a position in — of all places — Germany.

“Funny enough, quite near the town my great-great

grandfather came from,” he says.

In South Africa, where Raymond worked

for seven years, he was witness to Nelson

Mandela’s release from prison in 1990, and

then to Rome for what he calls, “the best

job going in Europe at the time.”

But he wouldn’t stay for long,

because the best job going just about

anywhere came calling. “I had been

in Rome for two months when the

Metropolitan Opera recruited me to

New York.”

94


It was there as Chorus Master, a position he held

until 2007, that he made a new Thomasville

connection. “At the time, Louise Ireland Humphrey

of Pebble Hill Plantation was the Chairman of the

Board of the Met,” he says. “I knew two of her nieces

in Thomasville, but I had never met her until my

first Opening Night party in New York, which she

hosted. It was like we’d known each other our whole

lives. It’s a very small world.”

the railroad and its ties to Thomasville, intangible

souvenirs of his hometown are woven throughout

his global life.

“Louise Humphrey put this so adequately once,”

he says. “She said we’re the same people no

matter where we are. Whether we’re in New York

or whether we’re in Thomasville. That’s most

important.”

A world that Raymond loves to explore. This

summer alone, he was on the faculty for a master

singing class in Norway, spent time in Germany

for the International Handel Festival, and traveled

to Transylvania for a week before returning to

his home in Thomasville. He’ll also be in South

Africa this October to jury an international choral

competition.

To that end, Raymond says he doesn’t have a “New

York persona and a Thomasville persona.” Similarly,

he has friends in both of his part-time home bases,

and the two groups crossover frequently. “I’m so

lucky because my friends all know each other. Many

of my Thomasville friends have visited me in New

York and many New York friends have visited me in

Thomasville, and it’s very gratifying.”

When asked if the influences of his hometown carry

with him as he travels, he laughs his easy laugh and

offers up his signature Southern phrase. “Oh my

dear, very much so!”

In addition to the physical aspects, like the

watercolor portrait of an oak which adorns his New

York living room and the books on the history of

And he’s able to find elements of each town in the

other. He sees his neighborhood in New York — with

its adjacency to the Metropolitan Museum of Art

and Lincoln Center — as a similar artistic landscape

to Thomasville. “I look at the Thomasville Center for

the Arts as a mini-Metropolitan Museum or Lincoln

Center. I really try to keep up on what’s happening

there as much as I can.”

95


CONDUCTOR

“It’s a really great small town with

an urban environment: One can eat

downtown, one can shop downtown, and

one can live downtown. It’s very exciting.”

And when he’s not frequenting his favorite local

haunts like Liam’s, which he says brings New

York to Thomasville, Raymond is teaching a new

generation to love music as Artistic Director for the

Thomasville Music and Drama Troupe, a role he

cherishes.

He’s also a member of Landmarks, which allows him

to bridge his love for the history of his hometown

with his dedication to enhancing its future.

“We have made so many advances in the last 20

years,” he says. “My father was Chairman of the

Downtown Merchants’ Association and his dream

was always that downtown Thomasville be as it

has become in the last few years. There is so much

going on. Between Grassroots Coffee and Sweet

Grass Dairy Cheese Shop, and the lovely shops and

boutiques and Chophouse on the Bricks. And also

the fact that downtown has become a residential

area again. It’s a really great small town with an

urban environment: One can eat downtown, one can

shop downtown, and one can live downtown. It’s

very exciting.”

Another project close to his heart: He spent the last

four years working to bring a new organ to the St.

Thomas Episcopal Church. Installed in August, the

organ is the first to be brought into the town since

the mid-80s.

“The quality of music in the big churches

of Thomasville when I was growing up was

stupendous,” he says. “Again, you take this for

granted when you’re in it, but when I got away I got

perspective. It is completely astonishing what was

offered to us growing up here. There has always

been a critical mass of people who have experienced

the wider world and brought that back — who kept

the culture of the town at a very high level. It’s that

critical mass of people who have experienced the

wider world that makes this town tick.”

RAYMOND HUGHES

Artistic Director

Thomasville Music and Drama Troupe

thomasvillemusicanddramatroupe.com

96


With his art and apparel, William Lamb

finds inspiration in his Red Hills heritage.

“I want everything I do to evoke

emotion. I want it to mean something.”

97


TASTEMAKER

Written by

Alison Abbey

Photographed by

Alicia Osborne

Looking at William Lamb’s work, it’s easy to see that the artistturned-designer

takes inspiration from his Red Hills heritage. The

fifth-generation Tallahassee native grew up on a farm outside of town,

working the land and enjoying the hunting and fishing beloved by those who

know the area. Those pieces of his childhood are woven into the rich tapestry

that has become his career. From his Plantation China collections to ties and

phone cases donned in redfish and tarpon, the Florida boy is proud to call upon

his roots for inspiration.

In fact, it was one such piece from his childhood that gave his brand, Wm. Lamb

& Son, its first big break.

Then still an up-and-coming artist, William had started painting dinnerware (his

first collection focused on birddogs and quail) and attended the Southeastern

Wildlife Expo in Charleston as an exhibitor. In preparing for the event, he turned

to a memory as a muse.

“At our old [family] farmhouse, my uncle had this cool wallpaper in his room

that had this vintage hunting scene pattern,” he says. “I went back out to the

house years after we sold it and the people had painted over it. I asked my uncle

about it and he said he still had a piece of it.”

After his uncle sent the swatch, William used Photoshop to build out the pattern,

then printed it onto fabric to make a pair of pants.

“While we were showing dinnerware and t-shirts, this guy came along and loved

the pants. He said, ‘I do ties for Brooks Brothers, can I use this fabric?’ And I said,

98


you know what would be cool is to do this in the

lining of a sport coat.”

Two weeks later, the blazer design was approved.

That led to two seasons of collaboration with Brooks

Brothers. “To have a collaboration with Brooks

Brothers right out of the shoot…we were on fire,” he

says.

But for William, becoming a designer — or even

an artist — was a total surprise. In college, he

considered a career in forestry, even heading out to

Oregon to work on a fire crew after graduation. “I

realized at the end of the season that if I spent every

day out there that I would totally take it for granted,”

he says.

He landed on the opposite end of the spectrum and

embarked on a career in finance. After a few years

of working for other people, he and a friend started

their own mutual fund. Thirteen years later, he was

ready for a change.

A Fresh Canvas

Though never trained, William began painting at the

urging of his wife, Margaret. The two, who met in

seventh grade, were dating in college when William

asked an art student friend to show him how to use

watercolors so he could recreate a favorite painting

for his then-girlfriend.

“It turned out fine, but I didn’t do another thing for

probably 10 years,” he says. That is until the night

when Margaret said, “I have a surprise for you.”

While William was working on the couple’s new

house, Margaret had cleared out the dining room in

their old one. “She bought an easel and put all my

albums and some paintings I did in there and she

said, ‘This is your studio. Now paint.’”

His wife’s support was all he needed to explore his

inner artist. “She was really encouraging me to do it,”

he says. And she wasn’t the only one. Friends who

came over saw William’s work and asked if it was for

sale. A surprised William said yes.

Eventually, he held his first show at a friend’s home.

“I was so nervous I had four martinis before anyone

even showed up,” he says. “But it was a great success

and that’s where it all kind of started.”

But because of his business-savvy, William knew

the life of an artist wouldn’t be easy. “I knew I had

this gift, but I didn’t know what I was going to do

with it. I knew I enjoyed painting and that’s where

everything starts, but it’s hard to make a living doing

just that,” he says. “I wanted to do clothing. I wanted

to do dinnerware. I wanted to do home stuff because

nobody was doing what I liked, so I started playing

around with all of that. The first thing I did was

dinnerware. That was a huge investment and was

kind of what made us take the leap and really do it.”

Cut to his Brooks Brothers moment and Wm. Lamb

& Son was official. And William was cautiously

optimistic.

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TASTEMAKER

“With my business background

I knew that you can be on fire

one minute and totally blow up

the next, so we kept everything

at a manageable pace,” he says.

Next up, Southern Proper. “We

met them at a party and got

to talking and they called the

next day and asked if we could

meet. We went to Atlanta to meet with them and

ended up doing a cool collection of ties that evolved

into shirts and pants. But we were licensing all that

to them. Now we’re doing a collection with them,

and going on our own next year.”

Designing for the Future

As he begins to grow his own design business,

William still relies on his business acumen. But with

the demand for his work, he’s had to relinquish

some left-brain control. Luckily, his biggest fan is

also his business partner. “My wife works her butt

off,” William says. “I can get so sidelined running a

business and not doing the creative stuff, but I’m

the one that has to do the creative stuff, so she runs

the business side. She makes sure all the details are

taken care of.”

Thanks to that partnership, William is able to focus

on the future, while keeping his ties to the past. His

studio, full of old hunting decoys, feathers, hornets

nests, and old toolboxes, nods to his old-world

inspirations. “It’s so cool to go back and look through

old homesteads and get ideas and logos from old

stuff,” he says. “I find inspiration in vintage apparel,

vintage fabrics, and vintage design because that’s

when people gave it some thought.”

His travels also feed his designs. A recent beach

outing inspired an upcoming triptic canvas

displaying the marshland he visits to unwind. It’s

a scene that soothes him, and he believes that

emotion is important to all art.

“I can struggle with finding that happy medium

between what’s great and right and what’s going to

sell,” he says. “But I want everything I do to evoke

emotion. I want it to mean something.”

He looks to Ralph Lauren as the business model to

follow. “He makes his money selling oxford shirts,

khaki pants, and Polo shirts,” he says. “Get the core

things going and then you get to do the cool stuff

on the side and license out designs. Make furniture.

Make bedding. Make dinnerware.”

As for his customers, he finds equal interest from

newer Northern customers and old-school Southern

shoppers. But he has a special place in his heart for

the Red Hills buyer.

“It’s home,” he says simply. “There’s just so much

tradition and so much history. I find all the stories

completely fascinating.”

And he’s not shy about sharing his appreciation for

Thomasville. “You ride through Georgia and Alabama

and see defunct old cotton towns or whatever it was

that made them great at the turn of the century.

They are just boarded up because they didn’t have

the money to sustain it,” he says. “Thomasville is one

of those towns that had the money to sustain it, and

it’s just a gorgeous little town. If we ever opened up

a store it would probably be in Thomasville because

that is my crowd.”

But for now, William is happy growing his business

at a practical pace. “I’m getting some notoriety and

it’s cool, but I’ve got a long ways to go,” he says.

“We’re still a very small business trying to make it

happen. And it’s going to happen. I know it’s not a

sprint, it’s a marathon. As long as I’m building and

making progress, I’m good.”

William Lamb

Wm. Lamb & Son

wmlambandson.com

100


Written by

Nadia R. Watts

Photographed by

Daniel Shippey

Jay Bowman

It was an idea for the ages.

Like so many great ideas, this one was borne out of a casual, though

intentional conversation at a local coffee shop. What the three

women didn’t know when they sat down that day was that their chat

would evolve into something much bigger than they’d ever imagined.

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CONNECTOR

Brainstorming at Grassroots Coffee Company were Sharon

Maxwell-Ferguson, Didi Hoffman, and Doby Flowers, board

members at the Thomasville Community Resource Center

(TCRC). They needed a solution. How could they engage with the

community to build support for TCRC, an organization that serves

at-risk children and families in Thomasville?

Inspiration stemmed from conversation about the organization’s

founding principles. Begun in 1998 by actress Jane Fonda, then

a Thomasville resident, TCRC aimed to educate and empower

parents and their children; help members of the community

achieve holistic wellness; and provide a safe haven for those in

need.

“We have a real opportunity

to educate and enlighten

the community and to stimulate

wonderful conversation”

“Educate and empower” led to more discussion about a tie

between the organization’s mission and the film industry. Sharon,

who today remains the board chair at TCRC, said they realized

Fonda was only the first link. “The more layers of the onion we

peeled back, the more we found all these connections to the

film industry here in Thomasville,” she says.

And indeed, there are connections. Academy-Award winning

actress Joanne Woodward was born in Thomasville.

Greenwood Plantation resident Jock Whitney, a financier of

“Gone With the Wind,” held the first public screening of

the movie at Thomasville’s Melhana Plantation months

before the film’s premiere. Screenwriter Lucy Alibar,

known for her 2012 film “Beasts of the Southern Wild,”

was raised down the road in Monticello. Actress Julie

Moran, a longtime host of “Entertainment Tonight,”

was born in Thomasville.

Beyond that, Sharon said, there was no film

festival in the immediate area, and this region

stood to benefit from one. “Film festivals are

increasing in number. There are probably

102


several hundred across the country right now,”

she says. “Why shouldn’t this region – which is so

culturally rich, has people who are educated, people

who are concerned about the issues addressed in

the films that we bring – why shouldn’t we have an

opportunity, too?” With that, the threesome brewed

up the concept for Thomasville’s Covey Film Festival,

giving it a name that evokes the city’s community

and culture.

And what’s a film festival without the stars?

Covey’s Ambassadors are celebrity actors, directors,

producers, editors, and screenwriters who provide

guidance, encourage attendance, and recommend

films, co-founder Didi Hoffman says. “It’s not like

they’re just a name on a marquee. We ask them to

help us, and they do.”

Covey is for the kids, first and foremost

In just two years, Covey has already made quite a

difference for the children at TCRC, says Lisa Billups,

its executive director. “It is very important that our

students have an understanding of STEM (science,

technology, engineering, and mathematics), health,

and wellness. Covey funds allow us to teach our

students and have fun,” she explains.

Since part of the mission of TCRC is to address

economic disadvantages within the community,

Covey is designed to inspire youth and adults alike

to consider the extensive list of career opportunities

offered within the filmmaking industry. “There

are a lot of jobs available for people from little

Thomasville that otherwise people might not

imagine. We’re opening eyes,” Sharon says.

The movie production industry requires the

expertise of more than just movie makers, agrees

Terri Vismale-Morris, public relations director at

Atlanta’s Bronzelens Film Festival. Morris also serves

on the TCRC board and on the Covey Committee.

“It takes caterers. It takes carpenters. It takes

accountants. It takes attorneys. It takes people

who are adept with location scouting. It takes a

sense of real estate [as well as] interior and set

design. It takes a whole

lot to make a movie

— technical services,

digital expertise, and

lighting,” she says.

Sharon Maxwell-Ferguson

Didi adds that while

films for working adults

are mainly shown

during the evening,

the children’s ageappropriate

events

happen during the

school day, including

films and workshops run

by actors and industry

professionals. “That’s a

way to let [the children]

know there are other

opportunities for them

103


CONNECTOR

in work besides what they see here locally,” she

says.

When all is said and done, Didi adds, Covey

brings films to Thomasville that would not

otherwise be seen by our community’s children

and their families. Independent films, she

explains, rarely make it to this area, if at all.

“There’s a hunger in the region for indie films,”

Didi explains, because even larger commercial

films “come and go here so quickly.” Since

independent films never reach Thomasville

before they go to distribution, she says,

audiences are robbed of their challenge and

beauty.

“There’s a hunger in the

region for indie films.”

Sharon also explains that the Covey Film

Festival also promotes our city and community

to the film industry. “This is a wonderful place

for you to come and make films. Come and see

what talent is here.”

Covey, today and tomorrow

With planning for the next Festival in October

underway, members of the Covey Committee

are building on their successes and continuing

to leave room for improvement. Sharon says

one of the most important lessons they’ve

learned is that outside partnerships only serve

to strengthen their efforts. “We understand

the importance of partnering to increase our

participation and to share resources,” Sharon

says. “We can’t do it all ourselves.” Reaching

out to other nonprofits also strengthens our

community and helps spread awareness about

TCRC’s mission, she adds.

Teri Vismale-Morris

to do. “We’re still in the warm-up phase. We’d

like for this to become a destination film

festival,” she says. “That’s looking ahead two

or three years.”

Whatever the scope, Terri adds, the Covey

Film Festival will continue to inspire

those involved to learn, to care for their

neighbors, and to feel empowered

to effect positive change. “We have

a real opportunity to educate and

enlighten the community and to

stimulate wonderful conversation,”

she says. “That’s what moviemaking

is all about.”

Despite their success over the past few years,

Sharon says she and her committee have work

COVEY FILM FESTIVAL

coveyfilmfestival.com

104


FEATURED Artists

Alison Abbey

After a 10-year career writing

for editorial and PR clients

in Atlanta, Alison traded in

her high heels for cowboy

boots and moved to Nashville,

TN, where she works as

Associate Editor for Parade Magazine. She spends

her free time shooting photography, hunting down

vintage jewelry, searching for the world’s best

cheeseburgers (Sweet Grass Dairy Cheese Shop

is on the list!) and hanging out with her English

Pointer/Great Dane mix, Lucy. @awabbey

Brian Metz

Brian is an organic

photographer, who learned

the art through hands on

experience and his father’s

love of the medium. His

work has been featured in

several publications ranging from style & fashion

to homegrown articles detailing local tapestry.

Regardless of the project, Brian is focused on

bringing photos to life that provoke thought and

tell a story. When he isn’t taking photos, Brian

enjoys spending time with his family, riding his

Harley or traveling. metzphotography.net

Mark Atwater

Mark Atwater is a nature

and wildlife photographer

specializing in retriever and

sporting dog photography.

Mark lives in Seminole county,

near Donalsonville, GA. He

and his wife travel extensively, photographing

working dogs in various national events and hunting

in the field. upclosephoto.com

Meghan Davis

At a young age, Meghan Davis

learned to use photography as

distraction from her academic

struggles due to dyslexia.

She has since flourished as a

photographer, graduating from

SCAD with a BFA in photography and has embarked

on many projects including her ongoing series

Buffed. She operates mainly out of New England,

but is constantly traveling and photographing the

world around her. meghandavisphoto.com

TO BECOME A FEATURED ARTIST

Illustrators, Photographers,

Writers and Graphic Designers

Please contact Thomasville Center for the Arts

(229) 226-0588 | thom@thomasvillearts.org

Susan Ray

Alabama native Susan Ray’s

love of storytelling began

when she won a short story

contest through the local

library at a young age. A

former editor for Southern

Living books, Susan is now a freelance writer and

marketer. When she’s not writing, she spends most

of her time keeping up with her husband and two

children, who much to her dismay, all prefer math

over writing.

Becky Staynor

Becky Luigart-Stayner is a

freelance “all things food”

photographer in Birmingham,

Alabama. Her family instilled

in her a love...and obsession...

for good food, whether it

was pimento cheese sandwiches in the backseat

of the car or Oysters Rockefeller on the silver

laden family dining room table. While enjoying

their Easter dinner of Kentucky Country Ham,

they would already be planning the menu for the

Memorial Day cookout. And, no food ever goes to

waste because the dogs always lick the plates!

beckyluigartstayner.com

105

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