It is a Sad day for the OVTA. Blair Keller of Virginia has passed away. He was active in the OVTA from its beginning. We think his funeral will be Friday. I will not be able to go so I will honor him here.
I enjoyed talking with him. He was a charter member of the organization. In our last conversation, he told me he was born in a cabin and spent his early childhood there. You could see through the cracks in the walls he said. For the most part, that kind of house has disappeared too. I cannot imagine. But time passes quickly. Blair lived a very full life I think and he was an inspirational member.
Oh, one other note. One time when I was dreaming big, I introduced an idea to the OVTA that we should fund raise to add a fresco of a scene from this incredible story painted by world renown NC artist Benjamin F. Long. Elkin is a perfect fit for this fresco on the already recognized Ben Long Fresco Trail. This is expensive and a labor of time -months or years- and love. Peoples mouths dropped open, but Blair was enthusiastic and recalled seeing the frescos in Ashe county. We passed a resolution to think about it. Rescued me.
I had the good fortune to meet Benjamin F. Long in Wilkesboro at an arts reception for the fresco there. RG was playing music for the meet and greet so I was introduced. Later in the evening Ben was more or less chased around the table of food by two blondes in pursuit. He caught my eye, I smiled and he came running more or less to visit with me again. Rescued.
Later RG and made a special trip to Asheville to see an exhibit at the Benjamin F. Long School of Fine Arts. I had a video about the OVTA to give him and I asked him about the idea of a fresco for Elkin. I reminded him of the "rescue from Wilkesboro" and he knew exactly who I was.
Heroes are important. Timing is important. Encouragement and leadership are important. Blair was, and had, all these things to teach us. He was funny, he was wise, and he was neither humble or proud. He was a great man. They named the OVTA visitors center in Abingdon after him.
Maybe one day we will have a visitors center in Elkin with a Benjamin F. Long Fresco in it. He told me he really wants to do a fresco for Camp Lejuene and the Marines. So if you know anybody there... Please get them crack in'. Frescos are forever and take time. If Ben retires before this can happen, maybe his students can carry on, but there is nothing as great as a master artist so I'd like to encourage this again.
Speaking of Italian heritage arts and Masters of Arts, Gino Vannelli's song for heroes continues to speak to me and you must hear it-None so Beautiful As The Brave. If you are a Marine in California, you can hear him IN PERSON on February 28th at the Saban Theater. I know you know that, but for new readers, I repeat... Www.ginov.com for ticket information.
And if you already listened to that one, this one reminds me to live like Blair today. There's No Time is one of Gino's first published songs. Time passes quickly.
Please excuse all the fonts. I'm still learning to operate this software. it's (past) 1:00 am and I'm a little spacey... But Blair Keller deserves your attention so I wanted to tell you about him.