Stephen Shoemaker

The Paintings and Their Stories

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About the Book

North Carolina artist Stephen Shoemaker and writer Janet Pittard have teamed up to present a selection of Shoemaker’s paintings and drawings and the stories behind them. Known for his dramatic railroad paintings and scenes of life in the Blue Ridge mountains, Shoemaker shares the thought processes involved in creating his artwork, reveals his sources of inspiration (which often include events in local history or personal experiences) and points out clues and symbols appearing in his art. Together with 48 images, several of which were created especially for this publication, and occasional short poems by Pittard, the lively storytelling sheds light on an artist’s development as well as the unique culture and history of the mountain region served by the train called the Virginia Creeper, which ran from Abingdon, Virginia, to Elkland, North Carolina (now Todd), from the early 1900s through the mid–1970s.

About the Author(s)

Stephen Shoemaker is an artist from West Jefferson, North Carolina, and a co-owner and designer for the Appalachian Mint, LLC. His studio is in downtown West Jefferson.
Janet Pittard is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in Our State and Signature magazines and who has written for UNC-TV’s Our State program. She lives in Raleigh and West Jefferson.

Bibliographic Details

Stephen Shoemaker and Janet Pittard
Format: softcover (8.5 x 11)
Pages: 128
Bibliographic Info: 39 color reproductions, 9 b&w reproductions, 1 map, index
Copyright Date: 2013
pISBN: 978-0-7864-7467-7
eISBN: 978-1-4766-0348-3
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents


Cut at Devil’s Stairs  front cover

Milepost from Cut at Devil’s Stairs  5

Acknowledgments  9

“To Be a Train”  10

Preface  11

The Virginia Creeper Series  13

The Virginia Creeper’s Route  13

Virginia Creeper  14

Derailing the Virginia Creeper  15

Lost and Found  18

Tracks and Tricycles  19

Backstreet Station  22

Water, Water, Everywhere  23

Pine Medley and Harry Lee Miller  25

Potbellied Stove  25

Another Satisfied Customer  28

Another Satisfied Customer  28

Buddy Blackburn and the Goat Wagon  29

Free Enterprise  29

Snap Till You Drop, Another Buddy

Blackburn Story  30

Snap Till You Drop  31

The Carnival on the Old Ball Diamond  32

The Old Ball Diamond  33

Snow Days at Barr Hill  36

Snow Days at Barr Hill  37

Whose God Is Their Belly  39

Lilly Dell Walker Shoemaker (1872–1966)  39

Pappy’s Garden  41

J.C. Brown  42

Marjorie Brown  44

Apple Tree  45

Pappy and Me  47

The Future Holds the Past  48

Pappy and Me  49

“The Future Holds the Past”  50

My Favorite Christmas  51

Christmas Memory  52

Summer Days  56

War on Wilton Avenue  57

Elkland Station—Todd  60

Elkland Station—Todd  61

In Range  63

A Life and Death Situation  63

The Last Ham Biscuit  65

The Last Ham Biscuit  65

Virginia Creeper at Lansing  66

Riding the Ties  67

Virginia Creeper at Stikes Hollar  68

New River Landing  72

New River Landing  73

The Ride of My Life  74

The Ride of My Life, Another Buddy

Blackburn Story  75

Band Practice  76

Band Practice  76

The Flying Maestro (Becky Burgess)  77

Gert’s  78

What Might Have Been  79

The Diner from Gert’s  80

My First Car  83

“The Ticket Window”  86

The Ticket Window  87

“Crossings”  88

Virginia Creeper Crossing Sign  88

503rd MP  89

The Boy Who Got What He Asked

For  89

Cooper Farm at Brownwood  92

Remnants of the Past  93

Barn on Railroad Grade Road  94

“A Barn on Railroad Grade Road”  95

Big Horse Creek at Ripshin  96

Big Horse Creek at Ripshin  97

Skull from Big Horse Creek at Ripshin  99

“Secrets”  101

Dog Creek Mill  102

Dog Creek Mill  103

Bread of Angels  104

Bread of Angels  105

Cut at Devil’s Stairs (mural)  106

Cut at Devil’s Stairs  107

Cut at Devil’s Stairs (painting)  109

Halfway Rock  110

“Halfway Rock”  111

New River Crossing  112

Taking in the Scene  113

Tuckerdale Church  114

Imagine This  115

Barlow Knife  116

The New Beginning  118

The Long Goodbye  119

Feathered Friends  122

From the Artist: Stephen Shoemaker  123

From the Writer: Janet Pittard  125

Margie’s Tree  126

Index  127