Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2017 - 46

Craggy treetops come under the artist's gaze in "Among Hemlocks." Twigs and lichen contribute
layers of texture.

Appalachian landscape painter Lowell
Hayes has been alive for eight decades and a bit more, so he has seen
the earth change; trees expanding
their girth, rivers tamed.
Hayes was born in the old settlement of Butler, Tennessee, which
went under water after the Tennessee Valley Authority's Watauga
Dam was finished, in 1948. His love
of that native landscape affects everything he does. For almost a half
century he has lived near Valle Crucis, North Carolina, with his family,
observing and painting the woods.
It has been almost 10 years now
since Hayes first presented his series of a dozen richly textured and
in some cases immense paintings,
called "The Hemlocks! The Hemlocks! Grief and Celebration." The
largest canvas, "Imagining Old
Growth," measures nine feet high
and 19 feet wide.
Back then, between about 2005
and 2009, Hayes was alarmed at the
prospect of widespread devastation
of Eastern hemlock forests, victims
of the invasive hemlock woolly
adelgid-an insect of tremendous
destructive power-and wanted to
take action.

46 BlueRidgeCountry.com

"Hemlocks are one of my favorite things in life and the threat
to them was deeply disturbing
to me," Hayes says. "I thought,
'What can I do about it?' If I could
have a chance to do a gallery
show, then I was confident I could
move a lot of people emotionally
and intellectually."
An exhibition of those works
premiered at Appalachian State
University's Turchin Center for
the Visual Arts in 2010. Hayes's
work has also been shown by the
National Museum of American
Art, the Tennessee State Museum,
and the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill, and in private
collections.
Is he hopeful? Some years back
Hayes and a neighbor decided to
treat their own prized hemlock
trees with natural pest control
methods, an expensive but successful proposition. Since then
researchers have made strides
in introducing predators elsewhere that might someday keep
the woolly adelgid in balance
throughout the region and stem
the damage.
"That is our future." 


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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2017

Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2017 - Intro
Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2017 - Cover1
Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2017 - Cover2
Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2017 - 3
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Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2017 - 29
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Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2017 - 31
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Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2017 - 46
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Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2017 - Cover3
Blue Ridge Country - November/December 2017 - Cover4
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