Friday, November 13, 2020

Art Break: Grandpa and Grandma's house in Briceville Tennessee

by Rod Williams- These two pictures were painted by my mother Ouida Williams.  She passed away in April of this year at the age of 89.  She was always an artist impressing her children with spur of the moment compositions using a kids sets of water colors or crayons or just pencil.  She did not take up painting until she was in her late forties or maybe later.  She remained an amateur artist but her work was displayed at county fairs and street festivals such as the Knoxville Dogwood Arts Festival.  She painted a baptistery once at a church in Florida and she did several commissioned painting of people's homes.  All of her children and some of her grandchildren and other relatives have works of art by mom.

The Front Gate by Ouida Williams
These two paintings are of my Dad's childhood home in Briceville Tennessee. Briceville was only about forty miles from Knoxville but before the days of interstate it was a long trip. Once you reached Lake City (formally Cold Creek, now Rocky Top) it was still about four miles of a two lane road with hairpin curses the whole way before you reached Briceville.  Briceville lay in a valley with high hills on each side.

Briceville had once been a thriving coal mining community but by the time I knew the place, many of the people had moved away to the industrial cities of the north, especially Ohio, or they had scattered elsewhere.  Many of the people remaining were retired or living in poverty.  It was considerably different in several ways from the larger culture of East Tennessee.  People used some archaic words and phrases, more people chewed tobacco, many raised hogs, and you saw many more people wearing bib overalls and they had a slightly different accent. 

My dad travelled in his career as a gospel singer, so he was often gone on weekends and a trip to Briceville was an all day affair but it seems like about once a mouth or so we visited. 

These pictures capture my memories.  I can still see grandpa and grandma standing at the gate waving bye as we would leave.  The pictures are not dated but I believe that must have both been painted sometime in the 60's or 70's.  
The Coal House by Ouida Williams

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