Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Cheerio Experience – An Overview

A hilltop in North Carolina (not a mountaintop, right Amy?) might seem like a strange spot for calligraphers from across North America to converge to study with a Belgian and a New Yorker... but the serene environment really contributes to the Cheerio magic.

This was my first time at Cheerio, and for me, Cheerio worked.

This session, the teachers were Alice Koeth and Brody Neuenschwander. Alice, a lively octogenarian, is a living legend in the calligraphic world, and it was early exposure to her hand-lettered posters in Manhattan’s Morgan Library, that helped stimulate Brody’s interest in calligraphy. So they were a fitting and complementary team. That was apparent as soon as they traded good-natured jabs in our introductory meeting. Alice’s approach, disciplined and full of integrity, and Brody’s approach, intuitive and exploratory, were a great combination for the eager students present.

The pace was intense, with both teachers having lots of information to cover in our too-short time together. Almost everyone worked from dawn til after dusk, with breaks for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Those breaks were wonderful – a time to meet new friends and put faces to the names seen in calligraphy publications. And the food – home-cooked southern foods with a touch of flair (extraordinary sauces and desserts) by the ever-popular chef, Martyn, was balanced with lots of fresh fruit and vegetables.

I had hoped to explore the beautiful setting, but there was little time for that, although I paused on the way between buildings to take in the stunning views or snap digital photos of the rolling hills.

Another highlight for me, was a brief meeting with John Stevens. I have admired his work since the late ’80’s, and had the chance to tell him that. He simply dropped in for dinner, and quite by chance, I ended up taking a wild, circular, calligraphic ride on the golf cart he was driving... no time to talk about letters, but memorable fun! A nice break in an intense and concentrated week.

I stayed in the dorms – something I really wasn’t looking forward to. But thanks to my fabulous ‘roomies’, it just meant coming home with two new friends. That's me with Sheila Cheek and Portia Fitzhugh, left.

For those calligraphers who have never been to Cheerio, do consider it. Your hosts, Jim and Joyce Teta, are fabulous, and southern hospitality is part of the experience. (Special thanks to Teresa, Dave and Camden!)


Lorraine Douglas said...

Beautiful pictures looks like you had the best of times!

Victoria Pittman said...


Looks like a fabulous experience. Are you down from the high yet?

Cute shot of you and friends!


Alice Young said...

It was a great experience, and I was on a real high. Sadly, I also had a real 'crash' - one of my cats died while I was away - I won't go into details here, but a real tragedy. So the crash down was harsh.

Just trying to re-adjust this week...