Wariner's Watercolors
Paintings by Country Music Songwriter and Entertainer Steve Wariner
A selection of watercolors by multi-talented country music songwriter and entertainer Steve Wariner will be part of three exhibits at the museum centered around a musical theme. The exhibition, entitled Wariner’s Watercolors: Paintings
by Steve Wariner
, will feature 21 of Wariner’s favorite paintings. It opens on October 11.
Wariner, who moved to Tennessee in 1973, has accomplished much since making his way to Nashville from his native Indiana more than a quarter-of-a-century ago. His outstanding musical talents initially won the admiration of the legendary Dottie West, who hired him to play bass guitar in her road band when he was still a teenager. The incomparable Chet Atkins, who signed Wariner to his first recording contract, was so fond of the guitarist that he actually gave him one of his own Grammy Awards.
Wariner has achieved 14 No. 1 hits with songs such as “The Weekend,” “Life’s Highway,” “I Got Dreams,” and more. “Holes in the Floor of Heaven,” the No. 1 song he co-wrote with Billy Kirsch, is considered among the 100 Greatest Country Songs of All Time. He has won four Grammy Awards, four CMA Awards, and one ACM Award; received a total of 11 Grammy nominations; and is the recipient of the Orville H. Gibson Guitar Award for Best Male Country Guitarist, as well as the Minnie Pearl Humanitarian Award for his charitable work. He will release his new album, It Ain’t All Bad, on Sept. 10.
Several entertainers have earned major hits with Wariner-penned tunes, including Garth Brooks (“Longneck Bottle”), Keith Urban (“Where the Blacktop Ends”), Bryan White (“One Small Miracle”), and Clint Black(who co-wrote his Number One hit, “Nothin’ But the Taillights,” with Wariner in addition to their hit duet “Been There”).Growing up in an artistic, inventive family gave Wariner an early start in expressing his creativity. “My father and brothers used to draw, doodle, and dabble in watercolors. I remember trying to draw at a very young age and always loved it,”
Wariner said. “My father was also a talented musician and singer, so I was inspired by him all the way around.” Wariner adds that he had a “fabulous” high school art teacher named Gordon Morrison, “who arranged for me to have back-to-back art classes for four years, forgoing study hall. I also worked for him sometimes during the summer months. He was a brilliant teacher and great friend. Over the years, I have continued to study art and develop my own style.”
“I am absolutely thrilled at this tremendous opportunity to have my art on display at the State Museum,” Wariner added. “My work has been exhibited occasionally over the years but never like this or at this level. This truly is a first for me…I am very grateful.”Museum Curator Renèe White describes Wariner as “an exceptionally talented performer and painter. He has been a longtime supporter of our museum and it is a pleasure to present his work to his many fans and to our visitors.”
Wariner’s Watercolors: Paintings by Steve Wariner will be on view through December 29.
Shooting Stars
Celebrity Portraits by Photographer Russ Harrington
Images by photographer Russ Harrington will be featured this fall as part of three exhibitions at the museum centered around a musical theme. The exhibit, entitled Shooting Stars: Celebrity Portraits by Russ Harrington, spotlights approximately 62 images from his portfolio. It opens on October 11.
Raised in Music City since his birth here in 1961, Harrington is a longtime resident of Middle Tennessee. Since the night he borrowed his brother’s camera to shoot a Molly Hatchet concert, Harrington has been devoted to photographing musicians.
A photography major at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, Harrington further developed his style during this time shooting models and fashion ads for a local high-end department store. That work led to an editorial photo shoot with country singer Trisha Yearwood — one of his first big breaks. After Yearwood saw the Polaroids from that day’s session, she quickly hired Harrington to shoot her next album cover.
More than 500 album covers later, Harrington has captured revealing images of some of the world’s most popular musicians and performers. These include his famed portrait of iconic country superstar Loretta Lynn and celebrated guitarist/garage band rocker Jack White (which he took for the cover of Lynn’s Grammy-winning “Van Lear Rose” album), his candid shot of Led Zeppelin vocalist Robert Plant cracking up bluegrass legend Alison Krauss, and his surprising, unexpected image of CMA Entertainer of the Year Brad Paisley covered in mud. Harrington has “shot almost everyone who matters in contemporary music,” according to Museum Executive Director Lois Riggins-Ezzell. His portfolio spans a veritable “Who’s Who” of the music business, including Brooks & Dunn, Alan Jackson, Taylor Swift, Keith Urban, Al Green,Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, Dolly Parton, and Reba McEntire.
Along with Harrington’s images, the exhibit will include several objects such as one of the photographer’s old cameras, and a guitar given to him by recording artist Brian Setzer, former singer and lead guitarist of rockabilly revival group, The Stray Cats. Several celebrity costumes will also be on view including the powder blue dress that Loretta Lynn
wore on the “Van Lear Rose” album cover.
“I’m excited and look so forward to showcasing this extensive body of my work spanning from the past 25 years,” Harrington said. “Many of these images bring back great memories of the artist, different locations, and the nuances of each photograph.”
“Documenting popular culture is a significant part of the State Museum’s mission,” noted Riggins-Ezzell. “We are delighted to present Russ Harrington’s celebrity portraits to the many visitors who frequent our Changing Exhibits Galleries.”The exhibit, Shooting Stars: Celebrity Portraits by Russ Harrington, will be on view through December 29.

Dulcimer Exhibition
Historic Dulcimer Collection Featured in Free Musical Exhibits at the State Museum
A collection of historic dulcimers will be featured this fall as part of three exhibits at the Tennessee State Museum centered around a musical theme. The dulcimer exhibit, which is entitled David’s Dulcimers: Instruments from the Schnaufer Collection, will open Oct. 11, 2013.
The dulcimers were owned by the late David Schnaufer (1952-2006), who was himself a dulcimer virtuoso and a Vanderbilt University Blair School of Music faculty member. He donated his outstanding collection of dulcimers to the Tennessee State Museum in 2006, shortly before his death.
Schnaufer devoted his life to recording, performing, and teaching the instrument. His personal collection was developed through antique store finds, private purchases and trades, and it traces the development of the dulcimer from early forms to contemporary styles.
The donation, with instruments dating from the early 1800s to the late 1900s, includes a variety of hourglass-shaped dulcimers, a Scheitholt, which is the German predecessor of the mountain dulcimer, and some rectangular-shaped music boxes. Twenty instruments from this collection will be on view as part of the exhibition.
Five historic instruments from the State Museum’s permanent collection will also be included in the exhibit. An 1840s hammer dulcimer will be featured that belonged to the McDowell family, who in the 1920s and 30s gathered music and information about early traditional hymns and folk songs in the Caney Fork River Valley. Also included is a lap dulcimer that belonged to Tennessee author and poet, Emma Bell Miles, of Chattanooga, Tennessee.
The graceful curves of hourglass and teardrop shaped Appalachian dulcimers were common styles in the mountainous regions of West Virginia, Virginia, and Kentucky, but the farming communities of Tennessee produced a box-like style of dulcimer that found its grace in the sound it
made rather than its outward appearance. Called “music boxes” by their creators, these instruments have three to four strings on a fretboard attached to a simple box made of local hardwoods.
The majority of the music boxes that have been located have been found in Tennessee or can have their roots traced back to the state. Family histories indicate that the music boxes were most likely built between 1879 and 1940 with the majority of them built in the late 19th century.
David Schnaufer ̶ Dulcimer Virtuoso
“The dulcimer is the wild animal of the musical kingdom.” These words were written by Schnaufer in 2005. “It can be anything, bagpipe, guitar, fiddle, banjo, slide guitar, harpsichord, mandolin, but mostly itself, a droning, angelic power chord of delicacy that lives in its own world, in tune with its surroundings at a level that the well-tempered revolution could never quite tame.”
A native Texan, Schnaufer first strummed a dulcimer in an Austin music store on his 21st birthday and left college three days later to search out other dulcimer players. Before moving to Nashville in 1985, Schnaufer lived in Colorado and West Virginia where he learned to make dulcimers and immersed himself in traditional Appalachian fiddle tunes and old-time string band music. In 1976, Schnaufer won the first national mountain dulcimer contest in Winfield, Kansas. "I only knew three songs," he said, "but I knew them very well."
Schnaufer’s Nashville career as recording artist, studio musician and dulcimer professor revived the sound of the traditional Appalachian dulcimer in contemporary music and earned him the title of “dulcimer virtuoso.”
Schnaufer made his own albums and also recorded with a variety of artists including Joh
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