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Harpers Ferry history flows

May 21, 2007|by DAVE McMILLION

HARPERS FERRY, W.VA. - For years, the landscape and history in Harpers Ferry have inspired artists, songwriters and poets.

Abolitionist John Brown, who made history with his raid on Harpers Ferry in 1859, has been immortalized in songs and poems, and the panoramic views in town have made for memorable art.

Now, the town and its influence on artists is getting a renewed look with "The Two Rivers," an art exhibit sponsored by the Arts and Humanities Alliance of Jefferson County.

When the train station along Potomac Street in Harpers Ferry recently was renovated, there was a push to have community events there, officials said.

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That's when Gil Narro Garcia came up with the idea of an exhibit honoring the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers, which meet in Harpers Ferry.

Garcia, a member of the board of directors for the Arts and Humanities Alliance of Jefferson County, said local artists were invited to create artwork depicting the two rivers.

Diana Suttenfield, Leia Wood, and Pam and Ren Parziale responded, and their works are hanging in the Charles Town (W.Va.) Visitors Center at 106 N. George St.

As part of the exhibit, an event was held Sunday afternoon at the train station in Harpers Ferry.

It featured musical performances, poetry readings and other events focusing on the rivers.

Local resident Tracy Seffers read a poem about her connection with the Shenandoah River and the musical group Shepherd Three Trio performed an original musical composition by Cam Miller titled "Potomac in Flight."

About 25 people attended Sunday's event, which included a lecture on Harpers Ferry history by Melinda Day, a lead park ranger for the living history office at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park.

Harpers Ferry is looked upon as a quaint town today, but Day said it once was a filthy industrial town, home to operations like a huge gun factory that stretched the length of six football fields.

The Civil War battles that followed in towns like Harpers Ferry often were remembered in song, Day said.

"Art and music are the heart and soul of our civilization," Harpers Ferry Mayor Jim Addy said at the start of Sunday's event.

Garcia said he hopes Sunday's event and "The Two Rivers" exhibit will shed more light on the uniqueness of Harpers Ferry. The beauty of the area and how it inspires artists, musicians and poets can be a way to spark the area's tourism industry, Garcia said.




If you go ...



What: "The Two Rivers" art exhibit

Where: 106 N. George St., Charles Town, W.Va.

When: Exhibit continues through July 27. Gallery hours are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday through Sunday.

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