Published April 8, 2019
Master of instrument inlay Brian Calhoun (front) and apprentices Jake Hopping, right, and Adam McNeil photographed at Rockbridge Guitars in Charlottesville, Virginia (Pat Jarrett/Virginia Humanities)

The Virginia Folklife Program at Virginia Humanities announces the 2019-2020 class of Master Artists in the Virginia Folklife Apprenticeship Program. Master Artists are selected through a competitive process in all forms of Virginia’s expressive cultures. The seven new teams join more than 120 pairs of masters and apprentices who have taken part in the Apprenticeship Program since its inception in 2002.

“Through this unique program, we work with incredibly accomplished musicians and craftspeople who are dedicated to passing along vitally important art forms to future generations,” said Jon Lohman, State Folklorist and director of the Virginia Folklife Program. “Participants in this year’s showcase exemplify the remarkable range and diversity of folk traditions in Virginia.”

Introducing the 2019–2020 Master Folk Artists and their apprentices:

  • Master of instrument inlay Brian Calhoun of Charlottesville and apprentices Adam McNeil and Jake Hopping
  • Master of Yucatan-style cooking Luz Lopez of Albemarle County and apprentice Princey Reyes
  • Master of house dance and culture Junious Brickhouse of Virginia Beach and apprentice Tyrone Edwards
  • Master of stained glass restoration Ronald Dixon of Staunton and apprentice William Hinkle
  • Master of fiberglass sculpture and roadside attractions Mark “Professor” Cline of Rockbridge County and apprentice Brently Hilliard
  • Returning master of the clawhammer banjo Emily Spencer of Grayson County and apprentice Lisa Ring
  • Returning master of apple grafting and white oak basket making Clyde Jenkins of Page County and apprentices Isaac Lonas, Tanner Good, Sam Jenkins, and Logan Hindershot

Celebrating the completion of the 2018–2019 Master Folk Artists and their apprentices:

  • Master gospel singer Cora Harvey Armstrong of King and Queen County and apprentice Samantha Willis
  • Master baklava maker Sondus Asad Moussa of Harrisonburg and apprentice Sanaa Abdul Jalil
  • Master hotrod car builder Jeff Bennett of Roanoke and apprentice Jeremy Bennett
  • Master of Vietnamese Dan Bau (monochord instrument) Nam Phuong Nguyen of Fairfax County and apprentice Anh Dien Nguyen
  • Master Mongolian contortionist Mandkhai Erdembat of Arlington and apprentices Emma and Ella Chuluunbat
  • Master moonshine maker Chris Prillaman of Franklin County and apprentice Tanner Talley
  • Returning master of the Galax-style dulcimer Phyllis Gaskins of Rockingham County and apprentice Anna Stockdale
  • Master of jazz and swing guitar the late Bert Carlson of Bath County and apprentice Danny Knicely (sadly, Bert passed away in the fall of 2018)

The Virginia Folklife Apprenticeship Program pairs experienced master artists with gifted apprentices for one-on-one, nine-month learning experiences, ensuring that art forms are passed on in ways that are conscious of history and faithful to tradition. More than workshops or lessons, apprenticeship learning takes place in the art forms’ traditional contexts, calling upon the complete engagement of the senses and contextualizing the practices within the larger cultural landscape.

On Sunday, May 5, from 12:00 to 5:00 PM, the Virginia Folklife Program will celebrate these two classes of master artists at the Folklife Apprenticeship Showcase at James Monroe’s Highland just outside of Charlottesville. Now in its sixteenth year, the showcase is a FREE, family-friendly event that celebrates the traditional music, crafts, and foodways of Virginia, introducing the public to the master artists and apprentices who keep the traditions alive. This year’s audience will enjoy more than ten live musical performances and a dazzling display of engaging demonstrations. Featured foods include real Brunswick stew, Frances Davis’s fried apple pies, and Joey’s hot dogs. Additional special guests will be announced in April.

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