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A postcard from the Pacific Northwest with the local arts update

&bsp; I find that often in order to appreciate and understand something it is necessary to look at it from a different perspective. A painting viewed up close will reveal details, but may require a distant observation to see how the details become a whole. Towns are like that too.

As I travel this week, visiting the homes of family and friends in Washington State, I finally have the chance to look back at Tryon with fresh eyes. While the natural landscape of the Puget Sound region retains the grandeur I remember from childhood, I find myself missing the town of Tryon. Through the wonders of the internet, I&squo;ve been receiving emails updating me on all the Tryon events while I travel. I have to say, there&squo;s a whole lot more going on in this little town than in the small towns covered in plantations of &dquo;McMansions&dquo; piled on top of each other to serve as &dquo;country homes&dquo; to the commuters who drive into Seattle or Tacoma for work. Strip malls of the corporate giants have overgrown the small village of local artists&squo; shops I remember from my youth.

Yet, careful planning (and perhaps a bit of downright stubbornness) has kept Polk County from losing its charm, so it may remain a collection of communities rather than become suburbs. As we sit in the center of three places (Charlotte and Asheville, NC and Greenville, SC) in the top ten of the &dquo;Relocate America 2008&dquo; list, the arts feed this community, helping to draw people out of their homes for fun and friendly conversation.

Thursday night take a break from cooking and get out to hear the country bluegrass sounds of Garry Segal with his guitar and harmonica at The Purple Onion.

Friday, make it a social evening starting at 6 p.m. with Red Clover Gallery in Landrum. Spend the cocktail hour exploring the opening of the vibrant and colorful work capturing the travels of Anne and William Jameson. The Jameson&squo;s have recently visited Colonial Mexico, Europe in addition to exploring the Carolinas for inspiration. For more information call 864-457-3311 or visit www.redclovergallery.com.

Also on Friday, Columbus kicks off its &dquo;Family Festival&dquo; to benefit Stoney Knoll Library. The festivity begins a 3 p.m. in Stearns Park with games, food and fun for the whole family. The festival continues all day Saturday alongside the fresh foods, arts and crafts of the Polk Tailgate Market. For more information about the benefit call Ricky Cummings at 864-205-6893. For information about participating in the tailgate market call Gerald Harbison at 828-894-8550.

Finish off your Saturday in Columbus by heading down the block from Stearns Park to Veteran&squo;s Park for the second concert of the Columbus Summer Series featuring ragtime bluesman Roy Bookbinder at 8 p.m. This highly entertaining performer fresh from MerleFest provides fun and music fit for the whole family.

Speaking of families, this weekend is the Family Fun Outdoor Skills Weekend at Earth School. From 9 a.m. Saturday to 4 p.m. Sunday families have the chance to develop survival and camping skills like archery, animal tracking, and &dquo;wild edibles.&dquo; Then spend an entertaining evening around the campfire with music and Native stories. Call 828-395-1758 or visit www.lovetheearth.com for more information

Make it a &dquo;Memorial Sunday&dquo; afternoon and head on over to Elmo&squo;s Too in Columbus for a festive collection of local musicians including Red Dog, Winkie, Dog Fight Blues Band, Norm & Chuck, Dana Bergman, and more. They start pumping up the jam around 3 p.m. and the music will range from blues and rock favorites to original tunes.

After a full weekend, enjoy the holiday Monday. While you&squo;re relaxing at home, you might consider your own creations. In case you haven&squo;t already heard, Tryon Arts & Crafts has announced a call for artists to submit work for a juried show as part of their first annual Fall Festival. Applications and information are now available by calling 828-859-8323 or visiting www.tryonartsandcrafts.org.