Jennifer Bogan, PE teacher

New Prospect Elementary

2020-2021 Funded Project; “Exer-Rhythm: Drums Alive!”

Jennifer used grant funding to purchase materials for the ” Drums Alive” program that integrates dance with exercise in PE class

Thanks to a generous Be Inspired Grant from the Tryon Fine Arts Center, students in Ms. Jennifer’s class have been enjoying playing and dancing while exercising.


The students at New Prospect elementary just started their drums alive unit in physical education class.  The kids are having a blast incorporating rhythm and exercise into their classes.  This is a great unit for the pandemic because it allows every student to have their own equipment and stay the appropriate six feet apart or to share equipment and wear their mask.  The benefits of these activities include the development of muscular endurance and cardiovascular conditioning, the patterns are choreographed to music, adding to the development of timing and rhythmic movements. They are also collaborating with a music teacher who is also teaching rhythm and patterns so that it can carry over to their PE classes.

 “Our resourceful, seasoned leaders and our knowledgeable and experienced new members bring depth and perspective as well as an understanding of the arts and our community to the Board table,” said TFAC Executive Director Marianne Carruth.  “As we move forward out of the pandemic, I am grateful for their vision to help re-open with strength.”

Creative arts and community leadership at Tryon Fine Arts Center continue as the Board of Directors welcomes a new President, Vice President, Past President, and two new members at large to the team.  The Board of this 52-year-old nonprofit is comprised of business, educational, cultural, and philanthropic leaders representing a broad range of experience and expertise to oversee the management of the facility.

“Most importantly, I want to thank TFAC’s many donors and patrons for the strength of their ongoing support. They are truly the bedrock upon which TFAC was built and will continue to thrive.”

The President of the Board is Bob Penfold.  Bob has been a TFAC board member since 2017. He enjoyed a 40+-year career in the financial services industry with stopovers in 9 different cities along the way. His final position was in Atlanta as a Managing Director with Prudential Private Capital. Bob and his wife Susan have had a home in Tryon since 2006. During that time, they have been active volunteers with many local non-profit organizations.  Regarding his role as President, Bob says, “I thank the TFAC Board for giving me the opportunity to partner with them as we continue to lead TFAC through the many challenges presented by the pandemic.”

“I am grateful to be included on this dedicated Board as we strive to fulfill our mission for the community!  As true with our latest facility addition, TOGETHER we will make it happen!”

Sue Truitt, Vice-President, returned to the TFAC Board in 2020.  Upstate residents since 2006, Sue and her husband Dave have been involved in many area equestrian and arts activities.  Previously Sue had a career in Development with the State of Florida. In 1999, she pursued her dream career as a certified horse trainer and instructor. Sue recently retired from North Greenville University as an Adjunct Professor of Biology/Animal Science.  When asked her thoughts regarding Board membership, Sue says, “Being involved with Tryon Fine Arts Center has been one of the highlights of my life. In addition to the facility and its various exceptional offerings, Marianne Carruth and the staff, volunteers, donors, and patrons together make TFAC such an enjoyable and valuable asset to our community!”

Serving as Past President after serving 3 years as President is Tara Brannon. Of his predecessor, Bob Penfold says, “I want to acknowledge the superb job done by Tara as TFAC’s President.  In addition to normal duties, she oversaw the construction and completion of the Pavilion addition. Then the last year of her term brought the pandemic. Tara’s strong and rapid responses, many involving tough decisions, put TFAC in a position to weather the financial and organizational stresses we faced.”

New to the Board since the Covid-19 shutdown are Gwen Suesse and Melvin Cox.

“I am honored to join the TFAC board.  Tryon just would not be “Tryon” without Tryon Fine Arts Center, a facility that would be the envy of many large cities”

Gwen has been active in the arts community in Tryon since moving here in 1999, and has volunteered with various local nonprofit organizations. A former music teacher and choral director, she is also an author and life coach. Most recently, Gwen spent twelve years as President of Tryon Concert Association, shepherding that organization into the digital era. She was also a key member of the Tryon Fine Arts Center Capital Campaign Committee. Regarding TFAC and her service on the Board, Gwen says, “TFAC serves as an essential hub for our community, offering a vast array of cultural and social activities. I look forward to working with TFAC’s steadfast staff and dedicated board members.”

“I am deeply honored to work with TFAC and hope to bring a diverse, international perspective to the organization.”

Melvin and his wife, Pamela, have recently moved to Polk County where they have hosted the annual Day of the African Equestrian Gala and the Tom Bass Seminar on Diversity in Equestrian Sport.  During a multi-faceted forty-six-year career, Melvin found success as a television producer, educator, and technologist. An avid student of media and international relations, he is a Lecturer at the University of California, Santa Cruz where he is a co-founder of the Focus on Africa program at UCSC’s Merrill College. He has been a member of the Alameda County Steering Committee of the World Affairs Council of Northern California and was active on the Bay Area Africa Initiative steering committee.

An Interview with David McLeod, local resident and adult JAM participant.

We checked in with our PacJam musicians during the pandemic to see how they were dealing with everything. What was their home quarantine experience like and how the pandemic impacted them?

  How has your art or ability to make art or music been impacted by the pandemic?

While many others have been impacted more seriously than I have, my ability to participate in music has certainly been curtailed during this trying time. During the past 10 to 12 months, getting together and playing music in any fashion (classes, jams, one on one, etc.) with anyone has been severely limited or completely not possible for health safety reasons. However, due to TFAC, I have been able to participate in some level of musical activities either in small and safe classes that were managed by TFAC or with others due to my association with TFAC. TFAC has worked hard to come up with opportunities for music that fit within the current health challenging boundaries.

What are your thoughts about the importance of art and music during trying times like what we are currently experiencing?

To use the phrase “music soothes the savage beast” as a theme, I feel art, and in this specific case, music is very important during these very trying times. Being able to enjoy music (and art) in any fashion during normal times always gives us the ability to improve our overall outlook and well-being. When times are challenging (and beastly), as they are now, we all need ways to improve our outlook. Music has the definite ability to help soothe us and at the same time gives us hope for times to get better.

An Interview with musicians Amy & Bob Buckingham, PACJam teachers

We checked in with our PacJam musicians during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic to see how they were dealing with everything. What was their home quarantine experience like and how the pandemic impacted both their career and art?

  How has your art or ability to make art or music been impacted by the pandemic?

Amy: The pandemic has given me time to improve my musical skills on most instruments that I play.  I’ve been spending more time playing guitar and learning the lead part, so I’m teaching guitar and also playing some leads on the FaceBook songs we put up every day.  The pandemic has also, for the most part, curtailed our music jams and gigs, and this has enabled me to spend more time at art I developed in the weeks just prior to quarantining.  I took a week-long quilting class at the John C. Campbell Folk School in February and have been sewing almost every day since then.  Before the class, I hadn’t sewn for almost 10 years.  Now I’ve made 11 quilts, with many more to come!  Suffice it to say that my art has not suffered, but has grown during the pandemic.  Not having to go to work (I’m semi-retired) has become a huge blessing to my creativity.

How important has it been for you to be able to connect with other artists/musicians during this time?

Bob: The exchange of ideas is one of the great founts of knowledge. Being limited in our contact with other musicians at once provides a distancing that can get lost in the rush of events in busy times and giving new perspectives and opportunities for the integration of new thinking through introspection.  Old answers may not address new questions. Forgotten ideas may once again be entertained and implemented or weighed for value. With limited contact, there is an eagerness for idea exchanges.  It also makes you appreciate what was once taken for granted.

What has the availability of and/or participation in arts education meant to you during this time?

Amy: I have thoroughly enjoyed teaching adult and young students.  We have done some outdoor individual and group lessons, which can be difficult with masks and social distancing, but it is nice to be able to see people in person!  Winter months were not good for outdoor lessons, so we went to mostly individual online lessons in January. It has been a challenge to do online lessons, but we have mastered it, learning as we go.  It has kept me motivated to play different tunes more and to think of different ways to play them.

What are your thoughts about the importance of art and music during trying times likewe have experienced during Covid-19?

Bob: Music is at the core of who I am.  Practice and growth provide a place to be productive and find some modicum of satisfaction in a time of heavy compromise. With no gigs, we have taken to sharing daily videos online to an appreciative audience. It helps keep us in musical shape and looking for new material. It also lends a sense of purpose in the time of a nebulous future. What will the world look like on the other side?  All we can do is be prepared to do our best.

Do you feel that being able to continue your art or music has helped you cope with the pandemic?  If so, in what ways?

Amy: Being able to continue with my music and art has definitely enabled me to cope with the pandemic.  It is something To DO.  Anytime, and with little preparation.  It can be totally stream of consciousness, as happens often in the arts.  It is freeing, even though we are at home.

Ellen Rogers, 1st grade teacher

Saluda Elementary

2020-2021 Funded Project; Holi: A Spring Festival of Color

Ellen used grant funding to purchase materials for celebrating the Indian holiday “Holi,” including shirts, powder, masks, and chalk..

Holi Hai! (Meaning, “It’s Holi”.)Thanks to a generous Be Inspired Grant from the Tryon Fine Arts Center, first grade students in Ms. Rogers’s class enjoyed the Hindu celebration of Holi with a Color Run.

See Video Here

Holi, also known as the Festival of Colors, marks the beginning of spring and was on March 29th this year. While the colors used  during this celebration were store bought, students have been learning how colors can be made from dried flowers and will be experimenting with some they’ve collected from the school grounds. They will also be comparing Holi to the Jewish holiday of Passover which began on March 27th and Easter which will be on April 5th. 

WEDNESDAYS 6:15 -7:15 pm

2 4-week sessions for all ages:  April 14-May 5 & May 12-June 2

Teachers:  Phillip Jenkins & Carson Moore

Snuffy Jenkins

“It’s an anomaly,” Phillip Jenkins says of PacJAM’s new class offering.  Taking their mission seriously to transmit the region’s music to today’s youth, Pacolet Junior Appalachian Musicians is digging deeply into Jenkins’ roots.  Long proud of his lineage to progenitor of the 3-finger banjo Snuffy Jenkins (Phillip’s great-uncle), PacJAM is taking on the other “instrument” Snuffy was known for… the washboard (or “confounded contraption,” as Snuffy’s dad called it.)

Phil Jenkins, nephew of Snuffy Jenkins, demonstrates making a racket on the washboard.

Specially outfitted with a pot, block, and bike horn, and played with thimbles on three fingers of each hand, Snuffy’s confounded contraption is a unique set-up, even among other washboard player.  (A clip of Snuffy playing can be seen here: https://www.knowitall.org/video/beaumont-rag-digital-traditions.

PacJAM is providing the washboard setup, and Phillip Jenkins is providing the know-how, in two four-week class sessions:  April 14-May 5th, and May 12th-June 2nd, in the amphitheater at Tryon Fine Arts Center from 6:15-7:15pm.  During class, participants can learn how to play the washboard &/or jam on a mandolin/guitar/banjo against washboard rhythms.  Families and couples who love making music together are encouraged to take this class together.

As for Phillip, he can’t wait to pass on this tradition.  In his own words, “There ain’t nobody in the world who can’t play washboard.  All you got to do is make a racket on it!  So don’t tell me you ain’t musically inclined, because I’m going to set you to work making some noise.”


Kimberly Granville, AIG, 3-5

Polk Central, Tryon, Sunny View Elementary Schools

2020-2021 Funded Project Mathematical Mosaics

Kim used grant funding to purchase materials to learn how Rubik’s Cubes work and to make art using the concept of mosaics.

Happy New Year! Upon return from Christmas break I started discussions with my students about mosaics, pointillism, and pixels. The children have been quite receptive.  We’ve compared and contrasted what each entails, looked at examples from around the world, and started creating. One of our remote teachers (Kendal Stoney) was previously a middle school and high school art teacher so she presented a lovely synopsis briefly explaining each. We our due to receive our Rubik’s cubes the first week in February and the children are excited. I am truly thankful, especially during this pandemic, to have the opportunity to provide a creative outlet for my students. To help them learn vocabulary, math standards, to gain tenacity, and to see the beauty in art and our world. Thank you for helping in the process with the BIG grant.Here are a few pictures from this week. These are pictures with the Tryon Elementary first grade group. 

This year teaching with my students has been different in that I’ve had to see students by class and not just by area for differentiation.  We have needed to become virtual in learning opportunities, presentations, playing chess, and even playing with a virtual Rubik’s cube. I’ve had to rethink how we will learn together just as every teacher facing virtual/remote teaching. I do think the arts helps us think freely, take ourselves to a different place, see the world in a different way, see the relationship between art and math, and help us meditate and cope even for just a short amount of time. Art allows freedom of thought, perception, emotional release, interpretation, and especially in a year such as 2020, why not learn standards, explore, and support emotional well being through art. I myself thoroughly enjoy math, art, and travel and appreciate the chance to show a little of the world through art. To show how subjects change, societal interests may change, mediums used to express one’s creativity, and with this project technology advancements as well. Making connections, growing, reflecting, creating are all part of a human need and part of evolving, gaining knowledge and being able to add to and help one’s community. What a gift and what a responsibility we all have.


I will send more pictures as we progress and will be sending them to the Polk Schools website as well. I thank you for the grant and for the opportunity to engage in learning with my students through art. 

Showcase of Excellence, TFAC’s annual exhibit featuring high school artists, was cancelled for 2021. We plan to bring the show back next year. In the meantime, we heard from Dorman High School Art Teacher Dr. Frances Vaughan about what the show has provided for her students.

Dr. Frances Vaughan, Art teacher, Dorman High School, Spartanburg, SC

The TFAC Showcase of Excellence has provided my students with an opportunity to display their work and share it with the Tryon community and beyond. Students who attended the show have gained a sense of pride and confidence in their artistic abilities… and the cash prizes made them smile too! They also enjoyed the aspect of getting to see so many other students’ works from the area.

I will miss the show this year because it is often the only show where we get to compete and have comradery with schools from both North and South Carolina. I live in the area (Campobello) and teach at Dorman High School, so it is always fun to have my students from Spartanburg get to visit my local community. The show is always impeccably organized, beautifully displayed, and in a great location.

  • Dr. Vaughn shared some photos of her students’ work this year that would have made it into the exhibit:
Samantha Weber: Grade 12 Dorman High School Teacher: Dr. Frances Draughn
Artist: Kriti Baral; Grade 12 Dorman High School Teacher Dr. Frances Draughn

Hi, I’m Alaina McCall, I’m a rising Junior at Landrum High School, and I’m the Arts Administration Intern at TFAC this Summer. I love drawing and just making things in general, so when I heard about this internship, I was ecstatic to find something that sounded so perfect for me. I love writing stories and animating videos, so a job where I get to use and hone my Photoshop skills, while getting to write at the same time, is a dream come true.

My dream college is the California Institute of The Arts, which is less than an hour’s drive away from Disney Studios, where I can hopefully intern when I go to school there. My dream career is to be an animated show’s storyboard artist, then work my way up to create my own show, on either Cartoon Network, Disney Channel, or Netflix. Something like Gravity Falls, Steven Universe, Adventure Time, Rick And Morty, or Bojack Horseman. My YouTube channel, LoquaciousLaners42, linked here, is where I like to post animations, sketchbook tours, speedpaints, and other art related things like that. When I’m not making stuff, I like to act, sing, attempt to play guitar, and watch cartoons.

I’m so glad that I’m getting to work at Tryon Fine Arts Center this summer! So far, I’ve gotten to make videos, edit pictures together, organize lots of stuff, and make lots of spreadsheets; it’s been so much fun! I can’t wait to learn even more as the summer progresses.

I’m very thankful that our local foundation the Polk County Community Foundation has made this internship possible, and I’m so happy to have been chosen for this amazing opportunity!

Thanks to funding from Polk County Community Foundation, TFAC has added an exciting new tool to ensure that performances and events are more accessible.

Technicians have installed a state-of-the-art Assistive Listening Device (ALD) in the Veh Auditorium. The ALD system works seamlessly to accommodate those with hearing loss or who have difficulty distinguishing sounds in large spaces like TFAC’s 315 seat theater. With 10% of the population experiencing hearing loss, this is a vital step that TFAC is pleased to take to improve accessibility for all our patrons.

Polk County Community Foundation’s support has also enabled TFAC to upgrade the speakers in the auditorium, ensuring the world-class visiting artists are heard in their richest form. Pictured are TFAC’s expert technical contractors installing the new system.