• Press Release

HANGING TREE GUITARS: FREEMAN VINES EXHIBIT OPENS AT THE PORTSMOUTH ART & CULTURAL CENTER ON MAY 1



Words and Images Courtesy of Portsmouth Museums




(April 28th, 2022) - A new exhibit opens to visitors on Sunday, May 1st through July 31st, 2022 at the Portsmouth Art & Cultural Center, (PACC). On May 6th, 2022, there will be an opening reception from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. at the PACC which is free and open to the public. This exhibition juxtaposes tintypes by Timothy Duffy, photographer, musicologist, and founder of the Music Maker Relief Foundation and introduces the work of Freeman Vines, blues guitarist, luthier, and woodcarver, born in Green County, North Carolina.



Vines’ family grew up on land where his ancestors previously sharecropped and were plantation slaves. Despite having no formal education, the family produced many musicians. Vines’ siblings, the Glorifying Vines Sisters, were a touring gospel group with whom he toured and played guitar. During a stop on the gospel circuit, Vines heard a sound that would haunt and eventually consume him. He began building guitars in a quest to recreate that sound. He recycled materials from old buildings and cast-away items. He did this because he believes that each tree has a soul. Its wood holds the spirit and evokes the history of how it was used. This spirit is given voice in each guitar that Vines builds. He says that, unlike a Gibson, for instance, with a uniform sound, his guitars all hold a sound of their own. Vines once purchased two planks from a black walnut tree, all that was left of a “hanging tree” also known as a “lynching tree,” where a Black man was reportedly murdered some 90 years ago. The energy from those planks profoundly affected him. Eventually, he met Timothy Duffy who had sought him out to photograph him and his guitars, another life-altering event.



For almost 50 years, Vines has continued his quest for “the sound” – a personal tone, and sonic identity of its own. This exhibition was organized and is being toured by the Music Maker Relief Foundation.


About the Portsmouth Art & Cultural Center

The Portsmouth Art & Cultural Center, housed in the 1846 Courthouse, is devoted to offering quality educational, cultural, and aesthetic experiences in the arts through rotating visual art exhibits, lectures, classes, and performances. For more information call 757-393-8543 or visit www.portsmouthartcenter.com

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