A Celebration of Freeman Vines as “Hanging Tree Guitars” Opens in Winston-Salem

inExhibitionson June 22, 2021

By Gabi Mendick

Thank you so much to everyone who joined us at the opening of “Hanging Tree Guitars” at the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art in Winston-Salem, N.C., last week! 

It was so invigorating to see the work of Freeman Vines and Tim Duffy hanging on the walls and suspended from branches in the exhibit hall. And seeing a crowd of more than 300 people absorbing the artwork reminded us of the power of “Hanging Tree Guitars.” 

Though many have viewed the ongoing virtual artist talk series “In Conversation with Freeman Vines” and have explored the virtual exhibit, it was moving to finally see people gathered together, in person, to acknowledge and celebrate this expansive project and Freeman’s work. 

Freeman Vines’ guitars on display at SECCA


Music Maker co-founder Denise Duffy welcomed the crowd. 

Denise Duffy, Freeman Vines and Tim Duffy at the exhibition’s entrance

“Freeman told Tim last week that his goal as an artist is for someone to be able to walk a mile in his shoes,” Denise said. “Freeman’s extraordinary skills, coupled with his fierce intellect and his brazen honesty, enable him to share his experience visually through these incredible forms, orally through the sound that he has been searching for these 50 years, and literally through his poetic prose.”

The man of the hour, Freeman Vines, was also in attendance. Freeman had not been outside of his hometown of Fountain, N.C., for more than 15 years, and we’re so grateful that he made the three-hour journey to the museum for the special occasion. 

When he’s not at work on a guitar, Freeman can most often be found in his hectic studio in Fountain, sitting in a reclining chair and smoking a cigarette. It was amazing to see him at such a well regarded museum, being treated like a celebrity. So many folks – like Freeman’s friend, North Carolina Poet Laureate Jaki Shelton Green, and D. Reid Wilson from the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources – were so eager to talk to Freeman. 

Freeman wasn’t the only one who made the trek over from Eastern North Carolina. We couldn’t have had our first in-person event since the beginning of the pandemic without some live music. Partner artist Lightnin’ Wells kicked off the musical program for the evening, and Freeman’s own family, the Glorifying Vines Sisters, raised our spirits with a set of gospel music. 


Audrey Vines of the Gloryifying Vines Sisters at SECCA

If you couldn’t make it to the opening reception, but will be anywhere near Winston-Salem in the coming months, you have until September 12 to see the exhibit in person. Head to secca.org for more information.  


Leave a Comment

What is worth keeping is worth passing on,

help preserve American Culture.

Donate Today