Metal sculptor Mark Blumenstein, an Esteemed Citizen of WestVirginiaVille®, lives in a village of his own in his nook of southern West Virginia, part of a crowd of creative folk down that way. Citizen Blumenstein recently sent us a musical slideshow he shot and crafted, documenting the construction of friend Jim Frerotte’s new woodworking shop near Alderson. The photo sequence begins with the laying of foundation stones all the way to the finished structure, christened with a metallic Blumensteinian sculpture, since you don’t need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows (but a cool iron weathervane creature sure helps). His slideshow is an inspiring contemporary example of the kind of old-fashioned teamwork and village spirit people outside of West Virginia like to say is dead and gone, bemoaning the death of community in these parlous modern times. Not here.
We asked for a little more info on what we’re looking at in the slideshow, which is our debut entry in a new WestVirginiaVille meme: Things Created in West Virginia with a Lot of Help From Your Friends. Mark’s friend sent us the following background:
“Jim Frerotte is newly moved back to West Virginia. He was born in Charleston, W.Va., and went to Sacred Heart grade school in the late 1950s. He moved away at age 11 and has lived in Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, California, Minnesota and most recently Asheville, North Carolina. Jim started working as a carpenter 35 years ago and has had a varied career as a industrial pattern maker, design and manufacturing engineer and cabinetmaker and furniture maker. Just last fall,with a lot of help from his friends and family, Jim completed building his shop outside Alderson. During the blizzard last Winter (again with a lot of help), he moved his equipment from Asheville.
Jim offers custom made furniture and cabinetry. He has lived in small spaces most of his life and appreciates things which function well and are a pleasure to look at and touch. “I found that I just cannot be rushed when I am making something. I often stop to rethink and make changes and even though it costs me, I can’t sleep well if I do it any other way.”
Jim is very glad to be back in West Virginia and he just might stay a while. He remembers how his friend Carolyn Wallace replied when asked if she was from Asheville: “No, but I got here as soon as I could.” Jim says: “Well, I was born here and I still got here as soon as I could.” Jim’s wife, Ellen, is a school teacher, and they now live on a small farm with Jim’s sister, Cathy Frerotte, Cathy’s oldest son, Fritz Boettner, his wife, Stacy Lambert, and their daughter, Grace. When asked if he was living in a faith-based community, Jim replied: “No, it is a food-based community.” They plan to raise all their own food on the farm and are off to a good start. ”When you grow it yourself you know what is in it and it just tastes better.”