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Bearings Guide: A Southern Lifestyle for Men
 
A Fresh Perspective On Art Culture
Art
 

It’s generally easy to explain why we like certain music or a certain film. But somehow, in the echoing hallways of an art gallery, the quiet formality can make fine art feel unattainable, or even uninspiring. Add to that those who arrogantly scoff at casual observers for not understanding the latest boundary-pushing works, and it’s no wonder that some in our culture feel appreciating art is only a lofty pastime.

But Nashville portrait artist David McLeod has a different perspective on his profession. “Most people have way more ability and taste than they ever give themselves credit for,” he says. “There’s some sort of weird thing that’s happened, and I think a lot of it is because so many artists in the 20th century were seen as freaks or different. The average person feels like they can’t engage in art because they don’t feel like they’re weird enough. But in actuality, when you walk into a museum you have very specific ideas. You do know what you like. You do have an opinion.”

David perfected his craft at Vanderbilt University, and as an apprentice for one of the South’s premier portrait artists, Michael Shane Neal. There, he learned to depict the human figure through constant practice and in-person training. But one of David’s favorite quotes is from Robert Henri, an artist who taught the mentor of his mentor. Henri said artists don’t just need to know how to draw – they need to know why they draw. In other words, artists need more than technical training, they also need to come to the canvas with something to say.

And in the latter half of the 20th century, some artists geared their works to produce a reaction, not to instill emotion. “They do grotesque or sexual or weird stuff, and it all becomes about the shock-value,” David says. “So the art itself becomes insignificant. That, to me, is the saddest thing. It’s the perfect result of a mindset toward art that says it doesn’t have to be excellent. And I want to be as far from that as possible.”

David offers a few suggestions for the next time you stop in a gallery, like the Haynes Gallery, where his current collection is displayed.

First, notice the composition. Is the subject matter off-center? Is it symmetrical? Asymmetrical? There’s no right or wrong way to put images on a canvas, but typically you’ll prefer something that is dynamic, rather than if the focal point is smack-dab in the middle of the piece. David says, “The unbalanced nature creates a layer of tension that’s necessary for you to remain interested.”

Also, take a look at color. Is there a specific hue that draws your eyes immediately? These are the signs artists use to point your attention to what they are trying to communicate.

“Take a fresh perspective on art,” David says. “When you know that your opinion matters, that is empowering.”

 
 
The Masters: Simple, Pure, Timeless Knowledge
Masters
 

Tall pines loom with authority over an undulating green. Sounds of nature echo across fuchsia flowers, green brush and 18 legendary yellow flags. A hushed crowd watches in anticipation, waiting patiently for the next swing. Suddenly, a distant roar explodes through pine trees and interrupts the pristine setting. “Something’s happened on 17,” someone whispers with a smile. But there’s no big screen to show the replay, no cell phone in your pocket to check the score. After all, this is The Masters.

The anticipation and quiet pressure have become familiar to Stewart Cink, who’s competed in every Masters tournament since 1997, except one. This year will mark his 17th, and Cink knows well that the way Augusta National operates is different than just about every other tournament in the country.

“The club is very intent on preserving tradition, and it’s a philosophy that they work very hard to develop and maintain,” he told us. “People think they’re antiquated, but it doesn’t matter. It’s not our club; it’s their club. Whatever they say is what goes.”

The club strives to maintain the tournament’s excellence, not through commercialization or extravagant prices, but through the timelessness of the experience. Series badges are limited to an exclusive Patron’s list, and all other practice round and daily tickets are only available through a lottery. Once inside, the impeccable 7,435-yard course is accompanied by an event that is just as aesthetically pure. There are no cell phones. No blimps. No price g0uging or loud heckling. There is absolutely no running on the course – and there are only two groups of people allowed within the ropes that mark the green: players and caddies.

“At any other tournament you have coaches, agents and lots of people walking between the ropes, and it can feel pretty crowded out there,” Cink says. “At The Masters, the coaches aren’t even allowed inside the ropes, period. And they enforce it. It de-clutters the competitive area.”

The rules may seem exacting to some, but they create an atmosphere that you can’t find at any other sporting event in the country. It’s why in the morning you’ll find guests speed-walking the course to stake out a spot for their lawn chairs. (And once placed, those chairs are safe for the entire day; walk away and come back hours later, and they won’t be stolen, moved or used). It’s why pimento cheese sandwiches are $1.50 and beer is $2. It’s why guests are watching the players, rather than holding up cell phones trying to capture an amateur photo. And it’s why when a roar rings out through the trees, patrons are forced to wait for the handwritten score to make it to the scorekeepers, who manually change the scoreboard.

“I remember my first golf memory was Jack Nicklaus winning The Masters,” Cink says. “This place, it just has so much history, and this sense of tradition . . . it’s what makes the place so unique.”

 
 
   
Bluegrass
 

At the root of bluegrass music rests a deep and eclectic heritage. It’s in the instruments, brought to our land from Africa and Europe. It’s in the songs, born on rickety front porches. It’s in the voices, calling out with meandering harmonies and spiritual rhythms. It's a distinct genre we owe to pioneering pickers, fiddlers and strummers who charted the way for “mountain music” to reach out and touch a nation.

One of those musicians was Bill Monroe, who called his 1930s-era Kentucky family band “Bill Monroe and the Blue Grass Boys.” Together, they chose a team of five instruments that integrated the world with Southern culture: the banjo was created in the American colonies by African slaves, the acoustic guitar has origins in Spain, and the mandolin, fiddle and upright bass are originally from Italy.

Two additional instruments later made their mark in bluegrass music. A larger, twangier version of a guitar, the Dobro, traces its roots to a pair of American immigrant brothers from the Slovak Republic, and is often played strings-up and with a slide. And finally, the portable and playful harmonica frequently joins in, adding its own blue tenor.

Today, the sounds of bluegrass are thriving unlike ever before. This letterpress print honors the instruments that have solidified their place in Americana music and found their way from the historic holler to the modern stage. Available now in the Bearings Shop.

 
 
Rogue Wave Surf Shop Attire
Rogue Wave
 

One step into Rhett Boyd’s surf shop in Charleston, South Carolina, and you might feel confused. His surf shop doesn’t carry Billabong, Roxy or Quiksilver. And forget beach music; Rhett prefers rock and roll. He’s an owner who meets customers at the door, and rather than offering a lackadaisical “s’up,” Rhett offers a glass of bourbon or a cigar. Or both. It’s clear that in the world of surf retailers, Rhett’s gone rogue.

“This is a fusion of what I knew growing up and the idyllic Southern California surfer experience,” says Rhett, amid his storefront, which looks more like an antique collector’s apartment than a surf shop.

The walls are lined with surf gear, wax and a myriad of other well-placed, less-expected curiosities: leather oxford shoes, mounted taxidermy, vintage thermoses, American flags, metal military trunks, skateboards. In addition to made-to-order surfboards, Rogue Wave Surf Shop features American-made clothing and goods sourced from folks like Imogene + Willie, W Durable Goods and BillyKirk. All together, the small store and their online shop is a conglomeration of Southern and surfer culture, and it’s making waves of its own.

After two years in Charleston’s Elliotborough neighborhood, Rhett hopes to bring his passion to a new generation of surfers. Rhett says surfing is a sport of “the educated gentleman,” citing past surf gurus, like Alexander Hume Ford and his friend Jack London, who in the early 1900s helped revive the pastime of Hawaiian kings. “No two waves are alike,” Rhett says, “and that’s what makes it addicting and maddening. It’s the ultimate natural drug.”

His own addiction started at age 10 when his mother brought home a vintage surfboard for him to try. He’s been hooked ever since, following waves from the East and West Coast, to Costa Rica for several short stints of surfing and selling real estate. But a dwindling market and a growing family brought Rhett back to Charleston. After a year of popping up around town, Rogue Wave Surf Shop finally opened a brick-and-mortar location in 2010 with the philosophy to serve all.

“You can take the wealthiest man on earth and put him on a surfboard for the first time, and he’s a fumbling idiot,” he says. “You can’t buy your way through it. It’s truly a level playing field, and nothing can replace time on the water.”

Now, Rhett is excited about Rogue Wave’s next move. He is shuttering their original location and opening a fixed pop-up shop at J. Lin Snider on King Street in preparation for their new storefront in Mount Pleasant, to open in August 2013.

But even if we aren’t in Charleston, we can all get a little taste of the Rogue experience with their online shop. Whether online or in store, Rhett knows his surf shop will continue to spread the gospel of his favorite kind of waves: rogue waves — the ones that challenge, confuse and take us by surprise.

 
 
Stitch Outdoors
Stitch
 

Highpoint, North Carolina, is sometimes referred to as the “Furniture Capital of the World,” but the town’s expert leather workers are now applying their skills to a completely different type of product: handmade golf club covers.

“There’s no better way to make a quality leather product than to make it right here in North Carolina,” says Charlie Burgwyn, co-founder and president of Stitch. “Every bit – from the cutting to putting on the numbers to the stripes – it’s all handmade, hand-sewn. Details make us different.”

As a former PGA professional and sales representative for Callaway Golf Apparel, Charlie saw a need as golf bags started to shrink and clubs and club head covers started to increase in size, but the larger club covers made everything too bulky to fit inside one bag.

Besides creating more compact head covers, there’s plenty more that separates Stitch from the typical gear. Most notably are Stitch’s designs that draw inspiration from historical pieces, like old cars and sailboats. A few years ago, Charlie was on a business trip in the Hamptons and went to The Bridge, a racetrack-turned-golf club. The day he visited, he saw a vintage Porsche – the kind James Dean or Steve McQueen would have driven – and the idea for their Racer Collection was born.

“We design products with a purpose. Stitch creates nostalgic pieces that allow us to create modern, functional products,” says Charlie. It seems the nostalgic elements in their covers have proved to be popular; its second best seller is made out of the same leather used to craft baseball gloves.

Another appealing, distinguishing factor for the brand is their lower costs. Handmade leather club covers can be expensive, but Stitch has found a way to yield 85 percent or more from an average-sized hide and passes on the savings to their customers.

Stitch covers retail for $29.99 to $54.99 and are available for purchase at www.stitchgolf.com.

 
 
 
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