Arts and Culture in Dickson, TN
PHOTO CREDIT: Antony Boshier
Dickson County has some serious native talent when it comes to traditional crafts like cooking, quilting and glassmaking. And all those talented artisans will tell you that the rural atmosphere here, along with plenty to see and do when the mood strikes, keeps them both grounded and inspired.
Quilting Her Way to Fame
Take Bernice Stokes, a third-generation (at least) native of White Bluff, who’s created more quilts than she can count. Known as the “Dickson County Quilt Lady” in some (sewing) circles, she’s been featured on Tennessee Crossroads and has work hanging in the White Bluff City Hall, Dickson County Public Library and other landmarks in the area. She wouldn’t live anywhere else.
“We have a lot to be proud of,” she says. “We’ve got Montgomery Bell State Park, and of course all the antique shops and the Clement Railroad Hotel Museum. I know when I travel I go to see the quilt and antique shops first, and I usually think that ours are better.”
Cooking to Save the Day
And then there’s Patsy Caldwell, who spent about 25 years cooking for a well-known Nashville family. The Charlotte native, a culinary legend, has put those skills on display in a cookbook, Bless Your Heart: Saving the World One Covered Dish at a Time, and is now hard at work on You Be Sweet, a tribute to desserts. She, too, says her home fuels her creativity as well as providing a place to recharge her batteries.
“We like to entertain, so when we have people over I can try things out on them,” she says. “But around here I can always find something to cook. I have a lot to work with, and it’s right here at home.”
When she and her husband entertain, they like to show off the county to visitors.
“It gives me a chance to show off Charlotte’s beautiful square,” Caldwell says. “Our mayor and others have worked to make our county seat so attractive. We’re small and contained, but we have all the good stuff.”
Through the (Stained) Looking Glass
Churches, municipal buildings and private homes are just some of the local — and national — beneficiaries of David and Susan Allsbrooks’ talent. The two Dickson County natives, who have spent their 35 years of marriage on a Burns farm, bought a well-known historic home back in the 1970s to run as an antique shop. A few classes later, they ventured into the stained-glass business, an operation they now run entirely from the farm.
“We just liked it, but didn’t really have any intentions of going into a business with it,” Susan Allsbrooks says. “But people would come in to see the house, and then see what we were doing and want something, and so it was a natural progression.”
The Allsbrookses work on commission pieces that range from private-home windows that are shipped all over the country to larger pieces in churches and restaurants throughout Middle Tennessee and elsewhere. They also teach several classes a year at The Renaissance Center, so they are able to inspire, as well as draw inspiration from, their community.
Explore more on the arts community in Dickson, TN.