Bill Leslie's Carolina Conversations

The Beggars

Posted May 8, 2006

Meet me this afternoon at the NC Museum of Art for a cloudy, drizzly day delight in Rembrandt’s “The Beggars” exhibit. But first, let me digress. That name first made me chuckle but not because of any insensitivity to those less fortunate. "The Beggars" was the official moniker of my very first rock band in high school. Drummer Dirk Peterson came up with the name in Morganton. Everytime band members would arrive at his house for practice Dirk would say: “Welcome, you beggars!” The name stuck. Beggars was a good name for us. Many people begged us not to play. Our first back porch practice at Tom Brothers' house resulted in neighbors calling the police to snuff out the loud and horrible noise. Our first gig at Grace Episcopal Church left Betty Haywood grumbling "This must be what music sounds like in hell." Still, I thought I looked pretty cool in my red tuxedo. And guitarist C.J. Saunders could play "Daytripper" just like the Beatles. Well, back to our "daytripper" in Raleigh at the art museum on Blue Ridge Road. I've seen the works of Rembrandt in New York and Washington but never in Raleigh. This is a real treat for North Carolinians. Rembrandt van Rijn, who was born in Holland 400 years ago, had a lifelong fascination with beggars. He did not view them as contemptible or loathsome creatures. He looked upon beggars with a certain of respect and wonderment. Museum officials in Raleigh say these 35 etchings are significant and really beautiful. I think we should all stop by and find out for ourselves. The exhibition was scheduled to close at the end of April but has been extended for several weeks. Rembrandt was remarkable in that he would capture the essence of a person as well as a landscape.

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