Don Dudenbostel/Special to the News Sentinel
Don Dudenbostel's images of Popcorn SuttonI've always been fascinated by the process by which history becomes legend. In essence, I think that the majority of American history is "mythical." Very gradually over time, all events and personages (the Civil War, Martin Luther King, JFK) are molded into something that we want them to be. It looks like Marvin "Popcorn" Sutton is on his way.
According to a recent article in the Knoxville News-Sentinel, a photographer named Don Dudenbostel spent the two years prior to Popcorn's suicide, photographing the moonshiner's daily life: making whiskey, telling ribald stories and driving his vintage cars. According to the photographer, Popcorn gave him access to the "inner sanctums" where the brewing and selling occurred. In addition, Don was accompanied by Tom Jester (I love that name), a writer-producer who recorded Popcorn's salty stories and followed him as he performed his daily chores. Dubenbostel feels that he "has caught the essence of the man."
In addition to some 70 black-and-white photographs of Sutton,Dudenbostel's exhibit will include the works of other photographers, including photographs of "snake-handling preachers" ... and an east Tennessee mule-skinner. The exhibit will open at the East Tennessee Historical Society in 2010. After that, the photographs will "go on a road tour to national museums."
I'm hoping that this event provokes some discussion from folks who read this blog regularly.