Roper donates major work to festival

Friday, April 11, 2014


Billy Roper, a seventh-generation native of Appalachia and a well-known North Georgia folk artist whose work is collected in countries all over the world, is a long-time supporter of Bear on the Square and its mission of carrying on the music and craft of the Southern Appalachians. Roper is himself a musician who plays banjo and guitar. He is also a painter, sculptor, carver (in wood and marble) and instrument maker.

Through the years, because of his deep commitment to the culture of the mountains, Billy Roper has selflessly donated to Bear on the Square, in the form of his paintings, major amounts of money to help defray production costs of the festival.

We're grateful for his generosity and his continuing sponsorship.

Be sure to see the stunning painting displayed on the Bear MainStage throughout the festival. This painting, A Beautiful Night, is for sale at the price of $3,500, with all proceeds going to support Bear on the Square.  It's a great example of Roper's selfless efforts to celebrate and carry on our Appalachian culture.

He has also donated two other paintings, Woman With a Hat and Wildflowers Over Water, which will be available at the Live and Silent Country Auction, beginning at 5:00 p.m. Friday, April 25, in the festival's MainStage Tent at the corner of Park and Warwick Streets. All are invited.

What Billy has to say about this piece (written on the back of the painting):

A Beautiful Night

Do you know them Summer or Winter nights that the whole world seems to be stars and moonlight? I have seen lots of them But, one that I saw not long before this Picture was painted was like that it was late in the night I was up bumping around the house. The window in the kitchen in our house seemed to be floating in the moon light. On nights like that the star seem to be holes in the night sky. It is so pretty it seems to be holy.

When we lived in Suches, Ga there was where we lived very few lights to dim the stars. On cold nights the stars would be so many it would seem like the sky was white. I would sit in the old car we had and listen to this religion program that come on at nine o'clock then. Sit there long after it was over just listening and looking at night things. There was always lots to see in the sky, planes, shootings and such. That seems so long ago now it seems like another life time. Our baby was just tiny. I worked at a saw mill toting slabs. We eat what we raised. In that car at night was the only radio we had skipping on and off the station. At that time at night and later I would plan and dream dreams that now have long ago come true. Don't ever under estimate the power of dreams.

It is true that as you dream so are you. I would talk of things way in the future. My wife would talk of how are we going to pay the bills. My dreams come true and the bills got paid. I think we are our true selves when we look at the stars and feel great and small. Only humans make or cause us to feel small in a bad way I think.

From the time I was a child, I have been a dreamer. But, also I was always willing to pay the price for them dreams and let me tell you I have surely paid the price. To be your self takes all of you. But, why would any body settle for less. But the question is this some day when I float amongst the stars and eternity would I do it again? I don't know. I am a very leaky vessel to try to hold a star.

-Billy Roper

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