ABOUT THE ARTIST...
The Love Affair
It began in the summer of 1998, at a festival in Corydon Indiana where Slick Jim Cinnamon introduced Gertrude's child to...The Gourd. An entrepreneurial grower had strategically positioned his wagonload at the entrance to the festival grounds, and she was drawn to it like a toddler to a field of dandelions.
"Ew! What are THOSE?"
"Gourds," he replied matter-of-factly.
"What do you do with them?"
"What do you want to do with them?" He paused momentarily. " Don't answer that."
At this point, Slick Jim escorted his mother-in-law's only daughter to a local shop that sold an array of Native American Wannabe goods. Hanging from the ceiling near the front of the store were a half dozen long-handled dippers simply but poorly decorated.
The Kid was delighted, "Oh! I can do that!" [This from someone who couldn't draw a straight line with a ruler!] She reconsidered. "Can I do that?"
"Of course you can," he told her with no noticeable hesitation. He purchased a dozen gourds of various shapes and sizes on the spot. In a week's time, she'd decorated (simply but poorly) all twelve and was begging for more. Being a kind man, he obliged and purchased another dozen for her. Little did he know...
The gourd became the gift for every occasion, --Christmas, Valentine's Day, Birthdays, the Fourth of July, Labor Day, Thanksgiving, Pearl Harbor Day, Ground Hog Day, the third Wednesday of every month. Family and friends, her staunchest supporters, suggested she sell them, --probably because they were tired of getting them as gifts! "Oh, pshaw!" she replied. "Nobody would buy these old things?" Little did she know...
Two years later, she submitted nine pieces in the state gourd society's annual show and seven of them returned home with ribbons, two of which were a lovely shade of blue. She congratulated the gourds. One month later, she received an official-looking document from the Kentucky Craft Marketing Program declaring her a "Juried Arteest! Again, she congratulated the gourds! A year after that, she was juried into the Kentucky Guild for Artists and Craftsman and the following year, into the prestigious Kentucky Museum of Arts and Craft sales gallery. In 2004 and again in 2007, she was featured in Louisville Magazine's Design Finds and shortly thereafter achieved juried status with the most senior member of Kentucky's arts organizations. -- the Louisville Artisan's Guild. This honor was followed by her nomination to the Southern Aristry Registry. --"a multidisciplinary showcase of outstanding Southern artists." The gourds congratulated her.
Why do I love 'em? For their strength, their resilience, their endurance, their endless versatility. Gourds are as varied in their size, shape, color and texture as humankind itself, and just as communicative. Listen! They really do talk to you. There's a certain way they present themselves that speaks volumes. It's comical; it's enchanting; it's endearing.
Some are haughty; some humble; some are somewhere in between. Some command attention while others seek the darkest corner of the workshop shelf. And then there are a special few that will never see the painter's brush. Mother Nature has given birth to a masterpiece and your role is simply to stand in awe of her undeniable genius.
These crazy, fun-lovin' cousins of a cucumber provide a unique opportunity to participate fully in the creative process, --in the birth, the becoming, the transformation, the communion.
Yes, art speaks for us. But it also speaks through us and in ways the spoken word cannot. Art is the universal communicator totally indifferent to our differences. It unites us. It transforms us. Most importantly, it replenishes the spirit; it nourishes the soul.
Okay. Okay. So this is more than a trifling love affair! It's a passion! A passion bordering on obsession! It's the reason I bound out of bed in the morning and scurry down to my workshop, stopping only long enough to grab a cup of coffee and the slightly stale donut I resisted the day before. It's the reason I crawl into bed at night, bone weary and totally spent, with a grin on my face, eager to hurry up and fall asleep so I can wake up and do it all over again.
The wise man might suggest that happiness is learning how to love what you do. And that's a strategy you can live with in a pinch. But the wiser man will tell you: learn how to do what you love. That's a strategy you can live with for a lifetime.