Hand Décor

If you Google the words “hand décor” you get images of hands…in different poses, made from various materials. They are artistic, for sure. However, years ago the words were used to designate that an art piece was made “by hand”. Often those very words were written across the backing board on a framed work of art or a pottery base, along with the artist’s name and a date.

My feature items tonight, for a Vintage Story, are two hand décor pieces that I have hanging together, although they are very different styles of art. These pieces came from the home of Greg’s parents, after Bob passed away and the house was being readied to sell. I call them the Butterfly and the Rooster.

Hand Décor

Because they came from the Moore’s home in Arkansas, I thought both pieces were made by Greg’s mother, Leta. This sweet and endearing woman possessed a very artistic soul. She was always creating something. Having watched her complete many needlework or crochet projects over the years, it has been my honor and my privilege to bring Leta’s art into my home.

Hand Décor

I witnessed the creation of the crewel embroidery butterfly. The date written on the back is 1985, well after I joined the family. I have several embroidery pieces made by Leta. She seemed to enjoy this kind of detailed, intricate work. Crewel embroidery uses a heavier wool thread, creating a nice textured look. This type of needlework has been around for at least 1,000 years.

I love the butterfly. It was my symbol several years ago and I feel a connection to this piece. The colors are still bright and I’ve lately cycled back around to appreciating warm vivid colors.

The rooster is a fun piece, made from a variety of seeds and beans. I believe my mom made something similar to this when I was a child, so I knew this art piece was older. Dried beans and seeds, some painted, are arranged on a board and glued down. The finished work of art is then coated with shellac to protect the beans. I estimated she made this fine rooster in the 1960s.

Hand Décor

I could easily read the name and date on the butterfly. However, age had faded the writing on the back of the rooster bean art work. Standing near the window to catch the evening light didn’t help however a powerful flashlight did. I realized the name on the back was Ruby Moore, not Leta Moore. Ruby was Greg’s grandmother, and Leta’s mother-in-law. The date was barely legible: January 1964. More words were written next to Ruby’s name. Frame handmade by Bill Moore. Bill…Greg’s grandfather, Ruby’s husband.

Although I was surprised to discover the rooster wasn’t made by Leta, I love the unwritten story that this vintage piece tells. I believe the bean art must have been a gift to Leta, who collected chickens and roosters. Because both the artwork and the frame were hand crafted, it speaks to me of love and affection expressed to a daughter-in-law.

Hand Décor

I like being the keeper of these art pieces. They remind me of the artists…two strong women with very different personalities, who held in common a love for art and creating. I’m glad that I had the opportunities to watch them as artists. Ruby Moore was still making things and stripping furniture up until her death in the early 90s. Sadly, Leta Moore had Alzheimer’s the last nine years of her life. As her world shifted, she created less and less.

Clearing her house I found projects that she started and was never able to complete. I have unfinished embroidery and needlepoint pieces that still have the threaded needle slipped into the fabric, mid stitch. Although I feel sad when I hold these hand décor pieces, there is a stark beauty and a poignancy contained in the art that bears witness to the passing of time.

I felt inspired tonight, holding the Butterfly and the Rooster in my hands. I could imagine the two Moore women, one standing on either side of me, smiling and expressing joy that I delight in their hand décor. I could feel their enduring love and those twin sparks of creativity that burn brightly and never die.

I think it’s time for me to create something new.

Journey 28: artCentral in Carthage

artCentral banner

What a beautiful day to discover more about one of Jasper County’s gems. Tucked into the historic town of Carthage, MO is an art gallery that is so much more than just a place to exhibit the fine works of local artists. Located in Hyde House, at 1110 E 13th Street, artCentral is a cultural oasis that has served artists and the community for 30 years. Newly appointed director, Alice Lynn Greenwood, invited me to come for a visit today, an invitation I gladly accepted.

artCentral Alice Lynn Greenwood

I met Alice Lynn last year in Joplin. I was drawn to her engaging and unique artistic style, however, I missed her exhibit downtown. An intriguing series of synchronicities ensued, a phenomenon that I call a “strand”.  I saw wonderful framed prints in a restaurant that I visited for a first. Greg purchased one of the prints that captivated me and surprised me with it. Only then did I realize it was artwork by Alice Lynn Greenwood. In spite of missing her exhibit, I had acquired one of her prints. I friended Alice Lynn on Facebook, she saw her framed print featured in a spring vignette that I did and commented on it, and eventually I had the privilege of meeting this creative, dynamic woman whose spirit and smile both light up a room.

artCentral front door

Arriving this afternoon at Hyde House, I was enchanted immediately with the beautiful grounds and the turn of the century home that houses artCentral. Katherine Hyde bequeathed her family home to the city upon her death in 1989, establishing a trust fund for its care and upkeep. A wide covered front porch and vibrant green door welcomed me. Alice Lynn, just as vibrant and welcoming, greeted me and gave me a tour of the home. I am a realtor, in part, because I love houses, old houses especially. This is an amazing home, well kept, uncluttered and neutral in color so as to best showcase the works of art that are on exhibit here. The kitchen still has its pink cabinets. The two sparkling bathrooms sport green tiles in the downstairs bath and pink in the one upstairs. There are exhibit rooms and a cozy, inviting library, meeting rooms, an office/studio for Alice Lynn, and at the very top of the house, an artist salon, currently undergoing renovation. I was charmed, everywhere I looked.

artCentral library

The house is just background, however, as gorgeous as it is. The real draw of artCentral is the creative spirit that permeates every nook and cranny. I felt inspired to create as I stood within the house. Alice Lynn was delighted, as that is just the atmosphere she is fostering here. From the artist room beneath the eaves to the pottery house at the back of the property, artCentral beckons to the imagination inherent in all of us. Alice Lynn has so many wonderful ideas and plans for giving artists, budding artists and the community opportunities to explore their creative and imaginative sides. She has revamped the website, expanded artCentral’s social media presence, and is in the process of scheduling exhibits and workshops, a children’s camp and Saturday fun days.

artCentral salon

Along with the array of art classes offered this year, Alice Lynn has the vision to expand the workshops to include yoga, tai chi and a blogging class, taught by me in March. She recognizes that creativity takes many forms and will host poetry readings and other cultural events that feed the soul. A children’s camp in late July will offer young artists the chance to learn technique and develop their abilities and will culminate with an exhibit during a downtown Carthage Artwalk. I am excited by the many possibilities offered to open up my creativity and expand my knowledge and skills. I want to be a part of this hub, this community, of art and culture! I will be joining as a member of artCentral.

artCentral kitchen

I appreciate Alice Lynn so much and her journey. We stood in her office, which is also her studio, and talked about art, and the flow of life. The two are connected, of course, as allowing our creativity to develop opens us to so many other amazing life experiences. Below are links to artCentral’s website and the Facebook pages of the organization and Alice Lynn Greenwood. I look forward to seeing and experiencing the ripple effect that will emanate from this cultural center.

artCentral Website

artCentral Blog

artCentral Facebook Page

Alice Lynn Greenwood Artist Facebook Page

artCentral pottery house

The Pottery House

Day 145: Sketching Outside

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Years ago, I sketched often. I mostly drew from photographs or illustrations in books and especially enjoyed drawing animals. All three of my children are artistic, and much better artists than I am. Some of my favorite family memories are of all of us sitting around the table, drawing, and then showing off our work to each other.

I’m not sure when I stopped drawing. As the kids grew up and got busy with other activities, I grabbed my sketch pad and pencils less and less often. Several years ago, I purchased new pencils and a fat sketching notebook and dabbled a little. I was disappointed with the results. I had these images in my head of what I wanted to capture but I seemed to have lost the ability to bring it to paper. I put the materials away in the closet and there they have stayed….until today.

For my first, I uncovered my drawing supplies and sat in my garden, intent on enjoying the scratch of pencil on paper, capturing light and shadow and withholding criticism. Some things have to be relearned, or at least, reawakened. What a perfect time, during this year of moving beyond, to do so with my artistic ability. My recent forays into artistic expression at Local Color Art Gallery and RSVPaint have helped to stir that desire to awaken to my creative side again.

It was beautiful and serene, sitting in the meditation area in the garden, art supplies nearby, cat curled up on my lap, a fresh breeze keeping me cool. I didn’t want to focus on technique or capturing an exact image so much as I wanted to enjoy the process and pay attention to the way the light and shadow created form. Appreciating the riot of colors in the garden, I made a mental note to pick up a good set of colored pencils. For today, I’d be sketching in black and white.

I settled first on one of the large rocks in the Japanese garden. With a variety of colors, angles and planes, it made a perfect study of light and shadow. Although I’m sure I chewed on my lip a couple of times, this was not about the outcome so much as the practice. Drawing for me became a meditation, bringing my focus to one object, sketching slowly, enjoying the moment. The rest of the world slipped away.

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Next I drew the Japanese Maple, my hand moving more quickly, capturing the trees slender truck and branches easily. The leaves could have involved a lot of detail work, but I just wanted to get the general shape of the tree and again, pay attention to the contrast between light and dark. As I was completing the maple the rumble of thunder drew my eyes up and to the west. Dark clouds had piled up as I sketched. It was time to leave the peace of the garden and head indoors. The rain began minutes later.

I really enjoyed this experience of sketching outdoors for the first time, capturing what was before me by focusing on contrast. This will be an ongoing practice, a deliberate, intentional habit of sketching. I have images in my head, after all, that I want to draw. I’ll continue to develop my ability until I can transfer them to paper.

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