Sunday, December 13, 2009

While I'm not a big fan of shopping for shopping's sake, I do enjoy going to places where I can find unique, never-before-seen items. That's why I'm loving the show I'm watching now on The Sundance Channel (I love Direct TV when it really works!) The show is "Man Shops Globe," and features Keith Johnson, a buyer for Antrhopologie. He travels the globe sourcing very unique items for the store.

This particular episode finds him in South Africa, where instead of going to shops that specialize in traditional African art, which we've all seen, he goes to the shops and studios that turn out incredible ceramics,furniture made of recycled trash, and lifesized animals made of wire and beads.

While Johnson travels the globe, finding some of the most incredible and creative pieces, I believe that we can simply travel around Mississippi to find equally incredible and creative things created by incredible and creative artists. I love having some of those pieces in my home, especially when I know the artist.

I treasure my "drunken Santa" and snowglobe photos by Josh Hailey, and I also have one of his beautiful copper pieces framed in a shadowbox. I love my Tony Difatta dragonfly print, and my happy H.C.Porter print that features an elderly lady sitting pretty on a rusted metal lawn glider. An Italian scene painted by Paul Cononici brightens up my kitchen, alongside his combination cookbook/art book, "So Italian." It's special to me because Father Paul baptized Joe, and gave First Communion to both Nic and Joe.

I have many other special things in my home made by a bevy of creative folks in our community and beyond, including art by Larry's sister, Maky, and a wonderful piece painted on the back of a table leaf by Pat Thomas, the son of the late famed Blues singer Son Thomas, who was an artist himself. Son's work, crafted of Mississippi clay, can be seen in the Smithsonian museum. Pat's painting is of a large Pepto-Bismol pink cat, and he signed it "For Susan, Pat Thomas." I had to write it on a piece of paper for him to copy, as he is illiterate.

Nicole is working on some hand-made pieces for a few family members. She's always enjoyed looking at art in galleries and museums, and she enjoys painting as well. Last year, when she was still in rehab, she painted items for all of us in occupational therapy. Birdhouses, dragonflies, boxes, etc. were all painted in bright colors. It was good therapy for her hands, and fun for her to do. And of course, we all treasure our gifts from her more than she'll ever know.

Hand-made art/crafts comes natural to her. My grandmother, Emilyn Anderson, was a china painter, and she also painted ceramics. She painted life-like flowers on china plates, cups, bowls, and such, and I am so blessed to have one of he beautiful ceramic Nativity sets she painted back in the late 1950's. She passed her artistry on to my dad, who is a wonderful woodworker. He does wood turning and wood carving, and his pieces are beautiful. Back in the summer he carved a hillbilly character, and Nicole took it to therapy to paint. It was the merging of two creative forces!

My other grandmother, Minnie Beebe, told me once that a gift made by hand contained something special: a person spent a part of their life that they'll never get back while making it, and when the creation is given to another as a gift, it contains a large dose of love.

I'm all for giving practical, thoughtful, even indulgent gifts, but for me, the best gift to receive is a gift that was made by hand.

With all this talk of gift-giving and recieving, let's not forget the reason we give Christmas gifts to begin with. It's in memory of the gift that God gave us...his only son. And in turn, his son, Jesus, gave us his life so that our sins may be forgiven, and we may have eternal life.

Blessings to all who read this!

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