After my father passed away when Mother’s Day came along I would always take mom to The Gumtree Art Festival in Tupelo, MS. It was our time to enjoy being together, appreciate a broad range of artists and artisans and eat fried food. Since her passing I’ve gone back to Gumtree every year possible to honor her…as well as the afore-mentioned other reasons. Today the weather was beautiful and we decided there was no reason not to go. I’d like to share some of the works that were especially strong. Let me go ahead and say the photos don’t do the works justice. Some photos I took and some are from the artists websites. However, you’ll at least get a glimpse of what an impressive show Gumtree is.
Bill is a Memphis artist and works primarily in watercolor, using various paper supports and techniques. He attempts to capture the Southern Landscape and people in his work. The detail of the work is nothing short of amazing. I got nose to paper with it to assure myself it wasn’t photography. Bill won Best in Show at Gumtree and deservedly so.
Rick is from Clinton, MS and his paintings express a passion of visual achievement through images, symbols, compositions and elements stemming from experiences which can be personal, social, political and/or environmental. We’re lucky enough to own one of Rick’s works and have clients who enjoy having his works in their homes, as well. On the surface you see a mastery and finesse of collage but once you get inside his works you see a depth of energy and spirit captured by few others.
Ellie has homes in New York City and Lisbon. I love that Gumtree patrons appreciate her figurative work. There’s nothing more beautiful than the human figure and it’s a constant in Ellie’s work. They speak to her. She listens. Her medium is an unusual use of acrylics, chinese ink, wax and oil paints on paper. Paper has always been her co-conspirator. Ellie also shows at The River Arts Festival in October on South Main in Memphis.
Sarah is from Nashville and her work stopped me in my tracks. I didn’t get to speak to her because she had several people waiting to inquire about her work. Not only is every stroke carefully studied but at just a glance her work transports you into a world where everything is possible…what a gift.
SHELLEY S. SMITH
Shelly is from Perdido Key, AL. At first glance you might think this is large-scale jewelry from a Hollywood costume shop. However, if you saw the pieces around it you realize the crafted pieces of these works are fabricated from 50 gallon oil drums. What an amazing gift to take something so industrial and make something so elegant. This is Oscar or Grammy worthy…anyone have Lady Gaga’s number???
I know; more figurative work. But it “bares” repeating that there’s nothing more beautiful and natural as the human torso. AGS is in Troy, AL. Charles Adams, whose roots are in the rural South, has recently turned much of his artistic effort to fulfilling a longtime goal of making stained glass windows available to every small, rural church in the South that wants them. Clearly, this piece was not done for a church but I love that he’s an artist that has something for everyone. I tried to capture his suncatchers but they were so magical that the photograph really didn’t capture the brilliance. Click on his name above to go to his website.
Dennis is from Arlington, TN just outside of Memphis. He says he’s always liked wood for its integrity, strength and versatility. However, he’s now in love with its varying grain patterns, colors and its deeper, more spiritual aspects. The tall piece I show is from the website. However, he had it resting vertical on a shelf at the show. As Dennis says, this piece gave me a really spiritual moment. The passion for his craft is obvious in every vein of each piece.
Charles is from Phenix City, AL. In my opinion his ability to catch light is absolutely brilliant. I first saw his work at Gumtree when he was painting with egg tempera, preparing his panels with his own gesso mixture as well as mixing his own paint using pure pigment in powdered form combined with egg yolk which he thinned with water. He now works completely in oil. Matters not the media; his work is meticulous, studied and aesthetically freeing. As you see the judges thought highly of his work as well.
I know organic is in. However, I think Valdosta-based artist Amy Lansburg found her stride way before it was trendy. After several years of collecting driftwood from the shores of Lake Superior, Amy began to make pegboards. Soon, flat surfaces with sticks were spent for creative variation and Amy moved into making furniture…and now, two and three-dimensional figures. Clearly she lets nature tell her what to do with it’s elements. And, CLEARLY nature and she have a beautiful relationship.
Okay, shoot me. I didn’t get a card from this metal artist. I was so enamored with the mechanics and genius of this piece I walked off in awe without their contact info. However, I know it’s available at the Gumtree website.
I didn’t take pictures of the food as I don’t like to be reminded of the grease and batter we ingested. Needless to say I’ve thought of mom a lot today and cherish the fact that I always feel her spirit nearby. So, today we honored her by being outdoors, appreciating the work of some very talented artists and artisans and eating. My favorite memories of her is that her house was ALWAYS lovely and a good time was certainly had by all that sat at her table. Happy Mother’s Day…Dillard Fay Pierce.