Friday, November 20, 2009
And you thought the mountains were for hiking
The mountains are for shopping! Between studio sessions of my class last weekend, the girls and I were able to get in some very enjoyable (a little too enjoyable) shopping. While almost every shop in Gatlinburg boasts an amazing supply of leather, fudge, knives and swimwear, and other's are called Cooter's Funhouse, there manages to also be some serious little jewels among the shopping venues. I found myself in the Arrowcraft shop/gallery 3 times within 4 hours in one day. I could not get enough. The only thing that kept me under control was the fact that we only had two cars to get everything home.
First this gorgeous little vase, is my personal token to remember my time spent at Arrowmont. At the risk of sounding entirely too Zen, it is just so completely what it is. A pure example of gorgeous handcrafted, handglazed pottery of Southern Appalachia.
You can't grow up in East Tennessee as I did and not be aware of the craft history and inherent traditional art disciplines of this region of the country. It seems I was too cool for such simplicity and spent most of my younger years ignoring much of what was around me in search of apparently bigger, presumably more fashionable and deceivingly better artistic endeavors. But walking into this one shop was a little bit like walking into the surroundings of my youth with wiser eyes. Every piece of art and handcrafted item was waiting there in a new light... as warm, lovely and accepting as a great aunt that you've continually forgotten to send letters too.
So what did I do? I hauled half of it home, by golly gizzards!! Just kidding, sort of. But, for instance, these wooden toys for my Roman's first Christmas beckoned from the store shelf more compellingly when I was able to read about the man whose been making them himself for decades as opposed to similar made by who-knows occupying gift catalogs only when trend au currant says they should. Am I making any sense? I felt a connection. Like I wrote already- everything is just exactly what it is and made by folks who are just exactly who they are... a ceramicist, a woodworker, a handloomer, etc.
In a world where so many (including me) try to be and do so much all at the same time, I found the reminder of artistic simplicity so refreshing, beautiful and pure. I don't know where this blanket is going, and I have no need of blankets but it reminded me far too much of the handloomed wool blankets my Greek grandmother used to make (which I must share with you one day) that I couldn't pass it up.
And what is a trip to the mountains without outfitting the feet in a new pair of moccasins? A wasted trip, I tell you! All the girls, littlest to biggest, got a new pair and we're already wearing them in. (I had a pair exactly like Isabela's -second from the left- when I was little.) A perfect layer of warmth between me and an increasingly chilly wooden floor.
Have a warm weekend!, xo, AM