December signals the start of the holiday season with the loud resounding clang of silver bells and carols. Each one of us have distinctly personal reasons for celebrating (or not) during the days ahead. In an art gallery it’s fun to assist clients in selecting gifts that will be cherished and loved for years to come. Memories are like that around the holidays when I’m inundated with Christmas carols, ice skaters on our courthouse square ( in Texas no less!), and city blocks trimmed in twinkling lights. My imagination is flooded with more emotion than any artist needs to deal with at one time.
So then one of my artists represented in Gingko Leaf Gallery brings in a hand painted card that overwhelmed me. Now let me say this; every day I have artists bring in work that is moving, exciting, relaxing, interesting, and unusual. Each piece touches something inside me, but since it would be counterproductive to buy everything I love I resist the urge and relegate myself to living in the moment until the work sells. Then it continues on it’s journey to a new home. But this one was different. It literally brought tears to my eyes.
I celebrate Christmas, the birth of Jesus Christ. No, it’s not the literal day of his birth, but a day selected to recall the great and beautiful message of God’s love for his creation, peace on earth and good will toward mankind. Without belaboring the point, I grew up arguing with my brother over the proper position of each character in the Nativity scene made out of plastic and cardboard, where Styrofoam reindeer would be hung on our real cut tree, and whether or not to leave Santa hot chocolate or coffee. I knew that the birth of Jesus was something full of wonder and mystery. It was important then. It is still important to me.
When I say this new artwork brought tears to my eyes, I’m dead serious. Artist Mary Norvell will attest to the fact that I couldn’t take my eyes off of his eyes, and I kept saying, “His eyes are so intense, I can’t look away, but I can’t keep looking at them, either!” For me, Mary captured something other worldly in her Santa’s eyes that can only be experienced. I think he just saw the Christ-child in the manger. Not unlike the figurine that emerged back in the 1980’s of Santa kneeling in front of Jesus in the manger, I believe her rendition shows a deeper aspect of Santa’s heart. Okay, maybe I just have an overactive imagination, but that’s what I see.
And that is why I now own the original. He was destined for me. That’s what art should do to us. Not decorate a wall because it is the correct color palette or fills an empty wall space or shelf. If it doesn’t speak to you, it isn’t for you, it’s destined for someone else.
Will I sell art to a client to decorate a wall? Well of course I will, but someday it will find its destiny, its intended home. There will be a home for it, like the “home” for a pregnant girl on a clear Bethlehem night that will be warm and welcoming, rather than an emotionless inn without space in its heart for the wandering couple needing a temporary stop for the night. My Santa has a lot on his mind, I know just by looking into his eyes.
What is on YOUR mind today as this season unfolds with its joyful and painful memories? Find the manger again and be filled with the love and hope for a better world knowing that even in the darkness of night, a new life is coming, a star leads the way, and even Santa joins the angels saying, “Glory to God in the highest and on earth, peace, goodwill toward men.”