SPIRIT OF CHRISTMAS

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.”

Merry Christmas!

Claudia Lowery

 

 

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THANKFUL

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Oh! Christmas Tree???

No writer is going to pass up a prime opportunity to list the things they are thankful for and neither will I. Tomorrow much of the world will take part in the internal reflection of being grateful. Have an attitude of gratitude is a great way to live, but is it always possible?

I don’t know, probably not. If we consider all the surrounding situations in the world it’s easy, at least for me, to feel moments of despair or confusion about inequality, unfairness, inhumane treatment of others, and literal evil. Put on that happy face Baby and s-m-i-l-e!

What if I don’t want to fake a smile? I’m usually a positive encourager who most people see as upbeat, but in reality, in the quiet alone moments I feel the negative pull. I MUST find redemption, purpose, and even humor in situations in order to combat the force pulling like gravity against me. Maybe that is the very purpose for which we express thankfulness; to push us to a higher level of perspective that tweaks the view to where we can’t help but feel better about the negatives. Don’t know, but it’s food for thought.

So, I’m “feeling” that melancholy whisper in my psyche and I’ll drown it with my written voice by sharing a short list of gratitude to squash that old man who wants me to succumb to tears, depression or sadness. Here goes…

I’m thankful for…..

  • My godly, artist mother who taught me to see the world through creative eyes. She encouraged every one of my artistic endeavors whether it was baking a cake, writing an angst-filled poem, playing the piano, acting in a school play, or painting a picture. She was goofy, funny, gifted and talented. She loved God, Jesus, my daddy, my brother and me.
  • My dad, a rock-steady predictable man who never missed work or church. I loved watching from the hall door as he danced with Mom in the living room. He never once complained when dying with lung cancer. He had integrity and a dry wit.

Okay….I need to stop right here and say, hold your horses, Claudia. You’re going to end up in tears missing those who’ve passed on. That sort of defeats the purpose of this blog. Let me start over…

I’m thankful for…

  • that weird 4 foot tall Christmas tree I created in the gallery that I spent a total of $5 on. It is a Styrofoam cone-shaped topiary ($2 at a yard sale) that I wrapped in a $3 pair of lime green sheer curtains with zig-zag patterns of sequins all over. I bought them at a thrift store. They make me smile.
  • my BOSE Bluetooth speaker that make 2500 square feet sound like a concert hall when paired with Pandora. Ah, the good life.
  • my lime green (I love that color) retro coffee table that is a gathering place for artists, musicians, and friends around a coffee pot. It sits in the back of the gallery awaiting the next visitor that comes just to talk.
  • that I’m surrounded by art that even though I could never afford it all I get to enjoy it for a period until it finds a new home.
  • having a day off tomorrow to enjoy some couch time
  • the sounds of life along the street as we approach the Wonderland of Lights festival and the official turning on of the lights coming in about an hour. Maybe some guests will come spend money!
  • that half a piece of buttermilk pie that I didn’t finish because who needs the extra calories? Besides….there will be more tomorrow.
  • the internet that keeps me connected to total strangers who might care about another stranger (me) for the 5 minutes used to read this blog. Hello out there….HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

And, I guess that’s enough for now. Of course, there’s so much more, but they’re treasures in my heart. I’m not wealthy, but I’m richer than most of the people in this world. Blessed beyond what I deserve, happy in the moment, and ready to continue traveling along the surprising journey God has planned for me, I’ll return to the gallery in a couple of days prepared to face a throng of art lovers chomping at the bit to buy unique and creative finds to fill their empty spaces regardless of the price. Okay….I can dream, can’t I? So I have said it….so let it be done.

Thank you for listening to my ravings. I’m feeling much better now.

MAGIC WORDS

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Every child (I hope) has been taught the “magic words” that will cause most adults to give their attention. Please and thank you come to mind first, then excuse me, I’m sorry, yes sir, no sir, yes ma’am, and no ma’am. Manners are oil on the rusty hinges of society and separate those who were “raised in a barn” from the rest. Of course, I realize this is a Western culture thing and may not be consistent in other cultures, but for the most part I think we can agree that being polite is quite nice.

Recently I learned something new, to me at least. I follow a blog written by Jason Horejs, owner of Xanadu Gallery in Scottsdale, Arizona. His idea has rocked my world and in an extraordinary way. As the sole person completing sales and receiving payment I’ve been on top of my game thanking customers and of course, I’m just approaching the borderline of gushing due to the fact that I AM appreciative, grateful, thankful and relieved on a myriad of levels. I’ll admit it. I am thinking to myself, “Yippee! There’s the electric bill. Woo hoo! That just paid next month’s rent” and so on. No, I don’t tell the client that info, but it does occur to me mid-transaction. Well, after reading Jason’s article “Don’t Overdo the Gratitude When You Make an Art Sale” I had an epiphany. Certainly manners are in order, but what he suggests is taking the focus off yourself and making it about the customer by saying “Congratulations”. It turns everything around instantly, much in the same way those magic words please and thank you do when used appropriately.

So, I tried it. “Congratulations on your selection. It will be a great addition to your collection.” “Congratulations on your choice. It makes a lovely gift.” Regardless of the reason they bought the art, I am now congratulating them and the reactions truly are magic. Their face lights up, they seem satisfied and justified. It’s amazing and it makes ME feel better giving them something back after they just gave me a sale. It’s just mind boggling to me that such a simple turn around can bring the experience to a whole new level.

Is it REALLY magic? Probably not, but it does cause me to pause and ponder human nature and our need for affirmation. Basic human instincts are fraught with doubt and second-guessing, but when someone says, “Hey, you did good there Friend,” then something beautiful happens inside. I still throw in the occasional thanks, but I’d much rather congratulate them on being a smart collector, wise investor, and generous patron of the arts. That way….we’re all winners.

To read Jason Horejs’ article follow this link.

http://reddotblog.com/dont-overdo-the-gratitude-when-you-make-an-art-sale-xanadu-gallerys-art-marketing-minute

 

BUCKET LISTS

Well, that’s morbid!

This week I was visiting with an artist friend who is facing some pretty major surgery in a few days. We talked about the fact that some of the medical issues have lingered for years and that at one point they had decided to make sure they accomplished a series of goals before age 40. Well, when they reached that age and were still alive, they realized that they’d survived and had done all those list items. Now, facing a new medical challenge, they were prepared to make a whole new list. They’d made it longer than predicted so now, let’s up the ante and keep on keepin’ on. Hearing that a garden was planted made me choke up, knowing the reality was that it would possibly bloom without them. Wow, what a thought. But in my mind I thought, what a positive attitude. Regardless, there was the hope for tomorrow. And yet….they had made certain that the gallery had all their paperwork in order just in case someone besides them had to come collect the work. Reality and hope mixed together.

My list of life accomplishments included many more than two things. I’ve reached multiple goals in life, but the two more recent goals are (1) go to Tuscany, Italy and (2) open an art gallery. Well, resources are limited, so I’ve joked that since I’ve pretty much sunk the majority of my funds into opening the gallery, if I decide in the future I can’t swing the gallery I could actually scratch two things off at once because I’ll be too broke to go to Italy. I try to pour some humor into the reality, but in truth, it’s true.

Hope for the future is a good way to live. We don’t have guarantees about anything. While writing this I’m aware of the terrorist acts in Paris. A few hours ago I was oblivious to it. Life is fragile and in the blink of an eye, it’s gone. And yet, I daily awaken with hope. We cannot live without hope. It’s the life blood of our continuing existence. Without hope we wither, fade and die. Sure, art galleries are closing daily. Not mine….well, I’ve only been open two months. However, I just have a feeling that there are purposes afoot that have nothing to do with me. As I write there is a small community theatre doing a performance in my back room. Later there will be holiday shoppers dreaming of the perfect gift for a loved one. Another time a group of young college men will use the back room for a place to mentor lower classmen. Workshops, demonstrations and classes are being scheduled for the lean months (Jan-Feb). The world needs art in life, on walls, in bedrooms, in dens, in offices; a place to rest the eyes and mind away from the ugliness, stress, and anxieties dumped on us without permission.

When life overwhelms me I do exactly that, I rest my eyes upon the moon painted by Dennis O’Bryant that I “knew” was mine the first time I saw it. Una Luna is displayed in my den where I spend countless hours. Then, in my bedroom I have a beautiful rainy day watercolor by Joe Mraz that is moody and gray. I love to feel myself present there, in the scene. Above my bed are two women, one reclining and one sitting in a park, painted by Scott Imhof. It makes me restful, feel at peace. There are so many more, I couldn’t name them all. Their purpose is to heal, to distract, to fill us with wonder and joy. It works for me better than any drug.

Look to the future without worrying about what might be. It is important to face the reality looming ahead, but do it with grace and purpose like my artist friend is doing. Begin by doing something that will outlast you….maybe a painting, a garden, a story, a piece of pottery, a little place of heaven here on earth that should you leave it, we’ll all know you were here.

PROCRASTINATION~It’s a Really Big Word

When I was in the fourth grade I learned the daunting word ‘procrastination’ because my mother was frustrated with how I put off doing my chores. Every Saturday morning my brother and I were greeted with a list of child-sized jobs to accomplish to earn our allowance. The pay off was a whopping 25 cents for years and then I negotiated up to $1 due to cost of living and all. During that time though I had the tendency to be distracted by any and every other thing to do other than chores. Hence…a new vocabulary word. Procrastination.

You’ve heard of attention deficit disorder? ADD? Well, I have ADOS…attention deficit oh, shiny. Tasks looming ahead of me are easily put off when something “shinier” comes along; things like phone calls, straightening the gallery, checking email, Facebooking, staring into space, creating a new playlist, writing blogs….oops, did I just say that? Yes, I have a particular task to get done right this minute and here I sit waxing eloquent about postponing the inevitable job. That has to be the ultimate foot-dragging excuse…I’m writing about it.

Retail involves a LOT of work, especially when you are the sole employee. I think if I were honest I might have fired me by now. Yes, I work hard, but sometimes I goof off, too. I’m sorry, did you think I was just a wonder workhorse? That’s what I thought you thought. I go in spurts, up and down ladders until I’m exhausted, editing photos for hours, perusing artists, galleries, and information online, sweeping, dusting and more. I won’t tell you what I postpone but trust me, there are some important things I hate doing and will clean the toilet to keep from doing that one thing. Crazy, eh?

Maturity involves buckling up and doing the undesirable things. I’m 63 and still working on it. When I arrive at that grown up destination I’ll schedule a celebration event. That’s one of the “shiny” things I love doing, so it would be a great distraction. One thing in life I hope I always have is a teachable spirit, a willingness to recognize my fatal flaws (note flaws is plural), and be ready to work on that while adjusting along the path. The gallery was my big idea so the “boss” doesn’t want to hear my whining.

Just do it, Claudia.

I BLINKED & A WEEK PASSED

So I blinked and remembered….I HAVE A BLOG TO WRITE! Nothing for a solid week….how did that happen?

Busy-ness. I’m an early awakener, but a lie-in-bed for another hour person. What could I possibly do during that time? Well here’s what. Turn on the tv, check my phone, Words with Friends, Facebook, listen to the news, text a morning message to my best friend and if she responds I’ll call her and we talk half an hour (on a short day). Then repeat the other stuff. BAM! One hour gone. But that’s not the busy part.

Shower, dress, make breakfast for two, leave for work, make several errand stops, then land at the gallery.

At the gallery I turn on a bunch of lamps and sweep out front, check email, clean a minute and then here come the artists. They are dropping off, picking up work, or generally just stopping in to say hi and visit. Throughout the day they and other friends drift in and out to shoot the breeze, a little gossip and/or counseling. That amounts to a listening ear and a lot of free advice. Don’t know why they want to talk with me, just know it happens. Next thing you know….it’s mid afternoon and the time’s gotten away from me and like now, it’s 6:45 and I’m still at work. The gallery is closed and quiet, but NOW I can get stuff done. It’s just awful……or is it?

No, it isn’t awful. It is WONDERFUL! I love my friends and acquaintances. They bring drama, laughter, and interest to each day. Time never drags. It is full, savory and sweet! Consider the alternative….no friends. That’s not living….that is a fate worse than death.

I look around and say goodnight to the “people” here late with me. Carol’s woman in waiting, Becky’s bright flower, Lynn’s pleasure pixies, Christine’s stags, Stacy’s prophet, Dennis’ fortune teller, Jenny’s double-vision faces and more. They speak silently to me and say, “We’ll be here in the morning with stories to tell from the night in the gallery, her walls holding artist secrets and tales of anxious thoughts.” I am secretly reluctant to leave for I feel at home amongst them. They know me and I know them. We are friends and though they are created to be shared with the world, I will miss them when they are sold and depart. We had “our time”, but someday….we will part. But for now…..

Adieu

RAINY DAYS & MONDAYS

Rainy days and Mondays do NOT always bring me down, as the song states, but do bring a sense of return to the routine. This weekend I spent on a quick overnighter to attend an art exhibition in Dallas that featured dozens of emerging artists. One of them, Charles ‘Randy’ Sherrod, is also Gingko Leaf Gallery’s first emerging artist. Randy and I go way back to pre-Randy existence. His mother is my cousin and he was her first child. Memories flood me every time we see each other, but I’ve a new perspective now. He is now an artist. Who knew? I certainly didn’t, but then, we’d known each other mostly before he graduated high school, and hardly at all for the last 20 years.

As a gallery owner I see myself as a sort of artist encourager. Okay, some artists don’t really need encouraging, but for the most part artists have intense insecurities ranging from constantly comparing their work to others more schooled or experienced all the way to giving up when overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of trying to share work with the world. Someone is needed to nudge them along with either a gentle hand or an abrupt shove to snap them into full attention of the potential they have. I had one such person about 9 years ago; an artist named Dennis O’Bryant.

Dennis was already an established artist with experience and a following. He never flung compliments at me like confetti. In fact, he once remarked about a piece of my sculpted clay, “It looks like something from a flea market.” Well, crap! That hurt, but guess what? I tried harder and got better. I worked and worked at my art trying clay and painting. Another time I asked him to help me on a painting, but he only gave me one piece of advice. “Look over the whole thing and make lights lighter and darks darker.” Did it and it worked. When I had my first solo show he offered to come down and “help”, but when he arrived I was greeted with, “I’m not going to do it for you. You have to learn how to do this for yourself.” He helped a little, but true to form, backed off at precisely the right moment leaving me to figure it out….and I did. He has never let me down, but was always an encourager by showing me how to be independent without being needy. Today, he is represented in my gallery and wowza! If that isn’t a compliment to me I don’t know what is! To this day he’ll still slip in an occasional reference to Mr. Miyagi in Karate Kid by calling me Grasshopper. Yes, he taught me by unconventional methods but it was effective.

Now I’m guiding Randy, the “emerging artist” by making suggestions here and there, but frankly he’s already exceeding my expectations. It’s exciting to watch this man explode onto the art scene so my current advice is tempered with a lot of “don’t be disappointed if sales don’t follow. Create for YOU and if someone else wants your work, then good for you, but don’t live for it.” I say that because most artists will tell you how hard the art market is. They live for the big sale and it never comes, or when it does they expect it again and again only to be discouraged. I once listened to a bunch of artists discuss a competition coming, how much the award amounts should be and what they’d worked on all year just for that show. It occurred to me while listening that some of them were merely painting to win a check, not painting because some driving force inside them was desperate to create. How sad that they’d lost the passion to the almighty dollar. Yes, I must sell art to keep the door open for these artists (including me), but I don’t want to represent art that has no passion. As I sit here writing I can look up and see passion in the work; cool shadows cast along an adobe wall, lifeless stone with a longing face, mysterious Caddo Lake with hanging Spanish moss, and fiery red planets hurtling through space. The urge to create pushes artists to extreme measures and that’s what I’m here to do, inspire them to never stop.

Today the gallery door stands open and it’s quiet. I can see the rain drifting by the doorway, a breeze gently moving it along in billowing waves. Artists are like the fragile rain, easily blown too far off course, sometimes torrential, sometimes sparse. I want to be a breath that blows them toward a search for the visionary existing within their soul. It may be a rainy Monday, but we’re not down. We’re here and know this is where we need to be.

IT’S NOT ABOUT ME

Before signing a lease I prayed for decision-making guidance and clear direction because it was a huge venture coming out of retirement to essentially work full-time for $zero. As lease-signing day neared I felt strongly this was the right path and so my final prayers consisted of, “God, if you’re not in this, STOP ME NOW.” So….here I am. No thunder or lightning, no angelic hosts blocking the way, just an open road looming ahead and a sense of rightness.

Soon after I was discussing the process with another artist friend who said to me, “It’s not about you, Claudia, owning an art gallery. It’s about what God is going to do with the gallery.” That struck a chord with me and has proven true.

My confession…I resist strangers walking straight in off the street asking for donations. Within a day or two a young man came in offering banana bread for a donation. He was with a group who supports themselves while in rehab. I broke down and gave him $5. However, two weeks later when another man returned from the same group, I resisted and begged off because I’m on a diet. That was true, but it felt more like an excuse, not a reason. He was cool with it, but asked to set down his tray of wares so he could walk around and look at the art. No problem. After a few minutes he landed on a little book of inspirational sayings and poems written and illustrated by my mother. He wanted to buy it, but could not afford it ($9.95), so I gave it to him. He was so happy, it was palpable. The next day, a waitress from a neighborhood eatery came in looking for “the book” because the man was excitedly sharing it with her over lunch and she “had to have one of her own”. I sold her one learning there are no accidents. I need to be less resistant and more giving because he shared the joy and it returned to me.

Another day a stranded woman whose husband was in a nursing home after a stroke came in looking for any kind work for any amount of money. I had no work, but gave her all my money; $9 and a couple of suggestions of where she could get additional help. I’ve never seen her again. Then there was a young guy who just wanted to come in from the rain and talk about Dr. Who….seriously, I know NOTHING about that, but we talked, sure enough. There was a plain young lady who was offering a beautiful book for a donation and I flat had to say, I’m so sorry, but I’m just not able to today. She left the book anyway insisting I keep it or give it away. One of my favorite new friends is a college student who came with another guy just to pray with downtown merchants. We did and he’s come by checking on me three more times with his girlfriend and other students. He also remembers the name of someone I asked him to pray for. I really enjoy his visits. I’ve had friends come pray, cry, laugh, talk, gossip, drink coffee, and just plain old rest in one of my comfy chairs stationed around the coffee table.

What I’m learning is this. There’s a higher purpose for me being here at this place and time. For one thing, I needed to learn how to be less selfish and pay attention to people. Another lesson is that people need people, and sometimes it’s just that they need someone who’s not judging or criticizing them but instead, smiling, listening, and just allowing them to feel welcome somewhere. I’ve had some of societies’ “outcasts” come see me which made me feel good that this is the place to which they were drawn. I don’t use that word lightly either because frankly, we’re all “outcasts” on some level. My group of acquaintances is as eclectic as the art is in this gallery. I don’t care what your religious beliefs or philosophies are if we can be kind to one another. Everyone needs a safe haven and apparently I’ve got the keys to a place that says, “Come on in.” If that is the higher purpose, then so be it. A friend gave me a little paper recently that said, “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers for by this some have entertained angels with knowing it.” Hebrews 13:2.

That’s something I’m learning every day in Gingko Leaf Gallery.

WHAT WAS I THINKING?

“Art galleries are dying”, “I thought you were retired”, and “Did you make all this art?” were only a few of the things I’ve heard since opening a 2500 square foot gallery in a town with approximately the same population proportionately speaking (25,000). I’m not a math wizard, but I think it might mean there are 1,000 people for every 1 sq. ft. of art gallery. Mercy! I hope that isn’t true.

Regardless, I am turning a proverbial deaf ear to all the warnings, naysayers, negativity, and weird comments to attempt the seemingly impossible task of presenting art for sale to a world that probably doesn’t care too much. My purpose is more esoteric to those in my local art community and for all the rest of the passerby population it poses a puzzling comment here and there. How do I explain myself…and SHOULD I explain myself? Probably not, but that’s not how I roll.

I don’t pretend to be an art expert, but I am an art lover. I don’t have credentials to place me into the company of recognized dealers, but I do have a lovely collection of art in my home. I’m not rich in cash flow, but I’m wealthy in artistic friends in all the arts; visual, written word, dramatic arts, and music. I may not have a head for business, but I do have a heart for art. This is what motivates me.

I’m fairly comfortable in social media, can build a basic website, and handle a Canon well enough to compose, edit, and upload photos. A flair for creating displays helps, too. On top of all that, I was a writer before becoming a visual artist. It sounds like I’m giving you my resume, but it’s more to relate my journey. Through convincing self-talk  I had at least rudimentary skills to nudge me in the direction of laying out my small savings to open the doors of a beautiful, eclectic gallery featuring artists mostly living in East Texas.

My dream has existed about 10 years, but it was MY dream, not my husband’s, and that took a fair amount of maneuvering to create a sense of “I know what I’m doing” and guiding him to catch the vision. Fourteen 8 foot boards, 42 bolts, and 462 pilot holes and cup hooks later he’s shown me that he’s on board after installing a creative art hanging system that will save me a world of agony in the long run. He is my hero! But then…..the “other” shoe dropped.

Recently he announced his frustration that he just realized the gallery wouldn’t make money. Well, I DID warn him of that truth. I didn’t go into this blindly and so even though I prepped him, the fact just now sunk in. That caused me to stand back and re-evaluate exactly why I did do this. Part of his fears are based on the following pattern from 40 years of marriage:

Jobs I’ve held since first meeting in 1974…

  1. coin collector for SW Bell (1 yr)
  2. cashier at air force base store (3 mo)
  3. Fox Photo kiosk clerk (2 mo)
  4. jewelry assembler in the mall (2 mo)
  5. page collator (by hand) for church directories (2 weeks)
  6. Mary Kay Cosmetics sales (1 yr)
  7. Cake decorating business (1 yr)
  8. commentary writer for DFW Suburban newspaper (3 years)
  9. substitute teacher (3 yr)
  10. college student (2 yr, finishing up what I’d not finished from a decade before)
  11. full-time teacher (20 years)
  12. owner of Claudia’s Collectibles at Greenwood Flea Market (1 yr)
  13. owner of Claudia’s Collectibles in Marshall (1 yr)
  14. church secretary (6 yr)
  15. writer for Piney Woods Live entertainment magazine (2 yr)
  16. Administrative Assistant for Marshall Regional Arts Council (14 months)
  17. artist
  18. owner Gingko Leaf Gallery
  19. Not to be forgotten, I raised two kids during all the above.

I’m pretty sure I’ve missed something (I’m serious), but that list lets you know why Rick is suspicious of my endeavors. Honestly, I just see myself as a person who is multi-faceted and loves doing things that involve teaching, creating, and/or selling. “Oh great, another Claudia Adventure,” is probably what he’s thinking. As we say in the South….bless his heart.

I’m in this for the long haul, and here’s why. I not only love art, but I love artists, their quirky ideas, brainstorming, arrogance, creativity, audacity, brokenness, They push me and each other to higher achievement. Sometimes they destroy each other, and then they turn around and help each other. It’s a yin and yang community.

What was I thinking? I guess I was thinking about how artists don’t have enough places to show their souls because for all their fatal flaws and visions they are transparent when baring the soul in paint, clay, stone, leather, metal, fiber, and more. I love being surrounded by the collective soul. You could have that, too, were you to search out that creation that connects with your soul. Kindred spirits know. Come, and be known.

Claudia Lowery

Owner, Gingko Leaf Gallery