Monday, May 29, 2017

A Hearfelt Thank You to America's Veterans

When I count my blessings, at the top of my list is the freedom we enjoy as Americans. Think about it: we get in our cars and drive across town or across the country without having to obtain some government agency's permission. We're free to listen to or read or watch anything we want to, however bizarre, outrageous or provocative it may be. We the people elect our politicians, and we are free to cast our votes without coercion. We can live wherever we want, aspire to any profession we short, we can pretty much do whatever we want as long as it's legal.

Artists and other creatives in America enjoy extraordinary freedom of expression. If I want to create art with a scathing political message, I can do so without fear of being hauled out of my house in the middle of the night and executed because my message runs contrary to that of some despot who has been thrust into power by a military junta rather than elected by the people. If I want to create art with a religious theme or gay art or socially offensive art I can do all of those things without being censured. My art may not be appreciated, nor embraced by the public, nor receive anything but scorn and derision from critics, but in America I won't be imprisoned or tortured for having made it.

Freedoms like these are, unfortunately, not universal. In too many countries, to express a negative view or opinion about the current regime is enough to get a person killed. Just ask Cuban-Americans who fled to the U.S. to escape Fidel Castro. At Castro's orders, his henchmen rounded up and summarily executed thousands of "dissidents" -- ordinary citizens, many artists included -- who dared to criticize Castro and his policies. Ask South America's's museum curators and administrators who were forced to display only art that supported the policies of a despotic regime. If they refused, they were  replaced and punished. Ask Salmin Rushdie what it's like to be hunted down by religious zealots with a stone age mentality trying to assassinate him -- all because he wrote a book they didn't like.

Atrocities and injustices like these are all too common in countries that continue to deny their people freedom. Enjoying the freedom we know here in the U.S., it's hard for us to truly comprehend what it must be like to live under such conditions. We may think we know, or try to imagine it, but the harshness of having to live under oppression of that magnitude is simply beyond our comprehension.

On this Memorial Day weekend, I am grateful beyond words to the men and women of America's military who've sacrificed their lives so that we can continue to live in unparalleled freedom. Without their service and dedication, we'd be dreaming of freedom but certainly not living in freedom. History is rife with tragic examples of how very difficult freedom is to secure, and how easily it can be lost. It's good to remind ourselves that we are not immune to the latter. We must not subscribe to the notion that this amazing freedom we've been granted by the Constitution is "too big to fail."

Our service members are acutely aware of this, exposed as they are to other cultures and countries around the world. Most of us civilians, however, aren't privy to the same degree of exposure our service members have to cultures that deny human beings their freedom. Going about our lives here at home, few of us know what it's truly like to live under brutal oppression.

But our military service members do know, serving as they do in areas where people often suffer oppression. It's why America's defenders -- all of whom volunteer to serve -- willingly give their lives, when necessary, to keep that fate from happening to us. They're what stands between us and the unthinkable. So as I enter my studio to begin today's work, I am profoundly grateful to these selfless heroes. And I am reminded that as a citizen enjoying freedom's benefits, I, too, have a responsibility to help extend it to everyone and to oppose freedom's suppression wherever that suppression is encountered. This quote by Earl Riney sums it up best: "Freedom without obligation is anarchy; freedom with obligation is democracy."

©2017 Lynn Edwards

Sunday, May 28, 2017

A Thought for Sunday, May 28, 2017

"We owe a lot to Thomas Edison -- if it wasn't for him, we'd be watching television by candlelight." -- Milton Berle

Thursday, May 25, 2017

A Week to Remember

Wow, last week was incredibly exciting, with three opening receptions for juried shows coming on the heels of my participation in ARTucker! I was able to attend only two of the openings where my work is on display - those at the Booth Western Art Museum and the Downtown Gallery in Cartersville. Unfortunately I wasn't able to make the opening for the "Hands" show at Roswell United Methodist Church's Charis Gallery. I had planned to go, but then found attending just wasn't do-able so, sadly, I had to miss that one.

The opening reception for the exhibition at the Booth was wonderful -- truly a first class affair. It was made even better by the presence of my dear artist friends Baba' and Kathy Woodworth, and a surprise visit from my cousin Rick and his wife Patty, who detoured on their drive from New York to Florida just to attend the show!

Dust Bowl Series: Cimarron County on display at the Booth Western Art Museum

Artist Michael Goettee and I discuss the process I used to achieve the look of aged painted wood on Dust Bowl Series: Abandoned
Conversing with friends Kathy Woodworth and Baba' and family member Patty Murphy
The Dust Bowl Series was inspired by a very special lady named Hazel Mills, who is a native of Oklahoma. Now in her late 90s, Hazel lived through the Dust Bowl, a series of horrific dust storms that struck widespread areas of Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico and Kansas during the 1930s. These storms took a terrible toll on human and animal life, turning once-thriving communities into ghost towns and prompting mass migrations as crops failed and farms were foreclosed upon in the midst of the Great Depression.

Unlike many of their neighbors, Hazel and her family chose to stay put on their farm and tough it out. The determination and persistence it took to do this is beyond my imagination, but persist they did. Hazel and others like her who didn't give up in the face of nearly insurmountable hardship show us what the human spirit is capable of achieving. Hazel, who is related to my sister-in-law, was very much on my mind as I worked on Cimarron County (the first piece in the series). I plan to expand the series further, and hope I get an opportunity to talk with her while visiting family in Oklahoma this summer. Having been witness to one of the greatest natural disasters in America's history, Hazel's experiences and memories will continue to inspire and inform all future Dust Bowl works.

Text and images ©2017 Lynn Edwards

Sunday, May 21, 2017

A Thought for Sunday, May 21, 2017

"I wish the government would put a tax on pianos for the incompetent." -- Dame Edith Sitwell

Sunday, May 14, 2017

A Thought for Sunday, May 14, 2017

"Only mothers can think of the future, because they gave birth to it in their children." -- Maxim Gorky

Monday, May 8, 2017

You Meet the Nicest People at an Arts and Crafts Show

If you're fed up with the climate of anger and hostility that seems to permeate our world today, and want to retreat from it all, may I suggest you attend an arts and crafts show? It has been said more than once that artsy people are exceptionally nice people...and I couldn't agree more!

Artists tend to be gentle-natured souls who strive in their own ways to make our planet a more beautiful, peaceful, happier place. (Sure, there are some whose temperaments and work are abrasive, but you rarely encounter them in this type of venue.) If surrounding yourself with upbeat people in a fun environment sounds better than watching talking heads duke it out on TV, hang out with artists. You'll come away feeling like there might be hope for humanity after all.

The artists I met this past Saturday at ARTucker exemplified the warmth, caring and generosity that characterizes the creative community. I didn't have a whole lot of time to make the rounds and meet everyone (setting up my display was more time consuming than I had anticipated) but those I did meet were truly delightful. One of these was Louanna Petti, whose booth was across the aisle from mine. We had a nice chat and found we had much in common. 

Just before the show closed, Louanna presented me with this adorable little watercolor painting she had made during the show of my jewelry display:

©2017 Louanna Petti

How sweet is that?!! I was so surpised and touched and appreciative of her thoughtfulness!

Throughout the process of setting up and taking down and everything in between, I couldn't help but notice how everyone went out of their way to help one another, holding doors open for those lugging gridwalls and boxes, and offering to carry stuff for others when they appeared to be struggling.

Paul Bamford, the pastel artist whose booth was adjacent to mine, had brought in a large cloth backdrop the morning of the show to conceal the unattractive wall behind our booths. He was so polite in asking if this was okay with me and of course it was, as the solid color backdrop he'd brought made my display really "pop." I was more than glad for the fine job it did concealing the wall, and gladder still that he didn't break any bones while climbing up to install it. 

I didn't get a chance to thank him before he departed (his display was a much faster take down than mine, and he was out the door in a flash at the show's end) so I offer my thanks here: Paul Bamford, you're a prince!

But it wasn't just artists helping fellow artists. Many visitors to my booth were equally helpful by sharing their opinions and observations about fashion trends and what they did or didn't find useful in choosing wardrobe accessories. One lady gave me a great idea for future necklace designs that I never would have thought of -- a priceless gift I can't wait to act upon. It's interactions like these that make all the trouble, work and effort of doing a show so worthwhile. And they reinforce my belief that artists and people who enjoy art are the very nicest people in the world!

©2017 Lynn Edwards


Sunday, May 7, 2017

A Thought for Sunday, May 7, 2017

"Art is the fulfillment of things dreamed." -- Gerald Mills