artNotes from Hyde House: Mother stands in her driveway holding our puppy and waving as we leave. My rear view mirror shows her turning away. I know she’s going inside to pick up her stitch work and shed her good-bye tears into the fibers she’ll continue stitching with love.
Mother stands in her driveway holding our puppy and waving as we leave. My rear view mirror shows her turning away. I know she’s going inside to pick up her stitch work and shed her good-bye tears into the fibers she’ll continue stitching with love.
Gripping the big steering wheel of a 24-four foot U-Haul truck, with two kids and two cats in the cab beside me and our worldly possessions packed in the back, I head us toward our new life. Over twelve hundred miles, I drive up mountains and down, through deep valleys and across long straight stretches. Like one of Mother’s colorful patchwork quilts, the landscape unfolds all around us as we sing and play traveling games.
Moving east to New York City I’m taking my son, thirteen, and my daughter, nine, away from all they’ve known in Little Rock. Yearning to explore the connections between creativity, sensuality and spirituality, I go in search of understanding. I want to paint and write about this triad within a fertile cradle with an expansive worldview.
I enroll in The Art Students League and in masters theological studies at General Theological Seminary in Chelsea. Founded in 1817, GTS is the oldest seminary of the Episcopal Church. Facing onto a central quadrangle called the Close, red brick neo-Gothic buildings ring around an entire Manhattan block pungent with history.
Clement Clarke Moore, famous for penning “A Visit from St. Nicholas (The Night before Christmas),” owned the estate "Chelsea", which included most of what would become the neighborhood by that name. He donated 66 tracts of land — his apple orchard — to become the site of the seminary.
Our third floor apartment looks over the school’s richly wood paneled refectory. Scenes from the Sean Connery’s poignant movie, Finding Forrester, were filmed here.
Audrey walks to and fro Greenwich Village and her school at St. Luke’s in the Fields. She plays basketball and joins the fencing team. Her art portfolio wins her acceptance at Fiorello H. Laguardia High School of Music and Art and the Performing Arts, the inspiration for the movie, Fame.
Simon tests into Stuyvesant High, a specialized school offering tuition-free accelerated academics. Every school day he commutes crosstown on his bike bought on a back street in the Bowery. With his two new best friends, Aram and Jesse, he establishes Children for Worldwide Peace with an iconic image of the globe as the group’s motif. On Sundays we all take an uptown train to gather and play in the Sheep Meadow of Central Park.
Though our visits back to Arkansas are infrequent and our communications limited before the days of cell phones and face time, we know we are deeply loved by the homefolks we’ve left behind. As Mother continues making her fiber arts, her gifts arrive in the mail—skirts for Audrey, exquisite crocheted angels for our Christmas tree and for Simon’s bed a hand-stitched quilt adorned with the symbol for Children for Worldwide Peace.
Since my family’s NYC adventure, Mother has passed and a couple of decades, too. Simon, married to Liko, is thriving in the tech industry in Seattle. Audrey’s bank job has her commuting between Manhattan and Paris as she and her husband Lex, raise our granddaughter, Sophie.
Mother’s quilts are with all of us still. My husband, David, and I cherish a couple of her beauties, as well as those passed to him through the quilters in his own family of needle-working women. Hanging on our wall is a lovely drawing made by David depicting his grandmother whose wedding band he wears today. She’s busy with her needlework while her grandson, David, sits nearby to sketch her stitching her fibers with love.
These days David’s and my conversations are often quilt-centric as we anticipate artCentral’s October regional juried exhibition, The Art of Quilting, set to fill our galleries October 5 through November 18, 2018. As artCentral’s prepitor (worker person) David will collaborate with me on the installation.
For months now, I’ve been meeting and planning with four gifted Carthage quilters: Jinny Hopp, Ruth Potter, Barbara Montague and Sandy Swingle. They came to me inspired to create a showcase for the talents of regional fiber artists like themselves. Their vision is fully manifesting. The call for entries is out. Visit artCentral’s website: http://www.artcentralcarthage.org/the-art-of-quilting.html, download your entry form today and put your needle to stitching.
Art Speaks presented by the Joplin Regional Artists Coalition remains at artCentral through March 18. For information call (417) 358-4404.