Me: "Who has the best seat in the house, me or daddy?"

Adam: "Well, Daddy's is nice, but yours is best. Your's is squishier."

Monday, December 15, 2014

I know why she smiles

Besides doing the musical, our family spent the month of November preparing for my 4th annual open studio sale.  This year I was joined by a few new folks, and as usual,  we had a great time.  The weeks leading up to the sale were a string of sleepless nights making art, and the days before it were a blur of studio prep.  We gut the room, removing all signs of home-schooling, art-making and general family-destructo-living, and try to pretend that the studio always looks that great.  The night before the opening of the sale I had all of my kids, and even Malcolm (our neighbor and part-time resident teen) crawling around on their hands and knees scrubbing the studio floor.  I wish it looked that tidy all the time, but my creative juices flow with a little bit of chaos around me. 

We were incredibly blessed to do very well this year with the sale itself.  I am so thankful to everyone of you who came to do your gift shopping here.  It is because of you that our family has Christmas.  It is such a joy to see folks take home items that I poured time and love into.  It is especially rewarding when someone falls in love with a particular item.  I know, in the grand scheme of things, all we really need in this life is food and shelter to survive, but I know that beauty in the world around me, particularly in the space where I spend most of my time, brings me imeasurable joy.

There is a story taken from the time of the Nazi invasion, when Hitler had his armies pillage and loot the greatest museums in Europe.  Country by country, they invaded reverent spaces and stole precious paintings, sculptures, pottery and other relics.  A few countries, seeing the invasions coming, had time to hide their art treasures.  In France, the Louvre sent hundreds of it's master works of art to be hidden away by simple farmers in country cottages.  The Mona Lisa spent some of her time in hiding, I read, behind a wall panel in a small country house.  On Christmas eve, for one special night, the family would bring her out of hiding, and admire her.  For some time, it said, because curators began to worry about damage that the storage box might cause, she even hung on a bedroom wall in the cottage "so she would never be alone".  

As a maker of art (though of course, not of Louvre caliber!), I imagine that the Mona Lisa was never so much adored as she was during those years.  Of course, while she hangs on public display, she can be admired by the elite and wealthy of the world, and thousands may get a distant, crowded glimpse of her after waiting in a tight, dreary line for a few hours.  But just imagine what it would have been like to have her's be the last eyes you saw as you drifted off to sleep in a tiny country bedroom; to have her's be the first smile to greet you in the morning.  She must have delighted in being so well loved.

I will never paint a Mona Lisa, but each time someone cradles one of my little pots in their hands, with that look on their face that seems to ask, "How did you know to make this for me?", every time someone walks through my studio with a little painting pressed to their chest, a satisfied smile on their face, I have a sneaking suspicion I know why the Mona Lisa smiles.

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