Raku pigeons by Glo Coalson look down on me from a bookshelf in my library.
Edom Texas is a lovely village in East Texas near Tyler. The sign on the road indicates that it has a population of 375. There is a gas station and a post office, and a few houses scattered here and there.
Driving there is breathtaking, and a little spooky if you drive at night, because the tall, tall trees on either side of the road block almost everything. I’m used to seeing fields and cityscapes and miles and miles of Texas when I drive. In East Texas, the trees tend to limit this sort of landscape. You get to see a tunnel in front and behind you with sky overhead. At night, it’s a very dark tunnel with shadowy trunks and branches, teeming with ghouls and ghosts. The locals in Edom assure me that there are more people buried in the cemetery than living in the town. Comforting, that.
Our reason for driving there this weekend was to participate in the Edom Art Festival, 2018. The one street in town that I know of has artists and galleries in almost every building. It is a perfect place to have a festival, particularly one that is put on by the artists, for the artists. Edom has hosted artists and artisans at festivals since 1972. There were a few years when it moved to a different town, and then became dormant. But, now it’s back and building strength. Listening to Barry talk with his friends all of these years, Edom seemed like an artists’ Mecca. “Did you ever do Edom?” “Do you know the painter, Martha? I used to see her at Edom, back when it was huge.” While it was gone, people talked about the grand days of art, friendships and serious art collectors driving great distances to visit them and buy their wares. Relationships were built between artists and patrons. And, between the artists themselves.
This year Barry and I drove in the night before the show began, and managed to set up the tent that evening. On Saturday when the festival began we had only to set out the jewelry and we were ready. (Being this early is not classic behavior for Barry, even showing up in the dark the night before and setting up the tent with a flashlight.) It was a beautiful morning. The weather was warm, but not hot. I had had my coffee and was pretty much walking on air in this peaceful town. Soon, people began wandering around the booths, and I could tell that it was going to be a good day and a great show.
This didn’t last, unfortunately. Our friend drove in from Dallas and she called to say that it was raining so hard she could barely see. She was afraid that the rain was going the same direction she was. It was a nice morning, so we told her to take care and we’d be here when she arrived. She did arrive, and we had lunch. Barry made avocado/alfalfa sprout sandwiches for us and for friends. Then, around 2 it began to sprinkle and the customers collected under the booths of the artists and artisans. The music continued and people were still milling about. Gradually, the rain began to come down harder. And harder. And harder… People left, darting through puddles trying to get to their cars. We were safe under a strong tent, but water began to collect in the grass at our feet. Because of the grass, it took a while for me to realize how deep that water was becoming. We were on a slope (as you can tell from the angle of the earrings in the picture above) so I thought that the water would flow through. Instead it just gradually became deeper and deeper. Sheets of rain blocked our view; we could no longer see the huge trees in the background. It was loud, and we could barely hear what she was saying when the coordinator came by in a golf cart screaming, “Pack up!”, trying to be heard over the roar of rain pounding on the ground and on tents.
We gathered up the jewelry and hung out for a while under a friend’s tent, pondering what to do for the rest of the evening. Some people who were trying to leave found themselves stuck in the mud. The rest of us wondered how we would get out. (Luckily, the fire department helped out those who were stuck.) Our hotel was in Tyler, and the idea of going to the hotel, and then back to the artists’ dinner didn’t seem likely. The dinner is held on the grounds of Woodhaven Cabins. It is a beautiful place, but it’s more remote than Edom and the road is smaller, there’s a dam over a creek… it didn’t seem like an intelligent decision, frankly. We left our options open, but the drive back to Tyler was eventful enough that we decided to stay in town and make our way back to the show on Sunday, rested and refreshed.
By the time we got to Edom on Sunday, though, the decision had been made to call the show off for good and let artists pack up and get their vehicles out. The radar indicated that another, larger, storm was heading toward us that afternoon and they didn’t want to take a chance that the artists would be stuck there overnight or for a few days. We all agreed that this was probably the best decision to make considering the circumstances.
It was a bit of a shock to everyone. We walked around and people were slowly, methodically breaking down tents, packing ceramic art and jewelry. Our friends were legitimately sad. We didn’t get the Sunday morning camaraderie. So much visiting and looking at new products didn’t get to happen. The weather looked clear and we all felt the loss, thinking about how busy and happy customers and visitors had been just 24 hours previous. Barry, in particular, felt he missed out. Sunday mornings is when he visits friends and people he’s known for decades. There is a close relationship built between people who, for years and decades, worked that circuit of art festivals across the US. They would run into each other at different venues in almost every state in the country. They’d discuss the art scene, other artists, their lives and the quality of the different shows. Show after show, month after month, year after year, watching children grow up and people buy homes, have grandkids, get sick, get well, take care of each other and send love to each other through this vine of interconnected artists. Over the last 10 years this art scene has changed so completely that they don’t even recognize it any more. Smallish festivals like the one in Edom are some of the few times they have the opportunity to get together like they always did. They will grumble that they are too busy during the show to have decent conversations, but truth be told, it’s the kind of conversations and relationships that they have known all their lives. It’s how they know each other. It’s what they lean on when they do come together like this.
Sadly, this year I didn’t get the opportunity to walk around and take pictures of people’s artwork. I did walk around, but I thought there was plenty of time for pictures. Barry and I packed up, visited with artist friends and made a date with a group to see a movie together in November. We met up with some other friends in Tyler for lunch. Then, we got on the road for the long drive home. We took our time, stopping for lottery tickets and visiting the Collin Street Bakery in Corsicana. It was still light outside when we arrived at 621. The cats were happy to see us. This is the life of a traveling artist, a life that is slowly fading away.
But, we’ll always have Edom.
While at a street festival in Waco Texas I got to explore the booth next door to ours. I asked permission to take pictures… well after I had already taken most of these. I have loved Barbara’s ceramic art since I first met her years ago. I love the patterns and textures she incorporates. I had the chance to see her studio and the various things she uses to the patterns. I almost moved in. Anyway, this is how I pass my time when I’m at art festivals.
I continue to think about the Notary Public idea, though I don’t believe it will accomplish what I want. It wouldn’t be bad to be a notary, but it’s not likely my name will go down in history that way. That tangible thing I crave wouldn’t materialize.
At work, I touch the archive paper. It has a nice texture, a definite tooth in its surface. The scraps that they have after they print our amendments get distributed. We use those scraps to manually print amendments, as well as use it as scratch paper. When I touch the paper, I really want to write on it. I don’t know what I want to write, but I long to sit and put a nice pen to that paper and feel the tip stroke across the surface. I want to look at my handwriting on it. That would be tangible. That has potential to stay around. Surely something written on this paper would be worth saving.
My friends are artists. Barry makes jewelry, sculpted with gold and silver. Glo has beautiful bronzes with social and cultural importance, as well as small ceramic pigeons. In our house ceramic bowls, plates and platters fill the space to overflowing, along with coffee cups and hand-blown drinking glasses. That is a mark left on the world. Those tangible items will be around forever. People 100 years from now will look at a collection of Barry’s sculptured jewelry and wonder about the artisan that made them. Some of his pieces have an Asian feel, others look vaguely African, with horse hair incorporated. All of them have his signature style that really ties the whole collection together. His work is all over the U.S. and beyond.
Our friend, Richella - may she rest in peace - still lives through her tiny raku pots, even while the last of her brood of cats grows old, sleeping on our dining room table eleven years after Richella passed away. Richella’s art has been collected all over the United States and other parts of the world. Her goal was to be in a show at the Smithsonian. After she mastered the technical aspect of pottery, she judged her craftsmanship and her designs based on whether they could be accepted at the Smithsonian. Not a bad aspiration, and she would have made it had she continued to live and produce work.
A Greek potter a few centuries before the common era (BCE or BC?) would have thought they were hot stuff because one of their decorated pots would cost a day’s wages.¹ Imagine if they had known that 2000 years later their work would be sold for over $100K and be on display as an historic artifact. That person, whoever they are, has truly left a their mark on the world, even if we don’t know their name.
Mark Cartwright, "Ancient Greek Potter," Ancient History Encyclopedia, March 16, 2018, https://www.ancient.eu/Greek_Pottery/.
I have recently posted on social media my money clip in different settings. Money Clip, like my Pendant, has had coffee with me, has been to restaurants and other places. (Money Clip is always with me, but we just decided to leave a photographic history.) Both Money Clip and Pendant are creative works by Barry Perez.
We were in Target the other day and Money Clip was inspired. It wanted more from life than to just hold cash and credit cards. Money Clip wanted to be pretty. I told it that it's always pretty, but it would not be assuaged. So I took a chain off of another one of my Barry pendants and fed it through Money Clips' opening and asked it which mannequin it wanted to be on. Money Clip chose this one.
Sometimes you have to listen to your belongings. I had no idea Money Clip was so beautiful, but it really does stand out nicely here. What are your thoughts?