Sunday, March 22, 2009

Gordo, Alabama

Last year in October, I participated in The Kentuck Festival of the Arts located in Northport, Alabama. I was stunned when I received notice that my work had been juried in, on my first attempt! My space was B-34. Little did I know that the space had been occupied by Glenn House, Sr. for many years. Turns out that he gave up the spot last year and it became available (for me). I set up my booth and display, with Tom's help, and settled in for a three day run. Students from the University of Alabama's Publications/Book Arts Program were to the right of my tent and on the other side was Peter Rose, an Australian born potter who lives and creates in Knoxville, Tennessee. Glenn House, Sr. and his wife, Kathleen Fetters, an award winning photographer were situated next to Peter. Add to the mix, Amos Kennedy, an internationally recognized letterpress printer and (as my son would say) "it was on." I felt as tho I had known these artists all of my life! On the last day of Kentuck 2008, Glenn extended an invitation to me and Tom to visit Gordo where he, Kathy and Amos have set up shop. I took him up on his offer and two weeks ago, on February 15th, we drove to Gordo, Alabama.

The afternoon was WON-DER-FUL!! To be in the company of such gifted and talented and FUNNY individuals has changed me and my way of thinking. First and foremost, I realize that I MUST spend more time around creative people. Secondly, I'm learning that you can't take yourself too seriously. Laugh out loud, life is short. Lastly, although I don't consider myself an intellectual or a philosopher by any stretch of the imagination, I accept that I can and I do have a lot to say and even more to offer with regard to my printmaking: what I create and why.

Gordo, Alabama is probably best known for it's Mule Day/Chickenfest which is held on the first Saturday in June. Oh, and they create a lovely mule manure paper, too! Gordo is located in Pickins County on U. S. Route 82 west of Tuscaloosa and east of the Mississippi line. It is what it is. A non-descript, small dusty rural town with Main Street running across the bumpy rail tracks simply leading you to the other side. The other side you ask? Yes, the other side of the tracks. That's it. No more; no less. The walking tour was slow and leisurely. Into one building and out; on to another. The museum of Glenn's mother, Ma'Cille, is called Ma'Cille's Museum of Miscellanea. You name it and you'll find almost everything southern as a part of this wonderful collection. Oh, the eye candy! My goodness! Behind each door was art and more art, letterpress equipment, paper, inks, hardware, antiques, junk, bottles, chipboard posters, dolls, jars of stuff and no telling what else. There was so much to take in. And the stories. Kathy and Glenn had stories galore and shared them effortlessly. Glenn's gallery is housed in an old NAPA Auto Parts store. Kathy is a co-owner of Gallery 121 on Main Street. She recently designed and printed a Chickenfest poster which she graciously autographed and presented to me.

We began and ended the tour in the building that houses Amos' Kennedy Prints. He's the real deal. Authentic. When I learned that he once worked in mainstream corporate America, I wondered if he became "authentic" after he left to follow his bliss or if, in fact, he had been "authentic" all along and realized that corporate America and all of the bullshit that comes with it was simply not a good fit for him. Doesn't matter. I'm that much closer to becoming "authentic", too. This is a good thing.

I spent the last couple of hours, of my day in Gordo, sharing lino block proofs that I've created as part of my GIA grant. I was in my element talking about my project: WALK IN THE DIRECTION YOU' GOIN' IN. I talked, they listened. I stepped back and shut my mouth. I wanted to hear what they had to say about my work for better or for worse.

I left Gordo with a broad grin on my face. A VERY broad grin.

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Blogger Rachel said...

I live in Gordo, and have my entire life, you described it perfectly.

2:52 PM  
Blogger Carson Walker said...

My grandfather runs the Northport farmers market and has mentioned the Gordo mule festival to me my entire life. I'm going this year.

5:29 PM  
Blogger Rachel said...

My mom used to take me to that farmers market every Saturday morning when I was a kid! This is the first time I will have a booth at Mule Day, I look forward to seeing everyone there.

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