I love gifts! I love to receive them and I love to give them. It gives me great pleasure to search and find the "perfect" gift for each person. This time of year is the second most popular gift-giving season only behind the Christmas/Hanukkah season. This is the time of year we honor Mom and Dad and celebrate graduations from kindergarten through graduate school, and, as we all know, June is the month for weddings and bridal showers. Of course, that means that there are also significant anniversaries being celebrated as well. This all led me to wonder about the history of gift giving. I found a great blog by Allie Hartford on the subject.
Some of the things that I learned from Allie about gifts:
1. Male chimpanzees give gifts of food to females. With early humans, the man who gave generous gifts was more likely to attract a female.
2. Native Americans gave gift-giving feasts on special occasions like births, deaths, and weddings with the traditions going back thousands of years. The attention was more on the giver than the receiver as family prestige was measured by how lavish the gifts were.
3. The Greek poet Homer thought that the Greek idea of hospitality "xenia" dictated that gifts be given to strangers, both material gifts as well as non-material such as providing shelter for a stranger.
4. The biggest gift in history was the gift of the Statue of Liberty from France to US on the 100th anniversary of The Declaration of Independence.
5. The most expensive gift in history was the Taj Mahal built in the 17th century by emperor Shah Jahan for his favorite wife Mumtaz Mahal.
6. The most infamous gift in history--the Trojan horse.
7. Of course, the biggest gift event today is Christmas. While we all like to think that it started with the Wise Men giving gifts to the baby, our current gift giving traditions are more the result of economic development and industrialization. The late 19th century saw the advent of cheaper manufacturing leading to goods that were more easy to obtain and more affordable.
Thursdays blog will have some specific thoughts on gifts for graduates as well as Dad and the bridal couple.
hat title looks rather stuffy for the fresh and spontaneous paintings of Dorothy Shelby. But that is what we are showing. The title sent me to the web to do a little research.
"Retrospective means looking back. An art exhibit that covers an artist's entire career is called a retrospective because it looks back at the work that artist has produced over many years." (vocabulary.com/dictionary) Dorothy is showing her very first painting done at age 64 and another done within days of the first one and some done last week as well as others throughout the years in between.
"Folk art" is fairly simply defined as "art made by the common people, notably from rural areas." (Encyclopedia of Art History) Yep, that sounds like Dorothy, although there is nothing common about this extraordinary woman and artist. Of course, the discussion of folk art on the web goes much beyond simple but htis definition serves us here.
"Primitive" is another rather simple concept about art that gets pretty complex in the art essays. However, in general, primitive art is considered to be a "part of a culture, linked up with the history of the culture and with the history of the people. Consequently, we should view primitive art as merely a general term covering a variety of historical phenomena; the products of different races, mentalities, temperaments, historical events, and influences of environment." (Encyclopedia of Art History)
When Dorothy picked up that first paintbrush to become the artist that she knew she was, she joined a long line of artists who have painted in a primitive folk art style. Some were academically trained like Matisse. Many more were self taught: Rousseau, Frida Kahlo, Grandma Moses, and Clementine Hunter.
However, all of these fancy art words don't really matter when you stand in front of the wall of Dorothy's art and see her life and her memories in every painting. And maybe recognize parts of your own memories: your own baptism, your dad talking about picking cotton, quilts that your grandma made, chickens in your own yard. And I think that is the important thing to find in a piece of art--your own connection.
Join us tomorrow to celebrate Dorothy and her art.
The pieces below are (left to right, top row) Rousseau, Kahlo, Grandma Moses. Bottom row Clementine Hunter
Houston Llew's work in enameling is based on his belief that meaningful art is about emotion. Thus, every Spiritile created reflects a piece of our story. These icons stretch our memory and bring to mind the people we love, the things we cherish, and the passions we pursue. When collected, Spiritiles become a montage of moments that make us smile, laugh, remember, and dare to dream.
Each season, Houston releases new tiles. The summer collection reminds of us of the season that asks us to create something new and embrace the intangible value of living in the moment. We turn the potential into reality through exploring the world around us to its utmost. Each tile is based on a literary quote by writers, artists, songwriters, and philosophers and each tile has its own story.
The tile on the right is titled "Canvas" and includes a quote by Neil Gaiman "The world always seems brighter when you've just made something that wasn't there before." Thanks to our 160+ artists and artisans who do this every day.
The tile in the middle is "Aspire" and says "The man on top of the mountain didn't fall there." A good thought for those graduating this month.
The one on the left reminds me of my summers on the Texas coast, trying to surf. The tile includes a quote by Paul Coelho "LIfe is a matter of waiting for the right moment to act." As Houston explains, "Surfers spend an inordinate amount of time waiting. Not 'doing nothing' as waiting around might be considered. They wait watchfully, learning to recognize the signature curves so that when they choose a wave, it isn't a wave yet. It's a swell with all the signs of curling and creating that gorgeous arc of thrill coursing over the shore. Acting in the right moment means the difference between cruising through the tunnel and being swept under the crest. The stakes can be high, just like in our life. But the thrill remains. When we see the corduroy of swells turning quickly into waves heading our way, we turn our board toward land, and all we need to do is enjoy the ride." There is a life philosophy in this. Go grab your wave and enjoy the ride.