“Make Room for Art” – by Debbie Ambrous

Zinnias Looking at You - Clementine Hunter

Zinnias Looking at You – Clementine Hunter

A work of art was spread on the Cherokee, North Carolina glass case awaiting an answer. Turquoise and silver hand-crafted by a Navajo craftsman into a unique squash blossom necklace held my adoring attention. It was beyond anything I had ever owned. I would say “or ever dreamed of”, but I knew how to dream big. It was in the realm of my dreams! I could see the turquoise and silver beauty around my neck on my black sweater, adorning my young twenty-something body. I paced a few steps away from the jewelry case as I thought that no one would believe it was real if I wore it as an accessory. Or, they would think I was silly for buying such an extravagant purchase. Other scenes played through my mind. My mother-in-law’s arched eyebrow and unflinching stare would drill into my expensive necklace. No one could win a staring contest with her. She would always have the last blink! I would blabber some excuse for buying the turquoise and silver work of art, but I wouldn’t escape her penetrating eyes. My mother would have scolding words, “Deborah, you are being foolish and wasteful. I raised you to know better than that.”
How did we have the money to even consider the beauty arranged enticingly on the showcase?

Young son Chet and me. Jim has never been the best photographer in the family, but he did catch the sunshine on my hair.

Young son Chet and me. Jim has never been the best photographer in the family, but he did catch the sunshine on my hair.

After all, we were on vacation in the Smoky Mountains, camping in a tent and cooking food from a Coleman cooler, not exactly upper crust in the money game. A recent tax return was the ticket to win my necklace.

Chet and Jessica Aren't they cute?

Chet and Jessica
Aren’t they cute?

Young husband Jim in the mountains.  Isn't he sexy?

Young husband Jim in the mountains. Isn’t he sexy?







Young husband Jim was in agreement if I broke the silence with a “Yes, I will take it.” Our two little children needed shoes, pigtail ribbons, peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, a Sit-n-Spin, a Stretch Armstrong doll, s’mores and more. Maybe it wasn’t such a good idea after all.

Hand-made dolls by local artisans fit our budget.

Hand-made dolls by local artisans fit our budget.

I left the work of art on the table in exchange for all of those other items that are now long gone. The necklace would have doubled or perhaps increased even more in value. I probably could have taken care of the necessities and walked away with my necklace also. Art comes in last place too often. Make room for art when you can.


Select yours at Gitter Gallery

Select yours at Gitter Gallery

An opportunity is open for you to have affordable art. Don’t leave it on the table. Ignore your mother-in-law’s arched eyebrow. Mom should stay mum with any negative comments on this one so you can have folk art that is a piece of American history. Clementine Hunter’s artwork is available on hand-painted ceramic pieces with no two exactly alike. Each piece has its own distinctive shape with a textured surface that allows you to feel the passion in the artist’s work. A percentage of the proceeds from each purchase goes back to Clementine Hunter’s estate to further promote Clementine Hunter.

Clementine Hunter is considered to be one of the most important self-taught American artists of the 20th century. Her works can be seen in the Smithsonian Institute, The American Folk Art Museum and countless other museums and private collections. Now, you can collect her work for your own collection – affordable art.

Home Store by Toby Hollinghead in the background with Clementine Hunter's in foreground

“Home Store” by Toby Hollinghead in the background with Clementine Hunter’s “Cotton Wagon” in foreground

Let me back up my wagon here and tell you how I learned about all of this. I met Toby Hollinghead, a local, talented artist, and showed some of her folk art in “Pushing the Color Around – Part I”. After enjoying her company, I was privileged to be introduced to Doug Gitter of Gitter Gallery. I learned that while I was tent camping with my handsome husband and two young ones, grilling hot dogs and looking for bears, the smart, young Doug Gitter was searching for folk art.

Doug Gitter

Doug Gitter

On weekends when other young men were dashing around to football games and showing off their flashy cars to their girlfriends, Doug Gitter was driving down country roads looking for folk art created by interesting characters in a soulful manner, straight from the heart. These self-taught artists didn’t form ideas from European art or preconceived directions. Their motive was not to make money. They had limited art supplies and worked with what they had. I asked Doug about the colorful personalities of the artists, and he mentioned so many names I couldn’t keep up with him. He started with Bernice Sims in Brewton, and then talked about how he was directed to find Woody Long in Andalusia; finally, he said how much he just loved Toby Hollinghead’s work. I was impressed with Doug’s passion for these artists as individuals and his love from the heart of this piece of American history. Doug donates a large number of paintings each year to hospitals. There is nothing quite as depressing as a blank, algae-green wall when waiting in anxiety for test results in a hospital.
My wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. One or the other of us has to go.”
― Oscar Wilde
Mr. Wilde’s final words compared his troubled situation with the lackluster hotel wallpaper. The wallpaper has since been removed and the room re-furnished.

Beautiful artwork transports one to a different place, lifts the spirits and invites hope. Thank you, Doug, for sharing the world you discovered!

I asked this last question, “Do you have stories about the one that got away, like a fisherman tells?” Doug said, “No, I got the ones I went after and my line is still in the water.”

Does your home say “Bienvenue”?  Click here and compare.

The pretty dolls are saying you should read "A French Opportunity" - Just click on the picture

The pretty dolls are saying you should read “A French Opportunity” – Just click on the picture

2 thoughts on ““Make Room for Art” – by Debbie Ambrous

    • Jintae,
      The artwork brings back many memories for me. I didn’t spend my childhood on the farm, but there were many around me. I saw the cotton-picking in the fields with men, women and children in the hot sun. Now the farms have huge tractors with special equipment that does the job. It was such a pleasure to present the folk art. I’m glad that you enjoyed it.

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