My mouth hung open as I looked around. I hadn’t seen this much hand-made furniture in quite some time. The best part? I could touch it all. I ran my hands over the sanded wood, walked my fingers over the tiles, sat on the chairs. That’s because I was in the Grovewood Gallery–not a museum, but a place that sells hand-made pieces. And you wouldn’t buy a couch you’ve never sat on, would you?
I’d heard about the Gallery a few times in my travels and made an impromtu decision that it would be this weeks Artist Date. I’m doing Julia Cameron’s 12-week Artist’s Way course and one of the requirements is a weekly date with yourself. You don’t necessarily have to go see art–but you have to commit once a week to spend time with yourself (and only yourself) nurturing your inner artist or inner child. So this counts:)
You don’t want to follow me into one of these places–literally. You’d bump into me because I stop as soon as I walk in the door. I have to simply look around and take it all in. Then I spend more hours than most people looking around. This is why it’s such a good artist date–I can spend as long as I want fondling the Montawi tiles. I can pick up the book about them and read the first five pages–or the whole thing–and there’s no one at the door ready to go before I’ve even made it fifteen feet.
This place also has a second level filled with furniture. I stood at the top of the stairs taking in the hand carved tables, the blown glass of the light fixtures, the….movement! There was a woman sitting behind a desk in the corner. On the desk was a computer, behind her sat a phone, and I realized this must be here work space. We greeted each other and as I walked around I thought what a great job to have. I overheard her on the phone saying, “I’m just looking at a web site to see if this artist has anything I want to carry.” She gets to choose all these pieces. And what a good job she does.
As I made my way around, I came in view of her desk again. ”You must love your job here,” I said.
“Oh, I do. I get to be surrounded by all this. I get to work with some amazing artists…”
Well, I had my in. If she’d just said, “Yeah, I guess,” I would have continued on. But I had nailed it–I found someone who loves what they do. They’re rare, you know. Well, maybe not as rare as they used to be. But you have to look for them. And I love talking to them.
We covered a little of our respective pasts and when I got to talking about moving to Asheville she, like every other person I’ve talked to down here, couldn’t say enough great things about the place.
“Every time I’m here, I just have this feeling that this is where I belong,” I explained. ”I just love the community – and communities here.”
She then went on to explain why that might be. ”There are some native Asheville residents, but most of the people here chose to move here. Their job didn’t transfer them. They saw something they liked in this place and decided to come. Some even made great sacrifices to come here, but felt it was worth it to live in this area.”
Imagine that. A community of people who want to be here. I like being in places where people are where they want to be. It’s why I liked working in tourism–everyone was on vacation. They chose to be there, so they were in a good mood. It’s why I loved Americorps–I spent a year working with volunteers: people who chose to participate in the service projects I organized. It’s why I didn’t like working at doctor’s offices and hospitals. Nobody wants to be there.
After Karen imparted her wisdom, I continued studying the artwork. Then, I saw it. ”There’s a whole other room?” I said out loud to no one. I cherished the hour I had in this place before they closed, and will definitely be back.
Thankfully, my Artist Date wasn’t over. There’s an outdoor sculpture garden that was open til sunset. It was there that I saw her. Or me. Her name is Inspiration.
She’s the first thing you see when you walk out the door of the Gallery. There are two steps down to the path on which she stands–a perfect spot for me to sit and stare at her for a while. It came to me quite quickly that the serene look on her face is what I’ll have by coming here. Think what you want, but that’s what my heart told me. And she’s never wrong.