Sarah West: These are the Days

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These are the days. In Lee County, one thought and countless observations unite us. In the wake of recent tragedy we cast aside matters that can wait. We look to our neighbor and ask, “are you okay?” We dig through wreckage of lives and pastimes, patch rooftops, share a meal and post found items on social media hoping to reunite talismans with those who stand amid splinters.

These are the days of detours, road blocks and funerals. Strangers stand in front yards and salute the passing motorcade of those who mourn the loss of loved ones. Volunteers descend upon our quiet communities; hundreds of them are from out of state. I close my business and scramble to store after store collecting items people might need; things like tissues, diapers and toiletries. In every checkout line, I’m compelled to ask again, “Did you fair well through the storm…are your family and friends okay?” I cast aside reluctance or fear of awkward pause, and ask anyway. In times like this, it feels like one’s sacred responsibility.

On Tuesday the school bell rings. Children return to school, leaving family to tend to matters such as meetings with roofers, tree specialist, electricians and the filing of insurance policies. We roll out paper, pass out paint brushes and tell each of them how important they are and what their existence means. We look into their eyes, introduce ourselves, delight in painting with those who smile, and extend comforting words to those who grieve. For a moment, things are okay, because through it all together we paint on anyway.

In the coming days, Smiths Station City Hall Art Galleries will host a heartfelt display of artworks painting by local school children of West Smiths Station Elementary School, made possible in part through the collaboration of local educators, WSSES faculty and the Sarah West Gallery of Fine Art, A Center for Cultural Arts, artistic mentors and gracious volunteers. This exhibit is free, family friendly and open to the public. Exhibition Opens Wednesday March 20.

Art is life expressed – Sarah West, Owner of The Sarah West Gallery of Fine Art