Sarah West: ‘Tis the season to give more

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Bless their pumpkin stealing hearts. Apparently someone was in desperate need of pumpkins and mums this week. As I parked the car in front of the gallery on a cool Monday morning, something seemed to be missing. It took only a moment before I realized that half of the mums and pumpkins I’d placed along the gallery and studio façade had been stolen.

Throughout each year my family honors long standing traditions. One such tradition we established ten years ago. Holiday decorating has always been a favored pastime, and nothing puts me in the spirit quite like an early autumn drive. At the first signs of fall, we set out for the high county. Along the way we stop and purchase pumpkins supporting local farmers from Alabama to North Carolina. From roadside stands and pickup truck beds to family farms and favorite market places, we collect pumpkins, gourds, squash, cider and apple butter. I bring back the talismans, embellish the gallery façade and set up a harvest inspired still life for students in the studio. All season long I’m reminded of every year and leaf-laced paths I’ve trekked. Memories filter through the colors, sights, scents and sounds of the season.

I find it hard to fathom just how desperately someone might have needed our mums and pumpkins. In a town with little crime, if any to speak of, I admit, I found my Monday morning discovery disheartening. An occurrence like this has never occurred before. For a moment, I was understandably angry, and then perplexed. If a person is in need of something, I only wish that they might simply replace their nerve with honest courage and ask. In a community like ours, there is always someone willing to lend a helping hand or give a pie, pumpkin or potted plant.



By the afternoon, I’d replaced the missing decorations and discarded my frustrations. My momentary anger was reconciled by compassion. I made preparations for an afternoon at one of our local elementary schools. Monday marked the beginning of a new After School Arts Season. Upon arrival I met eager and happy art students, who seemed thrilled with anticipation. Throughout our after school art class they overwhelmed me with their attentive discipline, their polite disposition and gratitude immense. They exhibited astonishment when I explained our commitment to their school whether we have one student or many. The clock slowed to a snail’s pace as our hour together was well spent. Conversation, and sharing poured forth from art journals, master’s works and tales from the art world. Drawings and observations filled our time. Gracious expressions of gratefulness were said as each student turned to go.

Tis the season to give thanks, compassion propels us onward. When small obstacles cause us to pause, and dwell on social discourse, we should always press on, never giving in to the trivial frustrations; instead find ways to give and share more.

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