Artists hope for best, despite rain forecast at GumTree Festival

By JB Clark/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – With a 70 percent chance of rain for today, most artists setting up Friday afternoon were hoping the rain held off until late in the day.
George Jones Jr. of Florence, Ala., has sold brooms at the GumTree Festival for 17 years and said he’s excited about being back.
“I love the people here,” he said. “They’re nice and they know art. I’ve been here long enough that I have several collectors who come back year after year and get something new.”
Jones’ brooms are not run-of-the-mill by any standard. The handles are carefully carved, some looking like old walking canes, others like something from Harry Potter.
Jones’ family has been making brooms since 1931, and he was the first to put a spin on the craft.
“Generally, up until me, they were about function, and I decided to approach broom-making as an art form,” Jones said. “I try to create what I call functional pieces of art. If you can make sweeping fun, these brooms will do it.”
Louis Nappi of Olive Branch has many pieces from his Oak Pond Pottery studio on display. Like Jones, Nappi likes his art to be functional.
“My pottery is high-fire stoneware and all for the kitchen,” he said. “I’m a very utilitarian potter. My art is in my glazes.”
Nappi has been making pottery for 36 years and has been coming to the GumTree Festival for eight.
“I like the people that run the show. They know art,” he said. “And I like the Tupelo crowd.”
Nappi has kept many pieces under $20 so children can buy for Mother’s Day.
Frank Gee of Gallatin, Tenn., has been attending the GumTree Festival for 40 years.
“I’ve been coming since this tree here was this little,” Gee said, pointing to one of the water oak trees on the corner of the courthouse lawn.
Gee has paintings in different styles in all price ranges with his personal style bright and post-impressionistic.
“My style is real loose and free,” Gee said. “My specialty is the dots and specks of color that create motion.”

9:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m., GumTree Festival

11 a.m. – noon, Singer Songwriter Awards Showcase on Romie’s Singer Songwriter Stage

5:45 p.m., artist awards dinner on Goodlett Manor Lawn

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