Crowd shows support for artists at 42nd annual GumTree festival

By JB Clark/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – A small whistle floated through the air Saturday at the GumTree Festival.
The whistles sounded like wooden flutes coming from Barbara Eaton’s tent. The Tupelo native and art vendor wanted to try something outside her usual oil painting, so she sat under a sign that read, “Whistle while you work,” with one of her sculptures raised to her lips.
“This is the first year I’ve set up with my whistles but I’m also an oil painter and do portraits,” she said. “I like to sculpt and wanted to do something you don’t see anywhere and since I like to play piano too I decided to put form with sound.”
Eaton makes clay whistles, mostly in the shapes of animals, and bakes holes into the bottom so each small sculpture doubles as a whistle.
She said they have been a hit and as of Saturday afternoon she already had sold half her inventory.
She is just one of the 100 artists festival director Kit Stafford said set up downtown this year.
Faye Bruce of Saltillo hauled a sculpture she purchased in a baby stroller Saturday afternoon.
“I came here to purchase a piece of art specifically for my daughter who is finishing her residence in pediatrics at the University of North Carolina,” she said. “I’m going to be giving her this piece of artwork to hang in her new office.”
The metal sculpture portraying children holding balloons was created by Robert and Delores Well of Wells Metals.
Kathy Wachter of Oxford also was doing specific shopping, but not for a specific person.
“I was looking for an artist that does repurposed art at Double Decker in Oxford and didn’t see her so I came here and found her,” Wachter said. “I bought some art of my niece’s initials made of puzzle pieces. This is a ladybug made from forks and metal scraps that I’m going to stick in my garden,” she said pointing in her bag. “And I got a bank fashioned out of an old post office box.”
She said she does her shopping at festivals so that when birthdays and holidays roll around she is ready.
Stafford said she was pleased the festival was accompanied with sunshine. It continues today starting at 10:30 with vendors, food and music.
jb.clark@journalinc.com