The Cellular South GumTree Festival in Tupelo served as a classroom for people who thought art was just paint splashed on a canvas.
When John Mathis thought about art, pieces like the Mona Lisa and Vincent van Gogh’s Starry Night came to mind. But when he walked on the Lee County Courthouse lawn through the maze of art vendors Saturday, he saw very few paintings and a lot of other art forms.
Some artists were showcasing custom-made jewelry, handmade brooms and metal sculptures. For Mathis, art class was in session.
“This is my first time attending, and I must say I was shocked to see so many things that aren’t paintings,” said Mathis, a Jackson, Tenn., resident who attended the 38th annual festival with a friend who is a painter. “I guess I just never thought glass plates, pottery and wooden chairs and benches were art. You see these fancy art galleries on television and only see paintings and the occasional sculpture, but not jewelry.
“I guess you’re never too old to learn new things, because I’m definitely getting schooled today.”
Even though a lot of the things at the GumTree were considered crafts, many festival patrons said it takes an artist’s mentality to make anything creative.
Marline Anderson is a quilt maker. She didn’t showcase any of her creations at the festival, but considers herself an artist.
“Making a quilt is art,” said Anderson, a Corinth resident. “I have to be creative and take something blank and create something beautiful. Yes, quilt making is a craft, but it is art also.”
Mathis admits he’d been ignorant about what he considered art, but he said he was impressed with the creativity that the various artists displayed with their pieces.
“Art or no art, this stuff is amazing,” he said as he looked at some glass art. “It does take time and a lot of creativity to do a lot of this stuff. You can tell that a lot of heart and emotion went in some of these pieces.”
Roy Adkins and his wife, Jerri Sherer, of Jackson, Miss., both worked hard at the crafts they brought to the festival for the first time.
Adkins, a photographer, said a lot of buzz about the Tupelo art show has been circling around the state for years and he decided to give it a try. He said he’d planned to come the past couple of years but missed the deadlines.
“Vendors at other shows we attend speak very well about this one, so we decided to give it a try,” said Adkins. “Things have been slow and I haven’t sold many pieces today, but it has been fun. I think the rain chased a lot of people out, but they look like they’re headed back this way now.”
Sherer is a fused glass artist. Like her husband, things were going slow for her as well.
“I’ve had a lot of people to come by and look at my pieces, so that’s a plus,” said Sherer. “The quality of art at this show is very impressive. We usually do shows in Atlanta or Houston because good shows are just hard to find in Mississippi. But we’ve heard that this was one of the best ones around and that looks to be true.”
Adkins said he expected sales to pick up as the show winds down today.
Not to be left out, musical artists also shared their products. Bands like the Eric Denton Trio, Daniel Karlish, Blue Mountain and Afrissippi entertained the crowd.
Several food vendors provided everything from shark and alligator on a stick to deep-fried calamari and oysters. But the Greek gyro sandwich seemed to be the crowd’s favorite.
“This is my third one in an hour,” said Allison Carson as she dabbed some sauce that had fallen on her shirt. “They are so tender and juicy that I can’t help myself. I’m not sure how to pronounce it, but I definitely can eat it.”
The festival wraps up today at 5 p.m.
Contact Danza Johnson at (662) 678-1583 or email@example.com.
Danza Johnson/NEMS Daily Journal