SweetheARTS Exhibition

The Haywood County Arts Council is hosting a delightful exhibition this month of pieces created by couples who engage in artistic work. Each couple has also prepared a one-page story about how they met, fell in love, and, to date, lived happily and artistically ever after. Hence the clever title.

We will launch the Exhibition with a Reception on Friday, February 4, 6-8 pm at Gallery 86, 86 N.Main St., Waynesville, NC.

Sylvia is contributing two pieces from her show last summer. One is a tapestry entitled “Summer.” The other is a mosaic entitled “Melody,” which is part of three pieces symbolizing Melody, Harmony, and Rhythm.

Tapestry entitled Summer by Sylvia Everett
Mosaic art by Sylvia Everett

Her show last summer, “For the Love of Color,” was a kind of conclusion to her career of public art. A large outpouring of friends and fans attended the reception and the show. Despite the farewell, she is participating in this show with me.

I am contributing two exhibits as well. One is a pair of “Wood Gnomes,” which are pieces of cherry cut off from the edges of some boards and then sculpted into recesses carved in cherry frames. They were fanciful experiments and might charm a buyer.

Wood gnomes

My other piece is a Japanese-style accent lamp made of three panels similarly lifted off the side of an old walnut log that had been destined from the landfill a few years back. Both of us had tried to figure out what to do with them.

The rotted-out designs were too arresting to burn them! By fitting them into a framework and papering the apertures with some rice paper, I was able to create a glowing tribute to natural processes.

We both wrote “artist’s statements.” This was my first effort, which said in part:

“I seek a dialogue with rather than a mastery over my materials and my own experiences. While my conversation with wood requires that I listen to the wood’s own mind, I also seek to refine edge and surface to reflect my own contribution to the creative process. It is not just a matter of letting wood reveal its own soul, but of us both entering into a common work. I want my work to reflect that I too am a part of ‘nature.'”

Japanese style wood accent lamp

Sylvia, drawing on her long experience in these matters, also updated hers. Here’s an excerpt:

“I have worked in a variety of media. I have loved the challenge of different media and the differing impressions inherent in each. There are strong ties between these various expressions. Color is perhaps the foremost.  Underlying structural and conceptual bonds also run through my work. For instance, both weaving and mosaic are basically “constructed,” often using an underlying grid. My painting is by nature more free-form, and is the direction I expect my future work to take.”

We then added our one-page personal statement and a picture taken on our wedding day, just to finish off the icing. Here’s the story, alternating between our two voices:

I met Bill in the fall of 1970 in a church in Madison, Wisconsin, where I had moved from my home state of Oregon. I was part of a committee that invited him to come give a talk on religion and ethics. He was a recent graduate from Harvard. I had a dickens of a time figuring out what he was getting at, but I knew he had unbounded intelligence and a vast education.

I met Sylvia in the fall of 1977 in a Sunday School class in a church basement in Milwaukee, far from the East Coast where I had lived my whole life. I was stunned by her beauty and the penetrating clarity of her mind. In the next hour I was equally moved by her gorgeous solo voice in worship.

Over the next few years, as we both emerged from failed marriages, admiration turned to attraction and attraction turned to love –- the heart-pounding, stomach-flopping, feet-on-air Amazing Real Thing.

Early on, in honor of his first book, I made him an embroidered bookmark with symbols for its key themes. A few months later, when we knew our journey had begun, he carved for me a little wooden boat and named it Amicitia. I guess that’s where our collaboration in arts and crafts began.

Bill proceeded to write two hundred poems that I have rarely let him publish, let alone read in public. To show my love I pretended to like cross-country skiing and even camping. He claimed that he liked everything I liked. Except for shopping. The first time we went camping I ate six of his pancakes, gained two pounds, and haven’t stopped. I tried to work it off with long walks and bike rides we took in Milwaukee’s beautiful parks.

It took three ministers to get us married in the Methodist church we had joined. I taught then in a Catholic seminary, so we had a diocesan priest, a Franciscan priest, and our Methodist pastor.

Two friends of ours in the Milwaukee Symphony played from the St. Saens Violin Concerto No. 3 and we had a rich German chocolate cake at the reception. We were so poor we brought our own flowers and arranged them. We smuggled a peanut butter jar of wine into the church so our friends and family could toast our new marriage properly.

Since then I got Bill to trade in his glasses for contacts and agree to shave off his beard when it was half white. My hair has turned from reddish brown to gray. In our wonderful years of life together I have continued to develop my textile art, turning later to mosaics and now to painting and back to music, my first love.

In spite of his academic demands, Bill has continued to write poetry and work with wood, finally setting aside his academic work ten years ago to give these loves his full-time energies. We are grateful to be in a community that supports us and our work so graciously.

And here’s the picture, June 12, 1982:

William and Sylvia Everett

2 thoughts on “SweetheARTS Exhibition”

  1. I find it curious that Sylvia met bill in 1970, while Bill met Sylvia in 1977. It’s amazing the difficulties that love can overcome.

  2. Bill
    Thanks for the really great blog today. I think you have both contributed so much to the art world that you will always be involved. Have a wonderful time with the Sweethearts Exhibition.
    Lavilla B

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