Since I am writing this on the night of the Oscars, let me reach into my sequinned handbag and pull out my list of people to thank for the privilege of working on this weekend's event: "The Paintings of Scott Avett: Exploring Story & Spirituality." Warning, this is going to run long.
Gratitude begins with long-time friends, artist Tom Schulz and Rev. Sheila Ennis of Empathinc. They envisioned an event centered around faith and arts and storytelling and one that would showcase the fine art of Scott Avett, for whom Tom had previously curated two art exhibits. Scott kindly agreed to share his work and be the guest speaker at a fundraising event for the Charlotte-based non-profit, The Educational Center.
Lucky for me, Tom and Sheila asked for my help, and we soon teamed up with talented designer and my new WSM (work soul mate) Christine Dryden of Stir Studios. Christine asked the lovely and well-connected Gwen Poth, of Gwen Poth Communications to help with publicity, and we got to work with the rest of our dedicated friends on Team Avett -- my husband Todd and daughter Blaine (Scott's number one teenaged fan); Ruffin, Lisa and Liam Pearce; Lee and Ashley Poole; Simon and Ellen Spence; Janna and Michael Stein; and Tom's nephew, filmmaker and musician Daniel de Wit (whom I affectionately now call, "Marty," as in Scorcese). We enlisted other members of our familes to help, too -- Jost and Mary de Wit, Carrie Schulz and Chris Dryden, Jane Schulz and Neil Bloomfield (Hi Mom!).
With our favorite Avett Brothers' songs playing in the background, we held meetings in each others' dining rooms, created websites, press releases, game plans and ping'd each other on every electronic device imaginable. We called on our favorite restaurants and businesses and found some wonderful sponsors to support the event: The Cowfish Sushi Burger Bar, The Fig Tree Restaurant, Carpe Diem, Fran's Filling Station -- (they're telling me to wrap up...) Smalls Food & Spirits, The Glass House at FABO Cafe, Earth Fare, (just a few more...) SouthernCakeQueen, Southend exchange, The New York Butcher Shoppe and City Art Works. We also got some great publicity, which ensured Saturday's public art exhibit was well attended. (Point to Page Leggett and Crystal Dempsey in the audience.)
Scott's art was stunning, almost confrontational, in its raw beauty. To stand in front of a canvas was to engage directly with the subject as one might in a private conversation (read Tom's critical essay for more detail). And the artist was as soulful and wise and -- old school word alert -- gracious as one could be. He talked to our kids, asked us questions about our lives and then, once the event got started, he shared the stories that shaped his life and stood in line for pictures and autographs for more than an hour when it was all said and done.
However, this was not just an event about art and technique, nor was it about standing in the shadow cast by a rising star. It was an event about family, about community, and about finding meaning in one's work. Thank you Scott, thank you Tom and Sheila, thank you team Avett, and thanks to everyone who was a part of this memorable event. I almost forgot, a special thanks to the Academy.