Chattanooga, Tenn., is a town that loves its art. (And its doughnuts, but that’s a different post.) Art is everywhere here. It oozes out of museums and galleries and spills out onto walls, buses and anywhere there’s an inspiring blank space. Such as sidewalks. In the emerging Southside Art District, for example, simply walking along immerses you in all sorts of innovative artistic minds. Sculptor John Petrey, for instance, is known for his dress series, and one of his astonishing works is just standing right there. You can walk up to it and inspect it and touch it all you want. Yea, art for the people!!! And then there was this wooden door propped up against a lamp post on a sidewalk in Northside, Chattanooga’s cool hipster alter ego. Younger Daughter and I were walking to Greenlife Grocery (which we all know is actually a Whole Foods, although everybody in Northside tries to deny it) when we spotted the door and tried to figure it out. Was it art? Apartment renovation? A magic door that would lead to an alternate universe? We resisted the urge to draw on it since all we had were ink pens and lipstick and, besides, if it did happen to be a magic door leading to an alternate universe, we felt that non-engagement was the proper response.
I literally cannot draw a straight line. Even with a ruler. A box of crayons makes me nervous, and my art skills haven’t progressed much past kindergarten’s stick people (and kindergarten was a very long time ago). But, luckily, I had the good sense to have family members with an unbelievable amount of talent. Such as my son-in-law, an artist and a high-school art teacher. He and my daughter make these amazing cards for special people’s special days, and I scored big time with my birthday this year. Grandson 3-year-old Capt. Adorable said he wanted “hearts” for my card, so when my daughter left her two guys at the kitchen table to go to work, she thought they’d cut out a few hearts and glue them on and that would be that. She called them two hours later. The Captain had gone on to other projects (making a pirate ship out of pillows, rebuilding his train track, investigating the top bookshelf — you know, important 3-year-old things) but my son-in-law was still at the table, working. “I had a different idea about the card,” he told my daughter. This truly is a work of art, and he did it with scraps of paper, glue and an X-Acto knife. I shudder to think of the mayhem & chaos (not to mention emergency-room visits) I’d create with those simple tools. But in the skilled hands of a talented artist, we get something wonderful. And a cookie. And the Captain’s hearts were on the inside of the card, so everybody was happy.