Every now and then when I go back through my “archives” of It’s Just Life I find a post that I want to share again for new readers. I have been sharing some from my earlier years of blogging lately and today I was thinking about this very special lady and thought it was time to share her with you again. Hope you enjoy meeting Miss Addie.
I saw a quote today that resonated with me.
Our culture has accepted two huge lies. The first is that if you disagree with someone’s lifestyle, you must fear or hate them. The second is that to love someone means you agree with everything they believe or do. Both are nonsense.
You don’t have to compromise convictions to be compassionate.
I loved the above quote from Rick Warren and while I imagine it was spurred on because of the current “equality” campaigns I think it can apply across the board to life in general, don’ t you?
When I think of being compassionate I think of many things that folks do every single day without seeking recognition or adulation. Folks who just live to do the right thing and live their lives as compassionately as they can. There is nothing wrong with that at all.
Chris and I have had the privilege of having so many wonderful people be a part of our lives. We really have. If I have said it one time I will say it a million times—-it is all about relationships. Simply taking an interest in each other and loving that person for who they are is what life should be about. We were blessed for our lives to cross paths with an amazing woman years ago by the name of Addie James.
Addie lived in Statesville, North Carolina and we came to meet her in a convoluted manner but once we met her we were never the same. Addie had had a difficult life but you would never know it from her cheerful demeanor. She was in a word –amazing. When we met her she was painting wonderful colorful pictures of what she called her “Hallelujah Girls” on scraps of cardboard, wood, old book covers and anything she could get her hands on. She used whatever she could find for paint so her works of art featured everything from fingernail polish to markers to finger-painting paints. Whatever she could use–she used. It was amazing the talent that she had.
At the time we had a family business selling matboard so our connection to the art world was easy and we were able to get Addie some proper painting materials. She was so grateful for the small things that we were able to do for her and for the connections we were able to make for her with other artists that we knew in the area. What a joy it was to be able to see her use proper materials to make her masterpieces.
We lost track of Addie after we closed the business and moved on but I always had such a heart for her. She was the perfect example of someone who overcame much and flourished, if not monetarily, in her life. Her relationships with people were real and she mentored many who crossed her path.
The wonderful thing was that someone else “discovered” Addie and her gifts. Merrill Jennings Gallery in Davidson, NC discovered Addie in 2000 and for 11 years until Addie’s death enjoyed a wonderful relationship. They featured her work and hosted shows and it was from all I can gather a great thing for both Addie and the gallery.
In her (yet to be published ) book, “Miss Addie’s Gift: Portrait of an American Folk Artist, “ Biographer Kate Merrill writes the following about James.
“Miss Addie writes poetry and songs. She adorns quilts, chairs, gourds, and handmade fans with her art. If painting has been a lifelong passion, it became a necessity when her husband died in the early nineties: I use drawing as a stress reliever. It brings me fun and joy. Indeed, all Addie’s work reflects her natural joy in everyday living. Much of her subject matter can be catalogued as the five “F’s”: fun, fashion, friends, family and faith. Colorful children scamper outdoors on the farm, or in the playground, or grow in fanciful decorations on trees. Her Hallelujah Girls celebrate with arms raised to Heaven…at parties, in church, or out on the town and vivid Heebie-jeebies haunt night skies alive with moon and stars. While living the African-American experience in Statesville cannot have been easy for Miss Addie, her art speaks with a positive voice. Even her large painting The Cotton Patch, with adults and children picking cotton balls (actual cotton glued or taken from Q-tips) evoke only harmony under a clear, blue sky. If Addie has a dark side, it seldom shows in her art. Even her powerful social statements like Peace and United Men, both painted in response to September 11, 2001 are spiritually uplifting. Howeyer, her paintings In Money We Trust, Brothers Killing Brothers, and The Hate Club reveal the artist’s acute awareness of our imperfect world. At the same time, we sense that Addie’s interpretations may make that world a whole lot better. There is much debate about what constitutes Primitive, Naive or Outsider Art and how they differ. Miss Addie is self-taught, to be sure, but to lump her creations into any of these categories would be naive indeed. Her style is unique, authentic and quite sophisticated in its own right. When asked why people buy her art, James says to jazz things up a bit.”
Recently I got to thinking about Addie and did a search and discovered that the gallery still had some wonderful paintings available for sale after Addie’s death. A few emails back and forth and I had purchased an original that will always be treasured in our home. The one I chose was a nativity scene—-one of the most beloved things in my own household are my collection of different nativities and this picture will fit right in. I love it. We had it framed and I love it even more.
I realized after I put this picture up that I did not do a great job of capturing the beauty of it. I apologize! It is unique and wonderful and there are even sparkles in the blue background which I suspect might have been fingernail polish of some kind. Regardless it is a wonderful reminder of a wonderful woman who overcame much and blessed many.
If you would like to check out more of Addie’s work you can click here to go to some of her paintings that are still available at the Merrill-Jennings Gallery. Just click on the thumbnails to enlarge the pictures and enjoy….I would love to hear your comments. All comments this month continue to go to support our Comments for a Cause – Imagination Library.