On the south side of Gainesville, along a stretch of Highway 13, is a place we call “little Mexico.” The signs are in Spanish, the buildings are painted bright colors, and the skin-tone of the people is predominantly brown. This is where Senor Salvator has an automotive garage with tire sculptures in the front of his shop. I have driven past it on many occasions and always smile at the palm trees, the oversized rams, the baboons, and other creations he has fashioned from discarded tires. This year I had to stop, as a seven-foot dragon was too marvelous to pass up. I purchased it for my husband for Christmas.
It joins a large metal chicken, a maple leaf of bottle caps, a tree-roosting pink flamingo, and a host of other fabulosity along the driveway to our home. Fortunately, we live in the woods and have no neighborhood covenants to uphold.
Another Christmas I discovered Bob Hartman, a 60-something Lawrenceville man with mental retardation. Bob blings out boxes and small cabinets with Mardi gras beads and colorful trinkets at Creative Enterprises, a day program for adults with disabilities. A few of his pieces add color to our living room.
I didn’t set out to collect folk art, but from time to time I come across a creation that simply brings joy to my heart. Folk artists very often come from less than ideal circumstances, but they have chosen to respond with a “YES!” to life. Their testaments to beauty are an inspiration to me. They remind me that in the beginning, God created, and that each of us, for better or worse, choose every day what to add to that creation.
The Words of Wisdom? is a publication of the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Gwinnett.