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an art fair turned spiritual
it was another summer Saturday and we wanted to make something of it. an annual art festival sounded like the perfect way to discover something new, find some intellectually stimulating eye-candy to mull over, or, best of all, experience what we didn’t know was actually waiting in store for us.
off we went—wandering around the district, taking in the sights and sounds, people watching endlessly, hungrily studying the bursts of life and color and creativity that had sprung up along the usually barren sidewalks of Kansas City’s plaza; looking into the eyes of the intriguing humans that brought to life so many unique creations; asking them how and why; drinking in every detail of the fibers of the stories that propelled someone to do what we might be made for most.
we meandered through crowds, subtly examining our fellow Midwesterners; the dress, the talk, the energy, soaking up the night life of our beloved city. we ooo’d and ah’d as we passed by tent after tent, knowing each one held its own unique story, its own unique texture, own purpose, own hopes and dreams. my chest aches just thinking about all the untold stories we strolled past. we stopped to stare at the art that took our breath away. hundreds of stones, twigs, driftwood, pebbles, mosses, pieces of Mother Nature, all dangled in perfection from beads and strings and various metal pieces. it felt right for the earth to be displayed in this way—her natural beauty clearly evoked with thought, care, and honor—not exploited.
we ambled on, coming to another slow halt as our mouths hung open. majestic creatures stared back at us from glossy paintings on the walls.
“have you heard the story?”
we turned, our stupor interrupted by a small grey-haired woman, dressed with the air of a multi-passionate creative, unaware of her wardrobe’s inability to choose between its artsy quirks (beaded glasses, a matching, teal-toned blouse) and exploration (a practical bucket hat atop her head, something only adventurers her age would wear unironically, sturdy shoes, minimal makeup).
“what’s the story?” we listened with complete interest as she explained how the breathtaking artwork had been born. her husband’s inherent curiosity of horses and photography, and his moral inclination to give back in some way to the original owners of the land we now call home eventually morphed into a project that the Smithsonian itself recognizes as invaluable. the collection of photographs all represented authentically painted Native American Indian warhorses. we listened with awe and reverence as the photographer explained the lengths he had gone to in order to bring the project to fruition; the ways he had jumped through hoops to find and foster connections with the various tribes across America from reservations in Montana to Oklahoma; the level of intention he had used to preserve the accuracy of the horses while painting the beautiful sceneries behind them.
the conversation picked up pace as we shared our own experiences—from our favorite Native American Indian books to our recent travels through the sacred lands in the Dakotas to the Philip’s unbelievable connections with a Native American medicine man and the honor he had of participating in ceremonies with him. we were sucked into the only kind of magical time and energy warp that happens when you unexpectedly stumble across someone that understands and cares about something just as much as you do—a breath of fresh air compared to the confused, indifferent, or critical reactions usually ricocheted back to us. the photographer eyed us with a calm, optimistic disbelief that revealed his thoughts, “This is too good to be true.” to our own disbelief, he suddenly cocked his head towards the photographs resting in the middle of the tent.
“I’ll tell ya what, pick yourselves out a small print.”
humbled, we shuffled over to the display table and flipped through each sleek piece of artwork until one, labeled, “After…” caught our eye.
“That’s a powerful one, isn’t it?”
The title’s inspiration came from “after the battles, after the loss of most of the freedoms which were taken from the Native American people. This horse still portrays a pride and strength while surrounded by storm clouds prominent in this background that I painted” (willettefineart.com). The photograph was created in Cannon Ball, North Dakota on a Crow Reservation...just one hour south of where I had lived all 4 of my college years.
reeling with gratitude, rejuvenated by the reality of divinely orchestrated events, we said our thank you’s, goodbye’s, and made sure to grab a business card so as to keep in touch. we meandered our way back to the car. I was floating on air, feeling both grateful and humbled to be caught up in the vortex of providential happenings my partner constantly attracted into his life.
“these things seem to keep finding me,” Philip mused. “I just had the sense we were supposed to walk in that direction…”
I agreed, “that was no coincidence.”
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