Have you ever stumbled upon something that surprised and delighted you?
Last week, while spending several days with family in Mississippi, we went to see a college friend of my husband’s in Columbia, MS, a small town about 30 minutes away. We spent the morning exploring my husband’s grandparents’ land and an old family cemetery close by before we went into town for lunch.
Our friend Elizabeth suggested a coffee shop/café called 2nd Street Bean. The cheery front windows bore some great quotes about food, and inside, the walls were covered with art and bookcases filled with books. I liked it immediately.
After lunch, Elizabeth took us next door to an art gallery called Artwistic Revolution, an artist co-op featuring paintings, drawings, pottery, sculpture, photography, and more.
We quickly found work that we loved and bought some dark blue and teal pottery by Lori Watts; a fun and colorful folk art painting for our daughter; and a pair of glass and copper earrings for me for Christmas.
Elizabeth introduced us to Ben Watts, a sculptor there who creates life-sized statues cast in bronze. He told us that one day he started working with the clay his wife uses in her pottery, and the rest is history. Literally—his pieces are often historical figures commissioned for installation in public spaces like colleges. Some of his figures include Jesus healing two men; British missionary William Carey, the namesake for William Carey University; Walter Payton, football player with the Chicago Bears and local hero; and more.
Ben makes clay models first and then has them cast in bronze. He invited us to take a look at his current work in the studio. Behind a screen in the back stood a tall clay figure of a man who looked familiar. The detail was amazing: laugh lines around the eyes, ridges on his hands, creases in his pants. Turns out, the statue is a famous musician, a commissioned piece by a client who wants it kept secret until the big reveal. We felt fortunate to see it in process.
When we left, I couldn’t get over how we had just happened upon this art gallery with a gifted sculptor (and other gifted artists, too). For me, the day combined some of my favorite things: the beauty of art, books, food, and quality time with loved ones exploring new sites in a small town.
When has unexpected beauty surprised you? Do you keep your eyes open for unexpected beauty? How can you remind yourself to do so?
For videos about Ben and Artwistic Revolution, click here.