Monday, April 26, 2010

Wizard of Oz Coincidence Alert -- The Eye of an Artist

A fellow vendor at the North Coast Nature Festival this past Saturday strolled up to my table to chat for a minute, and I showed him a matted 8x10 of "Over the Rainbow." I explained that the day this photo was taken, August 25th, happened to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the Wizard of Oz movie release. Sure looked like Munchkinland in the Land of Oz to me!

The vendor, an old hippie with a white beard and a long gray ponytail who sold metal lawn ornaments such as buzzards, sharks, and wine holders, laughed a loud geezerly laugh. "That's Jerusalem Artichoke!"

"Um, what's that? Is there any special meaning behind Jerusalem Artichoke?"

The vendor got a strange expression on his face like he didn't want to hurt my feelings. Seeing that my curiosity wasn't going to just go away, he almost blushed. "They're weeds."

As he walked away I thought to myself how amazing it was that the eye of an artist could transform what others saw as a weed into a magnificently wondrous flower from a realm existing over the rainbow.

Then it was time to close down for the night, to start all over again on Sunday morning. And here I was, needing to get to Mass. I had tracked down a church in a nearby city and went there Saturday evening. Posted on the bulletin board was a display featuring the Seven Gifts of the Holy Spirit. One of the posters was marked "Awe and Wonder" and featured a picture of Niagrara Falls, ... complete with a rainbow. Another poster was marked "Courage" and featured, of all things, a picture of the Cowardly Lion receiving a medal. Looked like I had found the right church!

Sunday morning dawned bright and sunny, and I was walking to the Rocky River Nature Center for the second day of the art show sponsored by the Cleveland Metroparks. I first heard singing and then saw ... a happy little bluebird fly ... for real. So of course that got me thinking of "Somewhere Over the Rainbow."

The matted photo of Oz, since it had now become slightly embarrassing, was left to sit at the very bottom of the stack, hidden and out of sight. Until Sunday afternoon, when an art major sifted through each and every picture until she came face to face with Munchkinland in all its glory with the Jerusalem Artichoke in full bloom. I described to this kind and smiling lady about how the photo had been taken on the 70th anniversary of the Wizard of Oz, and she replied, "Yes, I see it. Isn't the eye of an artist amazing?"

After the show, I looked up "Jerusalem Artichoke" on Google. According to Wikipedia, it's a species of sunflower with an edible tuber that can be used as a root vegetable. It was also part of a pyramid scheme in the Midwest in the 1980's when speculators encouraged farmers to plant it, promising that this vegetable would soon become one of America's favorites.

What can I say? Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain ...


Mary said...

Oh I loved this post.
What's the old saying?
One man's weed is another man's flower??? something like that!

I happen to favor "wild flowers"

and the comment by the woman was fantastic!!

Thanks for you kind and encouraging words regarding my "finished" painting. I am so glad I kept at it.

Bren said...

Love your story and my hubby is one of those odd balls who plants J. artichoke, it tastes a little like a potato :-)
The story tells a lot about what we see and how we see it and that everything has value, so glad you shared this. And the picture itself is beautiful, whimsical.

Bren said...

PS: Alright Country, you have fine tuned eyes! I did see the feather, but now I'm going to go have a good look, through your eyes :-) Hope you had a great time at the festival, sounds like fun.

Teresa Mallen said...

Well I think many weeds are beautiful. I fill vases with all sorts of them throughout the summer. As the Jerusalem Artichoke is quite pretty as well as edible by humans and animals, I think it is a winner. Beautiful photo!

Linda Pruitt said...

I love Jerusalem Artichokes! Weed or not! That fella doesn't know what he is missing!

Wendy Mould said...

Hi, I think it is a great picture and I know I have drawn many a weed that once is noted with an artist eye looks fabulous. I always find every show has its own stories and surprises. Sounds like this one did for you as well.

Thanks for the lovely comments on my pictures. It is great to that encouragement from a fellow artist.

Mary said...

Love the story! One man's weed is another woman's Munchkinland...or something like that. It is a beautiful photo and it is what you see it to be in your own heart...that is what art is all about.

EcoRover said...

Great story! The great American heartland is still a place full of dreamers looking to make a quick buck. Knapweed (considered the most noxious weed in Montana) was intentionally introduced by apiarists for honey bees. A few years ago, canola was all the rage. Now we're turning corn into biofuel (and taking big subsidies & raising food prices to do it).

Maria said...

what a gorgeous photo -i love the mist

Janie said...

I think the photo's beautiful. To my eye, those are not weeds! They look magical to me.

Bren said...

Glad to see you resurface in blogger land, I expect you've been creatively busy :-) Re your comment on what I considered a disaster, wish I had waiting for feedback because you & others have certainly given me pause. A lesson learned, I'll not be so quick to dismiss something I think isn't working until I give it time to gestate :-)
Thanks so much for your encouragement and support of my efforts!

Annie said...

Dear CC - just read your long comment. My heart is so sadden for the woman you referred to. I have to agree, terrible times ahead for us.

Gary Keimig said...

your "weeds" certainly did make the scene. As you said It is what can be trnsformed by the artist that becomes art and a thing of beauty.