Johnnie Allen Wilbourne lived his entire life in Clarksville, Virginia. He was my grandfather. I was his first grandchild. I have been told that he liked to drink when he was younger, but he stopped drinking on the day I was born.
He had a sixth grade education, but he was blessed with many creative talents. He was a master carpenter, draftsman and brick mason. He could draw detailed blueprints for new homes like a trained professional. He spent his entire life working as a carpenter and built many homes in the area.
He was very meticulous about his work and would not stop until it was perfect. He once made a window cornice for my mama from a piece of wood. He actually drew an ornate design, freehanded, onto the wood and cut it with a little saw. It was perfectly symmetrical. I was amazed.
He was an avid bottle collector and coin collector. He had an impressive bottle collection in his living room, where he built shelves along one wall to hold them. In addition, he had a chicken house in the back yard full of more bottles. He loved to go "bottle hunting", going to old abandoned houses and digging for his treasures.
For years, he drove an old blue and white milk truck. My brothers and I loved to ride in that with him. It had a driver's seat and a passenger's seat. The back had benches on either side, but it was hard to find a good place to sit because it was so full of tools, but we loved it anyway.
He and my grandma were married for over fifty years. My grandma loved to tell jokes. She would start out with a straight face like she was telling you a true story, until she hit the punch line. When she was taken to the hospital with a heart condition, the EMT's said she was telling them jokes as they put her in the ambulance. She had heart surgery and on the day she was to come home, she died from an infection.
My grandparents were simple country people and they loved to go fishing together. When she died, granddaddy was so hurt and lost without her, he never went fishing again.
A few years before he died and before I moved out west, I had the chance to spend a day with him. He took us around town, pointing out all the houses he had built. We went to one in particular, which he did not build, but had spent years renovating. It was a work of art, with a beautiful flagstone patio and steps going down to the pool.
He lived his entire life in a rented house, with no bathroom and no running water. Throughout his life, his employers had offered to give him enough surplus building materials that he could have built himself a new home. But he always said, if he did, it would have a dirt floor. That's just the way he was.
I have many good memories of sitting on that old porch swing, the rose bush at the end of the porch, the weeping willow, the ice cold watermelons and the homemade ice cream.
When he died, my mama gave me the drawing table he had built when I was very young. It is very special to me, not only because he built it, but because it still has his handwriting inside the drawer. It still has an old pencil sharpener attached to one of the shelves that works. I have moved several times over the years, and it is hard to move it, but I always take it with me.
Johnnie Allen Wilbourne, my granddaddy, master carpenter, brick mason and draftsman, will never be well-known or famous. He will never be written about in books. He will, however, always be in my memory and in my heart.
I was recently introduced to Greeting Card Universe, which describes itself as the "World's Largest Paper Greeting Card Store". I have opened a gallery here and have several designs available. I haven't ordered any cards yet, but I hear that the quality is very nice and they are very affordable. Real paper cards can be customized, ordered and mailed directly from the site. Thank you for visiting!
By Gayle Faucette Wisbon on 12/11/2008 3:51:48 PM2 Comments
A few years ago, I had the opportunity to sign a consignment agreement with a local frame shop here in Albuquerque. This shop had a beautiful frame that complemented my acrylic paintings on canvas. The owners, a husband and wife team, offered to frame my work, using this as my signature frame and display my work for sale, taking a 50% commission. We had a very positive working relationship for a couple of years.
Then, suddenly, the couple separated and the wife was forced to sell the frame shop. She called me in to discuss my options. Either I could take the paintings out of the shop that day or I could leave them and sign a new agreement with the new owner. She said that if I decided to take them, that I could have the frames that were already on them. The new owner was a professional with a large well-known company and he bought the shop for his daughter to operate as her own business. Since my relationship with this shop had been positive, I decided to keep my work there. The owner told me she would still be in the shop for a couple of weeks, training the new owner and his daughter. She would be calling me during that time to introduce me to the new owner and sign a new consignment agreement.
Being preoccupied with other things at that time, I sort of put it out of my mind and waited for her call. A few weeks later, I did receive a call. The new owner and the previous owner had a huge argument over the sale of the shop and he had kicked her out. She advised me to try and get my paintings out of the shop because he was proving to be a very untrustworthy person.
I called the new owner and introduced myself. I could tell that he was not an easy person to deal with. He did acknowledge that I had a consignment agreement with the previous owner, but he was very angry when I told him that she had given me the frames. After a couple of telephone conversations with him, out of anger, he decided to claim that he had bought all my paintings, as part of the shop inventory. I knew the previous owner would never have sold my work.
I contacted an attorney for advice and he instructed me to write the shop owner a letter and give him ten days to return my paintings. I did and he never responded. So, I proceeded with a small claims lawsuit against him.
The previous owner provided me with all the documentation, proving beyond a doubt that my work was not part of this sale. She also put into writing, the fact that she had given me the frames that were already on my work as a thank you for our past successful relationship.
In the meantime, the two parties were involved in some kind of legal dispute about the sale of this shop, which had nothing to do with me. When I appeared in court, the judge would not even look at my documents, because he did not have the details of this other pending case that this man had made me a part of.
So, I waited it out for a year and a half, while these two parties battled it out in court. I visited the courthouse a few times and made copies of documents to prove that my paintings should not have been involved in this dispute. Finally, I discovered through one of the attorneys involved that the matter had been settled. I was about to refile my case, when a friend asked me if I knew that the frame shop had closed! She said it was open and operating one day and the next, it was completely empty! No sign on the door - nothing!
I could not believe it. This man had stolen my paintings that I spent so much time and effort on. There were three paintings on canvas and several miniature paintings on paper. I am including pictures of the three canvas paintings. If, by chance, anyone has purchased these, I do hope that you are enjoying them. However, I think it is only fair that you know that they were stolen from me, the artist. They are entitled "Cactus Fiesta", "Agave" and "Desert Delight". I am including images of these works. However, the only really good image is of "Cactus Fiesta". The others were scanned from small photographs and are not the best quality. Each of these paintings is framed in a Larson-Juhl off-white rustic wood frame. Each painting is signed with my first name, "gayle".
I have accepted that I will never get my paintings back. I take a lot of responsibility in losing them. First of all, I should have taken them out of the shop, framed and all, when I had the chance! Secondly, I should have been in that shop on the first day that the new owner took over, introducing myself and signing the proper documents.
So, I hope others will learn from my hard lesson. I hope my story will help someone else realize that we, as artists, need to treat our profession just like any other business. Make sure everything is in writing and that every detail is documented. Be assertive, making sure you take care of your own business and not relying on the words or opinions of others.
Imagekind is a great online community for selling and buying art. All of my art is available on Imagekind as giclee art prints and greeting cards. They offer eight different types of acid-free fine art paper to choose from, as well as gallery wrap and museum wrap canvas. For my images, I recommend the Enhanced Matte or Somerset Velvet fine art papers. High quality custom framing is also available, with over 160 frames and 140 mats to choose from. Greeting cards are available on Satin, Matte and Magnolia fine art paper.
"Hollyhocks" is the final piece in my small series of paintings inspired by the San Felipe de Neri church. Hollyhocks thrive here in the New Mexico sunshine. I love the bright and varied colors against the earth tones of adobe walls.
This is an acrylic painting on standard depth canvas, with edges painted black. Fine art prints and greeting cards are now available on Imagekind.
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