I saw it before I knew what it was made of: when I looked at the on-line estate sale I stopped to study a round table with brightly colored lines radiating out from the center. Hours later when I walked into the studio of a good friend and renowned artist Pamela Nelson: I saw it again.
Chopsticks. This table was made as an assemblage of brightly colored chopsticks. I walked over, breathless. It was everything: beautifully crafted: colors and lines cleverly placed just as Pam does best. She even painted the legs with a leopard print. It's such a special thing: bright and whimsical.
I thought about Pam: collecting all those chopsticks over the years and bringing them to her whimsical studio in Downtown Dallas. I imagined her placing each one in layers of lacquer and brightly colored paint.
Pam is practicing the art of minimizing as she begins a new chapter in a nature-lined area of Dallas: Turtle Creek. She is shedding years of furniture, sculptures, prints and paintings. It was easy to be overwhelmed. This was no ordinary estate sale. I am also dipping my toe into minimalist thinking, so I resisted the ease of bringing so many wonderments home: even the Chopstick Table, which by way of this essay, I am clearly still thinking about.
I saw other moments of appreciation of Asian art and culture as I walked through the swell of Pam's life as a collector. A Chinese Dancer framed in the garage, two paintings in the hallway, lamp bases and prints. Asia was part of Pam's journey, but a journey that moves into a future as she continues to traverse the globe. This artist of the world brought home textiles from Honduras and inspired new ones via Honduras Threads . She commissioned couches for her living room in the Ming furniture style. I noticed a textile from Egypt and glass hand blown in Mexico. She is a collector of culture. Asia is just part of her story.
All of these experiences land in paintings and collage in future work. Pam's life is part of every assemblage. I saw it in large canvas murals in the halls of her home and studio, and in little framed works of art on the window sill. I saw it in the collaged tops of side tables and the button lamp I also can't stop thinking about.
Piece by piece, work by work, Pam created a living space with her dear late husband that was, as it was assembled here in her home, composed. And through this weekend, friends, fellow artists are taking little bits of Pam's moments with them: like a big beautiful sand mandala, it comes apart, and all of the energy moves into a new existence: piece by piece.
I studied this. Most people wait until after they are gone to have the big estate sale. Pam did it now--she packed up the items she loves most for her new apartment in the sky, and left. Left this life for a new one: I know no one braver. How brave and how light she must feel. I am so inspired by this minimalist mindset: what matters most is how we learn that which is most precious.
I have a feeling Asia went with her, too. However, I love that she left the Chopstick Table for someone to discover and love. The new owner won't know all of her stories: chopsticks from this take -out place and that, but they'll make new stories (while Pam is making new works of art) around the centrifuge of color and chopsticks. And the beautiful energy of her creation is carried out into the world: back to the place it all came from.