Our front porch at 501 Louisville Street in Starkville has with out a doubt, gone to the ‘Dawgs. I spelled it that because that it the MSU way. In our southern dialect we seem to drag out our words rather than speak with a more snappy dialect and simply say “Bulldawgs.”
Last week Frank and I were heading to Main Street in downtown Starkville to have lunch at the famous Starkville Cafe when suddenly a big van pulled right into the very back our our carport. There sat two ladies with million dollar smiles on their faces, and the driver of the van said, “Is this a shop?” “No”, I said. “It’s our home, but we would be delighted if they would like to walk all around the yard.” They almost seemed to be embarrassed that they had driven into the way back area of our car port. I said, “Oh, just pull over to the parking area by our wooden fence beside my collection of hub caps, and meet me around at the front door on the porch. I shall give you two ladies a grand tour through my family’s home, which celebrates her 100th birthday this year. They were lovely ladies and seemed to be having so much fun as I took them through our home room by room showing them all the “house pieces” (pieces of furniture and things that have remained here all of these years), my vast collection of my own paintings and of other family members who were also artists, great uncle Wycliff Edwards, grandmother Mary Elizabeth Edwards McReynolds on my daddy’s side, Miriam Adair Dabbs, and Nina Ruth Adair Elstad, two sisters and double kin cousins on my mama’s side of the family. I have quite a family and I am so proud of my own art legacy of very creative folks. I also showed them my huge collection of hats, both vintage and new hats. I love hats, and I am never fully dressed without plopping on a hat on my head every day. We went up the tall steps to my upstairs art studio, and suddenly the mama of the college student, a senior at MSU whom she was returning from Missouri back to MSU for his fall semester just stopped dead in her tracks and said, “Oh, your home looks like organized chaos.” Her sister-in-law, who was her traveling partner also from Missouri, chimed in, “Oh, I agree, and it is absolutely beautiful organized chaos.” The mama then said, “The two of us went to Savannah, Ga. yesterday, and toured this very southern city, but I think that your southern hospitality and kindness beats touring Savannah any time.” I was flattered. Back at our front door, I hugged my two new friends with tears in our eyes and waved “goodbye,” watching their big old van pull out of the driveway.
I think that we should all share with others what we love and do best. Having these two ladies just pop in gave me an extra special opportunity to not only share but extend my Mississippi hospitality to two perfect strangers. Today, I am sharing with each of you, my readers and viewers my front porch, which is asymmetrical with fourteen “’Dawgs” arranged in a most organized, chaotic disarray on our big wrap-around gray front porch. I hope that you will enjoy smiling, laughing and giggling along with me as we look at it together.
I chose to arrange it all in a asymmetrical manner into bits and pieces that are not arranged in symmetry which would be in harmony with each other. For example, if I were painting a portrait of a person, and his top right side of his face did not quite match the left side of his face, I would be first sketching his face as he truly looked to me. I would sketch and paint his face as I saw it without making any changes. After all, this is his face, and I would make sure that his face looked exactly like him. It would then be his portrait and his face. I have had my subject ask me, “Can you take a few pounds off?” or say, “Come on Carole, this way I can suddenly be younger and thinner.” They ask, “Can you add some hair to my ball spot on the top of my head?” We are all imperfect human beings, anyway, and people are often attracted to others by looking at their face based on symmetry. We see immediately the shape and symmetry of a face. Faces are round, thin, fat, skinny, and faces are unique like a thumbprint. There no two thumbprints alike. Each of us has our own unique symmetry within our face. Symmetry is often very boring. It is the flaws in a portrait that makes the painting interesting. One of the most valuable, intriguing, beautiful paintings in the whole world is the famous “Mona Lisa.” Her smile is asymmetrical. Her very smile alone is whimsical while the rest of the entire painting is somber. Oh, Mona Lisa, you were yourself, and you gave each of us a glimpse into your whimsical character of a fun-loving soul by your one smile. Let’s all be a Mona Lisa. Live a little by throwing in a lime green color where it does not belong, and dare to be different. Sometimes digital photos and art can be boring, and always remember the Mona Lisa and her asymmetrical, whimsical smile has lasted for many generations.
Life each day is never perfect because it is all organized chaos. Every day, we open our eyes to a new day, we fully wake up, get up, dress, put a hat on our head, and begin a brand new day. All my life and the work I create on canvas, paper, a hat, a dress, a porch, and anything that I think just might become quite artsy is hopefully is a reflection of my own life. Art is a reflection of life itself.
Let’s have fun looking inside an old front porch scene together as we find 14 off- balanced squares in various shapes and sizes which represent a chaos of pictures that suddenly become a puzzle that fits together to make the whole picture of the front porch of the family home on a busy Louisville Street in downtown Starkville, where the MSU ‘Dawgs as they feel quite at home.
We’ll start at the top of these pictures reading left to right. In the smack middle lives our home. Red bottle trees in the front yard, a hint of an old child’s swing in the two silver swing chains framing the right side steps, both the MSU flag and our American flag blow gently in the breeze, and flower pots on the stoop of the brick steps leading to the front door of our bay window entrance way. Go to the top left hand side and we shall begin to read left to right sentence after sentence. We are reading this creation. They are all characters related to our MSU Bulldawgs. Priscilla, a stuffed doll with her big maroon rubber hat on the tip top of her head. Mollie Golly, a four year old “Wo-Mannequin” with a furry brown Bulldawg hat. Bully himself with thousands of fans yelling and screaming at a Saturday afternoon football game. Can you not hear that noise and those cowbells ringing. Yes, we ring real cowbells. Don’t you hear them clanging and ringing, ringing, ringing. They drown out all the other sounds in the whole world. 5. “Wo-mannequin,” Dottie stylishly dressed in her maroon and white helmet with one maroon pigtail and one white pigtail. Maroon and white long sleeved tee shirt and boa around” her” neck. “She” is so pretty. Mr. Bully himself is sporting his big dark sunglasses on his eyes, gray dog bone, and a maroon football in his chair, and he is just a-rocking in his maroon and white rocker. Bully Belle, with her hot pink lipstick on her lips and rouge on her checks, frilly bows of maroon and white on her ears, and a bog white straw hat on the side of her head. She is flirty with her blinking black eyelashes as she looks up and winks at Mr. Bully and all of “her” MSU fans. A tiny bulldawg found a really cozy home in the top of a tin planter by the front door bell, and he is holding a 2011 football schedule for this year’s season with all the dates and games we play. It says, “This is our State.” Little Bully is in his very own wooden, kind of poking outside his dawg house munching on his dawg bone. He is so very sweet and darling.The dressed-out MSU student who plays the real human being Number 1 part of the Bulldawg for all of the sporting events. You will find him sitting down, leaning back, relaxing on the grass on the sidelines of the football field with the real little Bulldawg mascot. Three little bulldawgs wondering, “Will I get my delicious dawg bone today, too? They are sitting on the porch floor waiting by our real doll house with real lights inside a replica of our 501 Louisville Street home on the porch. Miss Coca Cola of Northeast Mississippi Bottling Company on her maroon and white big bow around her neck and she is waving a maroon and white pom pom as she is about to tune into the radio to hear the Saturday afternoon football game. She’ll soon be sipping on her ice- cold Coca Cola. Little Miss Bully Belle is a tiny concrete bulldawg with a big pom pom bow on her head, big black eyes, turned up nose, hot red lipstick on her lips, pink rouge on her cheeks, maroon and white pearls on her neck, red polish on her paws, and, of course, the maroon cowbell on her necklace.
I hope that each of you enjoyed seeing my special creation as much as I enjoyed creating it especially for you. I hope that each one of you enjoyed reading my special story as much as I enjoyed writing it for you. Sharing what you love with others is the best gift of all that you can ever give away. I am grateful for the wonderful, beautiful and fun life I have been given. I am grateful for being born a Starkvillian and a proud 1964 graduate of Mississippi State University. Thank you for sneaking into and peeping inside as our front porch has gone to the ‘Dawgs.
I thank Starkville Daily News, especially publisher Don Norman, editor Leilani Salter, lifestyles editor Gwen Sisson, and my brand new friend and SDN staff member Kate Salter for giving me this opportunity to share on Sundays what I love best in life, getting to be a free-spirited and whimsical artist. May each one of you remember to add to the recipe of everyday life a pinch of organized chaos.
Carole Elizabeth McReynolds Davis is a local artist. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .