• leann hileman

Gratitude = Happy

Happy 4th of July, Independence Day!


Today seems like a fitting day to share some thoughts I've been cogitating on since I returned from my short trip to Athens, Ohio, for the opening festivities of Quilt National 2021 at the Dairy Barn Art Center. My quilt Where Once A Tree Was Standing was juried into the show and I really didn't realize at the time I was notified what an honor it was to be included. It turns out that it's one of the most selective shows there is and as my friend Betty Hahn told me, they look for the "edgy" or cutting edge in art quilts and contemporary quilts.


So here I am, my little representational, realistic self, born and raised and rising in Realville and my quilt is in this show, amongst really good looking and innovative fellows. Here's pics of Where Once A Tree Was Standing:



The lighting was great and everything about the exhibition was really well done. Although most of the pieces were abstract and abstract is not really my thing, I loved lots of them and the quality of this art was probably the highest I've seen in any show. So the visual stimulation was through the roof.


Much of the experience has stayed with me but there's one moment I wanted to share with you today, it being Independence Day holiday and all.


As I stood in the Dairy Barn just absorbing all this fabulous color and form, I watched the people who happened to be all the artists who had attended the festivities as they wandered around looking and like me, absorbing.


It struck me how incredibly fortunate we all were and struck me with that energy up from the ground force like electricity. Here we were, many ladies of an advanced age like me, some younger, some men, some of whom were gay and who I had dinner with the night before and enjoyed my time with immensely, black, brown, Jewish, secular, whatever, and we were FREE to move around, to travel, to express our opinions. And believe me, there were opinions expressed! And absolutely RICH, compared to many people in this world. We have disposable income, income beyond our survival needs, and many who were highly educated and let me repeat, FREE to engage in business, in travel and with whoever we pleased.


Perhaps I'm too sensitive to this, because I do not have an art degree or any degree whatsoever, but the degrees in the rooms were multiple. My dinner neighbor the night before was a retired professor and made no big deal about it, but still. He was and is delightful.


I couldn't help but think of my own grandparents who had little education. My maternal grandmother, an immigrant from Denmark, who died in her 50's from stroke, and my own parents, neither of whom finished high school. My dad went through the 8th grade and my mother the 9th. My paternal grandmother's grave has near it the two babies she lost. Heck, times were tough for human beings and still are in much of the world.


So, the gratitude that washed over me was gratitude that my ancestors had the courage to come to the United States, that they did the best they could with the resources they had, that I had the opportunities I had and that I did the best I could with what I had. I simply was in awe at where I was, where my quilt had landed and where it had landed me and I was grateful. Dennis Prager says a person cannot be a happy person unless he is grateful and I believe that. And for that moment, I was so grateful and I am happy that I can be grateful.


Happy Independence Day!


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