Posts Tagged With: Mark Needham

Rings to Riches

Although June has long passed, we’re  still thinking about weddings at the arts council. This is because we were recently forwarded a great  e-mail  from Kentucky Crafted artist Mark Needham explaining how he turned one couple’s flimsy but significant memento into an heirloom piece of art. The tale covers three years and most of the Commonwealth. It’s the story of the showy and wonderful things we do to celebrate life’s big events, but also the sweet, private things that can often mean so much more.

Greg and Shavonna met in October of 2009 at Western Kentucky University’s Leadership Assessment Center in Bowling Green. During that time, they struck up a friendship. Although they lived in different cities, they kept in touch. After many e-mails, texts and phone calls, they had their first date on Valentine’s Day of 2010. In March, Greg presented Shavonna with a vending machine ring from a Chinese buffet in Louisville. He called it his “practice proposal.” Appreciating the sentiment behind the gesture, Shavonna kept the ring. His official proposal took place in early May of 2010, with a wedding planned for August.

But Greg couldn’t wait. Shavonna visited him  in his hometown of Paducah over Father’s Day. As she was packing to leave, she received a text reading “Why don’t we just go ahead and get married today?!”  She said yes, and although she had to wear the same clothes she wore the Sunday before, she was able to carry real magnolias from her sister-in-law’s yard to the Justice of the Peace. Anyone who has ever tried to buy fresh magnolias knows that’s a fancy bouquet! Greg was concerned that he wouldn’t have a ring for her, but Shavonna saved the day by pulling out the presumed-forgotten vending machine ring. After a brief honeymoon in Mayfield, they had to return to their separate cities.

Shavonna and Greg did have a “real”ceremony in August, and were finally able to be together in the same city! The vending machine ring broke (it wasn’t built for long-term use),  and she wore her grandmother’s plain gold band instead. Greg surprised her on their first anniversary with a solitaire, although she had actually asked for a digital camera (luckily she got that, too).

Shavonna and Greg have been happily married for two years, and they have an exceptional little family. This past May they visited Paducah’s annual Lowertown Arts and Music Festival. As they browsed the artists’ booths, they found Mark Needham from Louisville.  Given the nature of his beautiful jewelry, Shavonna immediately told him about the broken vending machine ring she had kept all this time.  She commissioned a “renewed” ring to wear on her right hand.

Although this story belongs to Shavonna and Greg, we think it illustrates a great point about buying handmade items from Kentucky artists. Artists do more than create art; they are also creative thinkers with the ability to turn “old nothings” into “new somethings.” Is there a trinket or a piece of ephemera in your life that could use the artists’ touch?

Sarah Schmitt, arts access director

Categories: Visual Arts | Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Objets d’pArt

“I want to help your cause. I really do. It’s worthy, you’re doing great things, I appreciate your hard work, it takes a special kind of person, etc. But, unless you make it really easy for me, I cannot. I don’t want to get an envelope, write out a check and go to the post office. I will most certainly forget to visit your Paypal site to make a donation. Forget about me volunteering; that is just not an option right now. I have a job and a household to run—a six-month-old baby, a husband, two dogs, many bills, many responsibilities and many others who want and need a piece of my time. Most days I do not have the apparatus to help my number one cause (me) let alone someone else’s.”

Above are my sincere apologies to every worthy organization that couldn’t get time or money out of me recently. I’m really sorry; I truly am. I am wracked with guilt. I should be on the rack! I just can’t find a way to fit it in. So, as you can see, I empathize with everyone who sighs, groans or panics when they receive a call from a Kentucky arts group to help them with advocacy. These are trying times for arts funding and related legislation. Arts enthusiasts all know that we have to do something, but these are also financially trying times in general. And time immemorial has been trying for busy, productive people. So what is the least we can do, and still be of some help to a cause in which we believe?

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You can wear a pin. Seriously—you can simply affix a pin to the lapel of your jacket. Furthermore, you can wear an attractive and tantalizing pin, and when fascinated people ask you about it, you can say, “That’s an interesting story.” You can explain that said pin is a custom, handmade piece by Kentucky Crafted artist Mark Needham and that you wear it because it is de rigueur for those wanting to show solidarity with Kentucky artists and arts groups. “See,” you might say, “It even says ‘art’ right on it.” You can also tell them that they too can have their very own, unique art pin for a mere $40 by contacting That’s $1.34 a day for a month ($1.30 if the month has 31 days).

To find out more about the art pin, go to Dress the pArt! on Kentucky Arts Council’s website.

Sarah Schmitt, arts access director

Categories: Arts Advocacy, Visual Arts | Tags: , , ,

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