Thursday, October 11, 2007

Street Talk -- A Lady Among Many

When we take our walks down the street, Lucy and I never quite know what we will discover. One day this week, we were surprised to see a large mirror leaning against a tree. I was especially interested in getting some photos of the nearby monument to finish up my ''street talks," but we stopped to take a photo and ponder about its presence.

We continued our stroll and approached the four delicate columns from the rear.

I haven't counted the number of monuments on the street, but I do know that all are dedicated to men, except this one. Its axis sits on a perpendicular line with the altar of one (visible behind Lucy in the mirror) of several churches in Tennessee and Georgia which were funded by Emily Harris Tubman. It recognizes her concern for education and her founding of schools for girls. It acknowledges her firm stand on colonization of freed slaves who carried the Tubman name back to Africa and the country of Liberia. It acknowledges her life as a gentlewoman.

In 1993, I was approached about painting the proposed monument to raise money for its construction. The committee did not want an architectural rendering; they wanted a painting and they wanted one of mine. I struggled. Finally, on the 199th anniversary of Mrs. Tubman's birth, I stood beside our mayor to unveil the painting. A burst of wind blew the framed watercolor off the easel. Everyone gasped until they discovered that I had removed the glass for the photos. Then everyone smiled. It was exactly like they thought it should look!

As the year progressed, reproductions of the painting were sold and changes were made in the original plans which I had used to develop my painting. The flower bowl is much larger with a flat-sided base for engraved acknowledgments. The capitals are not as defined. There are no benches now (or in my painting) even though they were part of the initial design -- no one could agree on exactly where they should be.

The monument to Emily Tubman was dedicated on what would have been her two hundredth birthday. I don't mind that it doesn't match my painting. It feels exactly right.

And it's on my street . . . . That's something to talk about.


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