Sharing may be the essence of art. And it’s not a bad idea with dessert, too. Come to the Gullah Museum, 5 p.m. to 7:30 on Wednesday, October 19 for a unique session of both.
For the third year the Gullah Museum will host this gathering of art, stories, communities and pastry. Although the pies and cakes are judged, the guests are the real winners.
I’m told that, “…there is no event like this,” and I can’t wait to take part. Adults, children and families all play a part in the hands-on atmosphere. Children are encouraged to make an art project and take it home.
A highlight of the event is the work of Sandy Branam. Sandy painted a cycle of Gullah “trickster tales,” depicting life lessons as passed down in the Gullah oral tradition. Prints of the trickster tales and the stories behind them will be on display.
Adults share stories ranging from the barrier islands, to Mexico, to Cleveland, since the Gumtree Road locale converges residents from the “binyah” to the “comeyah,” that is, those who’ve been here for generations and we who’ve come here in recent times for Hilton Head’s beauty and opportunity.
And indeed Gullah art is a treasured part of the beauty here. Hard to describe stylistically because it encompasses techniques characteristic of a host of practicing artists, Gullah is one of those “you know it when you see it” things. Exuberance and humility, profound simplicity, sun-saturated color – the genre has brought fame to Jonathan Green and Amiri Farris, and a home turf for the expression of excellent artists who remain less known, like Diane Britton Dunham and Alan Fireall. The Gullah eye even inspires adopted Islanders like Marci Tressel. It is a part of the Lowcountry you must not miss.
Pies and cakes could be connected with art in this culture, because they are meant to be shared. It is by no means unique to the Gullah community that when a woman set out to bake, she often baked two – two pies, two cakes. The effort is about the same, and there’s always someone who would especially appreciate it that day. Someone ill, someone bereaved, maybe somebody just extra busy about now.
Hosted in “The Little House” at 187 Gumtree Road, just beyond the Hilton Head Recreation Center, even the venue of the Gullah Pie & Cake Contest is part of the action.
Paintings, etchings and photos of The Little House have been the works of artists as varied as Walter Greer, Amari Farris, Maddy Ivans and Mira Scott. It stands on land first purchased by a freed slave, William Simmons, who served with the Union Army in the Civil War. The land stayed in the family after his passing in 1922, and the house has stood there since 1930. Through the generosity of William Simmons’s great-granddaughter, Louise Miller Cohen, it’s become the home of The Gullah Museum.
The Gullah Pie & Cake Contest is a community event, and there is no admission. As a worthy local cause supported by donors, though, any donations to The Gullah Museum are gratefully accepted.