Gateway to the West

What are friends for? You might ask Martha Ginn. For about fourteen years in an easy friendship, we’ve shared the ups and downs of our separate passions. She’s a fiber artist extraordinaire who sometimes writes about quilting and other aspects of her craft. Writing is my obsession with a bit of needlework on the side for relaxation. Each of us understands the other enough to provide congratulations or commiseration as needed, picking up conversations when we meet where we left off the last time.

On this particular day, she and I were bus seatmates on a field trip to the World War II Museum in New Orleans. I pulled out my counted cross stitch to finish a complicated piece that had been in the works off and on for several years. I’d bought the pattern to the Gateway Arch in St. Louis on a trip with my husband, intending to complete it to go in his area where he works and plays on his computer. There was no rush, but now I was nearly through.

Martha jumped on what I was doing with questions. “Did you see the call for art about bridges for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship General Assembly? Why don’t you send this in to be juried for the exhibit?”

I could think of any number of ways this was all wrong. (1) I hadn’t seen the call for bridges. (2) Even if I had seen anything with the word “art” in the call, I would have skipped right past it. I have long contended that I could take all my ability and all my knowledge about art, put it in a thimble, and still have room for my finger. (3) Then this arch is called the “Gateway to the West.” Would that qualify as a bridge?

At this point, Martha demonstrated that friends are for shoving you out of your comfort zone (AKA fence). She claimed the piece was too pretty not to be seen. She followed up when she got home by sending more insistence and the link to the call for bridges art. I could hardly refuse to try.

When I got word that my cross stitch had been accepted for the exhibit, I held her responsibility over her head and told her she had to help. She knew far more that I about prepping art for a show. She came through, spending an afternoon helping me mount it to their specifications.

What a surreal experience to find my cross stitch at the assembly art exhibit, the only fabric art among the paintings and photographs. The official label read, “Gateway to the West; Virginia McGee Butler; Counted Cross Stitch 2015.”

So, if you have a friend shoving you outside your comfort zone, let me recommend that you yield without resistance. The panorama is actually quite nice outside the fence.