Monday, April 16, 2007

Navajo Rugs

Scott often hears from old friends, students, collectors and people who have seen his work through his web site. That’s how we met Wayne and Kerry. Wayne contacted Scott after seeing one of his paintings in a magazine and before long, they started a friendship. We lived in New Hampshire then and Scott and Wayne emailed pretty regularly. Last year after the western sunshine brought us back to Colorado, we had a chance to spend time with Wayne, Kerry and their daughter Katharine at their magical home and studio in Albuquerque.

Fifteen years ago Wayne and Kerry transformed their lives and established a business cleaning, restoring, appraising and buying Navajo Rugs. The restoration work is painstaking and involves intricate weaving to match pieces that are often more than a century old. The dyes must be reproduced and matched using a variety of natural substances. There are very few people in the country who do what Wayne and Kerry do and fewer still who do it as well.

They were relative newlyweds and Wayne was already about 45 when they began their adventure. They were in Indiana with traditional jobs but soon decided to pack their bags and head west where they’d both spent most of their lives. There were a few challenges. Kerry was pregnant, neither of them knew anyone in their destination city of Albuquerque and they had no money.

In Wayne’s words, “Not a whole lot can hold you back when you’re in love and ready to throw yourself to the mercy of fate. Passion, persistence, trust in ourselves and love is all we needed.”

They made the move on a credit card, paid twice the rent they planned to for a place with studio space and hit the road with Kerry pregnant and two dogs in tow. Three days later they arrived to find their new home not quite ready, so they slept on a damp carpet, unloaded the U-Haul and hit the town with their meager portfolio. They picked up a couple of jobs, but they laugh and say they’re sure it was because people took pity on them when they saw Kerry’s growing belly.

They brought their daughter Katharine into the world at home with a midwife a few months later. In those days they didn’t have insurance.

They put a down payment on the house across the street, began renovations and put in a studio. They juggled three mortgages and a handful of credit cards and paid the credit cards off with other credit cards.

Fifteen years later, they’ve got a wonderfully warm home and studio, clients in all fifty states and abroad and a backlog of more than a year’s work. Their clients don’t mind the wait. When Scott and I met Wayne and Kerry it was like spending time with friends we’d known for years. They are artists with generous, creative and loving souls. Their southwest home, originally part of a land grant generations ago, opens to a patio and garden with the scent of flowers in the air, twinkling lights and the occasional roadrunner overhead. They’ve provided safe haven to a miniature donkey, a goat, dogs, a cat and a couple of lop-eared rabbits. Katharine is a beautiful, intelligent and compassionate child and her parents are always there for her.

Was it a lot of risk and work to pursue the dream they created? I’d give that a resounding yes. Was it worth it?

Wayne explains it best. “I have a wife that is even more beautiful than when we met, and most importantly so very, very supportive and loving. We have a beautiful daughter who is compassionate, loving and opening her world as to what can be explored with fun. We still have a mortgage, but only a modest one. We’ve got health insurance, life insurance and have met so many wonderful and interesting people that have made our decision to do what we do the most rewarding choice. Kerry and I have often reflected on that aspect. Sure, what we do and where we do it with regard to our careers is definitely rewarding but the true wealth has been in the meeting of like minds and interests and talent. It has been amazing!! We look back in amazement at how, over the past fifteen years, our lives have been continually enriched by the choices we made. We would like to keep exploring without doubts or the fear of change. Age factors in, as does responsibility for others. But it works when you can put all of that aside. We did it then, we can do it now. Change and new quests are always good for the soul. There is nothing to lose except the hum drum of being in a rut. Dogs are good receptors to let you know if you’re making the right decision.”

I love a story with a happy ending, especially the ones that hint at a sequel.

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Literary Quote

It is worth mentioning, for future reference, that the creative power which bubbles so pleasantly in beginning a new book quiets down after a time, and one goes on more steadily. Doubts creep in. Then one becomes resigned. Determination not to give in, and the sense of an impending shape keep one at it more than anything.

Virginia Woolf