writings    ||    books    ||    projects    ||    madvertising    ||    odds & ends    ||    about    ||    bio

Art & Culture

Auld Lang Syne
Frank Stack
PS:  Gallery
Strength in Unity
Hallowe'en Fright
I See Nekkid People
The Muddy Mural
Livin' Large, Kinkade Style
Eliciting an Emotional Response
Marie Hunter
Out, Damned Spot
Danielle Eldred
Local Museums Thriving
Art in Stephens Lake Park
JD King
Strike a Blow for Liberty
No Vail of Tears
Ammanford Sculpture Controversy
Bear Creek
Larry Young
The Lowest Common Denominator
A Different Kind of Success
Taking Risks
Out of Her Gourd
Hey, GalleryMan!
Harry Potter and the
    Superstring Revolution

Investment Grade
Giving Thanks
One Free Minute
Odds & Ends
Monkeys with Car Keys
Sharon Kilfoyle's Wearable Art
Farewell Betty
Happy Birthday, Naoma
Back to School
Take the Pledge
Canopy Conundrum
Columbia's Stonehenge
It takes a Village
Hope Springs Eternal
Dorrell review
Growing Season
If the Shoe Fits
That's Not Art!
Elite Appeal
The Hunger Artist
What Sells
Gallery Ettiquette

Bookbinding & Conservation

lessons learned from this profession


ok, I'm not the guy from SNL,
but I still have a sense of humor

'Jim Downey' Stories

mostly true stories from my

Personal Essays

more "it's all about me"


Iím at -7.13/-7.33 on The Political Compass.  Where
are you?


observations on the human condition


take a trip with me

Published in "Legacy Online" May, 2004

Growing Season

It'll probably come as no surprise that I'm an avid gardener.  (When I say "avid", don't understand that to be "good", but rather enthusiastic.)  With vegetables, at least.  In spite of all the craziness with closing the gallery this spring, I still managed to find time to get our vegetable garden in.  That's how important gardening is to me.

So, we've got tomatoes (7 varieties), peppers (4 varieties), sweet corn, pole beans, and watermelon, not to mention a small collection of potted plants which give me some claim to having an herb garden.  I love all these veggies fresh from the garden, and dry a prodigious amount of tomatoes each year, storing them carefully in extra-virgin olive oil, for those cold days of winter when they're the perfect compliment to a cracker with blue cheese and a splash of scotch.

As a gardener, I understand about the changing of the seasons, how you have to put things to rest for a while now and then, why you need to rotate crop placement in order to maintain a healthy soil, what plants will thrive here and what will fail, when you have to start thinking about getting the soil turned, the need to plant and water at the right times.  Don't pay attention to these things, and you won't have those delectable tomatoes to enjoy, no corn on the cob slathered with butter, watermelon to cool summer's heat, or fresh salsa to share over a beer with friends.  Allow the weeds to flourish, and they'll steal water and nutrients.  Wait too long to harvest, and the birds and deer will love you.  There's a necessary rhythm you have to follow, a dance you have to dance, a time to sow and a time to reap.

All of this, of course, is a perfect metaphor for being in business.

In that sense, the soil here in Columbia has been drained of the necessary nutrients to support art.  My hat's off to Sara Agnew of the Columbia Tribune for saying that in her Ovation piece mentioned above.  In her position, it's hard to say anything which can be construed as being negative of Columbia.  Certainly, there are those in the business community and the leadership positions of the city who would have you believe that the soil is not only fertile, but capable of growing anything from any corner of the globe, and in vast quantities.  To acknowledge that there needs to be some fertilizing done, that the soil is tired and won't support more than a feeble crop, is risky.

Risky, but absolutely necessary.  What Ms. Agnew had to say was hard to read.  I love Columbia, and ache to discover that the support for the arts I thought was here is lacking.  But unless we recognize and accept the truth of that, there will be no chance to correct it.  If the pH of the soil needs to be changed, then no amount of tilling will help.  If irrigation is necessary, fertilizer alone is useless.

The ground will lie fallow now for a while, recharging.  Columbians who love art will have to seek it out in the nooks and crannies of our town, find it blooming over a brief weekend here and there.  Perhaps another gardener will come along and try to plant a new crop in a few years.  I hope so.  But I hope that we'll remember that such a garden takes more than just our good wishes in order to succeed.  It takes our support in the form of purchases of the produce.

contact me:
all work © James T. Downey, 1993-present
photos © Martha K. John, 1994-present
site designed and maintained by:
Coeurbois Graphic Design