Oliver: Art pieces spark memories of years of happy adventures

We all have our own ways of trying to hang onto the good memories from the places we’ve visited.

Some people take a lot of photos. Others bring home magnets with the names of the places they’ve been. Still others make sure to buy T-shirts so they can proclaim their travels to everyone they encounter back home.

Tony and I always liked to bring home things made by local artists.

Now that we’re no longer able to go to new places, I’m so grateful that I can glance around a room and be transported to happier time and places.

This practice actually began right before I married my beloved Tony. I took a trip with one of my dear friends to Charleston, South Carolina.

The vacation was one of those epic cross-country adventures, filled with catchphrases and memorable stories. Becky and I would enjoy laughing about our hijinks for years.

As I write this, I can look up from my desk to a photograph of the Cooper River Bridges. It’s a beautiful span that I remember being too scared to drive over. That was Becky’s job, and she got to do it multiple times because our bed-and-breakfast was on the other side of that bridge from the city itself.

When I look at the photograph of the bridges at sunset, it always transports me back in time. We had such a good trip, even if she made me listen to the band Boston so many times that I wanted to chuck the CD out the window.

My dear friend Becky died two days after my big brother Gary did at the end of 2020. To say that the photograph is even more meaningful now would be an understatement.

For our honeymoon, Tony and I went to Bar Harbor, Maine. That trip was filled with whale watching and hiking in Acadia National Park. The scenery was amazing. So were the woodworkers and weavers, which is why we brought home scarves and a wood clock, among other pieces of art.

Tony and I could never afford fine art, but we have always had an appreciation for craftspeople and handmade things: pottery, photography, metalwork, painting, basket weaving, you name it.

One of my favorite pieces was from Door County, Wisconsin. I got to meet the artist who put together one of the loveliest free-form stained-glass windows I’ve ever seen. That window is something that makes me smile every day as it casts its multiple colors on our hallway floor.

Our travels even farther north in Wisconsin took us to Bayfield on the shores of Lake Superior. There we found one of my favorite pottery stops. There was an amazing pie shop, too, but sadly those pies aren’t something that lasted more than a day.

When my mother lived in Blue Ridge, Georgia, I would visit a glass art shop every time we visited. There also was a gallery that had the prettiest turned wood bowls. That my mother happened to live in a tourist town made our visits to her a bit of a vacation as well.

Our travels over the years have taken us from Lake Tahoe, California, to Toronto, Canada, from Saugatuck, Michigan, to Wilmington, North Carolina.

Sometimes we didn’t even have to travel far from home to find art to spark memories.

Several framed photographs, as well as some exquisite glass paperweights, remind me of the Art in the Park events years ago as part of McHenry’s Fiesta Days.

Then there were all the things we picked up at one of my favorite events, Gallery in the Garden, which used to take place in Woodstock. Oh, how I looked forward to that every year! The money raised at the event always went to a good cause, and Tony and I had the joy of supporting local artists — a real win-win for us.

Every picture may tell a story, but for us it’s more than that.

How happy we are to be surrounded by memories of our previous adventures in nearly every room of our house. Now more than ever.

Joan Oliver is the former Northwest Herald assistant news editor. She has been associated with the Northwest Herald since 1990. She can be reached at jolivercolumn@gmail.com.

Joan Oliver

Joan Oliver

A 30-year newspaper veteran who has been a copy editor, front-page editor, presentation editor, assistant news editor and publication editor, as well as a columnist and host of an online newspaper newscast.