We got to take a side trip on our way to Florida to see my favorite artist Ruby C. Willaims. She might look a bit familiar to you if your a fan of folk art. She is well known and has paintings in the Smithsonian, House of Blues restaurants, and more. If you're thinking that you've seen her somewhere else then it might have been over at the Art Bead Scene. We did a month long challenge inspired by Ruby's paintings.
Ruby started painting signs for her families fruit stand in 2009. Folks kept asking to buy her paintings so she gladly started selling them. You can read more of her biography here. I had been hoping for a long time to go to her fruit stand. We did the best research we could to find it but it turns out no one really has her address listed on line when they talk about her. It's on highway 60 in Hillsborough county a couple of miles from the Polk county line. Bealsville is the closest city. When you drive down the highway there are lots of fruit stands but only one with paintings. You'll know you found Ruby.
It was the day after Christmas and I wasn't expecting anyone to actually be at the stand but I wanted to see where Ruby had painted my bird painting I had hanging in my living room. We pulled up to the stand and sitting there was Ruby! Nik and I were so excited.
It has frosted the night before so there was no fruit that day. She told us the strawberries wouldn't be good if she had picked them. We asked if we could look at her paintings and we wandered around. Back behind the tangerine tree was a barn full of her paintings.
It was so much fun looking through the stacks of paintings. She told us stories, about her inspiration for different paintings, and places she had traveled because of her paintings. She was a wonderful woman. Nik and I just kept looking at each other in shock that we were standing there with Ruby talking. We spent more than an hour that day chatting away about everything. She had Nik pick tangerines from her tree to take to the boys. Of course we bought a painting. It's the one up top in the picture with Ruby and I. We picked it out not knowing anything about it. But after we told her we wanted it she told us about it.
It says "The Day Just To Begin" She had just pulled that one off her fence that morning and set it out where people could see. She felt like she needed to put it out because of the words. It's a portrait of her getting ready to go out in the fields and pick produce. She said she came to the stand that day and wonder about who she would meet that day. That day it just happened to be us. What an experience!
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