Monday, October 15, 2012

Art and Wisdom on the Beach


            Behind the commendations and awards, including recognition for decades of service from the US Congress and meritorious civic engagement from the State of South Carolina, lives a philosopher. He’s been lauded for his years on Sullivan’s Island Town Council during the island’s incorporation and the aftermath of Hurricane Hugo. He started the Town’s first Little League team. The fire station is even named in his honor. But Red Wood also artfully bestows wisdom. 
            Paint on simple signs is his media. A bench in his front yard is his display. Poignant ideas about courage: “If you want a place in the sun, you have to expect a few blisters.” Ideas about living together: “Advice is like snow, the softer it falls the deeper it sinks.” Significant but funny ideas: “Middle age is actually the prime of life. It just takes a little longer to get primed.” and “If the shoe fits, keep looking for the other one.” Strangers sometimes knock on his door to learn more. For Red Wood, the reason for the display is simple, “I love people, to talk to people. I want to give people a message. Let them stop and think.” While recovering from a broken ankle years ago, Red started collecting and writing messages. When he’s inspired, he jots one down on a scrap of paper or paints it on a sign for the yard. They are scattered throughout his house and workshop: “The only one who listens to both sides of the argument is the neighbor.”; “The peacock of today may be the feather duster of tomorrow.” ; “If you are not afraid to face the music, you may one day lead the band.” 
            The photos and mementos in his modest marsh-side home on Thompson Ave., which his family bought from Fort Moultrie in the 1940’s, tell of a rich family history. Red married an island girl, Maggie McGuire, whose family had lived on the island since the 1800’s. In the backyard is his workshop where Red claims he “can build anything.” A large pile of old signs share a workbench with small repair projects. The joggling board in the yard is one of several he’s built for his large extended family which gathers often for dinners there. Several of his children live nearby including Woody Wood who helps with the construction projects these days. His daughters come visit and help around the house. Since his retirement after thirty years with the Naval Shipyard, he lives by these sayings: “With a hobby you can find yourself and lose yourself at the same time.” and “Live a happy life so when you get older you can think back and enjoy it again.”
            On Sunday, Nov. 4 from 1 to 5 PM, Red Wood’s home will be one of the featured stops at Creative Spark’s Art on the Beach and Chefs in the Kitchen. During the house and artists’ studio tour to ten island destinations, patrons can sample recipes from seven chefs, attend a reception at Station 22, purchase from over thirty artists, enjoy live music and choose a signed placard of Red Wood’s wisdom. Natasha Lawrence, a S.C. calligrapher, is artfully reproducing some of Red’s best quotes for the event. They are free in exchange for any donation to Creative Spark. Tickets are available at, at the Sandpiper Gallery and at Everyday Gourmet for $35 in advance. On the day of the tour, tickets will be sold at Sandpiper Gallery beginning at noon for $40.

 This article was previously published in the Island Eye News

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