A Gift of a Sketch - A Story Missed
Artist Feature - Sharon Kumm, Denver, CO
"Do you like art?"
The question came from beside me. The voice was fairly quiet, and initially I didn't think the question was directed at me.
I had a couple of hours to kill between therapy appointments (yeah, two in one day, a little excessive). I stopped into the Starbucks on Colorado Blvd and 8th Ave in Denver and ordered a decaf coffee. I walked toward the pickup bar, not really paying attention to my surroundings, knowing it would be a while, since decaf is always brewed on demand.
This particular Starbucks has a central, long, bar-height table that extends through the center of the store and up to the drink pick-up bar. As I took a moment to process the question I'd just heard, I glanced to my left and saw an older woman sitting at the high table. In front of her was spread a grouping of sketches.
"Do you like art?" the woman asked again as I was looking at the sketches on the table.
"Yes," I responded.
"Which is your favorite?"
I didn't want to pick a favorite. I wanted my coffee. I was really inwardly focused and not feeling social at all. Normally I would ask questions. I would try to learn more about why this person was sitting there, and how it was possible that she was trying to sell her art while sitting inside Starbucks. It made me wonder if Starbucks basically doesn't care what you do with the space in front of you, so long as you have one of their branded cups in front of you.
"Which one do you like?"
"Uhm, I like the owl."
Owls have an interesting way of showing up in my life. They're never major players in situations, but somehow tend to be within my periphery. When I see someone wearing an owl pendant or necklace, or article of clothing, I immediately feel fondly toward them.
"Please take it."
I didn't feel quite right just taking one of this woman's pieces. I was wildly making assumptions that she's incredibly poor and struggling, that she only just managed to afford a cup of coffee which would allow her to sit at this table. I imagined her like The Little Match Girl for some reason, with this very small collection of sketches being her only worldly goods. She was insistent that I take the owl. I did, but felt guilty. I had no cash or anything to give her in return.
I got my coffee and went to sit down. Playing through my assumptions again, I decided that perhaps what she needed most was this space to show her art and possibly pick up a few dollars, and in order to do that, she needed to be a Starbucks customer. I bought her a gift card, handed it to her, and thanked her again for the owl.
I'm sad to say that I didn't learn more about this artist and her story. I'm left with my assumptions and an owl that I keep neatly tucked inside my notebook.
On the back of the sketch however was an Etsy address, written in pen. There's a small bio about the artist, Sharon Kumm. It tells briefly of a life of adventure. I've included a few of her other pieces here, but I highly recommend you check out all of her work. Her style is very interesting, and she captures buildings and construction zones in a really captivating way.