• Neil Allen

Outside the Box

By Neil Allen.

Talking with a new nativity friend the other day we were speaking about a very carefully collected set that took years and heaps of money to possess. He told me about their condition and we tried to help him determine where to find information about their value. Of course, it wasn't long until we began talking about the boxes themselves. As we spoke, I began thinking about the many sets I own that have long since been separated from their boxes.

Many years ago, I concluded for obvious reasons, I could not save all the boxes to all my sets. Not only would it take me forever to set up and take down, the shear space it would take to house 600 sets would just be overwhelming. As it is, I'm pushing the boundaries of my concealment space and have already began to down size and reimagine our collection.

Then I cam upon this magnificent piece. It was hunkered down below the other items that had crowded its appeal to the average customer. In short, as I was later told by the artist, she thought it would never sell.

BTW, I just thought it was appropriate to take pictures in the shop.

I paid a whopping $25, which in no way helped the artist recoup her time, but brings me endless joy for a host of reasons.

Clearly, like my collection, this pirimidan has been taken far away from it's original intent. It is "outside the box" for sure! You can try to put it into a different kind of box, like "steampunk" or "artsy" or whatever you so desire, but it is more than that.

I find a statement of our state of being. Perhaps its the masked Holy Family (Covid-19 threatens even the sacred manger!), or possibly the Voodoo donuts (A Pacific Northwest Iconic store), or the Christmas gnome that catch my eye and make me wonder about what the artist was thinking.

Perhaps I'll replace the gears on the top with fan blades (covered in metal of course), and restore the spinal cradle underneath, or maybe I'll just leave it as is, Whatever I do with it, it has already become an eye catcher, a unique adaptation of how to take nativities from the bins at Goodwill where it was found, back on the shelfs of admirers.

Lauda, the artist says, "I'm so glad this is going to a loving home. I had given up of it's being valued for what it is." She went on to say that she was ready to "retire" and "give up". - Covid-19 had won its war with her artistic desire....but when I asked her if she might make a few more for our 2021 Convention, she perked up. "Maybe," she said, sounding a bit more optimistic.

"Have you ever made a nativity?" I asked her.

"No," but I do make a fairy garden that would lend itself to a manger."

"Hmm," I said, "Don't limit yourself to thinking the nativity can only be shown in a manger. Don't be afraid to think outside the box."

Even as I said the words, I could sense the depths my remarks made on this artist that seemed so outside of the box, and yet Covid-19 shoved back in, so I said, "let's talk later when you think about it."

I'm still waiting on that call....outside the box of course.

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