It started as a love story.
When Mary B. Hunt painted "The Love Flute," she wanted to visually depict the story of a shy young man who couldn't speak to the girl he loved. The birds and animals gave him a love flute, which he played for the girl and won her heart.
Hunt continued that story with three small works: first is "First Born," a pair of little boy's moccasins — the couple's first child; "Birth Records," showcasing a pair of traditional umbilical cord covers; and third, "Little Sister," featuring a little girl's moccasins — the couple's second child.
Those miniature paintings and more will be on display during the Artists of the Black Hills — Great Small Works III at Prairie Edge Trading Company and Galleries at 606 Main St. in Rapid City as part of the third-annual Holiday Miniature Show. The show runs through Dec. 31.
The exhibition will showcase more than 60 small works from 30 artists, according to the release, including paintings, sculpture, photography, printmaking, jewelry and collage.
"Birth Records" will be raffled off during a free artists reception from 5 to 7 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 8, at the gallery. Raffle entries will be accepted at Prairie Edge until 5:30 p.m. the day of the reception. The winning entrant must be present at the raffle drawing at 6 p.m.
Artists of the Black Hills said the annual event promises something for everyone and an opportunity to celebrate the holidays while meeting local artists. You may even find something to take home — especially if you're looking to do a little holiday shopping for the art lover in your life.
“We are excited to have our annual holiday show at Prairie Edge for the third straight year,” Becky Grismer, sculptor and ABH member said in a news release from the organization. “Prairie Edge is a gallery member of our organization and a centerpiece of the downtown Rapid City arts community. The show is timed to coincide with the holiday season, so you can be sure to find the perfect gift for any art lover on your list. Each piece is no more than 6 inches by 6 inches, so the pieces are intimate, affordable and can fit perfectly into anyone’s home.”
A labor of love as well as a love story, Hunt's first painting in the series, "The Love Flute," was first inspired by a Native American-style cedar flute her husband had given her as a Christmas gift 10 or 15 years before. That first painting won the people’s choice award at the ABH Annual Exhibit this summer.
To continue the story, Hunt decided the happy couple should give birth to a son.
"In a warrior/hunter society it would have been very desirable for the first child to be male, so to continue the happy and idyllic story I decided to paint a pair of little boy's moccasins," she wrote.
Next, Hunt said she wanted to introduce the concept of the umbilical amulet; thus "Birth Records" is of two beaded umbilical cord covers. In some Native American cultures, Hunt said, the umbilical cord covers were used to hold the umbilical cord of a new baby after it had dried.
“The holder was draped over the cradle board of the infant to ward off evil spirits and later worn by the child and kept throughout his/her life,” she said in the release.
Turtles were used for girls, and lizards for boys; "Birth Records," aptly showcases one of each in vivid and striking detail.
"Will there be any new additions to the family?...” Hunt asked.
Like all epic stories, this one could be just beginning.