I FINALLY went to the new Mississippi Crafts Center over the weekend. The building is absolutely gorgeous, with a modern-looking glass staircase drawing the eye around the large, airy atrium at the entrance. The floors look to be stained concrete, and frosted glass panels (which can be removed to accomodate large events) divide the first floor into several separate spaces.
Two intricate pieces by Fletcher Cox accentuate the lobby area, and the shop featuring work of Craftsmen's Guild Members is soooo much bigger than any retail space the Guild had before. The merchandise, to say the least, is impressive. I'm a sucker for all of the gorgeous hand-carved wood pieces - bowls, furniture, vases, cooking tools, gorgeous little treasure boxes, small pieces of statuary - but there is so much more available. Pottery of every description, jewelry, fiber crafts such as scarves and hats, stained glass, metal and stone sculpture, wall art, everything you can think of is for sale in the expansive, light-filled space.
I noticed, too, that the building (which is available for rent) has an embarassment of locations where events could be staged. As I said before, the atrium can be enlarged by moving the glass panels. There is also usable covered event space in both the front and the back of the building. It would make a wonderful setting for an evening event, particularly in the summer.
So, after having spent an enjoyable hour or so admiring the new building and exclaiming over wonderful items in the shop, I began to take my leave. At such time, I was accosted by an older gentleman just outside of the front door. He seemed nice enough, well-dressed in clean, pressed clothing, and he informed me that he was the brother of the craftsman (and very talented woodworker) who was demonstrating at the facility today. Then, he launched into a nearly 20-minute monologue about his travels, his visits to galleries and museums, his garden back home, his penchant for marijuana, his ability to gain entry to any venue without paying admission, and so on and so forth. I was heartily trying to be polite for the first 10 minutes or so. I spent the next five minutes wondering how on earth I would ever escape. During the last five minutes, I slowly inched towards my car, eventually calling out that I couldn't stand to hear about any more debauchery as I hastily slammed the driver's side door.
Now, I can walk quickly and keep my eyes facing forward with the best of them, particularly when I'm in a location where such behavior constitutes self-preservation. But I was just so unprepared to be held captive at the crafts center! And when that little guy got going, he just WOULD NOT hush! He admitted to me twice that he was manic (in between telling me about mandingos and bragging at how he scored some weed off a hotel doorman once), and it was clear from his wildly erratic diarrhea of the mouth that he was being completely honest. While I never once feared for my safety (he was harmless, and there were plenty of people around), I did become increasingly annoyed.
At the drop of a hat, there went 20 minutes of my life that I will NEVER get back, and that I sorely wish I could have salvaged. Groan.