Trapped by the historically high flood waters of 2010… I had to act fast. The deadline to deliver my artwork was May 28, and that date was quickly approaching. One might ask why did you wait so long to start this show in the first place? Well [deep breath], as John Lennon once wrote, “Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.”
The idea of the show had been “brewing” inside my brain for literally months – I had been anxious to begin – but first, the house had to be refinanced, my parents 50th Anniversary Party in California had to be planned and executed… and everything else you can think of took a front row seat to my own personal artistic priority list.
So on May 1, myself and my assistant Jenn embarked on the beginning of what would be a wild ride to start and finish the most unique show of angelic works of my career as an artistic fine art photographer. Later that afternoon we discovered ragging waters at the bottom of my long and steep driveway, and, little did we know that down at the end of my road were neighbors preparing to lose everything.
We lost power early in the evening on May 1, and decided to call it a night… what we would see after the rains stopped on May 2 would leave us stupefied and in a shocked bewilderment.
We ventured down to the end of the road on Sunday afternoon to see what was what. We found a good portion of the neighborhood down at the end of our road in shock of the high waters that had overtaken the road and our way out.
All of a sudden – we started to ask each other, “Where do you live, where do you live, where do you live?” You see, we each own several acres, so we don’t necessarily know one another – in fact, my house is half a mile up Green Valley Drive’s dead end road. Not knowing my neighbors quickly changed, feeling an immediate connection, standing before the newly formed lakeside, we began to collect the floating belongings of one of our beloved neighbors whose home had been overtaken by the flood.
On Sunday, early evening, when electricity surprisingly returned, my neighbor Beth invited us to share a delicious meal with her family. Little did I know that the answer to my prayers (from the day before) would be sitting right next to me eating chicken tenders and salad. After dinner we were invited to tour the Davenport home and all it’s wonderful structural additions. Our final stop on the tour was Danny’s workshop – a place where he creates [the additions and] beautiful stained glass works of art.
I knew and was familiar with all the equipment in Danny’s workshop. I asked if there was any way he could help me with preparation of the frames and backdrops for my upcoming show “Angels Among Us.” Without hesitation, the answer was a resounding “yes!” My prayers had been answered!
Though we had no running water, no cable television, no internet, no land line, and sometimes no cell phone service, the neighborhood was bristling with energy and compassion. Our hearts reached out to those who had lost it all on the flooded frontage road. Young men were kayaking fourteen miles round trip to pick-up and deliver items such as: medications, pet food, water, milk, and different food items. There was a group of church members from nearby who sent us the most delicious fried chicken I think I’ve ever tasted. We, thirty families altogether, who were trapped here on Green Valley Drive, were making the best of an unprecedented situation.
While all this was happening, Danny (aka Moose) and I were diligently working at cutting up my framing supplies so I could get the show on the road. Occasionally a neighbor would stop in to see what we were doing, our little community of strangers had quickly become a makeshift family of characters.
After seven days of isolation, the floodwaters receded enough to get out through an easement between Green Valley Drive and Rustic Hills Road. Seeing the devastation in Kingston Springs was mind numbing. Later, I would get to view the aftermath at the Chapmansboro Road area on the other side of the river from us in Ashland City where all was lost.
As our frontage road opened up covered in a slick stinky mud, the restoration began. I felt so selfish having to continue working on my show every waking moment… but I had committed to this exhibit almost a year ago. And as they say in another one of my businesses, “the Show Must Go On!”
I had originally planned for fifteen angels in the “Angels Among Us” exhibit, however, only eight were able to appear complete. I guess the rest of my angels are for another time.
I hope you enjoy this labor of LOVE from me to you and yours, and if you were one of those affected by the great flood of 2010, I hope you have had as loving an experience with those around you as I have.
In love and light to all those affected,
Carla Christina Contreras
“Green Valley Island”
Ashland City, Tennessee