HARBERT — Harold Harris is retiring from the world of art, and Center of the World Woodshop Showroom, 13400 Red Arrow Highway, Harbert, is inviting the public to a reception in his honor on Saturday, Oct. 12, from 4 to 5 p.m.

A Korean War veteran, Harris — now known as The Gourd Man — had never even heard of gourd art when he retired from a trucking industry career.

“At first, he was just always underfoot!” his wife, Vicky, says.

Frustrated by his post-retirement aimlessness, Vicky soon convinced Harold to accompany her to a craft show. And it was there, for the first time, he saw gourd art.

“I think I can do that,” he told Vicky.

In the 20 years since, Harold has created a collection of work that has repeatedly earned him first and second place medals in the Visual Arts Division of the National Veterans Creative Arts Competition & Festival.

His work ranges from decorative vessels, pitchers and lidded jars, to bird houses and lamps, no two alike and all created from locally sourced gourds. Some are delicately filigreed, others carved, some beaded. Leaves are a frequent motif, as are Native American inspired patterns.

Now, it’s time for Harold to retire yet again — and to say farewell to his remaining collection. To give appreciators one last chance to purchase a Harold Harris creation, Center of the World Woodshop will host a reception at which visitors can enjoy a glass of wine and appetizers while perusing The Gourd Man collection. All Harris pieces will be marked down 25 percent for the event. Admission is free.

For more information, call (269) 469-5687 or go to info@centeroftheworld.net.

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