In 1996, John Travolta portrayed the Archangel Michael, and I remember the laughter and heartfelt moments at the theater. I am among those who have enjoyed many viewings over the years.
I still laugh when Dorothy Winters, played by Andie MacDowell, said, “I thought angels were cleaner,” to which the archangel replied, “I’m not that kind of angel.”
The end the movie paid off with a lot of emotions and thought-provoking stimulation, not unlike “It’s a Wonderful Life” from 1947 with Jimmy Stewart. It’s always an eye-opener to see what life would be like if we were not in it.
Not so long ago I was driving with the sun to my back on Main Street in North Wilkesboro, North Carolina. It was a clear day, just as the golden hour was starting. That’s the special time of day when the sun is preparing to set and provides perfect lighting for the camera.
At the corner of Main and Gordon Ave, I noticed a lady painting something on the side of the building. I could tell it was in the early stages, so I was unsure as to what it was. I drove on past, but my curious nature got the best of me, so I turned around and found a parking spot and made my way to the perfectly lit corner.
Artist Andrea Baldwin, with paintbrush in hand, turned from the wall and greeted me with a smile. I ask what she was painting. “Angel Wings,” she said.
She was polite and, after telling her what I do, she agreed to allow me to film our conversation. I just felt there was something special about what I was getting ready to hear and as it turned out, I was correct.
Andrea said, “The wings mean something different for everyone. The idea is to spread love and put more joy in the towns.” Andrea shared with me that painting has gotten her through some very difficult times. For many years she did not use color in her art; it was monochromatic. But now, it’s different. She is happy, and she loves color and has discovered her purpose. It brings joy to her and those who collect her artwork. In each of her works of art, she hides three items. It might be three hearts, three dots or something else. One represents her son, one represents her daughter and one represents her. It’s her reminder of how important her family is.
She said the idea of painting something on a wall that will last for many and give people so much joy is simply wonderful.
Andrea was contacted by Donna Goforth, who with her husband, Junior, operates Quick Frame store and gift shop on Main Street in North Wilkesboro. Donna got the idea for an Angel Wing painting from a trade publication. The article was titled “Retailers Get Their Wings” and it told the story of Tinker’s, a gift shop in Richmond, Virginia that was burned to the ground in 1998. No one was injured and there were no explosions, which is noteworthy as the business next door was full of highly flammable supplies.
Sharon Coleman, owner of Tinker’s, believes that angels kept everyone safe.
Colette Miller, originally from Richmond, is known worldwide for The Global Angel Wings Project. It was during a trip to Los Angeles, where Colette currently resides, that Sharon learned of the project.
Sharon and husband, Tony, pulled together and within a year the business was reopened and has evolved and done well over the years. In 2017, the business co-manager and local artist Kate Khalilian was inspired to paint angel wings on the front of the Tinker and Co. building.
“We love Colette’s story and how she has inspired the wings on our building.”
Sharon told me her shop is out of the way and it’s nice to see people try to find her place to take pictures with the angel wings.
“It just seems to make them happy,” she said.
This story would not be complete without a conversation with Colette Miller. With a bit of effort, I found her number and we had an enjoyable conversation.
She said, “The Global Angel Wings Project was created in 2012 to remind humanity that we are the Angels of this Earth.”
She made the first set in her studio and with the help of a friend, quickly installed them. Why quickly you ask? Because she did not have permission to do it.
The good news is that the wings went up and no one was arrested, and a global journey emerged.
People started taking pictures with the wings and the pictures started getting a lot of positive attention. Before long, Colette found herself painting angel wings in all sorts of places around the world.
Growing up in the South, I remember hearing the expression, “Look at what Florence did. She’s an Angel for sure,” or, “That Allen is an angel; he takes dinner to shut-ins every week.” It’s a bit of a pay-it-forward idea I suppose.
While I was unaware of The Global Angel Wing Project until my encounter at Angel Wing Corner in North Wilkesboro, I’m sure glad I took the time to stop and ask a few questions. In this short time, I had the opportunity to talk with some great people who just want to share a little hope, love and happiness.
So many smiles yet to come.