Saturday, November 23, 2013

A Sweet Story: A Macy's Candy Window




It began, like most of my best ideas, while working in the Salt Lake City Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I was thinking about something I needed and felt inspired to go across the street to the City Creek Macy's. What I found was not what I was looking for; a sign in the window calling for artists to submit designs for the holiday candy windows.

Macy's is located at 21 South Main Street, on the site of the old ZCMI; America's first department store. My 3rd great grandfather, Christopher Layton, was a Mormon pioneer and Director of ZCMI the year they moved into the Main Street location in 1876. 
I used to love to shop at ZCMI when I traveled to Salt Lake City from California. A few years ago the old mall was rebuilt and is now City Creek. I thought participating in the holiday window project would be a fun way to pay homage to this great man and would be a treat for my grandchildren when they came to Utah for their Uncle Tim's mission farewell in December. It just so happened that the visual manager, Chad Young, was walking past as I looked at the application. He talked about the project and encouraged me to submit a couple of designs. While riding home on the train, I came up with three concepts. Here's one I submitted. The others are a secret, I might need them later...


The design features a vintage, rosy-cheeked Santa and his bag filled with old-fashioned toys. I hoped it would give grandparents a chance to talk about their childhood Christmases with the grandchildren and vintage is so in right now. Our parents gave us the most memorable Christmases and each toy represents something meaningful to our family and the wonderful things that fill children's lives.  

The rocking duck is a wooden toy my husband's parents had made for him when he was a toddler and we still have it; our grandchildren love rocking on it. The Raggedy Ann was my favorite doll when I was little, on her chest she had a heart that read "I love you."  My grandmother taught me to how read and spell I L-O-V-E Y-O-U with my doll. There is a puppy (who doesn't love a Christmas puppy?) A teddy bear like the ones that used to stand guard at night in my little children's rooms, a stick horse like the ones my sister-in-law and I made for our children, a beach ball similar to the one my children played with at a farewell picnic for my brother as he left for his military service, an elf hiding, a trombone for one of our sons who plays, an elephant my husband loved as a child (and a not-so-veiled political piece), a pretty dolly for my daughters and granddaughters and a football, my sons played. There are five stockings, I wanted to do seven to represent each of our children, but they didn't fit, so we squeezed in five. One is red, white and blue to represent our soldier son and his military comrades, the others hold favorite Christmas treats. Tim's birthday is St. Nicholas Eve, so Santa seemed like a good choice for Tim's farewell.

Santa is holding the word "Merry," a reference to my BFF Mary. (Side note: I was talking on the phone with Mary one time while visiting my grandchildren. My 3 year-old granddaughter Brynn, became excited and asked if she could talk so I handed her the phone. After we finished the call, she stood wide-eyed and exclaimed, "I talked to Jesus' Mommy!")


The deadline for submitting the application was in early August. A few weeks before, I received a phone call from The University of Utah, where I'm studying, offering me a scholarship if I would attend full time. I took it, registered for four classes, drove out to California to visit my children and grandchildren before school started and forgot about the Macy's deadline. 






But Macy's didn't forget about me. I got a call, scrambled to submit the drawings and went back to school. Weeks later I was notified that the corporate window manager in New York liked my design and wanted me to create the holiday window. Macy's needs a Santa in the window, they said and my design was their favorite. I was honored and panicked. 

Four upper division classes, my son leaving on a mission soon and now this. Wisdom dictated that I tell Macy's no, but I really wanted to do this project. We prayed to know what to do. Newell felt if Tim helped it would be doable. Do you think an 18 year-old boy who is getting ready to leave home for two years would agree to help? I hoped he would, I thought we might have some valuable time together to visit and collaborate (and glue). Tim said yes, and I told Macy's yes. 

Paul, Macy's corporate window manager, flew out from New York to meet with Chad, Tim and me. We discussed art elements; color, texture, scale, (see kids, it's a good thing to go to college - you need an education even in art.)  With Paul's approval, Chad ordered the candy, probably 120 pounds (times six for all of the projects.)



Chad delivered the 42" diameter ball to our house while I was at school. I looked at it when I got home and wondered what I had gotten myself into. Math is not my best subject but I think that meant 5,538" had to be covered in jelly beans, Jordan almonds, licorice and other small candies. Seriously. There was only one door into our house that it would fit through and it had to stay in our dining room because, once in, it wouldn't fit anywhere else. I wasn't going to work in the cold garage.

Next I needed to figure out how to translate two 3 inch two- dimensional designs into a 38 1/2 square foot three-dimensional sculptured sphere. And have enough candy to cover it completely.  My art classes hadn't exactly prepared me for this exercise. And what if I didn't order enough candy? This ornament was going to be displayed in downtown Salt Lake City. In Macy's window. On Main Street. No pressure.

The fun began when I logged on to Candy.com's website to select the "palette". I was like a kid in a candy store with someone else's (Macy's) checkbook. Cherry chews, watermelon sours, jelly beans of all kinds and colors, even silver Jordan almonds were all there for the asking. I sketched the design onto the ball with a construction pencil and artist's charcoal. I found that the difference between 2D and 3D meant areas that weren't accounted for. I added the elephant to fill in the gap. Tim and I started sculpting the relief figures and attaching them to the ball. 



Did I mention that I was also promoting my Halloween book with a 100 day countdown on my website for Halloween during all of this? And writing for FamilyShare, The Deseret News, Connie Sokol and other websites?


 And having an interview with Kim Power Stilson on BYU Sirius 143 Radio on Halloween? 


And serving in a ward Relief Society presidency? A girl needs friends at a time like this.

Then my daughter called to invite me to come to California to accompany her to the Oakland Temple to receive her endowment. She took first priority, everything else came to a screeching halt. 


 Back in Utah, the candy arrived, about six cases, plus a case of adhesives. We laid the bags of candy out like an artist's paint palette, picked a spot on the ornament to start with, loaded the adhesive cartridges and went to work.



Instead of gingerbread, the scent of  silicone caulking and hot glue filled the air. If this had been any other medium, it would not have been fun, but how can you not enjoy playing with 100+ pounds of candy?     
              Imagine U: The University of Utah

I started wondering if this volunteer project of many, many hours might qualify for some kind of credit toward my art degree; a major corporation approves the design, funds and exhibits the temporary art piece. Dr. Krensky, My brilliant Art Pedagogy in Education teacher suggested that it might work for the project for Teaching Practicum experience if I had students collaborating, I did and found more to help. The Practicum teacher Rosi Hayes agreed to accept it (thank you Rosi.) I had seen the graduate students' studios the previous night and they were creating amazing art. Dr. Krensky also had the idea that many artists are using non-traditional spaces to exhibit their art, maybe Macy's would help out. 

I received a call that Paul was returning to Salt Lake City to check our progress. We scraped the candy and glue off the dining room floor and invited Chad and Paul to stay for breakfast. 


Over beehive bread and Newell's favorite breakfast casserole, I asked if Macy's could carry a few more "modest" clothes for girls and young women. Chad told us of their policy of allowing stores to select up to 20% of their merchandise - (Note to Moms: Tell the store managers what you would like to see in the stores) and that they are selling skirts and will be carrying lines of clothing suitable for sister missionaries. I also inquired whether Macy's might display art from local artists and students. Paul said they already do in New York and that Chad could accept art at the City Creek store. Chad quickly had ideas for suitable exhibit areas and would start to take proposals soon. We wished them well as we all headed out to work and school.

Macy's came and moved the ball back to the store where we would complete the project with additional volunteers.We were so lucky to meet the most amazing artists and their helpers; Abigail and Jeff, Jacob and his family and friends. I loved getting to know them and cheering each others' progress as we worked the many long hours required to complete our projects. 


Jacob's design  

We left just before the deadline to drive to St. George to wish my dad, Larry Layton, a happy 80th birthday and give Tim a chance to say goodbye before he leaves for two years.
 

Then with the clock ticking away, we jumped back in to meet the deadline. Kevin and Gary, the visual managers from University and Cottonwood Macy's; Wendy, the manager at City Creek, Matt, Nicole and the others were so gracious, helpful and wonderful, I felt like an art princess.The windows were painted, our names were added, the backdrops were set up and local television stations and newspapers began to cover the events. It may have been the fumes, but Tim and I agreed that the whole thing had been "surreal."
 
 



The special night arrived. Thursday, November 21st at 6 p.m., amid throngs of excited children and candy art connoisseurs, we unveiled the windows 



Artists enjoy the thrill of connecting with their audience, to see the joy in their eyes. Tim commented on how much he enjoyed all the positive energy. He was a candy rock star. (Rock candy star?) There's something magical about having your art displayed for others to enjoy.

So as Tim finishes his preparations to leave for the Mission Training Center on December 18th and Birmingham, Alabama; I hope he'll carry with him the memory of our big adventure and the unusual way the McMurtrys wished our grandchildren,the children, families and guests of Salt Lake City 

A Very Merry Christmas!



Special Thanks:
Newell for putting up with all of this and gluing itty bitty little things to a large sphere. And not being a Grinch and having a good Christmas spirit.

Tim, Nicki, Brianne, Cappy, Jordan and Morgan for your help. 
We would not have finished this successfully without you; big hugs!

Macy's 
For allowing me to participate in your holiday window project and  
giving me a job last Christmas so I could visit my soldier son on the other side of the country. Three deployments in six years=not many Christmases together.

Heavenly Father
For Jesus, Christmas and everything. 


  Here's what the newspapers and television had to say: 

I received a call from Macy's West Coast office in San Francisco inviting me to be interviewed for a local news story:
http://www.ksl.com/?sid=28034321 




http://www.ksl.com/?nid=960&sid=27734696 

http://www.4utah.com/story/sneak-peek-at-macys-holiday-candy-windows/d/story/ZJqNaYbYPUGXxke9QKBKJA 

http://www.4utah.com/story/macys-calling-for-artists-to-decorate-christmas-wi/d/story/0jUwdQgq3UySBAvDhd6Gsw 

http://mblog.macys.com/mark-your-calendars-for-macys-holiday-window-unveilings/ 

The symbolism of the design for those seeking deeper meaning: 


 The winking Santa is the predominant subject. He is based on 1950's graphic art images of Santa. Dressed in traditional red garb, he holds a garland of blocks that spell MERRY - a reference to my best friend Mary Cowan. On his shoulders is a bag of toys which each have a meaning:

1. Raggedy Ann - my favorite doll from childhood. I loved the stories and my grandmother Mimee used her printed heart to teach me to spell I Love You. I made Raggedy Anns for my two girls and granddaughters. 

2. The rocking duck is based an a toy my husband's parents had commissioned for him when he was a toddler. We have the duck and our grandchildren love rocking on it. 

3. The blond doll was a reference to the dolls my little girls  received at Christmas time. And the little orange puppy was a puppy. Doesn't every child want one for Christmas?

4. The green argyle stocking horse was reminiscent of the argyle stocking horses I made for my children and for those in the children's organization at church. Argyle because I love plaid and my husband and I have Scottish ancestors. 

5. Near the top, there are a football, all our boys played; and a hiding elf, which is funny because at the window unveiling, Buddy the elf from the play Elf was there. There was a beach ball because I grew up on the beach and my children had a magical experience with one on a lake.



6. Tim crafted an amazing retro teddy bear holding a honeybee sucker. On Tim's first birthday, we went to a boutique toy store where he used his newly developed walking skills to toddle and choose his gift. He picked a large Winnie the Pooh bear. The bee sucker was a reference to Utah; what else would a teddy bear hold?



7. Ahh, the elephant. There was an unexpected gap in the design. As an artist I am a (marginalized) Conservative working in a predominantly Liberal industry.  I couldn't resist the urge to include this veiled Republican reference. I have always been a Republican, I remember being excited to see President Eisenhower in a parade when I was probably less than two years old. As Lady Gaga says, "I was born this way."

8. A silver trombone for Dylan who can play just about anything. 

9. The stockings. The most significant is the red, white and blue stocking holding a toy soldier and American flag. My precious son Andrew serves in the U.S. Army. I wanted to remember and thank him and all soldiers and veterans.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Macy's Candy Windows


A work in progress



Behind the scenes at Macy's City Creek 




Press Release from Macy's

"SALT LAKE CITY, UT – November 4, 2013 – For the second year, Macy’s is proud to announce the return of the holiday candy window tradition at Macy’s City Creek. The windows, which will be unveiled on Thursday, Nov. 21, at 6 p.m. to kick off the holiday season, will be made entirely out of candy and will reflect Salt Lake City and the luster of the holiday season. Six local artists have been chosen to design the windows, including returning artist Babs de Lay and the Salt Lake Community College visual merchandising class. In addition, there are four new artists this year, including Chelsea Walton, Jacob DeGering, Pam McMurty and Abigail Hayes.

As part of the window unveiling celebration, Buddy the Elf and performers from Pioneer Theatre Company’s holiday musical “Elf,” based on the New Line Cinema film written by David Berenbaum, will bring the holiday spirit to life by performing a song from the show at the unveiling. “Elf - The Musical” will perform at the Salt Lake City’s Pioneer Theater Company from Dec. 6 through Dec. 24.

The winning artists are working like Santa’s elves, using hot glue guns to attach more than 800 pounds of candy to frames of wood and Styrofoam. Decorative treats include white shimmer gumballs, licorice, candy pebbles, and an assortment of jelly beans for designs that are both whimsical and bold.

"This is a Salt Lake City tradition and in terms of visual merchandising, it's like the Super Bowl of window display,” said SLCC Fashion Institute Visual Merchandising teacher Matt Monson, who is leading the student team that created one of the winning entries. “This is a pretty incredible opportunity for the SLCC visual merchandising students and I couldn't be more proud of their work.”

Artist and returning winner Babs De Lay is excited for this year’s reveal. She recalls last year’s unveiling; “standing in the crowd, listening to kids look at the candy windows—priceless. The giggles and ‘oooh’s and ahhh’s’ made everyone feel even more in the holiday spirit!”

From now until Dec. 31, Macy's will match tax-deductible donations to the Utah Arts Festival up to $5,000. Make a secure donation online at uaf.org/friends or contact Aimée at (801) 322-2428 to make a donation by phone."



  Done. 

Merry Christmas Salt Lake City!

This weekend I'll tell you the rest of the story.

It's not too late to get great autumn recipes and decorating ideas in


 http://www.amazon.com/Harvest-Halloween-Handbook-Artisan-ebook/dp/B009PA8ON6/?keywords=pam+mcmurtry&qid=1374845872&ref=sr_1_1&ie=UTF8&sr=8-1 

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-harvest-and-halloween-handbook-pam-mcmurtry/1116031757?ean=2940148379744

Monday, November 11, 2013

Happy Veterans' Day


To Dad, Andrew, John, Matt, Dustin, Scott, Elton, Simone and all  who have served or are serving. Thank you.
You are in our thoughts and prayers.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

The Divine Role of Women



 The Divine Role of Women 

Notes from my address in a Sacrament Meeting of the Kaysville 10th Ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
November 10, 2013 


(From "Daughters in My Kingdom")


Joseph Smith taught Relief Society sisters of their nobility as daughters of God, helping them understand that God loved them and had grand purposes for them to fulfill. Women in the Church play essential roles in Heavenly Father’s plan of salvation—just as important as the roles played by men who hold the priesthood. The Lord has endowed women with an innate desire to serve and bless others, and He has entrusted them with a sacred responsibility to use their gifts to help save His children.


Women sometimes forget their true nobility and give in to the diversions and temptations of the world. Concerned about this trend, Sister Mary Ellen Smoot, the thirteenth Relief Society general president, and her counselors, Sisters Virginia U. Jensen and Sheri L. Dew, felt a need to help the women of the Church remember their identity. In a general Relief Society meeting, they expressed what it means to be daughters of God:


“We are beloved spirit daughters of God, and our lives have meaning, purpose, and direction. As a worldwide sisterhood, we are united in our devotion to Jesus Christ, our Savior and Exemplar. We are women of faith, virtue, vision, and charity who:

“Increase our testimonies of Jesus Christ through prayer and scripture study.

“Seek spiritual strength by following the promptings of the Holy Ghost.

“Dedicate ourselves to strengthening marriages, families, and homes.

“Find nobility in motherhood and joy in womanhood.

“Delight in service and good works.

“Love life and learning.

“Stand for truth and righteousness.

“Sustain the priesthood as the authority of God on earth.

“Rejoice in the blessings of the temple, understand our divine destiny, and strive for exaltation.”



Speaking of exaltation, this is a note from the news a few days ago…” A study finds the Milky Way is teeming with billions of planets that are about the size of Earth, orbit stars just like our sun, and exist in the Goldilocks zone -- not too hot and not too cold for life.

Astronomers using NASA data have calculated for the first time that in our galaxy alone, there are at least 8.8 billion stars with Earth-size planets in the habitable temperature zone.

The study was published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science. For perspective, that's more Earth-like planets than there are people on Earth. The scriptures say “worlds without number” One of my friends posted this on Facebook and one of his friend commented, “the Mormons are having a field day.” I love it when science catches up with the scriptures.


Priesthood leaders have also reminded women of their divine nature and sacred responsibilities. Elder M. Russell Ballard of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said: “We believe in and are counting on your goodness and your strength, your propensity for virtue and valor, your kindness and courage, your strength and resilience. We believe in your mission as women of God. … We believe that the Church simply will not accomplish what it must without your faith and faithfulness, your innate tendency to put the well-being of others ahead of your own, and your spiritual strength and tenacity. And we believe that God’s plan is for you to become queens and to receive the highest blessings any woman can receive in time or eternity.” 


As women live up to their privilege and potential as daughters of God, they prepare themselves for the blessing of eternal life. This is the glorious destiny God has in store for His faithful daughters.

Last week in our Relief Society lesson, we discussed Elder Scott’s talk from Oct General Conference. We learned about reconciling ourselves to God’s will and how to strengthen ourselves through the atonement of Christ, by making and keeping covenants, serving faithfully in our callings, performing temple service, building up our family members, helping others and proclaiming the gospel. We learned that our spiritual development is more important than the things the things of the world.


In the Doctrine and Covenants 113: 7, 9-10 the Lord was asked

7.… What is meant by the command in Isaiah, 52d chapter, 1st verse, which saith: Put on thy strength, O Zion—and what people had Isaiah reference to?

9. What are we to understand by Zion loosing herself from the bands of her neck; 2d verse?

10. We are to understand that the scattered remnants are exhorted to return to the Lord from whence they have fallen; which if they do, the promise of the Lord is that he will speak to them, or give them revelation. ..the bands of her neck are the curses of God upon her, or the remnants of Israel in their scattered condition among the Gentiles. We are cursed for our worldliness and other offenses against God. But the curses of God are removed in temple service.


In the Doctrine and Covenants 97:14 we are told:

14 That they may be perfected in the understanding of their ministry, in theory, in principle, and in doctrine, in all things pertaining to the kingdom of God on the earth, the keys of which kingdom have been conferred upon you.

18 And, now, behold, if Zion do these things she shall prosper, and spread herself and become very glorious, very great, and very terrible.

 19 And the nations of the earth shall honor her, and shall say: Surely Zion is the city of our God, and surely Zion cannot fall, neither be moved out of her place, for God is there, and the hand of the Lord is there;

 20 And he hath sworn by the power of his might to be her salvation and her high tower.

 21 Therefore, verily, thus saith the Lord, let Zion rejoice, for this is Zion—the pure in heart; therefore, let Zion rejoice, while all the wicked shall mourn.

 22 For behold, and lo, vengeance cometh speedily upon the ungodly as the whirlwind; and who shall escape it?

 23 The Lord’s scourge shall pass over by night and by day, and the report thereof shall vex all people; yea, it shall not be stayed until the Lord come;

 24 For the indignation of the Lord is kindled against their abominations and all their wicked works.


The Sisters of the Kingdom are to

“Lead the World … in Everything That Is Praise-Worthy”


The 13th Article of faith states:


We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul—We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things."


President Joseph F. Smith, the sixth President of the Church, urged Latter-day Saint women to “lead the world and to lead especially the women of the world, in everything that is praise-worthy, everything that is God-like, everything that is uplifting and that is purifying.” He said, “You are called by the voice of the Prophet of God to do it, to be uppermost, to be the greatest and the best, the purest and the most devoted to the right.”


Throughout the history of the Lord’s restored Church, female disciples of Christ have lived up to this standard. Like Esther, they have been faithful and courageous in the face of difficult challenges. They have found purpose in their lives, as Esther did when her cousin Mordecai asked her, “Who knoweth whether thou art come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Like Nehemiah in the Old Testament, they have not been diverted from their sacred responsibilities. When Nehemiah’s enemies tried to tempt him away from his duty to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, he replied, “I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down: why should the work cease, whilst I leave it, and come down to you?” His enemies continued to tempt him, but he stayed strong and true to his important work. The world has tried to persuade the women of the Church to abandon their God-given missions, but faithful Relief Society sisters have not “come down.”


I had an unusual opportunity this week to do some good for the kingdom. I am in the process of creating one of the holiday candy windows for the City Creek Macy’s which used to be ZCMI. I was at the SL temple this summer and felt inspired to go to Macy’s to look for something I needed. When I walked up to the store I saw a call for artists in the window they were looking for designers for candy window displays for Christmas. My 3rd great grandfather was the president of ZCMI when the beautiful arched façade was installed in the late 1800’s. I thought it would be fun to honor our family history and contribute a gift to the children of this area. I submitted a concept which was approved by the corporate office and I received the go-ahead to order the materials and begin construction. The Manager of Window Displays for all of Macy’s flew out from New York to discuss the project. On Friday he and Chad Young, the visual manager for City Creek came to my house to check on the progress. I offered to make them breakfast and had time to visit with them and request more modest clothes in the local stores, especially for young girls and young women. Chad told me that the stores will be able to select 20% of the merchandise they carry and are in the process of getting a line of clothes appropriate for sister missionaries. This is a good time to let local store management know what you would like to see available for your daughters to help them dress modestly.


In each new generation, Relief Society sisters can say, “Now it is our turn to serve.” The charge to lead out in everything that is praiseworthy, Godlike, uplifting, and purifying is a demanding one. It always has been. But individual Relief Society sisters are not alone in accepting this charge. They are part of a great organization, founded by priesthood authority and strengthened by the teachings and declarations of prophets. They are beloved daughters of God with sacred responsibilities. They are covenant people of the Lamb, “armed with righteousness and with the power of God in great glory.” As they unite with other faithful Saints and learn from the examples of those who have gone before, they can prevail over mortal challenges. They can help build the kingdom of God throughout the world and in their homes. They can say, “Now it is our turn—our turn to serve and write a chapter on the pages of Relief Society’s history.” With an assurance of Heavenly Father’s love for them and a testimony of the power of the Atonement of Jesus Christ, they can rise above ordinary thoughts and ambitions and be part of “something extraordinary.”


Some time ago, I was prompted to write a book about Halloween. In my book, I described the harvest holidays of ancient Israel, pagan practices and modern traditions. The week before last, on Halloween, I was invited to be a guest on BYU’s TalkWorthy radio program with Kim Power Stilson. We discussed child-friendly alternative ideas for celebrating at Halloween and how to avoid the more decadent practices. The reason I’m telling you this, is that as we follow the Lord, He provides opportunities to build the kingdom and show the world a more excellent way.


  The Lord’s promises are sure as sisters follow the counsel He gave to the first Relief Society president: “Verily I say unto you, all those who receive my gospel are sons and daughters in my kingdom. … Lay aside the things of this world, and seek for the things of a better. … Cleave unto the covenants which thou hast made.” When the Prophet Joseph Smith told Relief Society sisters to “live up to [their] privilege,” he combined that exhortation with a promise: “The angels cannot be restrained from being your associates. … If you will be pure, nothing can hinder.” What a great privilege it is to be a Daughter in the Kingdom. 

In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.  

http://www.lds.org/relief-society/?lang=eng