Our Lead Artist and President of Saving Grace Enterprises, Inc., was recently contacted through Legacy Journals by the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C. to create a very special custom leather guest book. The book was used during the Smithsonian Institution’s 42nd Annual Folklife Festival on that National Mall in the “Bhutan: Land of the Thunder Dragon” program to record visitor sentiments and well wishes during this year’s festival.
Ms. Phipps was extended a personal invitation from the program’s curator, Preston Scott, to attend the opening ceremonies and present the book, complete with a custom wood presentation box made by our fine wood craftsman, in person during the festival.
Ms. Phipps presented the book to His Royal Highness Prince Jigyel Ugyen Wangchuck, Prince of Bhutan – the head of the Bhutanese delegation (consisting of approximately 140 Bhutanese artists, dancers, cooks, craftspeople, carpenters, farmers, and representatives of monastic life) for the event – during a book blessing ceremony on the opening day of the festival. Ms. Phipps was also formally introduced to His Excellency Lyonpo Minjur Dorji, Minister for Home and Cultural Affairs of Bhutan.
“The presentation of the book was very beautiful. They had the book, safely inside the box, tied with a white silk scarf. And, once they were ready to begin, both His Royal Highness, the Prince, and I, pulled opposite ends of the scarf to “reveal” the box, and then the book. Then, His Royal Highness , the Prince, signed the first page and His Excellency Lyonpo Minjur Dorji signed the following page,“ comments Phipps on the book blessing ceremony.
Once the Festival concluded, the custom leather guest book, filled with visitor’s sentiments, was taken to Bhutan and given as a gift from the Smithsonian Institution to the King of Bhutan – Fifth Druk Gyalpo His Majest King Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck.
When asked about the Smithsonian book, Ms. Phipps commented: “It took a few days for it to really sink in – the Smithsonian chose my company to create something to give to a foreign dignitary [from the Smithsonian]. We get some really neat requests from very interesting people, but, this was, by far, the most notable from an artist’s point of view. I think every artists dreams of being contacted by the Smithsonian Institution, and to create something that is so important to them was a huge honor – and pretty overwhelming if I allow myself to dwell on it. And,” Phipps added with a grin, “that’s not even adding the ‘meeting a prince’ factor – doesn’t every little girl dream of meeting a prince? It’s just such an honor all around – definitely a once-in-a-lifetime event.”
About the Festival
The 2008 Smithsonian Folklife Festival featured three programs. In addition to “Bhutan: Land of the Thunder Dragon,” the other programs were “NASA: 50 years and Beyond” and “Texas: A Celebration of Music, Food and Wine.”
The Folklife Festival, inaugurated in 1967, honors people from across the United States and around the world. With approximately 1 million visitors each year, the Festival unites presenters and performers in the nation’s capital to celebrate the diversity of cultural traditions. It is produced by the Smithsonian’s Center for Folklife and Cultural Heritage. The Festival’s web site is: http://www.folklife.si.edu.