When it comes to working around graves, not all activities are ghoulish.
Grave rubbing, a form of stone rubbing, involves creating an image of the inscription on a tombstone by rubbing wax, charcoal or inksticks, often on rice paper or butcher paper.
Jayne Lisbeth, a gravestone rubbing artist from Seminole Heights, is one of six being featured in the Bam-BOOO-zle Halloween/Autumn Celebration art show at the Bamboozle Café.
“I have always been fascinated by the Day of the Dead holiday, the tributes made to departed family on that day, and the importance of respecting one’s ancestors,” Lisbeth said. “I am fascinated with old graveyards and love doing grave rubbings. The preservation of the past is very important to me and many gravestones tell a life story in just a few words, or a warning or admonition to enjoy life while you’re here.”
She said one of her favorite gravestones is in the Pioneer Graveyard at the University of Oregon in Eugene, Ore., which states, “Damn, She was good.”
Lisbeth has been a gravestone rubbing artist since the 1970s when she lived in Vermont. She said Halloween has always been a favorite holiday.
Lisbeth will feature a grave-rubbing from a 1909 Eugene, Ore., gravestone in the exhibit that was coordinated by her husband, Tim Gibbons.
Gibbons, an art teacher, will have some of his work on display along with the work of his wife and artists Angela Azmitia, Bill Bellgraph, Cassandra LeSar and Andrea Snow-James. The artists work with acrylics, oils and pencil drawings.
Gibbons said the exhibit will stay up through Nov. 2 at the café, 516 N. Tampa St., Tampa.
He said all of the art featured revolves around the theme of Halloween and the autumn season.
Lisbeth said she tries to do the rubbings of the oldest graves she can find. She has done rubbings in New England, California, Oregon and Florida.
“Infant gravestones are always the saddest to me, so often next to or with the mother’s grave stating the mother’s death on the same day of death or days and weeks after the death of the infant,” she said. “I wonder if those mothers died of childbirth disease/infection, or a broken heart. One of the most heart-breaking gravestones I found was a long engraving on the grave of a mother from her son, who was a sailor and did not make it to his mother’s deathbed prior to her passing. You could feel the utmost pain in his words, as you can in so many of the gravestones I have discovered.”
Lisbeth has been painter since 1997. She has been married to Gibbons for 23 years.
“It’s hard to live with an artist and not catch the bug,” she said. “I love watercolors, the translucence, light and fragility give the work a somewhat dreamy quality which is what I love about the medium.”
She considers herself a writer first, and a watercolor artist second. Lisbeth said others have remarked that she paints “vivid pictures with words,” which may be a result of her dual interests.
Bamboozle Cafe is open Mondays through Saturdays from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and 4:30 to 9 p.m. For more information contact Bamboozle Cafe at (813) 223-7320.