Greetings, and thank you for looking at my web site.
I got my first painting commission when I was 19, working at Graphics Workshop, a gallery and framer in Lexington, Kentucky, while I was in school at the University of Kentucky, majoring in architecture and English. Two years later I dropped out and came out, the former thanks to structures and physics, the latter thanks to Denise Tobias, a wait person I worked with at Levas’ Restaurant. I came to Atlanta in 1977. Less than three years later I began working at Picture House, Inc., and unknowingly began my career in decorative and fine art. Yet three years thence the legendary Atlanta designer, Penny Goldwasser, almost literally stuck a brush in my hand to achieve a certain effect for ballroom chandeliers. (Mr. Pano and Chef Paul were turning the old Brennan’s into their stylish new 103 West Restaurant.) This lead to polychroming here, gilding there, and watching what the the real artists did, particularly Dan Poole, another Atlanta legend. I had taken watercolor classes at Emory and Oglethorpe, and acrylic painting at the Atlanta College of Art. Here I started learning the craft.
1986: Good-bye Picture House, hello Adlerarts. John Craft and Bob Thomas contracted me then to gild and render faux finishes, along with other artists, Tracy Lindsey and the late King Thackston, for La Tour Restaurant. (There’s a shot in the Interiors section here.) Working, watching. Earning and learning. So it went until I founded Oh So Faux, a decorative arts “atelier” in ADAC West. ( For you non-Atlantans, ADAC is the Atlanta Decorative Arts Center, to the trade only.) “Atelier” notwithstanding, we ( I had two, eventually regrettable, partners) were seriously underfunded but managed a go of it by dint of location, location, location along with some sweat and talent. We cleaned up the former mannequin repair shop, hung a sign, and started pushing back the boundaries of Decorative Art in Atlanta. The silver leaf ceiling in the Mariott as well as the floor cloth that are pictured in the Interiors section are from this time.
Yet three years later our “contract” was, for me, blissfully, up and I took a small studio on Cains Hill Place, next to Dan Poole’s Atlanta studio. With few commissions I painted much furniture, much of it featured on this very web site. My one-time lover and longtime friend, Joey McPherson, of Mobile, seeing the Macon table finished, said, “I didn’t know you could paint like that.”
“I didn’t either.”
I started painting canvasses, too, drawn to imagery around portals through panels, windows through walls, as some work on the site here attests. Even in architecture school I used walls with cut-outs through them in site work.
King introduced me to Michael Venezia and the other founders of Taboo, an Atlanta group of five artists who mounted themed exhibits to show work by many artists. Their “Johnny Detroit Brunch” was a response to Judy Chicago’s “Dinner Party.” I had the distinct pleasure of showing with their Friday the 13th Taboo Cross Show at TULA, and their “Christmas Memories under Twelve Inches,” at Arts Exchange. The cross I made, wood covered in black fur, is in a private collection in Rome.
When the landlady on Cains Hill Place changed the locks on my studio for rent arrears, with client’s work in there, I took up watercolor. Since I would be working at home I needed something that didn’t smell and was easy to clean up. Bob Thomas introduced me to World of Interiors magazine and I am forever grateful. WoI has been a wellspring of inspiration. So, I wondered, what can I paint that might sell? I know this is a question forbidden to artists, but tell that to my landlord and the grocer. World of Interiors had a spread on teapots. Therewith, my series of teapots on patterned grounds was born. Many are here. The backgrounds are inspired by an Edwardian Pattern book given to me by a late friend, Jim Shaeffer, after it was deaccessioned by the University of Kentucky library in the early ‘70’s. One designer commented that “they look like they’re floating,” “they” being the teapots. “That’s because they are, Blanche, they are,” I wanted to respond, but, being the Southern Gentleman I am, didn’t. In fact, I was so inspired at one time by the comments, mostly captious, that I’d heard about my work, what with showing it to gallery owners, dealers, sales people, I started my Designer Series. So far I’ve completed “It’s Too Blue” and “Pink Doesn’t Sell.” On the other hand, William Torphy, an art consultant in San Francisco at Torphyart.com, finds my work “sophisticated” and “decadent.” The teapots, though. Marianne Lambert curates for, among others, Swan Coach House Gallery. She was just installing a show there of actual teapots when the well known Atlanta artist, Comer Jennings, saw a couple of my watercolors of same on the counter of Brooks and Black, one of Atlanta’s premiere frame shops at ADAC West. They found a spot for my pictures in the office and I was officially exhibited in Handles and Spouts: Teapots by Contemporary Southern Artists, 1998.
I also showed at Gallery Timothy Tew. For two days. On that first and last day a couple from Palm Beach, with their architect and their interior designer, bought a set of four of my platter watercolors. When one gets past a committee like that, one has succeeded. Timothy Tew came personally for a “studio visit” to drop me, which I thought was a nice touch, along with a check.
Stephanie Reeves, proprietress of Edgar-Reeves, Inc., the finest lamp and lampshade shop on the planet, learned of my work from Jacqueline P. Lanham, a first-rate designer for whom I had the pleasure of working. Over the years Stephanie has commissioned literally hundreds of watercolors and reverse paintings on glass, otherwise known as Verre ÈglomisÈ. (Examples are on the site.) Soho Myriad and EDL Associates are the other two art consultancies with whom I am proudly associated.
Concurrent with all this, starting in the late ‘80’s I took up voice lessons because, darn it, I wanted to be a Singer, too. We all have reasons for the choices we make. Don’t we? I wrote and co-wrote some songs with Stephanie Pettis, Roger Weinstein, Mary Duke, and Sandra Lutters. (Examples on Songs page.) I recorded some jazzy CD’s with Steve Dwiggins, piano and guitar, and other musicians, most notably Herb Avery, at Ken Gregory Studios and at Doppler Studios. I even get occasional airplay on “Jazz Classics,” the longest running jazz program in Atlanta, hosted by the inimitable and invaluable H. Johnson, from whom I’ve learned almost everything I know about Jazz. The first time I heard myself on the radio was midnight the 27th of February into the 28th, my birthday. It was “’Round Midnight,” a version of which he plays at that hour always. I was laughing and crying at the same time. H. Johnson told me, “I like your style.”
I finally got paid to sing in November 1999 when I was cast into the Ensemble of The, then, Savoyards, now Atlanta Lyric Theater, in a production of “The Mikado.” I was an “Englishman posing as a Japanese.” I was in the Ensemble of four more of their fine productions, enjoying almost every minute.
My art work has in the recent years taken me to Sea Island, Palm Beach, and Louisville. I’ve been allowed to do my best work by patrons whose respect has been earned over the years. My friends remind me how fortunate I am in my work. I concur.
Thank you for making it this far in my little keyword-rich history. You understand.
Fatum me nocere non potest.
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