When my exhibit at the Columbus Museum came to a close, the experience of uninstalling the works was made a little brighter by knowing they would soon enliven a new space. My good friend Becky Ford, a longtime collector of my work, was preparing to receive the two pieces she had purchased. In celebration of her new acquisitions and her new home—a former church renovated beautifully into three living spaces—she had the brilliant idea of hosting a Salon, in the style of Gertrude Stein’s Saturday Salons, in her home.
When she first saw the Columbus series, Becky was immediately drawn to one of the most abstract pieces, the “clouds” painting called “Central Hotel, Columbus, Ga.” This work captures an historic brick building in downtown Columbus that was built as the Central Hotel, and in its current state one can see the exposed fireplaces that were originally in each guest room. The site is now an open space used for dining and dancing; the space is made even more interesting by the absence of a roof (it has only iron support beams) and the windows that no longer hold panes of glass so that the sky, and the clouds, can be seen clearly through the old window openings.
Becky also chose the art deco-inspired “Coca Cola Bottling Plant, Columbus, Ga.” painting whose image worked so very well in that long format. The piece highlights the art deco details of the bottling plant, including an octagonal window and a beautiful glass doorway. When Becky and I were in Columbus together recently I took her to see the building; she was so surprised and said it looked plain and bleak without my colors to enliven it! The structure is generally ignored, as it sits almost directly under an overpass. When I first painted it, it was housing a mechanic shop, but now, sadly, it sits empty again. Luckily, both of the works Becky chose were still available after the museum made selections for its permanent collection.
True to form, Becky chose the perfect location for her new art. The paintings are 4’ x 10’, and with the tall ceiling and formerly blank wall in Becky’s living room, the art was displayed beautifully. When she realized the wall had space for a third work, “City Mills, Columbus, Ga.” joined its brethren. Becky hoped that displaying these three works would encourage others to invest in this series, too.
The gracious hostess assembled a small guest list for the Salon experience. Like Gertrude Stein, she wanted to ensure that everyone saw a mix of familiar and new faces so conversation would flow freely, artists would be inspired by one another, and new friendships would form. Some guests were already collectors of my work, some were familiar with my art but had not seen the Columbus series, and some were being introduced to it—and me—for the first time.
It was wonderful to participate in an event inspired by some of my favorite artists; after all, Stein collected Matisse, Cezanne, Manet, Gauguin, and Picasso, among others. It was gratifying to overhear conversations about my art from others who were not as close to the creation, inspiration, and execution of the series as my immediate friends and family. It was exciting to see my art come alive in a new space, among people who were seeing it for the first time.
Soon, the paintings will go to a gallery and become available for sale. If you are interested in purchasing one before then, or if you would like to host your own Salon-style event, please get in touch! The complete series can be seen on my website HERE.
My deepest gratitude goes to Becky for her inspired idea and her steadfast support over the years.