Tidalholm and The Big Chill



Tidalholm opened its doors to Historic Beaufort Foundation and supporters for the annual Soiree garden party.  Under new ownership, Tidalholm is being lovingly restored.  The house was built in 1853 by plantation owner, Edgar Fripp, as a summer house.  Since then, Tidalholm has served as a Union hospital during the Civil War, and a guest house since 1930 until it was converted, once again, to a family home in 1974.

But in our modern day, Tidalholm is best known as The Big Chill House.  It was the filming location for Lawrence Kasdan's iconic movie about college friends reunited a decade later by tragedy.  Alex commits suicide and his friends gather after the funeral to digest it all over a weekend, try to make sense of their loss, their past and their present.  What happened to their hopes, dreams and ideals?  How did they get to be in their 30's living this life they didn't plan on?

I thought I might watch the movie again.  It has a great cast, great dialogue but where's the plot.  The movie just doesn't go anywhere and that's exactly the point.

What I find most important in these relationships is that they are grounded in their common past and a fundamental understanding of each other.  I know precisely who I am, where I have come from and where I am today.  I know that about you too.  We all know that about each other.

So, what makes a 1980's movie about college friends from the 60's relevant today?

Essayist, Lena Dunham, brilliantly bridges a generational gap by simply stating, "These are your parents."

As I danced with my husband under the stars at The Big Chill House, I asked myself how I got to be this age and in this place.

Happy Holidays!

This is a busy time for most of you, but I encourage you to take up a slower pace and enjoy and reflect.  

For me, ‘tis the season to be homesick for Europe. Christmas is magic.  Christmas markets fill town squares with sounds of merchants, curious shoppers, and musicians; smells of traditional foods and mulled wines; and as sun sets the lights twinkle bright like fairies sparkling through the night. As lively and crowded as the markets are, there is a feeling of peace and solidarity that comes with age old traditions ingrained in the community. You have to marvel how pagan traditions found their way to Christendom.

Enjoy Salzburg’s Christmas Market 

In my heart Christmas, where ever I find myself, will be a magical time where people come together to enjoy each other and the fruits of winter season and look with anticipation to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ.

One of my favorite cities for magic any time of year is Salzburg, Austria. Salzburg is divided by the Salzach River in to the old town and new town.  First settled by Celts around 5th century BC, Romans were to follow and then the Catholic Church. The city’s fortress, Hohensalzburg, was built in 1077 by Archbishop Geppard and dominates this beautiful city of 35 churches.

Its medieval roots and Baroque heritage are found well-preserved though out the Alt-Stadt, “old city”. Salzburg in all its splendor was the “Rome of the North”, it is the birthplace of 18th century composer, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and, in 1996, was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

If you plan to visit, take a poncho and umbrella and stay at ArtHotel Blaue Gans if you’re looking for a central boutique hotel with flair.  Blaue Gans is Salzburg’s oldest hotel, a mere 660 years old, and located down the street from Mozart’s birthplace. If you prefer a more traditional establishment a bit off the beaten path, I love Romantik Hotel Die Gersberg Alm.  Even in Mozart’s time, Gersberg Alm was a beloved excursion for city-dwellers yearning for nature. This lovely spot has a magnificent view of the castle and cathedral. Either way be ready to fall in love with Salzburg.

Merry Christmas!

A Man of Two Worlds

"Humanity has won its battle. Liberty now has a country."

In Spring, Historic Beaufort Foundation celebrates Beaufort's French heritage and honors a Revolutionary War hero, Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette.  The Lafayette Soiree is a well-heeled event held at one of Beaufort's private, historic homes - une fête extravagante - and well worth a trip to Beaufort to attend. The arrival of guests is accompanied by a classical music quartet, sparkling wine flows and a festive, genteel atmosphere envelops the softly-lit garden of Tidewatch. This annual event is the primary fundraiser for Historic Beaufort Foundation, an organization that has worked faithfully to preserve this beautiful city on the banks of the Beaufort River. As I stand on the dock at Tidewatch and watch the sunset over the river I am thankful for their efforts.

The Marquis de Lafayette stemmed from a most noble family from Haute-Loire Auvergne, France.  His birthplace, Chateau de Chavaniac, was built in the 14th century and defines the town of Chavaniac still today. What is so remarkable about Lafayette is that even though he was born in to the privileged noble class of France, he believed so strongly in the right of freedom and liberty for all.  He sought to advance, "not the national interest of one country or another, but the liberty of all mankind." He was a firm believer in a constitutional monarchy and his ideas on possible government structures for France were modeled after Britain and the United States.  He opposed slavery and authored the Declaration of the Right of Man and of the Citizen in 1789. Instead of owning slaves, he proposed they work as free tenants on the land of plantation owners.  He put this idea to test on a plantation he purchased in the French colony, Cayenne.

Today, both the French and American flags fly above Chavaniac Castle. The castle and grounds are well-preserved by the Lafayette Memorial Association.  The castle museum gives insight in to a day in the life of the Marquis de Lafayette and his family. It also has on display a lock of George Washington's hair, Ben Franklin's ring and original letters by Lafayette.

This mountainous region of Auvergne, west of the Rhone river, is steeped in history and off the beaten tourist path. Be prepared to parler francais on occasion. Auvergne is crossed by two rivers, the Loire and the Allier.  Visit the Gorges of Allier, the picturesque village of Lavaudieu and the pilgrimage town of Le-Puy-en-Velay, a stop on the route to Sanitago de Compostela in Spain. Stay at Chateau Royal de Saint-Saturnin or the 19th century manor hotel Le Manoir de la Manantie, both near Clermont-Ferrand. For your art-fix, visit the Roger-Guillot Museum in Clermont-Ferrand. This wonderful museum was constructed on the sight of a 17-18th century Ursulines convent. Architects, Adrien and Claude Gaillard, envisioned a light-filled museum which is centered around an atrium designed by Peter Rice. The museum is home to over 1,500 works of art from the middle ages to 20th century.

Wandering through the delightful Haute-Loire, I am struck by the contrast between where Lafayette came from and where he ventured to in the New World. I can't help but wonder what the Marquis thought as he disembarked from his ship, La Victoire, near Georgetown, South Carolina.  He has been quoted, "Charleston is one of the best built, handsomest, and most agreeable cities that I have ever seen." I'm sure he thought the same of Beaufort, Charleston's little sister city.

Hilton Head Art League's 2017 Biennale

Walking into Hilton Head Art League's 2017 Biennale is walking into the unexpected. This unassuming gallery space allowed the art to speak for itself.

Tunping Wang’s pastel, “Undefined#2,” once again captured the audience. Hionas Gallery in New York presented his work in their show “Undefined” in 2011. This was Wang’s first solo exhibition. Tunping Wang’s large scale portraits haunt me. The raw, dark emotion revealed is a human side I prefer to repress. Aren’t we all always “fine”?  Wang digs deep and not just in to the soul. His photorealist portraits show us more than a camera lens can.

Undefined#2 is a fascinating piece to study. The detail takes time to absorb. The subtlest nuances of hue and light breathe life in to the figure. It is artfully cropped to create tension in the light and dark, yet still allow for balance and symmetry. I am challenged to grasp the emotion. What is this man looking at? Maybe nothing in particular? I want to know what he is thinking in this moment. Such is the art of Tunping Wang.

William Schneider’s oil, “Red Brigade,” is another brilliant work that studies light, contrast and texture. I relish how the realistic face of the figure is juxtaposed by a surrounding expression of abstraction. Again, the forces of light and hue are skillfully at play. Light dances through the colour and texture surrounding the face. Schneider knows when to stop; he knows what to leave out. This work, in its simplicity, is actually quite complex. I’m drawn to focus on the person and the story he has to tell.

Abstract art challenges us to see. The visual phenomena are the same, only we are not distracted by subject matter. Art Cornell’s work, “Steps in a Journey,” is a beautifully balanced piece that gives us the illusion of space. The piece is dynamic with a fluid diagonal line of upward movement. Or, is it downward movement? What do you see?

I am challenged by digitally enhanced photography. I am an old-fashioned purist and big fan of Henri Cartier-Bresson. That sums it up. What’s sets the photographer apart from other artists is the ability to see a picture and capture it in an instant. Two photographers caught my attention with interesting imagery and composition: Paul Murray with Havana Living #1 and Nicholas Mariano with Fishing Boats – Mauritania.  It makes me wonder what they can do with a Leica 35mm in black and white.

The 2017 Biennale offers a wonderful variety of artistic expression. It is well balanced among the media which is a testimony to the jurors who presided.

Lowcountry Ladies

A few months have passed since my last blog. I have been caring for my ailing mother and I’m grateful to report that all is well! As I remarked on Facebook and Instagram, life comes at you fast. Life is fragile and, as we like to forget, it is also temporary. Take the time to relish life.

While caring for my mother, I had time to reflect on her, on myself, our relationship, on mothers and daughters in general, on the role of women …  I also had time to read. My friend, Stephanie, suggested the book “Plantation” by Dorothea Benton Frank and I got a good dose of family, strong women and Lowcountry living. They are the inspiration for our featured exhibition, “Lowcountry Ladies.”

Jennifer Wharton’s lovely portrait of “Wendy” reminds me of my mother in her younger years. And as the setting for this portrait suggests, mother was quite the decorator.  Her influence predestined me for a career in art and interior design.

I look back on my evolution from daughter to woman to wife to mother and I feel humbled by the journey so far. Yes, there is much I wish I’d left unsaid and undone. My mother and I both put our relationship to the test at times. But we are stronger together.

So, here’s to the two leading ladies left in my life, my mother and her sister, my dear Aunt Margrit. Thank you!

In the Studio with Lucien Gondret

For the past 30 years I have traveled to France on a regular basis as an essential part of my job as an art dealer. There have been times when it felt like I couldn’t board another plane, or that I couldn’t face another night in a hotel room. However, there is one thing that I have never grown tired of – visiting an artist’s studio. Every visit to an artist’s studio is a voyage of discovery.

The artist has added a new perspective to his work, there is a new subject matter he is experimenting with, a new combination of colors that has intrigued him, a new format size or shape has solved an ongoing problem, and I could go on and on. A true artist never stops learning and never stops challenging himself/herself.
A few weeks ago, as I have done 3 or 4 times a year for 30 years, I visited Lucien Gondret in his studio, and as is always the case, Lucien had something new to show me. A few months before he had been in New York, and was excited about a painting that captured his vision of NYC. 

When I entered the studio, he was still adding some finishing touches.

This led to a discussion of what he wanted to capture that day, why he had chosen this perspective,

And how a few passerbys had helped him create the dimensional effect that would reflect how he had felt that day.

Then I did what I always do, which is to explore the studio in search of another new theme I hadn’t seen yet. I found it when I saw a series of Paris night scenes Lucien was working on.

One of Lucien’s strengths as an artist has always been his ability to create unique lighting effects. In this painting of the Grand Palais seen from the Pont Alexandre III, there is a magical mixture of light sources: the street lamps, interior light emanating from the building, a reflection of multiple lights on the river, and a suggestion of moonlight.

Finally, a visit to Lucien’s studio wouldn’t be complete without finding a very small painting, a miniature gem. that captured my mood during that day’s visit and reinforced all the reasons why our collaboration has lasted for 30 years now.

This small semi-abstract floral, just seemed to encapsulate the feeling of a warm October day, where two old friends spent an afternoon doing something they both love.

Paintings by Lucien Gondret will be exhibited at The Intercontinental Art Experience, from February 18-26 in Beaufort, South Carolina.


Lucien Gondret was born in Marines, France in 1941. His ability in art was revealed at an extremely early age. He first exhibited his works in a juried show at the age of 16. It was at this exhibit that the famous French writer Jean Cocteau saw the young artist’s work and encouraged him to make art his career. Throughout his development Gondret was heavily influenced by the Fauvists notably Valminck.
For more than 40 years, Gondret has exhibited his works throughout Europe, the United States and Japan. His works have been shown annually at the Salon des Independants and the Salon des Artistes Francais. Gondret has been a member of the prestigious Salon des Artistes since 1977.

Gondret has received many awards and is listed in the prestigious Benezit Catalog.

Hurricane Matthew

Hurricane Matthew left a path of destruction in its wake and the Carolinas weren’t spared.  The forces of nature are absolute.   These forces do not discriminate.  Throughout the ages, civilizations are affected regardless of race, religion, gender, sexual orientation or social status.  It is not possible to tame, stop or direct the force.  All that is left is for land and people to endure. Where is the beauty in devastation?  Where is the inspiration in tragedy?  Where is the art in destruction?  My mind impulsively leaps to Pollack, Goya, Picasso’s Guernica.  It needs to backtrack.

Lucien Gondret, Artist


There is a calm before a storm.  It’s super-real how quiet and still the wind is and how people just go about their day.


Thanks to modern technology we, in the Carolinas, knew Matthew was on its way.  The evacuation of 2 million people along the eastern seaboard was very real.  In today’s negative social climate in which the fibers of what binds Americans together is under attack, we all need to stop for a moment to appreciate those individuals who stayed behind to guard our properties; stand prepared to search, rescue, provide emergency care; and be first on hand to restore our lives by clearing our roads and giving us back the comforts of life.


There were so many that lost too much.  We can just Instagram through it to the next feed.  It’s only real when it happens to you.


So, where is the beauty, the inspiration, the art?  I find it in the human spirit.  Yes, we humans can be “characterized by kindness, mercy or compassion.” * Must we need destruction to remind us that we are all in this together?


John Gale Kenney, Artist


Immediately following the force of a hurricane, the next day is filled with sun and calm, blue skies.  The sun acts as a floodlight for the destruction, but its warmth can revive us and give us what is required, endurance.


Louis Bissinger, Artist

*Webster’s Dictionary




Enjoying life is synonymous with enjoying art.  The inspiration for art and for living surrounds us.  I find it in the simple pleasures, the little moments we most often overlook. 

 I fondly remember a hot, hazy, humid summer morning sitting on the porch at Firefly with homeowners Curt Peterson and Anne Chapin.  This lovely couple appreciates and values simplicity.  Simplicity does not lack quality, quite to the contrary.


The garden table was covered with a bright tablecloth and crowned with a basket of fresh fruit.  Anne had brought out a tray of refreshments.  A glass pitcher was filled with a home brewed punch spritzer (I recall lemonade and cranberry) and garnished with sliced blood oranges.  The tray was topped off with a plate of homemade cookies.  Perfect!

 We were in the final stages of finishing the Firefly remodeling project.  Curt and Anne had chosen to live in their cottage while we worked on its transformation.  My heart went out to them as we stood in what would be their kitchen following a day of demolition.  Thanksgiving was around the corner.  With all of that behind us, it was a treat to relax on the porch and plan the hanging of art and placement of accessories.

 I always think of their home as a cottage hideaway.  It sits nestled among towering trees, surrounded by 20 acres of pasture neatly divided into paddocks for Anne’s horses.  The house had been added on to unsuccessfully 3 times and was an architectural hodge-podge.  My assignment was to create big, gracious living on a small and simple scale.  This couple is very active in the arts community and love to entertain, even host music recitals.  Let’s manage that in a house with 2,000 sq.ft.


I opted for an open concept home with an abundance of French doors opening on to the surrounding wide, covered porch.  Anne loved the memory of her family’s country home in Illinois.  The house had a front door that no one used.  Everyone came into the house through the back door, walked through the mudroom into the kitchen.  So, we added on to the house a fourth time and created an enclosed back porch with a slate floor.  This 10’x10’ corner room became the entry point to the home which flows into the kitchen and dining space.

The open concept floor plan that draws you to the outside fulfilled Curt and Anne’s expectations for their home.  The simple home is filled with little touches and personal treasures.  It is a testimony to Curt and Anne and their life together.   I was delighted to be invited to the first music recital and dinner they hosted at Firefly.

Love Watercolor?

Love Watercolor?

I visited Michael Pearson’s show “For the Love of Watercolor”.  I was drawn in by the show name.  I hate watercolor.  Decades ago I took a watercolor art class and did horribly.  I decided the challenge of mastering this medium was something I could live without.  I also gained a true appreciation for what it takes to do watercolor well.  Too often I find works lacking in depth, contrast, texture and density.  With this I hear the excuse, “…But it’s just watercolor”.  The lack of fundamental visual elements in a work is due to the artist not the medium.  Good art is good art.

Good art was evident in Pearson’s work, “Jeffrey Long Ago.”  The piece loosely reminded me of a work by Lyonel Feininger, “The Glorious Victory of the Sloop “Maria”.  The strong geometric shapes and line unify and draw you into this piece.  Pearson’s work had a similar affect but the subject was a portrait of a man that offered contrast in fine, softer detailed lines of the face.  The hue was lovely.  The essence of a human being was captured brilliantly. 

Another piece by Pearson stood out, “Afternoon Shadows.”


 This severely cropped perspective offered an interesting view of the architecture.  Don’t be fooled into thinking this was a small piece. The scale was impressive (roughly 24x18) and added to the visual experience of this work.  Two aspects disturbed me:  the faded balustrade in the horizon and the direction of the light source.  However, these aspects did not distract from the creative, artistic execution of “Afternoon Shadows.”

When visiting a show it sometimes pays to have a general look around.  You might discover more watercolor works to enjoy.  “Felicity” by Atelier on Bay artist, Pam Hagan, was a delightful piece.  Hagan captures the joy and innocence of this child beautifully.  The soft hue, shadowing and fine detail in this work were a pleasure to behold. 

In a conversation with the artist, I mentioned that portraits could present a challenge for gallerists.  The figure must be appealing to clients that have no connection to the person portrayed.  These two portraits by Hagan and Pearson were of a quality that anyone can enjoy.