Every once in a while you meet someone you know will become a part of your life. For me, it was on a steamy summer night in 2006, when I entered a particular home on Amelia Island. I stepped over the 12 inch concrete fence that served as a stately but unassuming barrier to the house and memories of my life growing up came flooding in. The tall old trees in the yard shaded the house so much that I could imagine that air-conditioning was really not needed, and the front steps were adorned with assorted fixtures and flowers that told me I was entering creative space. What I didn’t know at the time was that I was entering the home of someone I would come to know as my friend and first art teacher, Andrea Adair-Lasserre.
Once in the house, located on Beech at 7th, I was led to a comfortable living room with cushions deep enough to invite you to stay. The old wood floors echoed as you moved over them, and the walls were covered by decades old wallpaper that reminded me of days gone by. I smiled to myself thinking that the only thing missing were mint juleps and fans for the ladies. I came to find out more about this house and Andrea during that visit and three years since.
Andrea married Charles Lasserre in 2007 and their beautiful old house, built in 1904, is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Her studio is a 600-square-foot converted upstairs bedroom in their home – one of her husband’s family heirlooms, and Andrea has been restoring their house to its original glory. A project in itself, this Victorian beauty inspires Andrea’s art on a daily basis and her new work, which will be displayed through June at Indigo Alley, is a collection of paintings derived from her ongoing renovation of the home I visited that day. Vintage family photos and turn-of-the-century wallpaper have been given new life as they serve as inspirations incorporated within her paintings.
It was her art I saw that evening that inspired me to start painting eight months later. She was working on a painting of one of Charles’ relatives just back from a fishing trip taken from an old photo. She proudly tells the story of how, during their house renovations, they uncovered a rich family history with American coastal origins. One particular image that kept reappearing was of Lasserre men proudly displaying their catch of fish. It was then she knew that she wanted to document this aspect of American culture as seen through the eyes of her new family. I loved that painting and the way she painted largely black and white with some muted colors that conveyed the feelings of days gone by as seen in the old wrinkled picture from which she was working. It was the first painting of the Lasserre fisherman series, “C.W. Lasserre: 1942,” depicting Charles William Lasserre, II holding up a red bass half his size while casually smoking a cigarette, and his 1942 ford convertible parked behind him.
Andrea’s work will be on display through June at Indigo Alley. A reception will be held to meet the artist in conjunction with the ArtRageous Second Saturday Art Walk, May 8th, 5-8PM at 316 Centre Street in Fernandina Beach.
More about Andrea:
Born Andrea Adair in a quaint Georgia town, she relocated to Atlanta by the age of three. As a child Adair wanted paints and markers, not dolls and toys. The strong connection to her sleepy hometown of Moultrie eventually led Adair to her mentor Sally Shovar, who began training 14-year-old Adair. Spring and summer breaks were spent at Shovar’s studio practicing techniques and studying art history. This young artist began to recognize and improve her talents.
She continued to polish and refine her skills at Georgia State University studying art history and studio art. She interned as a gallery assistant at The Georgia State University Gallery in Downtown Atlanta and was director of The Green Rabbit, a gallery in Historic Alpharetta, GA She remained a teacher with FCAC coordinating summer programs and teaching until 2003 when she relocated to Fernandina Beach and married Charles in 2007. She continues her house renovations and her art is an ongoing reflection and accounting of historic Amelia Island and the Lasserre Family as well as other island history.
Casey Matthews, a local artist, is the curator for art shows at Indigo Alley for artists who do not have gallery representation or a local place to show their work. Indigo Alley is nestled in historic downtown Fernandina Beach, Florida. Casey’s work can be viewed at www.caseymatthews.com and her studio is located at the Blue Door Artists, 205 ½ Centre Street in historic Fernandina Beach.