Homewood artist sees bigger picture
BY GINGER BRASHINGER Correspondent October 10, 2012 8:46AM
Artist Lenox Wallace, who specializes in water colors, in her studio at her home in Homewood. | Joseph P. Meier~Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 12, 2012 6:02AM
Homewood artist Lenox Wallace has been working in watercolors for about 30 years.
Her paintings have won numerous awards, appear in art books, and grace the walls of homes, museums and galleries around the country.
Wallace is proud of her body of work, but she is not defined by it.
“I’ve been painting a long time,” Wallace said. “I know that it is an integral part of my life, but I have no desire to spend all of my life painting. It’s a bigger picture than that.”
The “bigger picture” included more than 30 years of teaching art in Palos Heights School District 128.
“The best situation I was ever in was teaching kids art in school,” she said. “Anything less than that, I’m not interested in.”
Wallace believes being able to work with the same children for seven years in a row allowed her to bond with the young art students in a very special way.
“There was no child — other than a child who transferred into the district — who said, ‘I can’t do that.’ They trusted me, for one thing, and they knew I wasn’t going to expect more than they could handle,” Wallace said.
Retired from public school teaching in 2002, Wallace continues to “make art more accessible to others,” she said.
She teaches art classes at The Center in Palos Park, a nonprofit that offers a variety of activities to the public.
Wallace has donated artwork to Catholic Charities fundraisers for the past seven years. She is an active member and past president of the Transparent Watercolor Society of America (TWSA), the source of her most cherished memory.
“It chokes me up,” Wallace said as she remembered standing in the late 1980s with Irving Shapiro, “my mentor and president of the American Academy of Art downtown” when Wallace earned her “signature” with the TWSA, an honor members earn when their artwork achieves juried status for a third time.
“I got to stand ... in the same gallery as Irving Shapiro and his cohorts in front of my painting,” Wallace said. “I was in heaven. I thought, ‘This is the best it’s ever going to be.’ ”
But it just got better for Wallace, who went on to become a “master painter” with the TWSA after being accepted into 10 annual TWSA juried exhibits.
Wallace works from a home studio built by her husband, Stuart, a man she described as someone who, “if he had his druthers, he’d rather be in Wyoming — a hundred years ago.”
Stuart’s ever-present, Western-style boots figure prominently in several watercolors Wallace has done of him.
“Cramped Quarters,” an award-winning piece, depicts Stuart working on her studio in the crawlspace of their home, where Wallace’s art continues to evolve.
“What I’m aiming at these days is a realistic interpretation that’s broken up with abstracted elements,” Wallace said.
Wallace’s life continues to evolve, too, and she confesses to having to learn to say “no” to the many requests for her time and talent.
“I’ve got my hands full,” Wallace said. “I don’t know what retirees are talking about when they think life is going to come to a dead end — because life happens. You’ve got to get out there ... find something that’s energizing, something that gives back to you.”
Wallace’s artwork can be seen at The Blue Dolphin Gallery in Ephraim, Wis., and Mullaly’s Art Studio & Gallery in Elk Rapids, Mich.
For more information, visit www.lenoxwallace.com.