December 21, 2007

Patricia Pilie...

1988 - Karen and Patti - Prepared for Happy Hour at Colony

In 1986 we moved to the New Orleans area. We would have loved to live in the city "proper" but we had two mothers and a tenth grader in tow. Good schools and neighborhoods which my still-driving-mother and newly licensed kid could safely navigate were decisions makers for us, so we found ourselves in an up-river parish, a comfortable but remote community.

With the family settled, I began looking around for any art connections in the area doubting I'd find much. With an open mind and sinking feeling, I attended a meeting of the local art guild, hoping for something, anything. Presiding over the group was an attractive, petite, socialite type... polished nails and dressed to the teeth. The exact opposite of this klutz. I introduced myself as new to the area and soon learned that we lived just a couple of blocks apart. Although ten years younger than I in both age and art experience, we found that as different as we were (think liberal/conservative - tall/short - rough pottery/fine china - cocoonish type/social butterfly) we actually had much in common... both looking to propel our fledgling careers to a much higher level. Our social differences sparked endless conversations and debates about art and family, but never hard feelings. She was a New Orleans native with lots of devoted friends and family, but a drive to make her art count for something... as for me, I just didn't want to lose whatever art momentum I'd managed to put together at that point. Our mutual needs bonded us at a time when we could not have made the same strides forward without each other's support.

We began a 15 year adventure in which we attempted to break into the NOLA art community, hard to do when you're not an insider... but to an extent, we did a credible job. Volunteers are always welcome so we headed into NOLA and joined art organizations on local and national levels, held offices in order to see and be seen, plus learn as much as we could about the behind-the-scenes aspect of art competitions, judging and what makes a good painting... and it worked... our art developed exponentially.

At the same time we discovered a group that would add considerably to our art experience for years to come. I recall spotting a newspaper article about the Mississippi Art Colony, describing it's history and current facility, Camp Henry Jacobs, in rural Mississippi. I also noticed that the next invited artist/instructor would be Hugh Williams, someone I knew and admired greatly. "Patti! We've got to go to this!" She read it, then patiently explained to me... "Karen... I don't *camp*!" I called the director and she described the 'camp' as an excellent facility with all the necessary amenities... and indeed it was. We seldom missed a spring or fall session, studied with so many excellent instructors and were challenged by the fact that most of the artists were working on a professional level in an independent work situation. It was a terrific community which encouraged us both to grow and mature as artists... and we had a great time doing it.

After years of hanging our work on every wall that had a nail in it, we were given several shows together and eventually we both achieved excellent representation in NOLA, after awhile even becoming part of the same gallery and felt we'd accomplished what we set out to do. Joel and I moved from the area in 2001 but Patti insisted I drive down and join her at one of Dottie Gardner's monoprint workshops across the lake. It was the beginning of a new adventure, regular gatherings with a few good friends making art together. You've heard me go on about the good times at Dottie's here and here. Other posts can be found by using the search box at top and googling 'monoprints'.

Her cancer of nine years finally took control but not without a mighty fight. I can't say enough about her strong faith, values and determination, how she was always quick with a joke and a laugh to put others at ease... always the social director... always the caring friend... always there...
: : : : : : : : : : : : : : :

The above was written before I left for NOLA to say goodbye to Patti Pilie'. Reminiscing over the last twenty years of friendship really helped me through the sadness of this past week... so much to remember...


Tracy said...

So sorry that you have lost such a good art friend, Karen. They sure can be hard to come by, but when you find one, it is the best.

Annie B said...

Awfully sorry to hear about your loss. Thank you for writing about your friend Patti, how you met and what you meant to each other. I love hearing how your friendship transcended your not inconsequential differences, how you rose beyond them to support one another in your art.
Blessings to you and to Patti.

Anonymous said...

I didn't think until tonight about the impact you and Patti had on the Art Colony. Since I've been associated with it more than 30 years, I can say with some authority there's been a change toward more professional concerns, some real growing up as artists, taking place there. It occurs to me that the change started happening about the same time you and Patti began "campin" at Colony. This is a wonderful memory.

Daphne said...

Patti sounds like she was a great friend. And her being different from you probably spurred you both forward. Nine years is a long time to live and fight. Good for her.

I'm sorry you and she had to say good bye though.

CMC said...

I am just dumbstruck.......I just loved Patti. She was always such an important part of Colony.

When I became a member back in '98 and I went to colony for the first time, she welcomed me in the clay studio ...and from then on until the show at CR last year when I saw her phemonenal work, post Katrina, I hoped against hope that her fight would get her through all this .

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Karen, for posting this. Patti was a beautiful soul and never met a stranger! I, like Cheryl, felt her warmth when I was a 'child' at Colony and will miss her forever. However, Heaven's brighter now. She had more courage and love of life than most I've known.


MMComstock said...

Karen, this is a beautiful and inspiring post even to those who didn't know Patti. You've given her a fine eulogy and spread the good news about a lovely person. That is good for everyone.

It's so hard to accept the void that a dear friend leaves. Keep remembering and caring, and reaching out, as I know you are, to those you love around you. And mebbe even those you've never met in person who care so much about you too.

Peace, cheer, and love,

Annette Bush said...

It's hard to say goodbye to a partner and Patti must have been one for you. This must have been a difficult post for you to write, but it is lovely.