Painter Currently Working on “Gestation Series”
Annie Waldrop’s goal is to live an artful life. She sees art in cooking, gardening and the furniture and accessories that surround her.
The Roanoke native traces her career back to a “scribble” she did when she was 3 years old. Her aunt saw it and proclaimed to her mother: “Margaret, your daughter is an artist.” Annie says other “symptoms” of her artistic nature were evident in elementary school. One of her paintings was always up in the hall at Crystal Spring Elementary School in South Roanoke, or she was decorating the Christmas doors.
When she was at James Madison Middle School, her mother bought her a camel hair coat, but Annie wanted a “more progressive coat,” so she embroidered “I hate this coat” on the back of it as a protest and wore it for a year. Her mother eventually caved in and bought the coat she wanted, she recalls.
Annie went to the Parsons School of Design in New York City to study graphic arts but was not inspired. A teacher told her to do what she loved, which at the time was fashion.
“The 1980s were a good time to be in New York City,” she says.
She designed hats that became so well-known she appeared twice on national TV—on “The John Davidson Show” and the “The Tomorrow Show” hosted by Tom Snyder. She said she was supposed to be on Johnny Carson, but remembers that “Angie Dickenson talked too long.” Her hats were sold in Macy’s, Bloomingdale’s and Henri Bendel.
During that time, she says, she hung out with fine artists and spent a lot of time in museums. Eventually, she realized she wanted a “deeper mode of expression.” So she moved back to the South where she taught and earned a master’s degree at the Maryland Institute College of Art.
“I have had a lot of time in art school, which for me was fabulous,” she says.
She returned to Roanoke in 2009 to “complete what I started in New York City 40 years ago—to be the artist I want to be,” she says.
Annie is a painter—exclusively in oils—but she also does sculpture and creates other artful accessories. A visit to her home is like a trip to an art gallery. Not only are there paintings on the walls and sculptures on many surfaces but the furniture, and even a few appliances, have been customized by her.
Currently, she’s working on the 26-painting “Gestation Series.” Each painting is assigned a letter: C is for Clutch, R is for Roux, T is for Transformation and so on. The series reflects, she says, her place as a “late mid-career artist. Where I’ve been and the integration of the different facets of what I’ve done.”
The paintings draw on her interest in Buddhism and Buddhist philosophy, as well as the study of the feminine from graduate school. There’s even a bit of the typographic background she learned at Parsons. Add in “an encyclopedic esthetic because I want them to feel like school,” she says. “Life is for learning.”
The series celebrates “birth, creation, inheritance and existentialism,” she says. “The stream-of-consciousness aspect in the layering quality of the paintings evokes the beat poets like Jack Kerouac and Alan Ginsburg.”
Several of the paintings were on view at The Artful Lawyer in Blacksburg earlier this year, and a larger show is planned for February at the Alexander Heath Gallery in Roanoke. Included in the Blacksburg show was a series of rubber seedpod sculptures. Annie created them based on close-up photos of actual seed pods. They complement the gestation theme.
Annie also enjoys painting landscapes and is always on the lookout for undiscovered vistas. When she moved back to Virginia, she concentrated on landscapes but says she moved away from them in graduate school. Her landscapes are characterized by heightened colors and are reminiscent of the Fauvist movement of the early part of the last century.