Thursday, May 1, 2014

An Orange-Haired Doll and a White-Haired Man - Meet Luon St. Pierre

When it takes nearly a full line of text for an artist's name, you know you are talking to someone special.  Or with 24 great-aunts.  Or both.

Luon Marie Amanda Isabelle Camille Rose St. Pierre creates furniture that makes you want to throw away everything in your house and start over with rooms full of her wildly colorful, eye popping, dance in your socks, impossible to be depressed around, furniture.

Her friends, by the way, call her Lulu.

Luon St. Pierre - Cupboard

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Q1. What is your first memory of art?   

A1. I have always been surrounded by art. My mother is an artist, fiber art, painter, musician, and ballet. My father was skilled on so many levels; he was what we called a renaissance man. But when I was about six years old my mother gave me a doll that was made by an artist named Barb Loken.  It had a pottery head with orange wool for hair. She had a stuffed cotton body with a red plaid dress. She wasn't pretty but she was so interesting. [Editor's note: Luon, I love you. Where were you when I was six? And do you mind if I use that last line for my epitaph?] She was my first inspiration. I named her Mariah, and I've had her for 43 years.

Q2.  What is the first work of art you created?

A2.  As a kid I was always creating stuff, but the first work of art that I sold was a mural I painted for a little girl’s bedroom.

Luon St. Pierre, Box
Q3. Was there a point in your life when you decided to try art, or were you always an artist?

A3. I went to art school for a year and a half; I actually was studying interior design and space planning. I quit because it just wasn't what I wanted. I realized later that I didn't want to decorate someone else’s home, I actually wanted to build the furniture.  Not just functional furniture, but art furniture. So, yes, kind of, I have always wanted to be an artist. I just didn't find my niche until a little later.

Q4. What made you decide to focus on fine art furniture?

A4.  I floundered around for a while (all of my 20s) helping someone else with his dream. I finally found my voice after the birth of my daughter and a divorce. I was a single mom with an infant and a burning desire to create something. I was walking around Jerome, Arizona, one day in May, and I saw a white-haired man selling his art in a small park in between two old brick buildings.

He built benches and mirrors and cupboards. I was so inspired … I bought one of his benches ... and spent the next year begging him to take me on as an apprentice. Instead, he took me on as a student and I paid him for an intense 4-day workshop. The best education ever! His art name is Hoda Das and that was 18 years ago. [Editor's note: I scoured the Internet but could not find a link for Hoda Das. But maybe that's better - he will live in our imaginations forever.]
Luon St. Pierre, Cupboard
Q5. Are you ever out in public or in someone’s home and have an overwhelming urge to grab a piece of boring furniture and Luon-ize it?

A5. I can't say that I want to redo someone else’s stuff, because I like to build my own. I love designing my own pieces. Shapes, sizes and functions - I feel like I have two jobs - the shapes and then the color.

Q6. Are there specific triggers that cause you to race to Home Depot or your workshop or do you impose a certain discipline on yourself?

A6. I have always been very disciplined. I've had to be. When I started I was a single mom of an infant. I had to work around her schedule. I had to be productive. She also kept me grounded. I can get an amazing amount done in a short amount of time. I also have very intense creative spurts that I need to act on immediately or I lose it. Most of the time it works in my favor :)

Luon St. Pierre, Cabinet
Q7. When you are working on a piece, is there a point at which you realize you have a masterpiece taking shape?

A7. Definitely yes, there are some things that just work.

Q8. Are there any artists you find particularly inspiring?

A8. Oh absolutely, Picasso and [Amedeo] Modigliani are two of my favorites. However recently I have been so drawn to Outsider, Raw, Naive, Self-Taught Art. You can look on my Pinterest boards and see all the artists that I admire and collect! The list is quite long.

Luon St. Pierre, Box
Q9. Are you comfortable telling the story of your farm?  I can’t stop thinking about it.

A9. The Farm I live on has been in my husband’s family since 1796. [Editor's note:  You read that right.  1-7-9-6.  Twenty years after America began] It started out back then about 1,600 acres; there are only 160 acres of the original farm left. It has been our dream for quite some time now to create an ArtFarm. We are building small cottages around my potager garden and replanting our orchards. We want to be as self-sustaining as we can. We've been at it for about six years now and I've got to say it is a lot of work. We have built our own house; we lovingly refer to it as ARTFARM CENTRAL. We have renovated the two hundred year old barn and built four cottages scattered around the garden and orchard. It is a never-ending project that we wouldn't have any other way.

Q10. Please answer a question I didn’t ask.

A10. A question you didn't ask … Do you ever collaborate with other artists?

I have, I've worked with a dear friend and amazing artist, Liz Vaughn. I have taken some of the women that she paints on canvas and turned them into functional art, like chairs and cupboards, then she paints the features. I have worked with another friend, Daria Sandburg, an assemblage artist. And I haven't said anything to her about this but I'd love to collaborate with self-taught artist Misty Lindsey. [Editor's note: Don't worry, I won't say a word.]

A Luon and Liz Special
Q11. Where can we see (and purchase) your work?

A11. Shops, boutiques and galleries that carry my work:
Luon St. Pierre, Chair
  1. Plum Crazy in Duck, North Carolina
  2. Two Plates Full in Scottsdale, Arizona
  3. CHIARoScURO in Chicago, Illinois
  4. SHANNALEE in Fargo, North Dakota
  5. Matilda's Cottage in Roswell and Alpharetta, Georgia
  6. Pop-Cycle in Tucson, Arizona
  7. Gallerie Chiz in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania  
  8. Soergel Orchards in Wexford, Pennsylvania
  9. Blue Mesquite Gallery in Tubac, Arizona
  10. D'Edge Art Gallery on South Main in Memphis, Tennessee (home to one of my favorite living legend artists, Mr. George Hunt)
And I'm always looking for more, especially closer to home!
Luon St. Pierre, Chair
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Thanks for stopping by, Luon.  There’s always a beagle to pet and a cup of hot tea at the ready in Lakewood.  Don’t be a stranger.


2 comments:

  1. Another great one, I love it! Thanks for introducing me to Lulu's work. Now that I have read a few of these, there is a connecting thread between artists that I can see--- self-discipline and hard work! I love how you have been asking essentially the same set of questions. Nice continuity, and it shows what we have in common. Also, your editor's notes always make me laugh out loud! :-)

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  2. Jen Norem, you are on to me!! Yes, I use the same basic set of questions. Then I tweak them to fit each individual artist after doing basic research on the Web. In the interest of full disclosure, I should admit that the shorter box under question 2 is proudly displayed in my house. :)

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