Thursday, December 20, 2007
Rest in peace Frances Drew, Shreveport painter, multi-faceted artist and minister, 1949 - 2007
On Tama's blog, Shreveport Images, she wrote, "How sad that when I "googled" Frances Drew, I had only one hit...this close-up of a detail on one of the 2 Texas St. kiosks that she and Barbara Abbot created. Dear Frances died a month ago according to her son's communication with SRAC.
Most recently I was wowed by her paintings in the reception hall of the Flournoy-Lucas Catholic church. They glow with dense color and religious fervor. When I called to tell her how beautiful they were, we had our usual hour long chat and she did tell me that her physical condition had deteriorated. I wish I'd made the time for a visit.
I met Frances about a yr. after she'd gotten her B.A. from Southern, S'port. I was amazed by her expressive brushwork and use of color. If she didn't have enough $ to buy canvas, she painted on cardboard, on discarded pieces of panelling, anything that would hold paint.
Our next meeting was in Joe Kincheloe's doctoral class at LSU-S. By that time she had a solid vita with a Master's degree and teaching experience. She absorbed the curriculum theory like a sponge and by the next semester was in Baton Rouge absorbing more. A car accident prevented her from fully completing her doctorate, and she returned to teach in Marshall, and worked at her art in her Egan St. home. I visualize her, wearing one of her mom's dashiki creations, sitting among her paintings, ceramic works and poetry tapes at Revel and Downtown Neon Sat. Night.
Shreveport's arts community has had a great loss. Could we do something special in her memory...any ideas?"
In recent years Frances seemed to be painting her way to redemption, inasmuch as her paintings focused entirely on the suffering of Christ. She signed her work "Minister Frances Drew" as an additional act of devotion.
But there was no redemption needed. She gave her time and vast talent - singing, preaching, painting - to the community. I remember the year she had a grant to speak to high school students about how she painted. After the talk, she donated a vivid painting to the school. In it a black girl stands at a crossroads on a muddy, clay road deep in the Pine woods. The girl is dressed nicely; she is on her way to a mission church on foot.
Once I was showing a French exchange student around Shreveport. Stopping at Frances' house we entered a world of stacked canvasses and card tables strewn with paints and brushes. There was little furniture but a stream of talk from Frances furnished the house nicely.
Before we left Frances presented the student with a small painting of a girl dancing. I was touched by her generosity. I wanted to say to the French student, "Express your thanks! Do not take this loving act for granted." I doubt that Frances felt that way. I think she knew not to expect much, but to be happy and quenched by her own act of kindness.
Rest in peace, Frances Drew.