Talented artist and former Westport Historical Society education director Elizabeth Petrie-DeVoll is connected to famed illustrator Bernie Fuchs historically and emotionally. She writes:
Bernie and I both attended Washington University in St. Louis.
When I was there I met a talented painter, Mark Green, who idolized Bernie. For 4 years Mark educated our entire class about Bernie’s work. He talked about him so much, we nicknamed Mark “Bernie.”
When I moved to Westport in 1994, Mark was thrilled to tell me that Bernie lived
Mark is head art teacher at the Hackley School in Tarrytown. He contacted Bernie, and invited him to talk to his students. Bernie agreed. I was drafted to be his chaperone.
I drove him to the school, took him to lunch, and carried his canvases. He could not have been more humble or patient.
Bernie brought famous paintings and sketches. He spoke to an intimate and fascinated group of kids. They were spellbound.
Back in Westport, Bernie invited us into his home on Tanglewood Lane, off Stony Brook. Over cocktails, he showed us his studio and his work. He explained his process and shared his secrets. He could not have been more gracious or kind.
There was a walled-in pool area surrounded by statues, which Bernie had collected all over the world. It was a sanctuary, where he and many of his famous Westport artists friends gathered frequently. If walls could talk!
Once in a while after Bernie died in 2009, I’d drive by his home. I’d look at the big beautiful windows that led to his studio, and think how lucky I was to have known him a bit.
The other day, I saw a “Demolition” sign pinned to the stripped door. I thought how few people know what a talented, kind man lived and worked there.
There’s no sign, no plaque. Just the notice to demolish.
I was hoping to find something — anything — to give to Mark, to commemorate Bernie.
An old paintbrush would be awesome. But the house is totally stripped.
Another McMansion will soon be built there, I’m sure. An amazing art studio will be gone.
And so will another part of Westport history.
(To learn more about Bernie Fuchs — the youngest person ever elected to the Society of Illustrators Hall of Fame — click here. To see his artwork, click here. For an interview with the artist about his work, click below.)