Western North Carolina Woman

marie hudson
by jeanne charters

I remember well the first time I saw her. I had just moved to Asheville and decided to check out the River District Artists Stroll in search of a painting for my new home. I was tired and hadn’t yet seen a painting that I just had to have.

Matt and I entered the big old warehouse at 170 Lyman Street. We were tired. It was to be our last stop. We climbed the stairs and looked around at the artists’ works. Then, we entered one last studio. The name on the door said “Marie Hudson”.

I was caught in a fulcrum of admiring people who swarmed around one tall, slender figure in the center of the studio. As I approached her, she turned and smiled at me. I felt somehow honored to have captured her attention for even a moment. She was magnetic—beautiful in a way that Katherine Hepburn had been beautiful in late middle age…elegant in that throw-away manner you must be born with to possess. She was quite a dish!

Then, I looked at the art. Holy Mother, this was it! The women in her paintings were ethereal beings, somehow not of this earth or space. They flowed and danced and flew on swings. They were beautiful and inspiring. I knew I had found works of art I could live with and love all the days of my life.

The other artists in the warehouse call Marie’s paintings “Goddess of the Universe” works. I have purchased two of Marie’s paintings and she has become a lifetime friend to me. My daughter, Cori, from California has also purchased two of her works…one for her home and one for her office. Cori, “gets” Marie, just as I do; and that makes me happy. That means I did a good job with my daughter.

I was thrilled when Julie Parker asked me to interview Marie as our March centerfold artist. Here are some insights I gained from this truly remarkable woman artist. “I often feel that we as artists spend so much time on marketing ourselves, selling and “playing” artist that we forget that, if we do the work as best we can, the rest will follow. For the past year, I have been plagued by unexplained health problems. My energy has been so limited that the time I have is focused totally on my painting and my determination to get to my studio every day. Ironically, the lack of promoting has worked in reverse. I have done exceptionally well. In this warehouse, I am surrounded by these wonderful women artists who are good friends, my family really. They are always there for me…Thank you, thank you!!”

I asked Marie when she first knew she wanted to paint.

“Always!! I remember this girl in grammar school who probably was born with an innate talent to draw. I was in such awe and there was a hunger and desire in me that started burning then and continues to this day. I drew constantly and became fairly proficient…this was my life line. Art classes were seldom offered. Occasionally, an innovative teacher would throw in a few opportunities for us to express ourselves. A blue ribbon for a silhouette of a palm tree with flowing colors of the sunset was my first claim to fame! Oh, how I treasured that.

When I graduated from high school, the choices were: become a secretary, a nurse, a teacher, work at a dime store or get married. Guess what? I got married. I was widowed at the ripe old age of 24. Two years later, I married William who died in 2002. His daughter came to live with us at the age of 13. I opened a gift shop at the Battery Park Hotel and a second gift shop in what is now the Renaissance Hotel. This was the early 80’s. My life was taken up with family and business. But I always continued to draw and paint.

During this time, I started art classes at Warren Wilson College with Dusty Benedict. I consider him my mentor and champion. Through him, I learned to see things in a different way.

Next, I studied with Janie McWhirter, a former art professor at LSU and Warren Wilson College. A group of her students got together and helped her establish a school of Graduate level painting classes in Swannanoa. Janie taught us all the rules of painting and then allowed us to break each and every one of them. We learned to develop our own way of expression.

In the late 80’s, I lost my lease on the gift shops. I knew then that it was time to continue with my art as my profession or to just forget about it. A friend and I came to this Warehouse and rented space from Porge Buck who had established the first studio space in the river district.
I am still here.

I never sold a painting for 10 years, so I laughingly say, ‘I was working on my PhD for those years.'

I am often asked where I get my inspiration. I can only say that I paint who I am…what I am…how I feel…causes and dreams. I never manage to come up to my own expectations…that masterpiece that will blow me away. So far, I haven’t gotten there; but I will keep on trying.

In this studio, I am the Creator. I can go deep inside myself and be in wonder at what I create because I can never fully explain where it came from. This is as close to godliness as I can get. I am dedicated and have a passion for what I do. I believe that art comes only from the soul. It is not elitist. It is not always pretty. Often, it is a down and dirty job. I have no patience with the ‘a jug of wine and thou, babe’ concept of art. It is 90% rejection, so one has to be dedicated or nuts to stick with it…a little of both helps, I think. My desire each day is to continue to paint…to never get stale or boring and to encourage the ones who come after me to continue the search.”


Marie’s work is featured on:
and riverdistrictartists.com/Hudson.htm

Jeanne Charters is a former V.P. of Marketing for Viacom Television. She started her own award-winning broadcast advertising agency in 1990. Jeanne lives in Fairview with her husband, Matt Restivo. [ charmkt@juno.com; 828-628-0023 ]


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