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EUNICE LAFATE


Folk artist Eunice LaFate’s “autobiography” bursts with color on the walls of LaFate Gallery on Market. There, in one painting, you can get a glimpse of her Jamaican heritage. In another, her strong political beliefs. In the many paintings created during her husband’s decline and eventual death to prostate cancer, you can feel her creative spirit struggling through her grief. And there, on her desk, is the 2014 Governor’s Award for the Arts that she received from former Gov. Jack Markell on stage at The Grand, right down the street.

A personal tour of LaFate Gallery, with Eunice:

Entry

“Art is the pivot of society. As a child, my first inclination was to draw. It's instinctive. Everyone is an artist. That's how I teach. When I do my paint classes, we don't copy. I have a poster that asks: ‘Can you draw lines? Can you draw shapes? Can you apply color?’ Every work of art is made up of lines, shapes and colors. So I make it easy for people who say ‘Oh, I can't draw.’ I say, ‘You cannot spoil it.’ You cannot spoil art from the heart. And that is the distinction of folk art. It's coming from the soul.”

Painting: “Mother’s Vision”

“I painted this piece in 1994, when my son was 10. He used to consider himself my consultant, so he would name my pieces. That night, I finished this piece and I signed it and he threw a temper tantrum, crying. He said, ‘Mom, why did you sign it? It's not finished?’ I said ‘What's wrong with it?’ ‘How come the ladies have only one eye?’ I say, ‘Boy, a good mother only needs one eye to see what the child is doing.’”

“He gave a beautiful speech once and he said his mother’s gallery is more than a gallery. It's a vision center. I conduct a lot of classes here, with kids starting at age 2 and people going through grief. My husband was in a nursing home for five months. I have a whole body of work that I did at his bedside. He was a cheerleader for my art. He would take me to all the exhibitions and make sure every painting was correctly hung. He was very choosy.”

Painting: “Heart of Caregiving”

“I call this my sacred corner. This is where I display all the work related to my husband's illness and my rebounding from grief to growth. My new direction, my mission, is now to put the spotlight on cancer awareness.”

Painting: “Rays of Equality”

“I'm very current. I use my canvas to highlight social issues and I'm not politically correct when it comes to my brush. When Gov. Markell passed the marriage equality act, I painted about it. And now that piece is on loan in Sen. Carper's office. Last April, this is where Hillary's kickoff took place, right in this gallery, for her campaign. Gov. Markell was here, all the bigwigs in the city were here in my gallery.”

Painting: “The Melting Pot vs. The Salad Bowl”

“You cannot come here without me telling you about the symbolism of this piece. ‘The Melting Pot vs. the Salad Bowl’ is my most prestigious work, and most – well, I would say ‘politically correct,’ based on where we are right now. In November 2004, I was invited to attend the opening of Bill Clinton's library and I donated one of these. We have evolved from that great melting pot, where we were homogenous, and now we are looking at our country as a salad bowl of cultures where each ingredient brings flavor to the salad and should be respected. A 2-year-old came in once, and I said where would you prefer to be? And the little kid pointed over there to the salad and explained why. ‘I can see myself in here!’ It just blows my mind. That's why I love to work with young kids.”

Back to the Front Door:

“I am so delighted I found this location. Most of my customers are coming from the train station. A few weeks ago, Saturday morning, we had that downpour, if you recall? It was a bit chilly too. I saw this lady looking through my window. So I went to the door and invited her in. Turns out, she's a collector. She spent $480 buying prints. She put red tags on two of my originals, to come back.”

“So location, location, location. I love the LoMa Coffee shop. And I love Parcels! And then with the Ladybug Festival, I am at the center of it. We'll have 1,500 to 2,000 people – right here. I couldn't desire better.”

#meet #MeetNewMarketWilm #EuniceLaFate #LaFateGallery #FolkArtist #Artist

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