We have an art show opening on Friday, April 26th at Huff Harrington Fine Art, appropriately called, “The Fab Five” as it will feature five of our prominent female artists. Early on, we had nicknamed the show, “Home Grown” because these ladies all have southern roots, some with shoots that run deep in Atlanta. Of this distinguished group, no one has been a Huff’ington “homegrown” longer than Melissa Payne Baker, who started with us shortly after we opened the gallery.
We love Melissa … and it turns out, so does Atlanta! We’re always honored and delighted when designers use our artists’ work in their beautiful rooms at Show Houses, and we think that no artist has been featured more than our own Melissa Payne Baker. Just to share the love, here are a few of her paintings over the years from different Show Houses around the Atlanta area:
We’ve bragged about Melissa before, so you may remember the story: Growing up in a family of artists in Mississippi, creativity was a part of her life from an early age and Melissa’s mother likes to say that they have paint running through their veins, not blood. In Melissa’s case the paint runs thick.
With a degree in marketing from the University of Mississippi and a continued career in interior design, Melissa didn’t think too much about painting until a unexpected tragedy struck the family of a dear friend. To help cope with the loss, Melissa took brush to canvas and found solace and comfort as she lost herself in inspiration: an angel, beautifully crafted; deftly painted and complemented by a soft, abstract background. The painting struck a chord and, as they say, the rest was history.
Fast forward several years and Melissa has honed and tuned her ability. She’s turned her laser beam focus to loose landscapes and figures – and true abstract work where texture and form take center stage.
There’s another reason why Atlanta loves Melissa, and one that is actually closest to my heart. Melissa has often lent her talent and generous spirit to some of Atlanta’s charitable institutions. Many years ago, we approached Melissa about donating to a cause that was dear to us, Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Not only did she agree, but she involved a group of dynamic children with Type 1 Diabetes to help her — and together they produced a masterpiece that sold for (and raised) $12,000! You can read about her “Gifts of Hope” from our blog, and “When Dreams Come True.”
Melissa went on to donate several more paintings to the cause, always involving the children in the process , and always raising thousands of dollars for JDRF.
For many years, I’ve personally admired Melissa’s work, and wanted to purchase one myself. I’ve had my eye on several, but each time I was about to pull the trigger, a client would beat me to it! Last year, Melissa brought in another favorite and I started sniffing around it. Would this be the one? I wasn’t sure. We do have a rule that clients need to come first, so I waited a few weeks. The painting went out on approval, and I found myself hoping it wouldn’t sell, which is a little contrary to being a successful gallery owner! When Barbara Williams, whose involvement in the JDRF charity is another reason we like to support the cause, called to say she wondered if I might approach Melissa again about producing and donating a painting for the JDRF Gala, I hesitated a little. Gosh, I thought, we’ve hit her up so many times; is this really fair? I pondered the question and then decided to draft an email that would give Melissa a perfect out if she chose not to do it. Within seconds of hitting “send,” I heard back from her with a resounding “YES” followed by how much this cause meant for her now, too.
And then Linda called to say that “my” painting had come back from being on approval. I thought this was a sign, and I bought it without another thought, confirming the fact that buying art is often an emotional experience, and that we are attached to one-of-a-kind original paintings with a deeper connection than almost any other purchase. Melissa’s painting is now one of my dearest possessions because every time I look at it, I’m reminded of the kind, generous and talented artist that I feel so privileged to know.
Atlanta loves Melissa because of her original paintings that have anchored exquisite homes with beauty, creativity and heartfelt passion. We love Melissa for all of the above, and because we know the kind and generous person behind the work. And I am personally thankful to Melissa for making my mornings even brighter … no matter where I sit.
PS: Be sure to mark your calendars for the Fab Five, April 26th, 6 to 8 p.m. at Huff Harrington Fine Art! Melissa, along with the other four artists, will be unveiling a series of new works, like this one that we can’t wait to get our hands on: