Felicia Zavarella Stadelman talks about the Wyeth family during her April 25 lecture, as part of “Through the Eyes of the Artist.” Stadelman’s talk that morning brought around 70 people. She talked about the legacy of the Wyeths, particularly N.C. Wyeth and his son Andrew Wyeth.
April K. Helms, MyTownNEO.com
By April Helms Reporter
Posted Apr 30, 2018 at 12:01 AMUpdated Apr 30, 2018 at 12:51 PM
HUDSON — A well-known art historian and lecturer and Hudson residen is gaining international acclaim.
Felicia Zavarella Stadelman has presented her “Through the Eyes of the Artist” lecture series for several years now, including at the Hudson Library and Historical Society and the Stow-Munroe Falls Public Library, said Alison Walton, a librarian at the Hudson Library and Historical Society.
″‘Through the Eyes of the Artist’ has been a true crowd pleaser, bringing in hundreds of patrons over the four years she has done her series at the library,” Walton said. “Her lectures are usually taped by Hudson Community Television, and then posted on the library’s YouTube channel. These videos have gotten nearly 88,000 views on YouTube.
“By chance, a film director from Paris saw one of her lectures on the library’s YouTube channel and invited her to come to Paris to do a PBS France film documentary on the relationship between the artists Mary Cassatt and Edgar Degas.”
More than 200 people registered for a recent screening of the movie at the library, according to Ellen Smith, assistant director at the Hudson Library and Historical Society.
“Her programs are wildly popular and she has established a devoted audience here in Hudson,” Smith said. “Her ‘Through the Eyes of the Artist’ series is currently in its second go-around at the Hudson Library. When she exhausted her repertoire of lectures a couple of years ago, the demand was such that we brought her back for encore presentations of the most popular subjects.”
Stadelman said she was contacted by Catherine Aventurier, who directs television shows for the French version of PBS, programs for a cultural magazine, and has produced six documentaries on two artists and their relationship with each other.
“I receive many requests for information, sometimes about paintings passed down through families, or about paintings bought at estate sales,” Stadelman said. “Several people wanted my lecture content to use in their classes or asked me to get involved in a variety of art related projects. But, an email from a Parisian film director asking me to work with her on research she was doing for a film...I was stunned and thrilled. Did she know that she was talking to me, an art historian in Hudson, Ohio?”
Stadelman said the initial plan was to meet in Washington, D.C., but when that didn’t work out, Avenurier asked her if she wanted to go to Paris.
“I only had to think about that question for half a minute,” Stadelman said.
“To prepare for the interview, Catherine said she would send me six or seven questions,” she said. “She sent twenty-nine. I spent every waking moment between my lectures studying the letters and journals and research I had compiled from these two artists to make sure I had all the information I needed for our collaboration. Even in Paris I poured over my 50 pages of notes. The waiters in the café where my husband and I had breakfast were amused by my pile of papers and would ask me questions to test me on all that I knew.”
Stadelman said she was “impressed with the professionalism surrounding the interview.”
“A car picked me up from the hotel to drive me and my husband to Versailles where they rented an 1800’s period decorated apartment for the location of the video shoot,” she said. “Johnny Depp’s makeup artist did my makeup and we started the interview with cameras, microphones and lights all around me. The team buzzed around speaking only in French; every once in a while I could pick up a word or two of what they were saying. Years of French did me no good at this point.”
When the interview started, Stadelman said, she “would ramble on with my stories.”
“My passion for these two artists was evident and hardly contained,” Stadelman said. “After each question, because the team only spoke French, they all looked at Catherine to see if she was pleased with the answer. She was always happy and gave many ‘thumbs up’ [signs] which we all could understand.”
Stadelman said she’s also heard from people in Venezuela, Istanbul and Spain about her lecture series after seeing the videos on YouTube.
Stadelman said she presents six to eight lectures per week at both public and private venues. In addition to her lectures, she also offers a lecture and art class combination called Master Inspired Art Workshops.
“During these sessions, we do a 30-minute presentation on the artist and then a guided art project for the audience that allows them to create their own work in the style of the highlighted artist,” she said. “We often reproduce their masterpieces.”
Stadelman’s “Through the Eyes of the Artist” series, which she created more than 26 years ago, fills a hole in art history by delving into the personal lives and feelings of famous artists, she said.
“After years of study in Art History, I didn’t feel that I knew enough about the artists’ feelings, personalities, or even details of their lives,” she said. “I could spew out every fact about their work and place it in time, but I didn’t know what was in their hearts, what motivated them and influenced their work. I began searching for more information on their lives, and discovered letters and journals from my favorite artists. As I read through the words written by the artists themselves, I realized that what was being passed off as art education was really incomplete. Many of my Art History textbooks didn’t even mention some of the most influential artists of their time.”
As a result, Stadelman started researching artists through their letters and journals.
“There were layers of details I had yet to unravel,” she said. “It was all so exciting – their stories were starting to unfold. The letters and journals of the artists offered slivers of the lives, loves, and longings of the artists I admired. They offered a different kind of appeal and hold on me, and shed new light into the hearts and minds of some of our cultural icons, re-forming what I knew about their stories.”
Her lectures have resonated with those who have attended. Dave Burbank of Strongsville said that he found out about the lectures through a friend.
“She really digs into the artist and comes up with a lot of information,” Burbank said before the April 25 lecture titled Wyeth Family of Artists, which concentrated on N.C. Wyeth and one of his sons, Andrew Wyeth, and their family dynasty. “She lectures a lot about how they lived and how they thought.”
Burbank’s friend, Hudson resident Larry Alan Schmidt, said he has seen Stadelman’s lectures at least 30 times, adding this is his third time listening to her lecture on the Wyeths.
“This speaker does a lot of variation,” Schmidt said. “She changes up her lectures. I’ve enjoyed art for 40 years plus now, and I’m learning more. That’s why I am here. To quote Michelangelo, ‘I’m still learning.’”
The Hudson Library and Historical Society will next host Stadelman’s “Through the Eyes of the Artist” series at 10 a.m. June 5. The lecture will focus on artist Mary Cassatt.
Those interested in trying their hand at recreating Cassatt’s “Children Playing on the Beach” can register for Stadelman’s Master Inspired Art Worshop at Stow Library from 6 to 8 p.m. July 24. Registration for the free workshop begins June 25.
Ann Malthaner, marketing and public relations manager, Stow Library said her workshops generally fill up by noon of the first registration day.
“This is probably the sixth workshop we’ve done with her, and we have a large following of patrons who come out,” Malthaner said. “There’s no experience necessary, you’ll surprise yourself. You’ll walk out with a fantastic painting.”
Reporter April Helms can be reached at 330-541-9423, firstname.lastname@example.org