Her paintings are of boats, mostly. Even if she paints a classic car or a truck, there’s a good chance the sea is in the background.
But she speaks of them as if they’re portraits of her beloved grandfather George Wingender.
Bradenton artist Edana Davis is just winding up a show at the Studio at Gulf and Pine in Anna Maria. Her large acrylic paintings in the show may depict local scenes, but almost all of them remind her of her youth, and the titles have to do with those memories. It’s only when the artist tells her stories that a visitor learns the connections between the titles and subjects of the paintings.
“Count Your Blessings,” “Be Kind,” “Two Hands,” and “Be Still” are all images of small boats, mostly fishing boats. When she was growing up in coastal North Carolina, her grandfather would sit on the front porch with her and her brother, also named George, and he would tell them stories that imparted a life lesson. Her paintings’ titles refer to those lessons.
“When you learn all the lessons,” she said, “you get to heaven.”
Even a lot of the ones that don’t deal with Grandpa George refer to her family. “Bait & Tackle” is a painting of the bicycle her brother rode when he was a kid, with Grandpa George’s wicker tackle basket affixed to the front. “Goodnight Kiss” shows a closeup of a small boat, but the title is an homage to her mother.
When you learn all the lessons, you get to heaven.
“Every night when we came home we would have to give her a goodnight kiss,” Davis said. “It was only later that we realized that was her way of finding out if we’d been smoking or drinking.”
The show is titled “Weathered Souls.” It will be at the Studio on Gulf and Pine only through Saturday.
Davis grew up in a creative home. Her mother paints, and her grandfather was an expert storyteller. He had a ring of hair on the back and sides of his head and a bald crown, and he always told young Edana that he had been scalped by Indians. Only many years later did she do the arithmetic and realize her grandfather wasn’t nearly old enough to have been in the Wild West.
She took a painting class for a while when she was a kid. There were eight kids in the class when she started, then four and finally just two. She was one of them.
She learned oil painting, but kept at it only as an occasional hobby for many years. She switched to acrylics when she moved to Florida because oil paints take too long to dry in the humid air.
She paints with abandon. Her expressiveness comes from her heart. You can see it in the work.
She retired a couple of years ago and began painting every day.
In January, she had one painting in a show at the Studio on Gulf and Pine. She hadn’t shown extensively around here, but Joyce Karp, the studio’s director, saw that one painting and knew she wanted to see more.
“I was immediately drawn to it,” Karp said. “It wasn’t just her color and expressiveness, it was her style. There was something unique and special about it. She paints with abandon. Her expressiveness comes from her heart. You can see it in the work.”
After Karp saw that one piece, she asked Davis if she had more. Sure, Davis said, she a had closet full of them. She painted for the joy of painting, so usually when she finished a piece she just put it away in a closet. She’d sometimes pull one out and work on its some more, but much of her finished work just sat in the closet.
Her show, which has been in the front gallery of the studio since May 10, has drawn a strong response, Karp said. It’s always slower in the spring than in fall and winter, but people have been coming, and they’ve been responding.
“Men like it because it’s boats,” Karp said. “Instead of wives dragging their husbands in, we have husbands dragging their wives in.”