Mississippi Artist to Artist

tlybARTMAG interview: Meet Ellen Langford

March 22, 2022 Ellen Langford Episode 47
Mississippi Artist to Artist
tlybARTMAG interview: Meet Ellen Langford
Show Notes Transcript

tlybARTMAG is a visual arts magazine that focuses on Contemporary Artists living or working in Mississippi. The first issue is available to view or download for free at tlybARTMAG.com

You can order one of the limited print copies at thelittleyellowbuilding.com

Find Ellen:
http://www.ellenlangford.com/
https://www.instagram.com/ellenlangfordart/

Thank you to the Friends of TLYB! Your membership helps fund the transcription of the podcast for the hearing impaired.

If you would like to become a member, visit https://www.thelittleyellowbuilding.com/store/c15/Membership_for_2022.html

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Derek Smith:

Hello and welcome or welcome back to the Mississippi artists to artists podcast where we feature contemporary artists living and working in Mississippi. Today is special today is the release of the TL YV, art mag, the very first issue, it's a visual arts magazine dedicated to the contemporary artists living and working in Mississippi. Three of the articles in the magazine were based on interviews that I hosted over zoom and we have turned those into special edition TL YB art mag interview, podcast things I don't know, I wanted to to be able to hear all of the words that they said not just the edited bars that made it into the magazine. We're releasing these back to back and our featured interview was with Ellen length, you can visit T lyb. Art mag.com To download your issue view online or purchase the limited edition copy. All right on to the interview. Hey, everyone, and welcome back, I want to I want to welcome a special guest. This is Ellen Langford, who's joining us today. And Ellen is our cover artists for our inaugural TL YV art magazine, which I'm so excited about featuring Mississippi artists from across the state things to do in our state organizations to get involved with art to go see, Ellen, thank you so much for not only joining us today, but for lending us your talents to the magazine, I just really, really appreciate that.

Ellen Langford:

Well, I'm thrilled and honored to be asked. So to get

Derek Smith:

started, why don't you tell us a little bit about your background and your history and art.

Ellen Langford:

Okay, um, I was born here in Jackson, where I'm talking to you from and I had parents who loved to have art in the house. And we had terrific books on artists and books from, you know, big picture books, you know, coffee table type books from museums all over the place. And we, they traveled a ton my father traveled internationally and would would take us with them when we traveled and always made a point of going to museums, and I'd always loved it. At some point, it became me dragging my parents to museums, as I got older, and eventually, and I always drew I was one of those kids who always drew and always, you know, if there were paints that painted. And I had a I ended up having an incredible high school art teacher. And she in fact, she just died a couple years ago, we stayed close all that time. And she, she was she knew a ton about art history, she knew a ton about art theory. She was she was a textile artist, she did not she really didn't teach any of the visual art fundamentals that might be good to have in high school, but she encouraged us to just follow our bliss, really, and I, you know, worked my tail off trying to figure it out on my own. Go into college, I tried to get as far from Mississippi as I could, because I had this idea that racism and classism were, you know, particular to Mississippi, and I thought if I went to New England or to California, which were you know, I just looked at a map, what's the forest I can get away? That That wouldn't be the case, I ended up going to New England. Mostly because I started to realize and I don't know if you want this to edit this out, but I started to realize I was gay. And I was not ready for that. And I felt like if I went to California and have to be around a bunch of gay people, and I was scared of that. And so I went to a college in New England, that had a decent art department and a good Museum. But my father basically said, if you if you take the art scholarship for Ole Miss, you can study art. If you don't You will not be studying art. And so, you know, I said, okay at first, and when I had to declare my major, I was taking a religions of China and Japan class, and I loved it. And I thought, well, two things that really run the world are religion and economics, I'm going to major in these two things and really understand the world. And I was a disaster economics because I can't read numbers, they swit swap all over the place for me, and I eventually had to just like, Get out before I failed the class. And religion was fantastic world religions was my religion, my, my religion, my major, and that I eventually ended up with, after getting a little lost along the way. And I'm really glad I did, because it was a terrific way to learn about the history of people on the world in the, you know. So being lost along the way, at some point, I left the college I was at, and I did come to Ole Miss for what ended up being a year because of a girlfriend, and I decided, okay, father wants me to be a doctor, I'm going to take pre med, and I'm going to be a doctor in rural Mississippi, because I had worked. In the summer, I had worked rurally with some desperately poor people, and on a study that had to do with high blood pressure and diabetes, and I was going to help I was gonna change the world, you know, I was going to do my part. And that was also a disaster. Because science and math just are not. They're fascinating, and they're really hard for my brain. But I learned a lot as far as anatomy and physiology, which was helpful. Chemistry was fascinating and a disaster. So I stayed the rest of the year, and ended up second semester taking a fifth figure painting class from Jerry Allen, who is I don't know if you know, his work. He's a amazing painter. And he was an amazing teacher as well. And while I was taking that class, I painted a portrait of my father, who said, Oh, okay, yeah, well, I think you should take this seriously. And so I did. And I did finish up after that. I studied one summer at the Corcoran school in DC. And I studied abroad for a semester in Italy, at an international art school, and got a scholarship for that, which was terrific. And I did take painting at that college. But if there wasn't the the strength of painting that I was, that I had received in Italy, or in at Corcoran, or even from Jerry Allen, who, like, I don't know, that I'll ever have as good a teacher as I had, then, and let's see, is this too long? And rambly?

Derek Smith:

No, not at all. No, I love every minute if you don't understand.

Ellen Langford:

So I was gonna I had always painted, always drawn, let's continue to do that. I got discouraged about the academics. When I tried to take it from the college where it started in was finishing up a lot of attitude. And if you didn't know people in New York and show in New York, then Then what were you even doing, you know, and, and not a lot of helpful teaching. So I ventually did get get my degree from there, I kind of in a whim, moved to San Francisco from there, my brother and his first wife, were out there and he said, you know, think you'd really like it here. And this is before the.com Boom. So things were affordable for, you know, people who were young and willing to share a house with six other people. And so I did I moved out there and I worked all kinds of low wage, hard work jobs for a number of years. And I always painted always had a place to keep my paints set up. Also, right about the time I moved out there, my father died really suddenly. And so it was my two I kind of was falling apart and I got a therapist, which was a smart thing to do. And she said, You need to have always have a place to set up to paint. And so that was like, the one thing that she suggested that I did. And it's one of the things that when we get to the suggestions for artists, I'll come back to that, those pretty lifesaving. So I was working a lot having a lot of fun, probably too much fun, although I'm not sure that there's a thing, such as that. And, and painting and painting and painting, I started having little shows back here, and selling my work kind of by word of word of mouth, just I would come and visit my mother and set up a show at New Stage Theatre or, and then a local gallery here, picked me up, started selling pretty well. And at some point, I decided I wanted to go further with art education. And so I spent a year at the San Francisco Art Institute, which was an amazing experience. But what I should have done is applied to their graduate program. Instead, I decided I needed a second grad, second degree, undergraduate degree. And you know, at that price, after a year of it, I was like, There's no way I'll ever be able to pay this back. And so I just had that year, they're not just it was an amazing, but the theory, the art history, and the training and visual arts that the painters and drawers are, the artists that I studied painting and drawing from, were amazing. And one of them had been part of that San Francisco Bay, the Bay Area, figurative artists, who, you know, I think my work is pretty influenced by. And so it's really neat, you know, feeling like had some connection to that group and got to be pretty close to him. He's not living anymore. And so I stayed out there really, until the.com, boom, hit. And I decided at some point, I took a first aid class, like a Red Cross for, for extra credit, I worked this motorcycle to sounds random, but it's not work this motorcycle race. And so not when not if but when they crashed in each round, I was part of this crew that would go out and assess them and kind of get them ready for the ambulance to come. And whatever reason, the way I'm wired, I found this absolutely delightful. And I loved it. And so I applied for paramedic school, I got my EMT basic out there. And I applied for paramedic schools and realized I wasn't going to be able to afford to stay out there and be in school full time. And the, you know, the computers, people were everywhere, and the prices were just going up everywhere. And so I moved back here for what I thought was a year and I went to paramedic school here at at the university down the street. And was was has already kind of made a little bit of a name for myself back here before I moved back as far as painting. So I was painting in my mother's upstairs bedroom. You know, we were like, making dinner together every night and splitting a little bitty beer. And it was kind of fantastic. And and she had had a real parent, both parents had a real hard time with my being gay, like a big they're, they're really they were really reasonable people and not you know, not right wing and in general, really open minded, but they were both born in the 20s. And, you know, when my dad was in med school, it was a sickness and he they really, you know, were worried about me. And so she and I had this time of living together and really having really like having kind of a beautiful reconciliation period was lovely. And I ended up meeting somebody Right before, right at the end of paramedic school, staying here, having a child with them, all the while painting and painting and really loving what being in Mississippi, allowed as far as my growth as an artist. And in fact, my mother eventually would say, every child should have two mothers and she had really come around. And events, eventually she started losing, she started really sliding into dementia, right about the same time that my partner and I had to split up. And I had, because I wasn't the biological mom, I had to really fight for time with my son. So I couldn't commit to 24 or 48 hour shifts on the ambulance anymore. And I was selling well enough that I kind of had to make the leap. And I don't know that I ever would have, I thought I would go to graduate school, I thought I would teach, I thought I'd always have some kind of stable, something to fall back on. I'd even started prereqs for nursing, but I just didn't have that time. I had, I couldn't. I couldn't commit to anything except my mother and my son. And and because of that, having to take that leap and needing to, you know, pay the bills, I had always taken it really seriously as a full second full time job. And now I like it basically has become two full time jobs, you know. And so that was about 1112 years ago, I think. And so that that's my only way of making a living now is selling my art occasionally teaching classes. But that's much more occasionally mostly selling selling paintings. Now, that's gotten me to where we are,

Derek Smith:

yeah. And you strike me as the person that doesn't, you know, you have a lot of joy in life. But when it comes to a decision to be made, you know, there's a lot of consideration every time you go into making a decision.

Ellen Langford:

Yeah, well, I don't know that. I would say that as a younger Ellen. Now, yes, no, at at 22. When I decided to move to San Francisco, it's like, yeah, yeah, I'll do that. You know,

Derek Smith:

I think there's these periods in our life. And age has a lot to do with age and being naive. And not really understanding what it might take to live off of something, I did the same thing took off to Florida didn't care what it was going to take for me to eat, or to do anything else, it was just going to happen. And you're young enough and pliable enough, where you can just stretch and bend and it all works out. But Right, right. But as you get older, you need that stability, you can't bend as easy,

Ellen Langford:

right? And, you know, now I have a child and I actually, he lives in Oregon now. So a lot of what I've in addition to, you know, mortgage and life things, and child support. I also you know, it's it's a huge time and money commitment to travel to Oregon for visitation. And which has made you know, a little bit more complicated by COVID. But yeah,

Derek Smith:

well, you've had this beautiful long art arc in your journey that has built layer on layer with your artistry. How has your art developed visually, through all of this process?

Ellen Langford:

I hope it's gotten stronger. Although sometimes I look back at work I did in my 20s and 30s. And like, ooh, like to get back to that, you know, that was so some good stuff. I think for quite a while it became really highly narrative. And I'm what I'm kind of pushing myself now, to get back a little bit more to fundamentals. You know, like, I'm trying to push myself to do some plein air some portraits, portraiture, mostly self portraiture because in a pandemic, and I'd love to get into it. Your drawing group at some point. Yeah, I don't know what I mean, I'm fully vaccinated, but now fully vaccinated people are getting sick. So we don't know. We don't know.

Derek Smith:

It's a huge roller coaster. Yes. And you know, this will be going up in March. So fingers crossed that things have taken a wonderful turn.

Ellen Langford:

Wouldn't that be nice. And in addition to trying to push myself to get back to fundamentals and strengthen my fundamentals, I'm also trying to add, whereas my work has developed quite a narrative quality. Visually, I'm trying to add writing to my process, I love to write a love language. And I have always had fun with my titles, which are, you know, two or three word poems, usually. But now, I really want to figure out how to get actual writing, kind of almost like short stories to go with the visual short stories, if that makes sense.

Derek Smith:

No, that'd be a wonderful, I would love to read those. So your paintings for anyone that's not very familiar, or has has not, you know, had the honor of coming across your work yet. Because I mean, I'm a huge fan of your work. Your paintings are there, these these tiny stories, but they're not super detailed. The thing that is so for me, the thing that is so special about your work is is all the just as much the things you don't paint as the things that you do. And you leave these spaces for our imaginations and our own personal experiences to jump into the painting. They're there, they, they bring back lots and lots of memories, every time I see a different painting of yours, I can instantly reflect back on to a time I felt the same sunshine on my face that the dog and the figures are failing are, you know, the same grass tones. I've seen those walking through Mississippi. And so they're very special to me. And the fact that you, you, you, you take the time to not over produce your work. It's, I do, I'm a huge fan.

Ellen Langford:

I love they take the time to not ever produce. Yeah.

Derek Smith:

You just you, you know, you're you're you're not, you don't go in and work something to death. It's just bear and it lives together. And it's just so nice to be around. So now to know that you're gonna have developed these stories to go with them like I'm so into that.

Ellen Langford:

Well, we'll see. We'll see. Yeah.

Derek Smith:

Um, so tell us about, you know, moving back to Mississippi, you you had kind of a little base to start with. Did you come in and open up a studio? Did you stay painting at home? Pretty much did you have your separate jobs?

Ellen Langford:

While I was living with my mom, I had, you know, one of my one of my brother's bedrooms as a studio, which was in such a luxury. And then I, when I moved in with my child's other mom, my future ex wife, we eventually got a little like, an eight by 12, little outbuilding, you know, a little portable building, but in the backyard, which really wasn't enough room. But it kept to me, it helped me move from being surrounded by the things in the house that I really felt obligated to do the laundry, the cleaning, you know, all that stuff. You know, just by going, you know, 20 yards, down the hill in the backyard and being in a separate space was really helpful. And eventually I John Bower Bower Foundation had donated a building to for artists studios in Jackson, and somebody approached me about being a part of that group, initial group and that was terrific. It was Tony to Fatah. Do you know Tony to Fatah? Okay. His work is amazing. He's the Director of Education at the Walter Anderson museum now,

Derek Smith:

but I do know who that is. He's just

Ellen Langford:

one, Anthony de Fatah. And that's when I met him. No, no, no, I'd met him a little bit before and, and another couple of artists think they're just and John Maxwell had a little Writing Studio and that was amazing. So that was my first real professional studio, even in San Francisco. Go I'd had a basement to paint in, which was terrific. But this was the first time I had, you know, somewhat of a professional, you know, had an exhaust fan in the windows, I could work in oil. I had decent light, you know, from there I moved with one of those artists actually an interior designer, he got a big space also in Fondren that he ended up renting part of to me and part of two friends of ours who had a little ballet school. And that was really fun. At some point, I was down on Millsaps avenue for a little while. But that was a little tricky, because it was mostly young guys in their 20s, who didn't really understand space and respecting each other's boundaries and had some stuff go Miss anyway, what an ideal, yeah, but you know, that experience, I wish them the best and, and now I share studio space downtown and have for maybe six or seven years. And I share it with a bunch of other artists, but often on there by myself, which is terrific. I mean, I love I love people. But you know, I really need that time to, and I'm about to start a part of a residency here at an older building in Belle Haven heights, and pointing that way because that's south of here. And I'm going to be painting there a couple days a week and offering classes to kids in the neighborhood. And so I'm kind of excited about that. So let's keep my studio, but I'll be working in wash, and maybe some oil, but mostly wash there.

Derek Smith:

So yay, that's exciting. That's

Ellen Langford:

probably more information that you want to

Derek Smith:

know, I want to know all of this. And you know, for anybody that's going to be listening, these are all opportunities that are available, you know, that they might not know about in their area. And, you know, it's just, it's every event that we can promote every thing that we can do for communities that are art based that can share with children that are growing up and show them different ways that art can be participated in art can be used to, you know, in their jobs and their different jobs. You know, you don't have to be an artist in order to do art things in your job, and no, absolutely make you so valuable. And so each one of these events and things gives children the opportunity to have an entire world open up to them. That just wasn't available before.

Ellen Langford:

That you're teaching children. That's terrific.

Derek Smith:

Thank you, I've something I never thought I would do. And I really enjoy it.

Ellen Langford:

I'm so glad I taught my son's class for a little while when he was in public school here. Let's see what that would have been first through third grade, they didn't have art. And they didn't have a teacher that was doing art with them, which a lot of teachers end up having to do. So I would go in once a week, and I bought him I bring with me all the supplies. Eventually, the teacher let me have a place in her little closet to keep them on. But I just, you know, that I wanted them to know about, you know, different different artists around the world, you know, and most of those kids weren't white, I wanted to know that they were really important artists of color. I want to know what a portrait was, what a landscape was, what different medium were. And also, we had a great time just making messes, you know. I loved it, I loved it. I don't I don't want to teach small children art as my full time job. I think it takes a really someone really special like you but I loved that experience of being able to do that.

Derek Smith:

Another thing that I really appreciate about you is you you live freely, you know, you don't live behind closed doors, you don't live behind, you know, shut in. And it's very easy to do that because it's safe. You know, and and I can speak from experience as a queer kid that grew up here and moved away and came back. You know, there's not a lot of times and this is the first time I've ever said it on the podcast. You know, there's not a lot of times that I even feel willing to talk about it. But what I am willing to do is be the best artist for every single person that I come across so that they have something other to you know to see Yeah, yeah, and when Do think of a gay person. And then they think of me, they think of Derek, the artist who happens to be gay, and then it becomes okay. You know, and, and so you, I followed your story for a while and it's not just you, it's it's you. And it's Jonathan Kent Adams. And it's just, there's these personalities that are coming to the surface in Mississippi that is going to eventually open up a ton of opportunities. And, and not only I, you know, I connected with the Mississippi School of Arts, and we did a show there this past summer. And at the end of the show, the school year opened up, and we had the opportunity to do an artist talk with the kids, you know, and that was one of their questions. They brought it up, you know, they're like, how do you live here? How are you and, and there's so much more to experience in life. And they get to see that and artists, like you get to open those doors for them. And I'm just so grateful that you're in the state and doing what you do. So I just wanted to applaud you for a second and just think again,

Ellen Langford:

and I applaud you. Yeah. Is it? You know, I don't know about you. But you know, when I was growing up, I didn't feel safe. And that's, you know, why? Part of why I needed to get out of Mississippi, in addition to thinking really that people weren't racist other places. Boy, was I wrong? But yes, yes, yeah. Yeah.

Derek Smith:

So for anyone that wants to find Ellen, you can find her on Instagram at Ellen Langford, art, you can find her on our website at Ellen lang for.com. Please go and do that. I mean, I'm talking spectacular storytelling, beautiful, fine artwork, it just, it's what I love about contemporary Mississippi art and the thought and the care that's being put behind it. Ellen, for anybody that's coming up behind you are for you as a younger self, what would be some advice that you would give to them?

Ellen Langford:

I love this question. And I've loved some of the other responses that your other interviewees have given. Or something I always tell people is, wherever you live, always make sure that you have full time set up a way to do art, if you're going to have to get your paints out, make sure you have have enough paint, make sure they're not dried out full, you know, find where did you put your easel last, you know, you're you're not going to be making art on a regular basis, if ever, and, you know if it fit, even if you're not planning to sell your work or be a professional artist, if making art is important to your soul, and to how you ground yourself in life, make sure that you have that someplace, it can be a corner of your little bitty bedroom. Also put in your backpack or your purse or whatever you carry around a sketchbook and some pencils or a pen. And just always be you know, if you feel comfortable, be taking notes wherever you are, if you're out to something I've loved doing and miss doing much since the pandemic is a nice to have a group that we for over a decade, we'd go up to Bravo on Sunday nights, we'd have drinks, and I would get out my little bitty watercolor wash set. And I would just make little paintings of people around. And it was a great way to study forms in you know, in motion, in in groupings, in in interiors, and also to just develop your confidence. And let's see. So those two things, if you're thinking about going to study art, I think there are great things about art schools. And I'm certainly grateful for the year I spent at the San Francisco Art Institute and the one in Florence and my summer at the Corcoran, but I think going to a university that has a good art department but also where you can learn history where you can learn philosophy and learn government. You can take science classes and get a good foundation and your anatomy physiology and just have a bad broader understanding of how the world is put together. Because yeah, there's YouTube and stuff now but there's really not many opportunities in life where you really have the gift of being able to study in an intense way. Like you can at University. Um, as far as being a professional artist, there's a great book by Scott Pressfield Do you know this book, The The War of Art. And he wrote The Legend of Bagger Vance. That's the only thing I know of else that he's written. But it's all about taking yourself seriously as an artist, and making the time, you know, making your workdays and take, you know, making the time. And not I mean, he, I think in the book, he said, he writes, just like four hours a day, but those four hours are sacred. And he has, you know, things that he does before and after that, that are part of that process, but the production time, you know, and that may not sound like much to someone who sits in an office for eight hours a day. But think of how much productivity you get in those eight hours, I've worked office jobs, you know, there's a lot of not being productive. And so I'd say, like set press, Phil said, take yourself seriously, as an artist, try to identify what pressures in life get in the way of you taking yourself seriously and are he taught calls it resistance, you know, do you feel like you just have to sleep a few more hours in the morning, or just gonna be awful. Get up, you know, stretch, have some have a cup of coffee. And remember that this is your job, and that, you know, you are worth it. Do you you know, think of taking classes from other artists as continuing education, like a real job to make yourself stronger and stronger. I met a woman when I was in college, who was a painter, and she had had a teacher along the way who told her um, your your paintings are perfect, never change, never do anything else don't get any take any advice from any other teachers, and her paintings looked dead to me. And I just thought that was even then I thought that was heartbreaking. You know, even if something you feel like is something is working, you're selling a particular look. Keep pushing yourself to grow and, you know, push yourself beyond your comfort levels. One of the great things about taking classes is the discomfort that you will feel and push through. Every time I take a class I think, Who am I kidding? I don't know how to do this. This is terrible. Ah, why did I take this class? And then afterwards, I'm like, Oh, it starts to come out in ways that you just you couldn't have known what happened. And when I teach classes, I tell my students that I have that experience as well. Because because people are going I can't do that. Yeah, I'm asking them to do things way outside of their comfort zone. Also take good care of yourself, eat well, exercise stretch. What position are you in when you're making art is you know, are you know, are you giving yourself tendinitis and Crick's in the neck and you know, are you taking breaks, I remember when I remember, I set my timer a lot because I can get like hyper focused and find myself for hours and hours in a completely ridiculous position that my body will scream at me about later. So take care of yourself. And I probably have a lot more advice, you know, thinking about gallery stuff, but I don't know how much time you have.

Derek Smith:

So I mean, I have all debt, go for it. But I mean, as long as you as long as you're comfortable and feel like talking I mean, this is all wonderful. Especially something that nobody talks about was that last part, you know, the the stopping and my students, when we're drawing, you know, they'll they'll be drawing for a little bit and they hunched over and they hunched over and they hunched over and then all of a sudden they're like, Oh, my neck hurts. I was like okay, everybody take a break. Everybody laying back on your chair, roll your neck, as like and then take your board and put it on your lap. So you're not leaned over, like give your arm freedom, let your wrists be your wrist and don't force things and like there'll be times to go in and get really like tight. But you know that that really struck with all the other stuff? Yeah,

Ellen Langford:

absolutely. I set timers in my classes and I make people and they don't want to stop. You know that something work and they don't want to stop and like put your paintbrush down. Now, stand up, walk away. Stretch, you know, I mean, they're adults. These are adults I'm talking to they don't want to do it. They're always glad they did. But you know.

Derek Smith:

Well, you had just mentioned about your galleries. You work with several galleries. Would you mind listing those off really quick so I can make sure Oh, no. Item, the one

Ellen Langford:

that's Although I'm really lucky that the galleries I work with are all people who are very wonderful open generous souls who work really, really hard for themselves, but also for their artists and have, you know, bring a lot of good to the world and so I you know, I guess I'm a mid career artists I feel still like I'm just figuring out but you know, I'm, I know that I'm really lucky in that way. So but I'll start with, with that said, the one that's kind of closest to my heart is the attic gallery in Vicksburg, Mississippi. Have you been there? Yeah. It's, it's owned by Leslie Silver, who I've kind of taken as a second as an adoptive mom. I I just love her so dearly. And she is an artist herself. And she's passionate about art. And she's about passionate about truth in art, not just pretty things that will look nice on the wall, but you know, honest, earnest good. And I don't mean good in any kind of like, judgmental way, but you know, art with integrity, art that, like, makes a difference in the world and comes from a place of you know, real vision and its creation. And her daughter's are fine with me adopting her as well. They're about my age, and they've, they're fine with that. So then, so that's the attic that at a gallery in Vicksburg, Mississippi. They don't have a very active website, but they're great. If you call and say, I'm looking for work by this artist. They'll send you pictures, they'll work with you. They'll ship stuff, but it's also a real treat to go to. It's to me it's like going to a little chapel a little like spiritual center of art. Okay, so that's the attic gallery. In Jackson, I'm represented by an interiors place. That's art is kind of a second thought, although they're great. I adore them. I just haven't found the perfect art art home in Jackson, but there it's the it's called Haven, a curated home. And a good friend of mine is the owner X rays done by two people. one's more of a silent partner. She's Do you ever listen to this? MPB Dr. shows on the radio. She she and Michelle Owens, Alli Brown and Michelle Owens do the Friday one. Right. And they're hilarious. But anyway, she's the silent partner. Stephanie, well just is the deck, the interior designer and she's just terrific. And then also in Mississippi, North Mississippi, I've got the Oxford Tree House gallery. Have you been there as love

Derek Smith:

have not been there yet, but I want to go. So

Ellen Langford:

it feels like a retreat in the woods. It is one of the loveliest commerce feeling places to go. And they have a great group of artists there. They've got chickens on the Sun of the land. It's a little bit outside of town. So you feel like you're just in the middle of the woods in the country. And they also live on the property and they're both artists, Vivian and Walter Neil. He's a metal worker, and she's a printmaker, and they're just wonderful. All of these people are wonderful people. And then over in Tupelo is the Karen gallery run by Kim, am I taking too long? There's just a couple more. Kim Karen. And I've been with her I think over a decade, I think so. And when she first approached me, I thought Tupelo who's going to buy art to I was a real snob about it. And you know, just shows you what, whatever thinking like that will do for you. And so a year later, she approached me a double decker year later, she also she approached me again, she's like, you know, I'm really interested in your work. I feel like I could sell it. And I was doing I think the next weekend I was doing a show in Tupelo is the only time I've ever done that. The gum tree festival. And she said, How about this? Anything you don't sell? Just leave with me. No obligation. If I don't sell it fine. You can come get it and at the end of you know, two back to back shows. I was Osted and so ready not to have to pack all that work up, you know, really woman. And so she sells the heck out of my work. And now she works with the hometown crew from Laurel. And when they show when they show the finished houses, they hang work from the Karen gallery and me and Rachel Mazur, Robin would like she has, she's great group of artists. And it's so fun people, we don't actually watch much just regular TV. But people are always sending me screenshots from you know, are two pictures they've taken of the TV, which seems so old school now. And like I saw your painting, you know, and that's, that's really fun. And so she sells the heck out of my work. And then in North Carolina, a woman named Betsy rose y is just a delightful, delightful spirit. And remember, I was I was at a little tea shop near Gulf Shores, Alabama, I was down there for a week painting on the beach, and I got this call from this woman, it's like, Ellen, I have just been fun interested in your work. And she was very, like, not sure, but it could be a good fit. And so I felt very much like, I hadn't even approached her. I felt like I was on, you know, definitely on trial, you know, to see if this would be a good fit, which I totally respect and took her a bunch of work and she sells really well for me. That's up in Asheville, North Carolina, it's called the American folk, surname of the gallery, and it's right on that main strip of built more and she is just just fantastic. They I mean, they all are, I'm really lucky to be able to work with with all of these guests, they're all women. One of those interesting things in art, you know, growing up, I kind of thought to be a professional artists, you definitely had to be a man, you know. And so it didn't even occur to me that it was possibility because that's all you, you know, I didn't even know about Mary cusat. And, you know, I guess that maybe heard of Georgia O'Keeffe. But, you know,

Derek Smith:

but it was, you know, women just weren't as well documented. And now they've got wonderful books, like they got a big book of women artists. And, you know, for anybody that wants to actually go in and dive into art history, women had way more to do with art history than men. did. You know, if it weren't for Lee Presley, the ancient alcoholic wouldn't have been anything. If it wasn't for Alain de Kooning, Willem de Kooning wouldn't have been anything. So like, go in and find out your histories about these. They they're strong, strong, beautiful, amazing women artists behind it.

Ellen Langford:

And there's also the National Museum of Women in the Arts, which opened in the mid 80s. And there they have a Mississippi chapter, and I pay my dues for that. And they occasionally have shows that I'm part of here in this in Mississippi. But I wanted to if you have time, I'd love to get some advice about approaching artists, poaching galleries. Yes.

Derek Smith:

Give me one second, because I just got a text message somebody outside. Yeah, yeah.

Ellen Langford:

Do you see Rufus? Oh, look at that. Yeah. Hey, Derek.

Derek Smith:

Yes, please share some advice with us about how to approach galleries and how dealing with that because I know for me, I deal with one gallery. And then people have looked at the little yellow building like it's a gallery and it absolutely is not much. It's a little production house, we put on shows we put on books and stuff like that, but there's a there's an art to working with a gallery and having all of that be so super successful. So we have please absolutely share with us.

Ellen Langford:

Terrific. Yeah, so I get I get asked a lot by folks who, you know, they say I want to be an artist first. You know, I feel like if you paint and draw if you make art, you're an artist. Now being a professional artist is is a different thing. And so I've had people say well, you go and talk to say Leslie silver and ask her to look at my work. Or they'll just you know, Leslie will sometimes have people just show up cold call. Both of those I would I would discourage. What I would encourage is as far as taking yourself theories and artists, make sure that you have a collection of work that you have produced with with integrity with seriousness. That is a cohesive body of work and I would say, make sure you have at least 60 to 100 pieces, and that you feel good about it and that you can talk about, and you can talk about your process. And then and, you know, the world is changing all the time, I think a great way to do it is to have have an Instagram or have some kind of way to look at work online. And then at that point, I would say either email it by email, or snail mail, you know, look at look at galleries look at the work being represented by galleries get a feel, if you can travel to it, get a feel of the gallery physically, without going up and saying, I want to be in your gallery, and, and decide if you feel like it could be a good fit for you. Because you're going to be giving the gallery 50% of your profit. And they are going to be giving you 50% of their profit. And it needs to be a really good mutual understanding that y'all are both in it together. And that it's a good fit. You know, there's so many ways of selling your own art, without galleries, but I believe in them, because the ones I work with work so hard for me, and are such good support, you know, for artists and for work for, for artwork. And so in addition to this other process of something else I was going to add, ah, that just went away from my brain. Oh, know what your prices are going to be, you know, get a sit, look at other artwork, look at what sells, you know, talk to people who know about business, you know, what are, what are you going to need to live on, don't just give your work away, yes, you may have another job. But don't just sell your painting for $25 Because you want to be selling your paintings. It kind of devalues your work. People want to you know, pay money for art. It also devalues the work around you. You know other people are like, I have to price my I mean as much as I'd love to give my work away. You know, it's it's how I eat, it's out, pay my mortgage and child support. And I, I price it as low as I possibly can to be able to live on and I've especially the gallery in North Carolina, I would love for my prices to go up. But, you know, I'm mostly sell through galleries in Mississippi. And, you know, that's just kind of my reality right now. And I also want people especially my, my smaller works of a really light for people to be able to own a piece of art that they did invest in, you know, they paid a couple $100 For but, you know, usually people who start buying smaller works and smaller works, eventually they do buy a bigger, don't spend the money on that, and then they feel really good about it. So anyway, so the I didn't write that list I have it somewhere because I have a like a advice for young artists list in my notes that I give people sometime but I just think you know all of that is important as far as taking yourself seriously as an artist and also taking the the art business world seriously.

Derek Smith:

Yeah, in with that you're I mean, you're your peers, you know, you're also taking consideration for your peers and yeah, yeah. I cannot tell you how much I appreciate you giving up all this time. Like I really do appreciate you coming on and filling us with your your advice and your life story and letting giving us the opportunity to get to know you better,

Ellen Langford:

was delightful to talk to and i really i did i After we scheduled this while I was out seeing my son out west. I downloaded all of your previous interviews and and listen to him because most first I was like, Well, I just want to get a sense of like what he's going to ask. And then I was like, Oh, I'm just getting to know more Mississippi artists and look at her look at her work. And you know, anyway, it was delightful and I'm very grateful that you're doing this, and I'm honored to be on

Derek Smith:

for everyone else. We will be back again soon. With another wonderful Mississippi artists make sure you go by and check out try V art mag.com where you can see Ellen's work along with again, more phenomenal Mississippi artists. Until next time. Thank you as always to our members, the friends of the little yellow building Beth Breeland Mary Hardy, Jenny Moke Evelyn PV. Jennifer Drinkwater, the Smith family when fury Mary Adams, the Evans Family, Janet Smith, Jenny Howard, Buffy Jordan and boppers at

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