This week’s cover by Anda Styler, called “Rose Garden,” is not just a pretty picture. While it brings back wonderful memories for those of us who grew up in a small town, the image also symbolizes an ideal middle-class life. The white picket fence, particularly, provides such a metaphor, and an iconic one at that, considering that such a fence dates back to Colonial times. But picket fences can also mean a time and place that no longer exist, suggesting even danger. (For example, David Lynch’s film Blue Velvet opened with a pleasant garden, filled with flowers, complete with a fence. Murder and mayhem soon followed.)
This is not to say that Styler’s image is anything like that. But it does evoke a story that is intriguing: viewers can’t help but wonder who lives in the house and what lies beyond the picture plane. And where is this charming setting in the first place?
The cover is so inviting; we want to know where the house is.
To tell the truth, I don’t remember exactly. It’s hard to remember as you wander here and there. It’s in the area. I come to the Hamptons often, even though I live in Connecticut.
You are a plein air painter, right?
I work outside in the warm weather and also work in my studio the rest of the year.
What attracted you to the image on the cover?
I love the air, the light, the garden, the atmosphere, the beauty.
I imagine you are attracted to the environment and what it means. For example, you are in Santa Fe as we speak, and you’ll be going to Taos. Where else have you traveled where an environment has such clarity?
I love Ireland, Maine, New York City and the Hamptons, of course.
If you had a choice, where would you like to live and paint?
As a painter, I see amazing, beautiful things I want to paint. It’s hard to say where I want to live. I stay open. I appreciate what I see.
It seems like you especially appreciate buildings and gardens. How did that come about?
I am drawn to old buildings. I should have been an architect. I like old plantings and old trees, too.
How about your family? Any artists or architects?
My father was an engineer. My grandmother, aunt and sister were artists. I’ve been painting since I was nine years old.
What a passion you had. How about your art training?
I went to Parsons. I was 30 years old, older than most students, when I graduated. I was a freelance painter after that. I would paint all night and take care of
Who or what influenced you the most?
I had the most amazing teacher when I was nine years old. When we moved, she and her husband came to see me. She said, “I want you to be the artist you’re supposed to be.” Marilyn Conover was another teacher who was the deciding factor in my becoming an artist, when she gave me a book by watercolorist
Why do you paint? What’s your worldview?
There are lots of images in the world, on the internet and TV, and they are pretty violent. I don’t need to do that. We need to look at something different. I want to paint what people are really like: free, peaceful, beautiful.
Work by Anda Styler is currently on view at Southampton’s Chrysalis Gallery, 2 Main Street, 631- 287-1883, chrysalisgallery.com.