Thursday, August 2, 2007
Murals being added to historic Burton Place
By SUE WATSON
It has been said if walls could talk they would tell you many things. The walls at historic Burton Place in Holly Springs are coming alive thanks to Victor Moore of Henderson, Tenn.
He is adding more murals compatible with the block print wall-paper murals in the beautiful Federal-style home built in 1848 and for the first time undergoing extensive renovation by David Person of Holly Springs.
Over the staircase in the entry way, Moore has added murals to the outside perimeters of a block print depicting the battle of Valley Forge, an American Revolutionary War battle scene.
“In the center hall, where about one-third of the walls are papered with Zuber French block prints with elaborate landscapes, I’m adding some of the history of Holly Springs,” Moore said. “The murals will match in style and technique the French block prints and it will look as much as possible like a Zuber wood block print.”
Moore paints custom art in oil on panel, canvas or paper according to what his customer wants, or they can be reproductions of the historic old masters. Murals can be painted on site or on vinyl in the studio.
The murals can be used to make a room look more spacious with art in three-dimensional perspective. Or paintings can be faux finished to make a new home look very, very old, Moore said.
The subject matter can be anything from neat old history scenes to Italian Tuscan - a style very popular now, Moore said. Some commercial projects require that things look like stone or marble. Other customers want murals that look like modern art.
“Basically, whatever the client has in mind, I try to see their vision and my color and taste and style will come through.”
“I like playing with a lot of media to get there.”
Moore said he begins a mural by first doing a “couch” sketch to fit the space, layout and design requirements. The second stage is making a scale drawing or sometimes the second stage drawing just evolves as he works when clients already have his trust.
Moore’s murals are found on dentists’ and physicians’ offices and in model homes. He has painted murals for model homes for Matthews Brothers of Memphis and for private homes in the Mid-South.
“Most of my work entails capturing a particular time and period,” he said. “I have to work within the spaces and fixtures already in place.
“Quite often it is just problem solving to make a room feel more spacious and add quality.”
The work at Burton Place is both a joy and a lesson in history, Moore said.
“The beauty is I get to learn about the early settlers. I’ve learned more about Holly Springs and the Chickasaw Indians and how they lived and looked. Some wore turbans and colorful fabrics as well as some feathers.”
One mural at Burton will tell the story of early settlers. One cotton seed buyer with ox and wagon is shown returning from the eastern states. Crump Place will be shown under construction with a freed slave, the builder, in the foreground directing the construction of the house in the early 1800s.
The murals make use of bright, colorful characters in the foreground, with the architecture and less dominant agricultural fields used as the backdrop.
Another mural focuses on the cabin dwellers of the Chickasaw Nation. The Chickasaw are shown assimilating some European styles but keeping their traditional dress such as jewelry and feathers. The era predates the Chickasaw Cession and the Trail of Tears.
A third mural depicts early Holly Springs and the influence of marriage between the Chickasaw and Europeans.
“Dalilah Love, herself only part Chickasaw, but of a powerful family, married a Scotsman, Samuel Mitchell,” Moore said. “Mitchell had been sent by President Jefferson to negotiate with the Chickasaw. This marriage brought prosperity to all and lead to the first road being opened across Chickasaw land and the opening of Holly Springs to settlers.”
Moore, who sold his first painting at age 6 to a friendly patron, studied under Brandon Bethea of Memphis during the seventh grade. He studied art at Germantown High School. Later he attended UT Knoxville where he studied commercial illustration and graphic design and graduated with a Bachelor’s of Fine Art in 1984.
“My interest always has been design, illustrating and fine art,” he said.
After college, Moore worked eight years in restaurant and hotel interior design which included etched and stained glass work, murals and oil on canvas with Unicorn owned by Bill Cruthirds of Olive Branch. He spent seven years designing packaging for a fragrance product company (Unicorn International, Inc.). Five years ago Moore saw his first opportunity to go out on his own after meeting designers who said there was a need in the market for custom commercial and residential art and murals.
He’s building an outstanding portfolio.
“It’s been a thrill for the past six years working for individuals who love art; not for people who have to have it but for people who want it,” Moore said.
His last project was for the new pediatric facility for the Jackson Clinic in Jackson, Tenn. where he painted jungle scenes that help children relax while at the doctor’s office.
“I’m paying my dues and hopefully when I’m gone, the work will have some value,” he said. “Art tells a story and to try to figure out the story behind it is what’s fun. This is the best time on the planet to be an artist. From all the way back from the beginning to now we have all that art to look at. And man has moved beyond just surviving to putting something in their world. This is a good time to be into art. But it’s not necessarily easy.”
Moore and his wife, Teri, have five children - three daughters and two sons. Their oldest will be attending UT Knoxville this year and the youngest will be in the first grade.
When they moved to the countryside in Henderson, Moore said he and his wife were looking for Mayberry RFD. They live in a country house on about 10 acres and have a garden and a few animals in what he described as a simple lifestyle.
He praised his wife for her patience and support of his career.
Artists struggle with mastery and love of God and forget to take care of the practical aspects of living, like getting paid, sometimes, he said. His wife dutifully reminds him the bills have to be paid.
Moore said the worst thing he may have done was go to college rather than study under a master.
“In college my dream was to be a Michelangelo,” he said. “Then I realized he was 23 when he did the Pieta and reality set in.
“I found that my art was ultimately about finding the best way to express my own art and not about Michelangelo.
“There are lots of talented people nowadays. I feel very privileged to get to work in an old house like this (Burton Place), throw some paint on the walls and get to be a part of it.”
It was Teri who encouraged him to get back out on his own and go for it.
Burton Place owner David Person of Holly Springs said he was confused about how to make use of the center hallway and had considered using it for a laundry room.
“The room that was probably the most confusing one in the house now is one of the most interesting,” he said. “It didn’t seem to have a function; it was either too big or too small to use.
“But I think the Burtons were too grand to let this room be used for laundry.”
Person met Moore though his decorator Roma Buchan.
“Victor is a well-known artist and has a real feel for history,” Person added.
Although not yet completely restored, Burton Place has been open for two Pilgrimages and a wedding was held there last weekend.
The house will be an ideal place for receptions, weddings and even wakes, Person said. And when completed it will be open for tours.
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