Tag: ‘watercolor’

Can the Lyric Theater be saved?

Friday, July 1st, 2011

I’m always overwhelmed by the underdeveloped potential in Birmingham, and never more so than yesterday when Bob and I toured the Lyric Theater.  As Glenny Brock, the Lyric’s strongest advocate, proclaimed, “With the Alabama Theater, The Lyric Theater (across the street), the McWane Science Center, The Pizitz Building, Carver Theater,  (and other downtown landmarks) along with Mayor William Bell’s strong support, we already HAVE an entertainment district downtown.”

Certainly, we have the amazing historic structures, but Birmingham’s landmarks need financial support if they are to remain.  Remember the fate of Birmingham’s Terminal Station….And since 2009, The Lyric’s been among buildings listed on Alabama Historical Commission’s “Places in Peril”.

To those who might claim that it would draw business away from the Alabama Theater (now booked 325 days a year), Glenny counters, “The Alabama Theater was built for ‘moving pictures’ with 2200 seats, and The Lyric Theater was built for live performances with 1200 seats and 12 dressing rooms.  It’s much better suited for some of the small, live performances now booked for the Alabama.  And Willie Nelson has been turned away twice because of scheduling difficulties.  The theaters would actually complement each other and attract even more business.”

Glenny says that the original interior floor plan and finishes were almost identical to the now vibrant and completely restored Wells Theater in Norfolk, VA.  (Photos HERE)  It’s comparable to some of the best theater venues that New York has to offer.  The Story of the restoration of the Wells Theater in Norfolk, VA.

We can have that right here in Birmingham!  Years before Cecil Whitmire died, he asked Bob to render in watercolor what the Lyric could look like to solicit support (while insisting upon blue seating when the original seating was red!)  Here’s the watercolor below.  And Glenny has picked up the legacy left by Cecil Whitmire to solicit support  for the Lyric with passion and commitment.  But even the strongest advocates need the help and enthusiasm of others.  Glenny says that at one point in his life, even Cecil was frustrated and tired and ready to quit trying.  The Lyric and Glenny need our help.  If you have a group of fans, contact the Lyric for a tour.  And then, please  do what you can…   Can you help?

Lyric Theater Rendering


Can a fire at #Bham’s Powell School result in a #FOODREVOLUTION Phoenix? (watercolor)

Friday, June 3rd, 2011

Another iconic structure in Birmingham is about to be torn down – Powell School.  And a last ditch effort is underway to restore it for a new use.  I hope you saw this article in the Birmingham News on May 31st, 2011  “Historic preservationists deserve a chance to see if they can restore Powell School, which was damaged by fire in January”  Ironically, Bob had recently completed the watercolor (below) that was to be used to attract attention and perhaps funding and redevelopment for the school before it burned.

So what now?  Here’s the remaining shell below.  We drove by again this morning and the damage is extensive and heartbreaking.  Obviously the roof is gone, and the upper floor has collapsed.  The $500,000 in insurance mentioned in the article above is just a drop in the bucket for restoration.  In order to save Powell School, this project will need a purpose and benevolent committed patrons who believe in that purpose with deep pockets.


So we’ve been thinking…   What’s a long-term issue supported nationally that will benefit Birmingham?  Well, we’ve decided that it could be the Food Revolution spearheaded by Jamie Oliver.  In Jamie Oliver’s words


“We’re losing the war against obesity in the US. It’s sad, but true. Our kids are growing up overweight and malnourished from a diet of processed foods, and today’s children will be the first generation ever to live shorter lives than their parents. It’s time for change. It’s time for a Food Revolution.

“Since I’ve been working in America, I’ve been overwhelmed by the number of people who have come out to support the Food Revolution. More than 630,000 people have signed the petition, over 300,000 of you subscribe to our newsletter and thousands of you have written to me. The only message I keep hearing is that you believe your kids need better food, and that you want help to keep cooking skills alive. That’s why this Food Revolution matters.”  ~ Jamie Oliver

“The problem stems from the loss of cooking skills at home and the availability of processed foods at every turn, from the school cafeteria to church function halls, factories and offices. This Food Revolution is about saving lives by inspiring everyone: moms, dads, kids, teens and cafeteria workers to get back to basics and start cooking good food from scratch.”


If you haven’t seen the popular show, here’s the link.  Thanks to dedicated volunteers, Birmingham already has an edible garden for kids close by with Jones Valley Urban Farm.


So, Birmingham has Sam Frazier, a local historian who’s spearheading the movement to save the school.  It has Mayor Bell’s encouragement.  It has Frank Stitt, and Chris Hastings – both award-winning chefs who support the movement.  It has Whole Foods.  It has the new FoodBlogSouth and lots of food editors spawned by Southern Living.  Birmingham is really a food town and we should be leaders in this movement.  But sadly, Alabama ranks #2 of the fattest states 2011, and Birmingham ranks #10 among the fattest cities 2011 in America.   Our legacy can be better!


And back to Powell School…It’s got classrooms, a cafeteria, meeting areas, and history.  It’s near Jones Valley Urban Farm, and hundreds in our city know and love it.  The Food Revolution has the support of the nation, and the backing of First Lady Michelle Obama, along with lots of stars including Paul McCartney, Justin Bieber, P Diddy, Jennifer Anniston – well, read the names for yourself here.

There are nearly a million people (and the numbers are growing every day) who’ve signed a petition in support of the Food Revolution.

It could be SUCH A POSITIVE THING FOR BIRMINGHAM!  Is it possible to hope that THE FOOD REVOLUTION could save Powell School, too?



Conceptual Renderings for Five Points South Development

Friday, April 1st, 2011

The contest, Prize 2 the Future, is all about cool ideas to transform Birmingham!  And over 1,000 have been received.  So we’ve been thinking –  what makes a good idea better?  Well, most often when it becomes a reality or when it stimulates another good idea!  So ultimately every idea has to be shared to create value.

“Ideas are cheap. I’ve never had a good idea I didn’t have to cram down someone’s throat”

This is one of Bob Moody’s favorites quotes (not sure where it came from!).  It just means to him that good ideas are followed by massive amounts of work!  Yes, ideas are cheap and mostly free for the taking by those who are willing to risk all their energy and resources to make them happen, and consistently refute obstacles along the way.  Often a good idea develops from one that never happened, or maybe a better one is sparked by the ideas of others. Over the years, Bob has had LOTS of ideas for Five Points South and has spent LOTS of hours trying to sell them.  Some are still valid, and maybe it’s better that some were never financed.  Nevertheless, there are lessons to be learned from all of them.

So we decided to share some of these, the good AND the not-so-good.  Below is a sketch for a mixed-use development that included a mid-rise tower on the corner of  20th and 10th Avenue South now under development by Chick Fil-A.  At one time, we hoped to create a residence over what is now Chez Fon Fon (and which used to be our design offices).  Thankfully, the developer was unable to obtain financing and it was never built. (Click on images to view larger.)


Proposed Mixed-Use Sketch for Five Points South 1986

Five Points South Proposed Site Plan Mixed Use 1986

It’s followed by one where something NEEDS to happen – but hasn’t happened yet!  It’s known as Pickwick Place, and because retailers are hidden behind The Highland Hotel, some excitement needs to be created which will draw them into the interior spaces.  Bob created a few sketches with landscaping and ‘eyewash’ to try to help stimulate investment and subsequently attract retailers.


Pickwick Place Courtyard


Site Plan Pickwick Place - Five Points South

It’s interesting to see which ideas become reality.  I hope to continue to post some that did not get built – maybe to illustrate why not – or maybe to spark a good or better idea in someone else’s mind…


Maps of Birmingham’s Steelworks and Connecting Railroads

Saturday, March 12th, 2011

Map of Birmingham's Steelworks hanging in Bessemer's Hall of History Museum



Watercolor by Bob Moody of Bessemer's Hall of History Museum (in former train station)

Early in the 20th century, railroads crisscrossed through Birmingham to connect steel mills and transport natural resources mined in our area throughout the country.  I found this old map (above) in Bessemer’s Hall of History Museum, housed in a refurbished and very interesting old train station (seen in watercolor on left), which put it in better perspective for me.  Many of these tracks and industrial sites have been abandoned and incredible images of the decay are posted HERE.  Bob wants to paint a map of the railroads currently in use through Birmingham, but it’s been difficult for us to find information and connect all the dots.  We’ll keep looking but suggestions are WELCOMED!



Segment of a 1935 Birmingham Railroad Map from www.bhamrails.info

Birmingham Rails is a GREAT site for Birmingham railroad information.  We found this 1935 rail map here This is just one small piece of a very extensive map scanned by Birmingham Rails in 8 1/2 x 11 inch segments and shows the downtown area.


Prize 2 the Future – Here we come!

Monday, January 31st, 2011

It’s almost the end of the month, and we’ve been wildly distracted by the “Prize 2 The Future” contest which is soliciting proposals for a key piece of property in our downtown district. Nothing excites us more than an opportunity to facilitate progress in the city that we love! So for the time being, Bob’s paintbrush and our incredible and talented teammates have been devoted to creating a concept that will make something happen, or as it’s being promoted – “The Next Big Thing”! We’ve taken dozens of photographs, brainstormed lots of ideas, and toured not just this area, but the entire downtown, and we’re seeing everything once again through new eyes!  UPDATE:  HERE’S OUR COMPLETED PROJECT!

But it’s not the first time we’ve gotten excited about Birmingham! Bob decided many years ago that Morris Avenue had promise.  So on his own time, he proceeded to create a concept, painted renderings (including those below), created enthusiasm among the merchants and landlords, convinced the city to contribute funds for lighting and paving, and sold the landowners on varied tenants and cooperation. He even created a newspaper to market the area.  And with the help of legislation written by State Legislator Richard Dominick, it became the first historic district in the State of Alabama.  An artist CAN create a lot of buzz!  And although it hasn’t remained the entertainment district that Bob envisioned, the warehouse district complementing the railroad tracks has been preserved to live again!
Morris Avenue Branding   Morris Avenue Conceptual Design   Morris Avenue Interior Concept

Five Points South featured the “Little Bomber” bar on the circle when we moved our offices there in the mid-70’s. But with the help of some conceptual renderings by Bob,  Mayor Richard Arrington along with ONB and the neighborhood association began to once again take an interest in the area. With private investment, we were able to transform the area into an exciting destination, signing a lease with a very young aspiring restauranteur named Frank Stitt.  And we appreciated the support of a talented newly elected councilor named William Bell!

For many years, we’ve thought that Birmingham was making steps toward a progressive future. But we’ve never been as optimistic as we are now. We’re seeing the downtown area make demands for amenities to serve the new loft residents. We’re seeing throngs of people with families and dogs enjoy the new Railroad Park. And we’ve seen entire communities rally via social media to protect their neighborhoods. Birmingham is changing, and changing fast! We believe this time Birmingham really is on the verge of something big! And we want to be a part of it!

We can’t wait to see the concepts that are entered. Every single one will have validity and will contribute to the winning proposal. And all that energy that is being focused on our downtown HAS to be positive. So Bob is painting, and we are so pumped! Because win or lose, we believe in Birmingham, and we believe that this project will bust things WIDE OPEN!


This painting was exhibited at American Watercolor Society, NYC

Sunday, January 30th, 2011

This watercolor is one of my favorites, and was selected to be included in the annual juried American Watercolor Society show, 2003, at Salmagundi Club Galleries.

Honfleurs, Normandy


15 Attainable Goals for Artists in the New Year

Saturday, January 1st, 2011

Bob and I work as a team, and it sometimes takes two of us to keep up with everything! Here are a few of the goals I set for myself to help him concentrate on his painting.

  1. Make a list of competitions and exhibitions NOW, both local and national that you want to enter this year and create a calendar
    1. I posted a blog about this, and now I’m creating a calendar on Google Calendars to add to it.  If you use Google Calendars, you can create several calendars for personal use, business use, exhibitions, etc. and then merge them or view them separately.  It works GREAT for us.
  2. Make a plan to document and organize your work
    1. I photograph everything he paints with my smartphone, then scan the ones we want to put online.  I try to organize them on my computer in file folders according to year completed, and subject matter.  When a painting is sold, I mark it with the name of the buyer.  If we consign paintings to galleries, we print two lists, one for us and one for the gallery.  The key is to just make a plan and keep up with it.  And that’s not easy!
  3. Contact other artists in your community and make plans for regular meetings
    1. Bob is a member of several local art communities but plans to pursue membership in national watercolor societies this year.
  4. Join an online forum group to share ideas – Here’s a good one:  Artist Daily or for technology, I love this one:  Tech Soup
  5. Experiment with new technology
    1. I’m trying to learn how to use Evernote effectively
    2. I want to start making video blogs showing Bob’s technique
  6. Take a trip for inspiration – This doesn’t have to be a big or long trip.  Just a change of venue with the goal of finding new material to paint will work!
  7. Teach a class – You learn lots when you teach.  We’re trying to schedule some seminars this year.
  8. Educate yourself via a seminar or online.  And conversely there are several seminars that Bob would like to attend.  Here’s one of the very best!
  9. Brand yourself with business cards, email signature, logos
    1. We’re still working on this one with a new website.  But I’m also rebranding Twitter, CafePress, email signatures, and am creating business cards and letterhead this year.
  10. Explore galleries and art representatives
    1. One of our favorite local galleries closed last year.  We need to find another one!
  11. Organize your workplace.  We both work better when we’re not buried in stuff!
  12. Update your mailing list.  We use Constant Contact but there are lots of good applications out there.  Don’t forget to add family and friends!  I still haven’t added all these names
  13. Find new vendors and compare pricing.  We primarily use the ones posted HERE
  14. Join organizations that are helpful to you.  A few good ones posted HERE
  15. Have a BACK UP PLAN!  We have so many images on the computer, this is imperative for us.  I’m exploring options this year, as we’re using Time Machine and an external drive but I want to consider another alternative.