Monday, March 22, 2010

Catching up....Part Five: River Course Clubhouse Fire

(Above: The River Course Golf Clubhouse, Thursday, March 18th at approximately 2 PM. Click on any image in this post to enlarge.)

Once upon a time I was a major custom picture framer. My husband Steve and I ran Mouse House, Inc., our shop, with up to fourteen people on payroll. We offered full health insurance, a retirement plan, paid vacation, and over-time. The first person clocked in at 6 AM. The last left at 6 PM. Our best hours were after dinner, 9 PM until 1 or 2 AM....except from Halloween until December 24th. During Christmas, if awake, we were working and we tried to stay awake as long as possible. Of course the pace nearly killed me after about fourteen year. At one point I stopped sleeping for six weeks before finally seeking medication. In the summer of 2001, I finally admitted to myself and the world that I wanted to be an artist "when I grew up". I was forty; we forcibly downsized the business. I got a studio and despite lack of professional training, I set off to become a fiber artist.

(Above: The former front door.)

Yet, we can't quite make a living on my artwork. I kept one very important client....the kind of client that trusted me with some amazing projects, the ones I've always been most proud. About fourteen years ago Mouse House framed EVERYTHING in the very exclusive, very expensive, very posh River Course Golf Clubhouse on Kiawah Island. It was loaded with original art, antique furniture and oriental carpets, hand-painted wallpaper, the finest wine, the best Pro Shop, and everything else one can imagine to appoint the best golfing facility.

Well, on Wednesday in the early afternoon I got a call from this one, important client. Calmly, he said, "The River Course Clubhouse burnt down last night at 3 AM. I need you to rent a truck and pick up the only things saved, six mural sized oil paintings by Linda Fantuzzo and Bill McCullough." I was in shock. I was in shock the next afternoon too....seeing the building in ashes, still burning, firemen pouring water on the flames, loading the rental truck.

(Above: The "side" door used to exit the building to the golf course. The Pro Shop was once just inside on the right.)

(Above: The back of the building...still burning.)

There's something about a sign. I had looked at this place as the site of one of my greatest achievements. Now it's gone. It's high time for something new, another stellar example of accomplishment but this time it'll be my own art, not just framing someone else's work!

(Above: The back of the building.)

In the meantime, my foyer looks like this (below). We've deodorized the moulding and the stretcher bars on the back. The smell of smoke is all but gone. (Steve also painted the Mouse House bathroom this weekend.....the lingering scent of smoke, deodorizing solution, and paint created a brand new, original aroma!)


Wanda said...

OH MY GOODNESS!!! What a mess! I don't know what to even say to this! I'm sure it all brought back sad and horrible memories of your own fire as well.

Chris said...

I am a Lieutenant with St. Johns Fire Dept. My Engine was the 2nd unit on the scene to this fire. I came across your website by accident when I was looking for news/pictures from the fire. Ironically, I helped carry several of those paintings out of the building that morning during the fire. And I actually mentioned to my firefighter "someone will be thankful we saved these paintings." All of us who fought this fire that day are very disappointed that we were unable to save the building. But to know that we saved SOMETHING that is special to someone else makes us feel a little bit better about the situation. Good luck to you in your future as an artist!

Scott Waterman said...

I've been reviewing my pictures of the mural I painted for the River Course and decided to look up the fire. When was the place built? I can't remember exactly. It was a long time ago but I still think the painting I did looks pretty good though it exist only in memory and a few photos.

Scott Waterman said...

Now I've done it, my own postmortem on the River Course fire. Although it's not so much about the club, more about the transitory nature of....well, everything.