Growing up in Brooklyn, N.Y., she spent her youth playing baseball and visiting the Brooklyn Museum. After she graduated from the University of Vermont with a degree in Art and Philosophy, she began at the NYU School of Journalism.
She left the school when she went to work for Fairchild Publications, at the Daily News Record as the Young Men’s editor. She wrote features on male celebrities such as Leonard Bernstein, The Beatles and Robert Mitchum. In her career there, she interviewed many of the male fashion leaders of the day.
Hope’s parents were in the textile business, providing fine evening clothes, and she grew up surrounded by fabrics and hand embroidery.
“Embroidery almost doesn’t exist any more in this country,” she said. “It may be done in India, it may be done in China, but it’s an almost-extinct art form here. People don’t even dress the same way anymore. You can go to the Metropolitan Opera House, and you see women in pants, men in jeans and leather bomber jackets, and just a sprinkling of evening clothes.”
Much of Hope’s art reflects her knowledge of textiles. Women in brightly-colored evening gowns with sparkling details, wall coverings painted with patterns from cultures far away, furniture with design details that have been repeated throughout human history.
“One of the first places I go when I get to a new area is the local applied arts museum, if one exists,” Hope said. “That’s really the social ‘everything.’ It encompasses the everyday objects, and social culture, and what is deemed worth preserving in a culture. Sword and gun handles and armor, military trappings. These are usually objects that are highly revered. And there is different patterning and different tooling in the different materials. Whatever is preserved and handed down, I’m always intrigued by that.”
Much of Hope’s art emphasizes the connections between the shape of the female, body and architecture, textiles, and decorative patterns.
“My art features women because, well, I’m a woman,” she laughed. “I find the female body interesting, the curves are interesting to draw.”
Hope’s love of texture extends to the surfaces she paints on. Not only does she paint on paper and canvas, she paints on metal and Mylar.
“I love the texture of metal to paint on, it’s very smooth, very hard,” she explained. “I like the sense of the soft paint on the hard surface. And I like the fact that when I do metal pieces, you can see the metal through the paint.”
Her work also shows the decorative nature of women’s fashion, often with the monotone of menswear as a background to the colorful clothing worn by her female subjects.
"Go to any event, the men all look the same,” she said. “For centuries, women were essentially accessories. Men don’t have to undergo the same scrutiny. As men age, everything falls on them, too. But somehow, within the total package, they become distinguished. Women, on the other hand, become ignored. There is a certain peace in that. I remember when I would walk down the street when I was younger, I knew that it was a good day or a bad day depending on how many heads turned. Now I could walk down the street and no one would notice it, because there’s an invisibility as one gets older. Some people regret it, but I find it very freeing.”
Hope grew up around strong women. Her mom was a designer, her aunt was a doctor, and her female cousins were all role models.
“You don’t have to raise the flag, you don’t have to be a bra burner, to use an expression,” she said “You just don’t need permission to do anything. You don’t have to ask. Just go and do it. I wasn’t raised to feel resentment towards men, but I was taught to respect myself. Those were the values I was raised with, without it being preached.”
Hope said, in her opinion, that women also have more choices today.
“They can have a career or be homemakers,” she said. “Men explore more options, too. With the younger parents, men are expected to be more hands-on with their children. They change diapers, they get up in the night, and they expect to feed the children. They didn't see themselves in that role in the past. Things have changed so much in the last few years. I think the fathers are better off, and can now be excited about caring for their children."
Hope was raised in with a younger brother in Brooklyn, then as a young woman moved to Manhattan to work. She loved the cultural and social scene in the borough.
“There was always something going on. A gallery opening, a concert, or a party. It was a wonderful place to be a young woman.”
She and Seymour, her husband, met on a blind date. In the year that they met, they had their first date on June 27, and became engaged on August 1. Forty-five years later, they have never looked back.After their whirlwind romance came two children, both sons. The family lived in Great Neck, N.Y. and in Rhode Island, until the boys left home.
Then they headed back to theirbeloved Manhattan.
Hope started painting after the birth of her second child. She also continued her education, taking classes at the Museum of Modern Art, at the New York School, and with the Art Students League of New York. She brought photos of her paintings to a visiting gallery owner from the Hamptons. The next thing she knew, she was showing her work in the gallery. From there, her career blossomed.
"Painting was something that fit very well with having a family,” Hope explains. “When we were in the British Virgin Islands on vacation, I would get up before anyone else, take my supplies to the beach, and paint. I could even use seawater when I was water painting. I painted for a couple of hours, then went back up to the house for breakfast with the family."
Hope greatly admires the men in her life. They are, as she says, “very solid citizens.”
“They are the most dependable people I know,” she said. “Or, as my daughter-in-law says, we know that they’ve got our backs. We have each other’s backs. I can’t even imagine what it would be like to go through life without people who I couldn’t trust. I feel very lucky that I’m tolerated by such wonderful people.”
It was one of her adult children who inadvertently brought the family to Boca Grande.
"In 1984, we were supposed to go skiing out in Aspen, but my oldest son broke his wrist playing football. We had gone to the orthopedist the day before, and his wrist wasn’t healed. We were heartbroken. I had a cousin who lived in the British Virgin Islands, and my husband said he would call her. She always has great taste in homes and areas. She told us to come here. She was a member of the Boca Grande Club, and she found a place out here for us to stay."
In typical Boca fashion, Hope and her family are still friends with the people who rented them that first apartment.
“We just saw them two nights ago,” she said. “It’s wonderful here, the community.”
They have been returning to Gasparilla Island ever since, and now have their own place at the Club. While they still split their time between Boca Grande and Manhattan, they are here every year from fall to spring.
Hope’s work is on display in many galleries, including the State of the Arts Gallery in Sarasota, and in permanent collections of museums, schools, hospitals, and companies around the country. She will be among the featured artists at ArtPalmBeach at the Palm Beach County Convention Center this weekend. Her art will be also be shown at the Sandra Neustadter Gallery booth.
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