THE ARTIST

Emilie Rhys was born in New York City in 1956, the daughter of NYC/NOLA artist Noel Rockmore and Elizabeth Hunter, and the granddaughter of NYC artists Floyd Davis and Gladys Rockmore Davis. She grew up in Portland, Oregon and San Francisco, CA. Ms. Rhys drew pictures from the time she could hold a crayon, and by the age of 14 she had developed a strongly individualistic style evidenced in her first small sustained series of works utilizing rapidograph pens and a pointillist technique to produce drawings of imaginary mystical characters.

 

In her youth, there was no artistic influence from Ms. Rhys’s father or grandparents because she was separated from them as her father left the family when she was under 2 years old; her mother kept none of his artworks nor photos of him, and there was zero contact. Years passed by and instead of art school and without support at home, Ms. Rhys taught herself by studying the masters whom she admired: Giotto, Rembrandt, El Greco, Cezanne, and Picasso among others. Slowly over the years, through trial and error she built a solid base of technical skills.

MUSIC INKED INTO ART: THE BODY OF WORK

All drawings are created from life as the music is being performed in the venues or in the artist’s studio, and it is a point of pride that the artist does not utilize photography in creating these images unless some aspect of a commission requires it, i.e. depicting historical subjects.​​ Consequently, Ms. Rhys spends a lot of time in music venues, inspired by the brilliance of the music-makers to consign their image – and the environment in which they work – to art.​

Each one starts out in a spiral-bound Aquabee sketchbook, either 11"x14" with 60 pages or 14"17" with 50 pages. The paper is 93lb archival acid-free professional quality. Each book is consecutively numbered (i.e. Rhys NOLA Sketchbook #1 was begun in October 2011 and the most recent, #71 in March 2017). The work begins with an H-lead pencil, and fountain pens filled with Noodler’s ink are utilized soon after.​

 

Sometimes drawings call out for further development, and sometimes colors are heard in the piece that must be added later on in the artist’s art studio where the colors of the ink already on the page blend with the added gouache colors in perfect serendipity.

Rhys 17"x14" NOLA Sketchbook #40 • Open to First Page

A 14"x11" Aquabee Sketchbook

A "Sold" Drawing Packed in a Clear-Bag

EMILIE RHYS

EMILIE RHYS

The artist at age 32 in NYC

RHYS ASLEEP

RHYS ASLEEP

At two weeks old, watercolor by her father Noel Rockmore June 1956

LIFE MAGAZINE

LIFE MAGAZINE

The family at home, Hotel des Artistes, November 1956; baby Emilie Rhys on her mother’s lap

MYSTICAL CHARACTER

Rhys Pointillist Drawing at age 14

Soon after, at El Farol on Canyon Road, guitarists Carlos Lomas and Bruce Dunlap caught Ms Rhys’s eye and her live first drawings of musicians commenced. This activity progressed from there to include other venues and a few other musicians, most notably Bill and Bonnie Hearne and their band and a Russian singer, Olga, accompanying herself on accordion.​

Rhys's mural painting of father and friends, Feb/March 1977. Skyscraper Building at St. Peter & Royal. Photo credit Johnny Donnels​

“Rembrandt by Rhys”
This pastel copy was on display at Rhys's portrait painting stand

JACKSON SQUARE

JACKSON SQUARE

Rhys's portrait painting set up, 1977

She rejoined her father when she was 20 years old and lived with him on Orleans Avenue in the French Quarter for 10 tumultuous months. He put her to work on his mural commissions. She painted a small mural of her own on a third-story courtyard balcony wall in the historic Skyscraper building at St. Peter & Royal.

Rhys's drawing, 1977, New Orleans, St. Louis Cemetery No. 1

Rhys's drawing, 1977, New Orleans, St. Louis Cemetery No. 1

 WEDDING

WEDDING

NEW MEXICO

NEW MEXICO

Rhys oil on canvas, Church at San Ysidro, NM, 1993

Ms. Rhys then became a successful Fence Artist in Jackson Square doing pastel portraits and would have stayed in New Orleans had her father been more supportive of her nascent work. But his volcanic fury pushed her away.​

 

Ms. Rhys moved on, and lived in many places after that, and in 1988 her future husband John Heller took her to Santa Fe, New Mexico. There she was enchanted, as so many artists are, by the light and by the intensity of colors in the terrain and sky which caused a significant shift in her artwork towards brightness and an earth/sky color scheme. The couple moved from New York City to Santa Fe in 1994, (relocating to New Orleans in 2012).
 

The story of Emilie Rhys’ artistic body of work in New Orleans begins on October 24th, 2011 when she arrived back in town after a long haitus and went straight over to Preservation Hall and did something she'd never done before: she started drawing the musicians performing there that night. She had not sat in the Hall since February 1995, for her father Noel Rockmore’s memorial service, a week after he passed away.
 
In the 1960’s, Rockmore painted Jazz musicians at Preservation Hall. His French Quarter art dealer Larry Borenstein encouraged him to paint during nightly performances and during the day paid him to create a series of life-sized oil portraits of people like Billie and DeDe Pierce, Kid Thomas Valentine, Louis Nelson, Chicken Henry and many others who were performing regularly at the new venue, Preservation Hall, which had been “Mr. Larry’s Art Gallery” before he and others converted it into the hallowed hall we today know and love.​

RHYS NOLA SKETCHBOOK#1

RHYS NOLA SKETCHBOOK#1

Page 19, October 2011. Preservation Hall Jazz Band

Some of those canvases grace the walls of the performance space to this day, and this is what makes it particularly special for Ms. Rhys to draw there with the spirits of her father and the old musicians looking down on her as new generations of musicians perform the music, and she creates new artworks of them in action.​

Rockmore oil on canvas of Trumpeter Kid Sheik, 1963. This canvas appears behind the bassist in Preservation Hall,

DRAWDOWN

DRAWDOWN

A Spontaneous Competition at the Spotted Cat, November 16th 2011

Rhys engaged in a “drawdown” with TooLoose, a Frenchmen Street maven. Photo credit Rita Posselt.

A friend, Rita Posselt, took Ms. Rhys to Palm Court and to Frenchmen Street soon after that first week back in New Orleans, and things started happening which gave Ms. Rhys the idea that there was possibly a future for her here. People took notice of what she was drawing and though it took months for her drawing confidence to return fully, by January 6, 2012, Ms. Rhys had finally created a break-out piece, a drawing of the Washboard Chaz Blues Trio at the Spotted Cat.

 

The drawing style evolved over time, as did Ms Rhys’s experimentation with different fountain pens and water media, and by the summer of 2014 the style had settled into the mature signature characteristics still consistently evident to this day, and as of April 2017, the New Orleans Sketchbooks are legion, numbering 71 and counting.

 BREAKOUT PIECE

BREAKOUT PIECE

Rhys NOLA Sketchbook #8, Page 13, The Washboard Chaz Blues Trio, Spotted Cat January 6th, 2012

Rhys drawing during Hunter Cooper's Second Line, 2013

John Heller & Rockmore, Dauphine Street 1991

Rockmore & Rhys, New Orleans 1991

MUSIC INKED INTO ART: TECHNICAL SPECS

When a book is filled front to back with images, the spiral binding is removed and each page is professionally scanned and all details about each image are entered into our extensive database; then the pages are placed in presentation portfolios to protect them while they await perusal and eventual sale.

 

We invite you to pay us a visit in person at the gallery and flip through some of the books – an interesting random way to explore the music world of New Orleans, seen through the eyes of Rhys. Most drawings are sold unframed, packed in a Clear-Bag envelope with a stiff acid-free backing board, but a few are available framed by the artist and are on view at the gallery.

as seen in this Rhys drawing.​

The story of Emilie Rhys’ artistic body of work in New Orleans begins on October 24th, 2011 when she arrived back in town after a long haitus and went straight over to Preservation Hall and did something she'd never done before: she started drawing the musicians performing there that night. She had not sat in the Hall since February 1995, for her father Noel Rockmore’s memorial service, a week after he passed away.
 
In the 1960’s, Rockmore painted Jazz musicians at Preservation Hall. His French Quarter art dealer Larry Borenstein encouraged him to paint during nightly performances and during the day paid him to create a series of life-sized oil portraits of people like Billie and DeDe Pierce, Kid Thomas Valentine, Louis Nelson, Chicken Henry and many others who were performing regularly at the new venue, Preservation Hall, which had been “Mr. Larry’s Art Gallery” before he and others converted it into the hallowed hall we today know and love.​​

 

Some of those canvases grace the walls of the performance space to this day, and this is what makes it particularly special for Ms. Rhys to draw there with the spirits of her father and the old musicians looking down on her as new generations of musicians perform the music, and she creates new artworks of them in action.

 

A friend, Rita Posselt, took Ms. Rhys to Palm Court and to Frenchmen Street soon after that first week back in New Orleans, and things started happening which gave Ms. Rhys the idea that there was possibly a future for her here. People took notice of what she was drawing and though it took months for her drawing confidence to return fully, by January 6, 2012, Ms. Rhys had finally created a break-out piece, a drawing of the Washboard Chaz Blues Trio at the Spotted Cat.
 
The drawing style evolved over time, as did Ms Rhys’s experimentation with different fountain pens and water media, and by the summer of 2014 the style had settled into the mature signature characteristics still consistently evident to this day, and as of April 2017, the New Orleans Sketchbooks are legion, numbering 71 and counting.

MUSIC INKED INTO ART

THE ARTIST

Emilie Rhys was born in New York City in 1956, the daughter of NYC/NOLA artist Noel Rockmore and Elizabeth Hunter, and the granddaughter of NYC artists Floyd Davis and Gladys Rockmore Davis. She grew up in Portland, Oregon and San Francisco, CA. Ms. Rhys drew pictures from the time she could hold a crayon, and by the age of 14 she had developed a strongly individualistic style evidenced in her first small sustained series of works utilizing rapidograph pens and a pointillist technique to produce drawings of imaginary mystical characters.
 
In her youth, there was no artistic influence from Ms. Rhys’s father or grandparents because she was separated from them as her father left the family when she was under 2 years old; her mother kept none of his artworks nor photos of him, and there was zero contact. Years passed by and instead of art school and without support at home, Ms. Rhys taught herself by studying the masters whom she admired: Giotto, Rembrandt, El Greco, Cezanne, and Picasso among others. Slowly over the years, through trial and error she built a solid base of technical skills.​

 

She rejoined her father when she was 20 years old and lived with him on Orleans Avenue in the French Quarter for 10 tumultuous months. He put her to work on his mural commissions. She painted a small mural of her own on a third-story courtyard balcony wall in the historic Skyscraper building at St. Peter & Royal.

 

Ms. Rhys then became a successful Fence Artist in Jackson Square doing pastel portraits and would have stayed in New Orleans had her father been more supportive of her nascent work. But his volcanic fury pushed her away.​ Ms. Rhys moved on, and lived in many places after that, and in 1988 her future husband John Heller took her to Santa Fe, New Mexico. There she was enchanted, as so many artists are, by the light and by the intensity of colors in the terrain and sky which caused a significant shift in her artwork towards brightness and an earth/sky color scheme. The couple moved from New York City to Santa Fe in 1994, (relocating to New Orleans in 2012).

 

Soon after, at El Farol on Canyon Road, guitarists Carlos Lomas and Bruce Dunlap caught Ms Rhys’s eye and her live first drawings of musicians commenced. This activity progressed from there to include other venues and a few other musicians, most notably Bill and Bonnie Hearne and their band and a Russian singer, Olga, accompanying herself on accordion.​

TECHNICAL SPECS

All drawings are created from life as the music is being performed in the venues or in the artist’s studio, and it is a point of pride that the artist does not utilize photography in creating these images unless some aspect of a commission requires it, i.e. depicting historical subjects.​​ Consequently, Ms. Rhys spends a lot of time in music venues, inspired by the brilliance of the music-makers to consign their image – and the environment in which they work – to art.​

 

Each one starts out in a spiral-bound Aquabee sketchbook, either 11"x14" with 60 pages or 14"17" with 50 pages. The paper is 93lb archival acid-free professional quality. Each book is consecutively numbered (i.e. Rhys NOLA Sketchbook #1 was begun in October 2011 and the most recent, #71 in March 2017). The work begins with an H-lead pencil, and fountain pens filled with Noodler’s ink are utilized soon after.​

 

Sometimes drawings call out for further development, and sometimes colors are heard in the piece that must be added later on in the artist’s art studio where the colors of the ink already on the page blend with the added gouache colors in perfect serendipity.

 

When a book is filled front to back with images, the spiral binding is removed and each page is professionally scanned and all details about each image are entered into our extensive database; then the pages are placed in presentation portfolios to protect them while they await perusal and eventual sale.

 

We invite you to pay us a visit in person at the gallery and flip through some of the books – an interesting random way to explore the music world of New Orleans, seen through the eyes of Rhys. Most drawings are sold unframed, packed in a Clear-Bag envelope with a stiff acid-free backing board, but a few are available framed by the artist and are on view at the gallery.

In homage to the inspiration of their music and image, a percentage of all sales (not including framing costs) is paid to the musicians/bands depicted in each artwork – whether originals or prints.​​​

ALL IMAGES DISPLAYED ON THIS WEBSITE ARE PROTECTED BY COPYRIGHT 1956-2017 & OWNED, UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED, BY THE ARTIST, EMILIE RHYS.

The artist holds sole rights, unless otherwise noted, to publish, reproduce and offer for sale the artworks and photographs contained within the domain SceneByRhys.com and otherwise globally. Please contact us to request permission for any uses.  SceneByRhys.com was built by Midnight Boheme.​