News Column

Homage to Cousin Dearest

July 17, 2014

By Robin Caudell, The Press-Republican, Plattsburgh, N.Y.

July 17--MALONE -- The late, great artist Christine Bullard was an irreverent iconographer with a plethora of personas: Miss Bee, Queen Bee, Queen Christine, Madame Bullard and Cousin Dearest.

However she was known, those who loved her best or wished they breathed in the rarified presence of the peripatetic artist can glimpse a smidgen of her oeuvre in "Christine Bullard: A Memorial Exhibit" showing through July 20 at the North of Adirondack Gallery in Malone.

'ONE OF A KIND'

"I could go on and on," said artist Karen Lamitie-King, who mounted the exhibit for her first cousin, who died March 9, 2010.

"She was one of a kind. We had a real connection. The fact we both loved to travel, we both loved other cultures, and we were both art teachers."

They didn't realize their mutual passion for art until both had graduated from college.

Bullard's artistic talent was recognized as a teen. She received a national Scholastic Art Award while a senior. The same year, she took a printmaking class at the Rhode Island School of Design.

"I have the program of everyone that was in that printmaking class," Lamitie-King said. "Some are very well-known artists whose art is selling in the many thousands of dollars category."

GROWING UP

Bullard's mother, Beverly Stone Bullard, and Lamitie-King's mother, Irene Stone Lamitie, were sisters. Raised in Malone on Brown Street, they were among 11 children of Joseph and Victoria Stone.

Joseph, a Rutland Railroad train engineer, hailed from Alsace-Lorraine, France. Victoria, a stay-at-home mom, had a French-Canadian background.

According to Lamitie-King, Beverly Stone Bullard married Robert Bullard and moved to Providence, Rhode Island, where Christine grew up with two sisters and a brother.

Lamitie-King's family traveled by train from Quebec to Boston.

"We would go and visit the Bullards," she said. "Take the ferry out to Block Island and have clam bakes. There were a lot of Portuguese in their neighborhood. Everybody would bring in large trays of clams and oysters."

'IF I WAIT ...'

With 32 first cousins, it took awhile for Lamitie-King to get to know Bullard, who was younger and fearless.

After high school, New York City beckoned. Bullard earned a degree in textile design at the Fashion Institute of Technology.

"While she was there, she made the dean's list," Lamitie-King said. "She was very smart, very flamboyant."

After FIT, Bullard strapped on her traveling shoes and backpacked in Europe.

About her solo sojourn, Bullard said: "Mother, if I wait for someone to go with me, I'll never go anywhere."

"The first card my aunt received from her was in Rome. She said, 'I oohed and ahhed for two days at the magnificent art owned by the Church.'"

Ironically, when Bullard died March 9, 2010, she was an art instructor at the Rome International School.

Between her first and last flight to Rome, Bullard meandered from Australia, the Bahamas, Canada, China, England, France, Germany, Greece, India, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Norway, Poland, Romania, Russia, Spain, Switzerland, St. Bart's, St. Martine and the Virgin Islands.

She graced Venice, Rome, Milan, Norway and Romania with longer stays.

MASTER'S

In 1977, Bullard left Europe to earn a Bachelor of Fine Art degree and teaching certificate from the School of the Visual Arts in NYC.

"Her classmates were Kenny Scharf and Keith Haring," Lamitie-King said.

While in NYC, Bullard taught at the American Indian Crafts Museum in Brooklyn and was artist-in-residence at the Queens Museum of Art.

In 1985, she received a Master's of Fine Art from New York University.

"She did her master's in Venice because NYU had a great program in Venice."

"The Queen of the Adriatic" romanced Bullard for a year and stoked her yen to travel.

'INCREDIBLE ART'

When she was not on a great adventure, Bullard visited Lamitie-King, and her husband, artist Charles Atwood King, in Malone.

"She would bring the most incredible stories and incredible art with her. She always traveled with sketchbooks," Lamitie-King said.

Bullard sketched going, coming and in between.

"She would really explore the indigenous arts. She would go into museums or sites where indigenous art could be found. She would hang out with native people and indigenous people and buy art all the time. Then, she would bring it home to us."

In Lamitie-King's artistic and family circle, Bullard was Cousin Dearest.

"She had many, many names. She was real. She was just a force to be reckoned with. She was a great story teller. She had all these incredible sketch books. All of us -- friends, relatives and fellow artists -- were always blown away by her amazing talent."

Children loved her. Her childish wonder was full throttle her entire "retired" life.

In San Francisco, she was a companion to Ivy Getty, the granddaughter of Gordon and Ann Getty.

"Christine had this great adventure with the Gettys," Lamitie-King said. "She had her own bedroom on the 747 like everyone else. She did art with Ivy all the time."

'PERFECT TIME'

Bullard left art behind in her residences and in Malone, Providence and San Francisco.

A year following Bullard's death, Lamitie-King flew to San Francisco to sort through 50 boxes of Bullard's storage there.

"It took me five days to go through everything," she said. "I packed it up and shipped it to my aunt and to myself."

Lamitie-King would repeat the process in Rhode Island.

One of Bullard's East Hampton friends and former School of the Visual Arts classmate, gallerist Mary Delaney Cooke, married the famous photographer Jerry Cooke. She established the Jerry Cook Archives, Inc.

"I met her at Christine's service in Providence," Lamitie-King said. "Mary said to me, 'As soon as I'm finished with Jerry, I'm going to do Christine.""

Author Bart Plantega, a Queen Bee NYC intimate, attended Bullard's memorial flying in from Amsterdam, Holland.

He said Cooke and Lamitie-King must do a show of Bullard's work.

"Mary had a large amount of work in East Hampton," Lamitie-King said. "This year is a big family reunion. This is the perfect time to do this exhibit to honor Christine."

Email Robin Caudell:rcaudell@pressrepublican.comTwitter: @RobinCaudell

IF YOU GO WHAT: "Christine Bullard: A Memorial Art Exhibit." WHEN: Opening reception 6 to 8 p..m. Friday. Show runs through July 20. WHERE: North of Adirondack Gallery, Richardson Building, 485 East Main St., Malone. HOURS: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday. PHONE: 651-2503.

___

(c)2014 the Press-Republican (Plattsburgh, N.Y.)

Visit the Press-Republican (Plattsburgh, N.Y.) at pressrepublican.com

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Source: Press-Republican (Plattsburgh, NY)


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