Three of the most enjoyable attributes in people are insane creativity, humility and wicked humor. Mount Dora Buzz sat down last week with a local, atypical Southern belle who exudes healthy doses of all three.
Lauren Graham Cunningham is an acclaimed oil painter, who arrived in Mount Dora in 1998 by way of South Carolina, downtown Rome and a dirt road in Marion County.
During her isolated desperation in rural Florida, she impulsively picked up some cheap paint from a Walmart endcap and began creating. She never stopped.
After scouting for more compatible areas in Central Florida, Lauren and her husband, Robbie, settled in Mount Dora. “I’m drawn to cement”, quipped Cunningham about her move and her comfort in urban surroundings.
MD BUZZ: What is one thing no one knows about you? LCG: I’m truly a coward. I’m a hypochondriac, but I really am sick. (smiling)
MD BUZZ: What was your first paying job? LGC: Thom McAnn shoe store. I lied about my age and quit three days later. (more smiles)
MD BUZZ: Tell me your childhood dream? LGC: To be a fashion designer
MD BUZZ: What was your worst job ever? LGC: A typist at a law firm.
MD BUZZ: What are 3 words to describe yourself? LGC: Obnoxious, hardworking, loyal and blunt. I’m loyal to being obnoxious and hardworking. (smiling)
MD BUZZ: What is your biggest fear? LGC: Croaking. Biggest is a family member croaking.
MD BUZZ: What inspires you to paint? LGC: An addiction. Instant gratification.
MD BUZZ: You are a completely self-taught painter. What else have you taught yourself? LGC: Sewing. Patching sheetrock. I believe you can do anything you want and teach yourself how to do it.
MD BUZZ: Funniest thing you overhear at art festivals? LGC: “Did you have a bad childhood?”, but that’s what they say to me directly. (smiles)
MD BUZZ: Most annoying thing you hear at art festivals? LGC: “I like your pictures.” (smiling)
MD BUZZ: What was your inspiration for your current series of still lifes? LGC: Painter’s block. I painted a pear and it sold in 20 minutes. I thought, ‘I might be on to something’.
MD BUZZ: Who is your favorite artist, living or deceased? LGC: That’s hard. Vemeer. Love, love, love, love his work.
MD BUZZ: What was your best day as an artist? LGC: When I completed ‘Tick Tock’. (The painting took Cunningham two months to complete. See photo at right)
Then it was time for a speedy round of “Would you Rather?”
MD BUZZ: Spiders or snakes? LGC: Spiders.
MD BUZZ: Margaritas or martinis? LGC: Martinis
MD BUZZ: Rollercoaster or skydiving? LGC: Skydiving
MD BUZZ: New York City or Nantucket? LGC: New York