Harry Taylor – Contributing Writer
“My entire life has been working within the arts and media– 25 years’ experience working as a photographer, makeover artist and oil artist. My love of people, and seeing the beauty in all that surrounds me, I have been using my photography and oil art as my expression, my canvas to create and capture moments of life as I see it. My positive attitude and high energy bring out the best in all those I have worked with. I will continue to use the world as my canvas to create memories with those I meet. Believe in yourself and exit with all your heart. . . . .” (Poane, quoted from his website)
Poane, an enigmatic artist known to the public by his last name and the ever present black fedora perched jauntily atop his head, possesses the ability to apply his subject’s makeup, style their hair and then to capture them at their best in front of the camera. He is a passionate, self-taught, naturally gifted, and raw-talented artist who faces each day as a blank canvas of opportunity to be painted.
Born in New Jersey to an Italian father and an Irish/Jamaican mother, which he remembers as an interesting family mix. His first 18 years of life were spent growing up and schooling in New Jersey until the excitement of the Big Apple drew him away.
During his 18th year, he arrived in New York City bringing his own youthful confidence into the dynamic energy and vitality of the city he loved. He was first employed as a make-up artist with Mary Quant Cosmetics. He walked into the interview and announced to them that he could make them a lot of money. They hired him on the spot and placed him in Bloomingdale’s as a makeup artist. From there, he moved on to Macy’s and then he worked as a platform artist for Revlon.
One day while he was plying his own trade, he began to watch a well known hair dresser styling hair. The thought ran through his mind that he could do that as well as makeup. After work, he went to his girlfriend and convinced her to let him practice cutting and styling her hair. When the professional saw his work, he commented that Poane had a natural talent. This man, a national trainer and platform artist, began to teach Poane. He helped him get into school, obtain his license and, also, mentored him for five years. As a hair dresser in New York City, he primarily worked with models and modeling agencies.
The next leg of Poane’s odyssey happened rather unexpectedly and inadvertently after friends had come from Colorado to visit him in New York. After his friends departed, he was straightening his apartment and discovered a Colorado newspaper they had left behind. For some strange reason, rather than throwing the paper away, he sat down and began to read through it. In the classified section, an ad for a hairdresser in Vail, Colo., caught his eye. So, he packed up, and moved across the country to Vail.
When he settled in, he went to work in the salon that prompted his move. That job lasted exactly one day. He then rented a booth n a Cherry Creek, Colo., salon. Cherry Creek is a prestigious community near Denver, consisting of fashionable and expensive shops, gourmet dining, high-end housing and upscale lifestyles in general. Here, he settled down into a successful career; he married his wife gave birth to a son in December 1989. This event prompted the next phase of his pilgrimage.
From New York City, west to Colorado, he then moved back eastward, but this time it was to the Deep South city of Atlanta, Ga. He moved his family there in order to have his son near the Scottish Rite Shriner’s hospital in Atlanta.
Throughout the greater part of the next quarter century, he carved out a niche for himself in the Atlanta business community, exploiting his talents to eventually own two salons. It was in Atlanta that he also resurrected two other dimensions of his life that had lain pretty much dormant up to this time. He had always exhibited a flair for drawing and painting and had worked at photography with varying degrees of success.
It was in Atlanta that Poane’s diverse talents blended together allowing him to emerge, not only as a successful salon owner, but also as a popular artist and Atlanta’s premier fashion and event photographer. He was a photographer for the Atlanta Magazine which meant shooting Red Carpet movie premiers and celebrity events. His photography portfolio and/or paintings include numerous celebrities: Paula Deen, Ted Turner, Charlie Daniels, Ed Bradley, Aretha Franklin, Stevie Wonder, and Larry Munson (University of Georgia’s great radio announcer), to only mention a few.
He became the official photographer for the Trumpet Awards in Atlanta. “The Trumpet Awards were created to recognize outstanding accomplishments of Blacks and others who have succeeded against great odds and inspired success in others.” (Quoted from trumpetfoundation.org website) In addition, he was also official photographer for the National Association of Television Arts and Sciences, Atlanta.
On one occasion Poane was photographing a celebrity fundraiser which included both a silent and a live auction. A number of celebrities were attending the event, including the famous country fiddle player, Charlie Daniels. Poane had done an oil painting of Daniels on a 4’ x 5’ canvas. He asked the auctioneer if he could donate the painting to the silent auction. The donation was accepted, but the auctioneer had decided, in the meantime, to move the painting from the silent auction to the live auction. The portrait quickly brought $2,500. After the auction, an event staffer approached Poane and told him that Daniels had requested a meeting with him. Daniels wanted Poane to paint a publicity picture for him.
At another fund raiser Poane was photographing, he donated a 3’ x 4’ oil painting of Marie Antoinette, his rendition of an original oil painting by Jacques Louis David, a French Master from the late 18th and early 19th centuries. At the auction was an Atlanta television newsman named Wes Sarginson, who had a nightly feature segment (titled “Wes Side Story”) on the local evening news. When Sarginson saw Poane’s painting, he got Poane’s telephone number so he could do a news feature about the artist and his work. Sarginson tried three times over the next couple of months to schedule an interview. Then, one Friday night, both men were working the same event. The interview was scheduled and the television crew was at Poane’s house by 7 a.m. Monday morning. As normal, the interview was to have a one-time airing on the Monday evening news, but it ended up running three more times during the week.
He also painted a full-sized portrait of Napoleon, his version of another original by Jacques Louis David. For this work, Poane did his research and recreated, as much as possible, the conditions under which David painted the original. He learned how to mix the pigments just as David would have, and used them for the painting. He even replicated the lighting conditions of an 18th century studio, painting in ambient light during the day and by candlelight at night.
While in Atlanta, Poane visited the Smoky Mountains and developed a desire to relocate again. He found a rental house and moved to Macon County in July 2014. Then he moved again, this time into a house that he and his landlord, Brian Davenport, both describe as a house built to be an artist’s studio. So, his odyssey has taken him from high energy, hustle and bustle of New York City to the laid back serenity of Macon County, a lifestyle he has embraced and a community that has, in turn, embraced him.
Poane continues his prolific output working from his studio home and from his second studio located in Cowee Mountain Clay where his Southwestern-themed artwork blends seamlessly with Brian Davenport’s traditional pottery. His latest projects depicting Native Americana even adorn some of Davenport’s creations. A number of pieces of his work are available here, including his work on slabs of wood portraying Native American themes. This wood art is painted, sealed and glazed on pieces of wood.
The largest representation of his work is currently at Creative Framing and Gallery located on Depot Street in Franklin. Janice and Chris are hosting an open house and “meet the artist” event at their gallery on Nov. 4, from 4 until 7 p.m. so the public can become acquainted with Poane and his work.
He also has his work displayed at AJE Custom Woodwork and Gallery located on Highway 441, south of Franklin.
Some of his artwork is also being featured in the Georgia Mountain Laurel Magazine, October 2016 edition. One of his paintings is scheduled to be on the cover of “Cabin and Cove Magazine” in the spring of 2017.
“I love people ― genuine, honest, real people,” said Poane. And he loves his work passionately. “I have to think, feel, and visualize a subject before I can begin to actually paint.”
Images of his work may be viewed online at poanestudiosonline.com.