The walls of Faigee Niebow’s casita home at The Peaks at Santa Rita are covered with art — her color-filled art.
Whether framed, or matted and framed, or canvas-wrapped, the variety of sizes and subjects of Niebow's pieces could compare to viewing works in an art museum — condensed into a two-bedroom home. Some of her art is realistic, some satirical, others playful or scenic, and some are a bit serious.
Niebow, 88, remembers having an interest in art and discovering her abilities when she was 5 or 6 years old. She thought everyone was like that.
“Art, I always had it. I loved learning. I combined art of the real world with the painted world. And I like to evoke past lives,” she said while explaining the variety in her eight decades of art education and creativity.
While Niebow thought she had retired after her years in interior design, art history, fine arts and art education, it was a recent, simple scene and request by four women playing a serious game of bridge that inspired her to paint again.
“The ladies were playing cards, and their playing was so intense they wouldn’t have noticed if a javelina jumped in front of them,” Niebow said.
So her painting titled “The Bridge Sisterhood’ reflects that. As Anne Leonard, Lynn Johnson, Eiko Buswell and Carolyn McVeigh play bridge, three javelinas leap overhead — much like the nursery rhyme “Hey, diddle diddle,” in which “the cow jumped over the moon.”
The women recently re-enacted their bridge-playing scene with the painting behind them in Niebow’s home, and will promote her work with some large prints and greeting cards of the scene.
Leonard refers to Niebow as an amazing artist.
“I am fascinated by her treatment of women all over the world. In her paintings, one after another, she portrays small groups of women visiting, playing a game or drinking coffee together.
“In each picture, set indoors or in the middle of a pasture, the same thought comes through — women supporting women. It’s a universal concept with meaning for most of us. We are delighted!” Leonard said.
In Niebow’s casita, which she shares with her husband Clarence, one room shows a large, playful, canvas-wrapped painting of her version of Little Bo-Peep.
“Little Bo Peep has lost her sheep
She doesn’t care to find them
Sad to say, they ran away
With coyotes trailing behind them.”
To add another level of creativity to the whimsical painting, Niebow created a faux-painted frame on the canvas in shades of lavender and green.
She used her innate art abilities and educated herself vigorously, earning a bachelor's of interior design degree from the University of Manitoba, a bachelor's of fine arts degree from the Alberta College of Art in Calgary, and a bachelor's of art education from the University of Calgary.
As if that art education wasn’t fulfilling enough, she also studied art at the British School in Rome and at the Paris American Academy before returning to the U.S. to teach design fundamentals, 3-D art, interior design and art history.
Though Niebow thought she had retired from painting, this recent bridge-playing work has sparked a late-in-life reason to paint again.
If Grandma Moses could start her prolific art in her mid-70s, so can Niebow pick up her brush again in her late 80s.
Contact Green Valley News freelance reporter Ellen Sussman at email@example.com.