Artist shows others her patriotic passion

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 3, 2003

The city of Austin has made its choice at the Heart of America Art Show.

Tamara Schneider's painting, titled "Red, White and Blue,"

is this year's city purchase award winner.

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The painting shows a city flower basket hanging above a bench at Worlein Park. Red, white and blue flowers spill around the sides of the basket.

"It's just a beautiful picture and will be such a nice addition to the council chambers," Mayor Bonnie Rietz said.

Schneider, who owns a salon outside of Waltham, has contributed to the show every year since it started 16 years ago, but this is the first time she has ever won.

She said she almost did not submit a painting, but at the last minute, she got to work.

"Inspiration struck," she said. "I think the spirit of the Lord said, 'Get busy. I've got some inspiration for you."

Her inspiration was photo she had taken of the park. She started painting it last Friday, and finished at 2 a.m. Sunday morning. She said she has never painted more quickly.

Schneider, 55, said she has been an artist her whole life.

Some of her other works include a mural at the Cooperative Response Center showing the four seasons. She also has a 6×12 foot painting at Freeborn/Mower Electric of a farmhouse getting it's first electric lights.

Schneider has had a difficult year, she said. Her father has spent the last couple months in the hospital, and the award provided her a much-needed emotional boost. When she found out Tuesday that she was the winner, she was in the middle of styling a customer's hair.

"I gave her a hug and started to cry, and she didn't know what had happened," she said.

Rietz said the painting had special significance this year. With uncertainties about the upcoming city budget, the city had to decide in January whether to keep the flower baskets. Thanks to thousands of dollars in donations, the flowers were saved.

"We just looked at that picture, and we thought, 'Wow, that really typifies this year, something really wonderful that happened in the City of Austin when those flowers were saved,'" she said.

The city paid $475 for the painting.

This is the 16th year the city has chosen a painting from the collection. The display, of works mostly by local artists, will remain at the art center throughout July. All works are for sale.

Matt Merritt can be reached at 434-2214 or by email at