Mark Kennedy: Collegedale artist steps in to help beautify her condo complex

·3 min read

Jun. 13—"In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity." — Albert Einstein

Lupina Haney's highly regarded artwork reflects a blend of influences; the geometric majesty of urban cityscapes and the misty magnetism of Appalachian forests.

It makes sense, since much her life was split between living in New York City and long stretches spent here in the Tennessee Valley. She was born in Palmer, Tennessee, in Grundy County. Her father was Chinese and her mother was from Southeast Tennessee.

A former high school art teacher and businesswoman, Haney has settled into a comfortable Collegedale-area condo complex, Mulberry Park at Collier Place, where her one-bedroom unit doubles as an art studio. She has shown her artwork in galleries and juried events, and her paintings are in corporate and private collections across the United States.

During the pandemic, some of the venues where she shows and sells her art were closed, so she built an impressive inventory of pieces. The last 12 months haven't been a great year for selling art, but sometimes adversity breeds opportunity.

When her homeowner's association ran short of funds to complete renovation of the neighborhood clubhouse, Haney stepped up to loan several of her art pieces to decorate the common area. Cost increases for materials and unexpected added labor expenses made acquiring art for the space difficult, said Mulberry Park homeowner's association president Mike Talley.

"We were probably 10 percent over our budget and art got the squeeze," he said. "Lupina's [loan] was a huge benefit because we didn't have to buy art."

Taley said the reno involved creating a neutral paint palate of whites and grays, which needed pops of color for contrast, which Haney's artworks supply.

When asked for suggestions on how to acquire art for the clubhouse, Haney offered to bring some of her pieces in for scale.

"I said, 'You are going to need some really big pieces over there. Just let me bring some of my pieces over just to show you the size.

" I brought a couple of pieces over and they were like, 'These are gorgeous, why can't we have these?'"

Two pieces that bracket the clubhouse fireplace are mixed-media artworks of leafless trees. Stand close and you'll notice the bark textures on some of the trees are actually repurposed newspaper clippings. Stencils and tissue fragments also are used in her work.

Haney explained that the pieces were part of her salable inventory, but she agreed to temporarily loan the artworks to the HOA as a short-term solution to the budget squeeze.

"I love her artwork," said Talley. "And I love her heart to share with us."

The plan is to gradually rotate in other pieces of art done by Mulberry Park residents.

While she isn't selling her artwork at the clubhouse, Haney said there are business cards available for anyone who wants to check out her website.

"I've gotten a lot of positive feedback," Haney said. "That was nice to hear."

"Life Stories" publishes on Mondays. To suggest a human interest story contact Mark Kennedy at mkennedy@timesfreepress.com.

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