The past thirteen years since I moved to Friendship Long Island have been the most creative years of my life. The beauty, simplicity of life, isolation, independence, and self-reliance make me create. My daughter, Susan, and I have restored an old house, planted gardens, created toy theaters with costumes and sets, written plays and set them to music, and performed these plays for children and adults. I’ve written short stories, built furniture of found objects, worked in clay, and created jewelry which I have marketed in major galleries. Now I am painting, and painting interests me the most.
Friendship Long Island is about 3 miles long and ¾ mile wide. Here I continue to find images that excite and inspire me to paint. I grew up in North Dakota’s Red River Valley, a flat land of immense grainfields. Friendship is surrounded by water, but I see a similarity in what I am drawn to paint in both places – night scenes, isolated buildings and people, objects that remind me of the past, and the evidence of change and decay. I paint on location in gouache.
Barbara Beebe, 1999
Barbara grew up on a farm in North Dakota, where she attended a one-room schoolhouse. “Each day in first grade, on my way to school, I passed by the blacksmith, pounding out plowshares with fire and hammer. This began my fascination with metal and jewelry, which I went on to study at the University of Minnesota.” As a child she fashioned dolls’ dishes from clay she dug on the farm, made toy furniture and snow figures, and drew her brothers and sisters on the scarce paper her mother found for her. Her first real art classes were in college.
She taught jewelry at Virginia Commonwealth University and elsewhere. Her jewelry was featured in Vogue and Accessories. In 1993 she was invited to create a silver cherub ornament for the Blue Room Christmas tree at the White House.
At her Civil War-era home on Friendship Long Island, Barbara cooks and heats with wood, lights with pitable place where she can do art. Some of these places have been nearby, and some have been quite far away: Oaxaca; Frigiliana, Spain; Umbria; Costa Rica; Normandy. At each place, her work has had a certain focus and taken on a certain, unifying character.