PaperCity Magazine

PaperCity Dallas October 2020

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57 By ReBecca SheRman. aRt DiRection michelle aviña. PhotogRaPhy liSa PetRole. O ne of Salle W e r n e r - v a u g h n ' s most cherished memories as a child growing up in rural east texas is lying on her back in a field of yellow buttercups and pink evening primroses, looking up at the blue sky. the artist, now 80, recreated that memory on canvas several decades ago: an atmospheric abstraction of sky and flowers awash in pastel hues. her paintings feel otherworldly, often done in the 18th-century confectionary colors of Boucher and Fragonard. "my work is about a world we know exists but can't really see," she says. that painting inspired an ongoing art-and-interiors installation created by Werner-vaughn inside this victorian-era cottage in houston, which she completed three years ago. it's one of four cottages in a compound that the artist has saved and restored, each used like a stage set for her paintings, sculpture, and antique furnishings. She has dubbed the cottages harmonium. "i'm trying to create a place of harmony and beauty in a world that is stricken," she says. this cottage, which she named here & there, is surrounded by lovely unkempt gardens, wild with climbing passion vines and morning glories. "they are old-fashioned flowers, the kind that were here when these houses were built," Werner-vaughn says. like all of the cottages that belong to the artist, here & there was once part of a long-neglected enclave of rail workers' houses that were destined for the wrecking ball until she began salvaging them 31 years ago. the neighborhood was established in the dreamscape FoR texaS aRtiSt Salle WeRneR-vaughn, inteRioRS aRe PoRtalS to otheR WoRlDS. heR aRt- anD antiqueS-FilleD cottageS aRticulate the unSeen — a BungaloW can Become a Palace, iF you imagine it. 1880s, mostly by german immigrants working on the construction of a new railroad running through texas to the port of galveston. to compensate for seasonal hurricanes, many of the houses were built with ingenious wood balloon frames, which could be easily re-erected using a block-and-tackle pulley system. Werner-vaughn bought her first cottage in 1989. Saving old houses quickly became a passion, and she bought many others over the decades. "i've had quite a few houses but haven't kept all of them," she says. "i've either sold the land or couldn't keep them up. i sold my favorite house cloud because i needed the money to buy more houses to save. i did some beautiful paintings in there." She didn't just fall in love with the old houses; she also fell in love with the old-fashioned neighborhood, with its overgrown gardens and streets without sidewalks. "We have so many glamorous areas in houston, but this is how most people originally lived," she says. But not everyone wanted her there. vandals set fire to now & then on A doorway is curtained by tattered antique saris.

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