Simonette Berry is a New Orleans native, the daughter of two journalists who raised her to appreciate the vibrant culture of the city and express herself through art and writing. As a child, she enjoyed making costumes, drawing, and writing and illustrating her own story books. When she was 7, her grandmother taught her the art of the landscape and opened her eyes to the world of painting. She studied Visual Arts and Creative Writing at New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts, which has produced greats such as Wynton Marsalis, Trombone Shorty, and Harry Connick Jr. She earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at Tulane University, where she studied under Sandy Chism and Ronna Harris, and had the opportunity to study and live in Rome, Italy and in Boston, MA.
She cut her teeth as a working artist at French Fountains in New Orleans, where she has done landscape design and decorative painting since 2003 (http://www.frenchfountains.com/
). You can see her design work in many exterior spaces (such as Loyola University's Dana Center modern courtyard fountain and the poolside area of the Monteleone’s Bienville House Hotel) as well as countless private residences. She honed her decorative painting skills under the tutelage of local designer and decorative painter Anne Bishton of Anne Bishton Designs (http://www.annebishtondesigns.com/
), and has since created elaborate murals, faux finishes, and decorative effects in many private homes around the city.
Simonette is primarily a painter, though she also works in sculpture, photography, and mixed media. She describes her style as “Magic Realism,” inspired by the literary style that bears the same name. In addition to drawing ideas from literature, she looks to the artists of many genres for inspiration--surrealism, realism, impressionism, cubism, expressionism, the baroque era, and medieval art, among others. Simonette enjoys painting landscapes, portraits, and surreal scenes. In addition to painting in her home studio, she paints plein-air landscapes around the New Orleans area and on her travels across the U.S., Europe, and South America. "I try to capture not only what the eye sees but what lies just beneath the fabric of reality," she says. Often her paintings are filled with hidden faces, pictures within pictures, and strange details that take the viewer on a journey through their own imagination. "Each painting tells more than one story, I've discovered. I paint based on a feeling or an impression that I have, and the resulting image gets a wide range of stories and reactions from different viewers. My goal is to create an image that spurs an interaction, a creation process, a synthesis of reality and the great unknown."
Simonette enjoys writing about art, design, cuisine, travel, and local culture. She has written for Our Louisiana Magazine (formerly Louisiana Homes and Gardens Magazine) since 2006 and has also contributed to Where Magazine and Gambit. Check out her work at www.ourhouse.biz
. Read her essay in the anthology New Orleans, What Can't Be Lost
, edited by Lee Barclay and published by UL Press. Find a link to the book's webpage and an excerpt from her essay about New Orleans facades here: http://ulpress.org/catalog.php?item=2
. She is currently working on her first book.