Through the life of this Chai-Style Homes column, this is our first Gwinnett County venue. The Findling home makes it easy to appreciate the expanse of 3.4 bucolic private acres of lush, level pasture abutting the Chattahoochee River. The gems on the inside are no less impressive.
Beth Findling, the president of a corporate recruiting firm, and Drew Findling, an international boutique criminal defense lawyer, collect and nurture art from a variety of wells. Drew said, “We collect in basically three arenas: regional, environmental (from recycled sources) and art found during our travels. Beth, who eschews professional design help, has a passion for arranging eclectic fabrics and wall surfaces.”
She said, “I work very closely with crafts people to get the best result. I’m obsessed with art! It is totally my thing to go to the nth degree.”
Jaffe: Describe the connection to your land.
Beth: This is technically Peachtree Corners at the very tip of Fulton County. This was originally a dairy farm, and the property served as the family’s country retreat. We bush-hog every October. It is so sweet to wake in the morning to see the deer frolicking. Two of our three kids were college ball athletes and enjoyed having the batting cage.
(Writer’s note: For those city folks like me, “bush hog” describes a rugged tractor-mounted boom mower.)
Jaffe: The green recycled art is fascinating and certainly topical.
Drew: It’s just that: being creative with things that are disposed of. We cherish this metal Dumpster acquired in Asheville made with blowtorches showing the hustle and bustle of New York City, along with our actual family members in the scene. It weighs over 200 pounds. You can image the installation!
Chris Beck’s “Sunday Best Suit” and “Trevor” (9-foot blue jeans) are constructed by hand from galvanized steel and a barn roof with a hammer, anvil and arc welding, then hemmed with pliers. The nobs are from a Victorian house in Chattanooga.
The amber work at the very top of the stairs is from a 100-year-old condemned barn from the artist’s wife’s family with their photographs superimposed.
Jaffe: What inspires you?
Drew: “Abraham Lincoln the Great Emancipator” by Penley. It’s a patriotic salute from a criminal defense attorney like me. I am also an avid John Adams fan.
Jaffe: Describe what is going on in the art room.
Beth: When we entertain, people comment that they feel they are in a gallery. I sought just the right technique to have the sky trompe l’oeil (art illusion to trick the eye) ceiling done by an amazing artist, Joel Cook, Twin Palms Studio.
The rest is very eclectic: the three-dimensional cow behind real barbed wire by Calvin Walton, the black-and-white bird totem pole, a folk-painted milk jug by R.E. Roebuck. Part of our gallery has several Murano pieces, one Dino Rosin. One of our first oil paintings was acquired on Maui, an original by Marcia Banks with her use of very bold colors, entitled “Bare Shoulder.” Also a sculpture (acquired in New Orleans) by Susan Clayton, a Tallapoosa, Ga., artist, entitled “Coffee and a Piece of Cake.”
Jaffe: What interests you about regional art?
Beth: We like the intensity of this tryptych by “Cornbread” (John Anderson) of regional animals — the playfulness of his raccoon, the black bear and the fox. We shop in Asheville and throughout the Southeast to keep our hands in regional art.
Jaffe: What are some exotic travel stories where you acquired art?
Beth: Now that we are empty nesters, we have collected art from Austria, Portugal, Italy, the Czech Republic, but the most interesting is from a serendipitous meeting in Vienna. We had coffee at the Mozart Cafe with the artist Andrzej Kasprzak, who did this oil, “The Soul Voice.” It’s very emotional to me, depicting split emotions with the scarlet heart beating against the black background.
Also we acquired our Miro, “Homenatge a Joan Prats,” in New Orleans, so it varies.
Jaffe: The foyer is so tony. What brings it all together?
Beth: I wanted this very specific marble flooring, Michelangelo, in warm chocolate shades. I knew it would go well in here. One of my favorite glass sculptures, this totem pole is by Richard Jolley (known as the East Coast Chihuly). It’s over 200 pounds and also had a yeoman assembly. He was lecturing in Atlanta, and it was lovely as he personally delivered this piece to us. There is also a Henner Schroder glass sculpture in the foyer. The pre-foyer is very Romanesque, sticking to very pale ochre tones depicting statues and sky.
Jaffe: What were you trying to evoke in your master bedroom?
Beth: I love that the Pompeii red ceiling is visible from the front door entrance. And it’s a “wow” to wake up in the morning to that red. Other than that, I love the limited-edition oil painting of the female dressed in her robe by Peter O’Neill, titled “The Breakup,” acquired in Charleston. It captures the essence of contemplation.
The master bath is cut stone and slate.
Jaffe: It’s whimsical, it’s stimulating, and it works. It’s even Western, as I see a metal, 5-foot cowboy boot with spurs resting on the patio.
Photos by Duane Stork