Let There Be Light: An Artist’s Haven

Let There Be Light: An Artist’s Haven

Marcia Caller Jaffe

After 35 years with the Atlanta newspapers, Marcia currently serves as Retail VP for the Buckhead Business Association, where she delivers news and trends (laced with a little gossip).

Lynette and Malcolm Joel built a spectacular, bright, clean-lined house. The level first floor was ideal for her elderly parents, who lived with them. The design has worked well for the mutigenerational household, including 17 visiting grandchildren.

Lynette has carved a niche for herself in Atlanta as a talented innovator. She started silk-screening exotic clothing and wearable art. She evolved into books, jewelry, pillows and upholstery, chuppahs, Torah covers, and stained glass.

She is best known for her “Twelve Tribes” series and unusual clothing style. “My style of art is really my own and comes from the heart,” she said. “The bright, clean colors and angulated shapes have a strong influence from my native Africa.”

Local designer Jill Van Tosh said: “Lynette is an amazing artist and role model. She continuously takes on new challenges and has captured Jewish traditions and stories with vivid color and imagination.”

The Joels’ 5,300-square-foot house is the vessel through which the sun provides color and great views to the landscape and wildlife beyond.

Lynette Joel’s “Twelve Tribes,” son David’s charcoal of Martin Luther King Jr. and son Jared’s “Seven Days of Creation” fill the wall behind the Freundt aluminum table in the dining room.
Lynette Joel’s “Twelve Tribes,” son David’s charcoal of Martin Luther King Jr. and son Jared’s “Seven Days of Creation” fill the wall behind the Freundt aluminum table in the dining room.

Jaffe: Your Sandy Springs house on 3 acres with its glistening lake is a hidden treasure.

Lynette: There is actually a story behind it. Knowing that we wanted to walk to synagogue in this area, we researched county maps to find this property. We bought an older ranch on the property and leveled it. Terry Patrick was the architect; we designed the house together. The 21-degree pivot in the house gives a view of the lake from all the rooms.

Jaffe: Your studio workshop is multifaceted and humming with energy. What goes on in here?

Lynette: In the main studio are six sewing machines and a quilting loom, where a cow quilt is in progress. The side room houses two large commercial, 15-thread embroidery machines, where I embellish multiple projects concurrently. My favorite medium is computer digitizing, resulting in my own embroidered designs, turning them into wearable art, quilts, pillows and upholstery.

Jaffe: What are some of the unique features in your kitchen?

Lynette: The counter granite surface is Mari Blue Leather, which is heavily textured. My storage pantry converts into a Passover kitchen. The marble table in the breakfast room appears to float on one end, anchored by one stainless post on the other. A Calder print contrasts the stained glass “Mother and Child,” which I designed and fabricated myself. I did not enjoy this medium but wanted to experience glass construction to understand its limitations so that I am able to design fine glass windows one day for a synagogue.

Jaffe: Your dining room beckons family gatherings amidst the art. Lynette’s “Twelve Tribes,” third son David’s charcoal drawing of Martin Luther King, and second son Jared’s hand-painted acrylic “Seven Days of Creation” adorn the walls, showcasing the family’s talents. The leather furniture in the family room was designed and built by eldest son Darren in his custom furniture business.

Lynette: The dining table is a three-part aluminum-and-glass art piece I designed with artist Paul Freundt to seat 20 people. I am probably best known for the “Twelve Tribes of Israel.” Embedded in the designs are many intricate stories from biblical and traditional sources. The series, a limited edition spanning a 30-year period, was created as fundraisers for varies Jewish institutions. I am most proud of my design in mosaic “The Donor Wall for Young Israel of Toco Hills.”

Jaffe: What are some of your favorite pieces collected from South Africa?Let There Be Light: An Artist’s Haven 3

Lynette: (Laughing) My 6-foot beaded Ndebele doll had to have her legs cut off at the airport to fit her onto the plane back to the U.S. The large beaded animals were bought along the roadside and from street artisans, as were the handmade rugs from Kwazula. Africa is rich in culture and art, but one has search it out. On a more serious note, we have a collection of Leonard Matsoso’s art pieces.

Malcolm: My favorite indigenous wood carvings, “Thanks for the Meal” and “True Bull” by Lucas Sithole (an internationally renowned sculptor), were acquired 40 years ago in South Africa.

Jaffe: How does the South African art dovetail into the formal living room?

Lynette: The 15 woodcuts by Lucky Sibiya depicting the Zulu version of “Macbeth,” “uMabatha,” dominate the room. I designed the carpets and had them handwoven in South Africa. In here the 21-degree pivot allows full view of the lake.

Malcolm: We have a wonderful collection of silver, ceremonial Judaic pieces by our Israeli artist friends, Emil Shenfeld and Yaakov Greenvurcel.

Jaffe: The master bedroom is captivatingly off-beat.

Lynette: I created the musician quilt on the bed, which took about six months to complete. Much of the art in the bedroom is from African artist Matsoso, drawn with millions of tiny pen-and-ink strokes.

Jaffe: I see this rather eccentric orange, wild-haired orchestra conductor repeated in some of your work.Let There Be Light: An Artist’s Haven 6

Lynette: My musician series and “Figuring Figures” are printed on aluminum and give a three-dimensional impression like many layers of glass. This is accomplished by the shadows and light that I created.

Jaffe: Malcolm, how would you describe your wife’s talent?

Malcolm: She has an eye for color, texture and detail. She is willing to take on new challenges and stick to the subject until she has mastered it.

Lynette: I would share: If you are able to find your passion, don’t fear failure. Jump in and do it. It’s hard work but worth it in the end. I am currently working on a coffee-table book describing the “Twelve Tribes” and the biblical sources. Life has a way of throwing challenges, which push me to another level of accomplishment.

Jaffe: Your home and talents are multilayered, and there is nothing in moderation, which makes this the story within the story.

Photos by Duane Stork

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