Anderson Artists Guild member Louise Bisso runs an art gallery and frame shop—ElsieBee Originals—in downtown Hartwell, Georgia. Though she’s been there for 27 years, it’s not what she ever imagined for her life.
Born in Florence, South Carolina, she moved around with her family to Dillon and Denmark as well as to Savannah, Georgia. She attended the University of Miami, where she majored in English. “One day in the sixties, my father was watching football,” she said. “Miami was playing. He joked, ‘Why don’t you apply there?’ and I did.” She later added a master’s degree in librarianship.
After working as a media specialist for six years, Bisso transitioned into information management, which involved research and database work in the days before personal computers. When she moved to Hartwell, where her husband had gotten a job at the public library, she’d planned to continue her job remotely, but Hartwell’s party line phone system made using a modem impossible.
She drifted for a while until her husband suggested she open an art gallery. “I fell on the floor laughing,” she said. But the more she thought about it and the more she learned, the more she liked the idea. “The art field was just starting to happen,” she said. So she launched La Galerie de Beaux Arts and hired teachers for art classes. A few years later, though, a tornado blew the roof off, and Bisso closed the store in order to take care of her mom, who was ill. “We had just taken in work for a new show but did not lose one painting,” she said. “God’s hand was involved. But that also told me it was time to close.”
After her mom’s death in 1992, she ended up taking over a frame shop and gallery from an owner going through personal difficulties. In 2003 she bought the store next door and expanded to sell supplies for art and needlework. The work is varied, from knitting, sewing, crocheting and painting to cleaning and repair. “I just finished fixing an afghan full of holes,” she said.
Most of her painting is commission work, usually acrylic on glass. Often the subjects are landscapes the clients want memorialized, such as lake views, front yards, and sunsets. “I really enjoy it,” she said.
For more information about Bisso, visit http://elsiebeeoriginals.com.