by Len Lear
When it comes to beauty, Ginger Garrett Arthur rocks — in more ways than one. In the first place, Ginger, a 60-ish Chestnut Hill resident was discovered by the prestigious Wilhelmina Modeling Agency a few decades ago. They signed her to a contract, and she wound up doing lots of print work such as magazine ads for Clairol hair products, modeling and acting. She did TV work, soap operas, commercials, even movies. “Having red hair was my signature,” Ginger recalled. “There were not that many (red-haired models) out there.”
And speaking of beauty, for the past nine years Ginger has been a floral buyer for the Weavers Way stores in Mt Airy and Chestnut Hill. “I love it and love working with the Weavers Way crew!” she said last week. “I’ve learned so much about merchandising, marketing and selling.”
And to complete a beauty trifecta, Ginger is an extraordinarily talented artist whose paintings emanate the beauty of nature and animals in every inch of canvas. Her work will be on display this Saturday, June 23, 5 to 8 p.m., in her studio at 8044 Germantown Ave., where the popular restaurant, Under the Blue Moon, held court for more than 20 years until 1997. (The show is for one night only, but Ginger’s works can always be seen by appointment.)
In her earlier years, Ginger acted on soap operas such as “The Doctors” (“They wanted a red-haired waitress”) and “One Life to Live.” (“I was a singer from Philly, but I got the job mainly for my red hair.”) She was in a TV movie, “Hijack,” with Lindsay Wagner.
“You really have to love it,” she told us in an earlier interview, “because you go through so much with auditions, rejections and so on. I did think about going to L.A., but Lindsay Wagner, who had been a big TV star, went to L.A. and could not get any work. So I figured that if she could not even get work there with all of her experience and fame, what chance did I have? Also, my first love has always been painting, so I decided that if I am going to suffer for an art, I’d much rather suffer for painting, not for acting. I certainly did meet a lot of interesting people (while acting), though.”
So after 15 years with the Wilhelmina Modeling Agency, Ginger dropped out of modeling and acting and took a job with QVC for five years but devoted her creative energies to painting. Since becoming a full-time artist (almost), Ginger has had several solo exhibits in New York and Philly, has been a part of numerous group exhibits including those at Woodmere Art Museum and the former Carol Schwartz Gallery in Chestnut Hill, has won several first- and second-place awards, is in prestigious private collections in Delaware, Texas and Virginia, and has been featured on the NBC-TV “10 at 10” morning show. Her work has also been viewed widely on the internet after winning second place in the Chestnut Hill Plein Air competition last summer.
“I stopped showing in galleries in 2012,” she said, “and started showing on my own. However, that is not for everyone. And I’ll probably never be asked to show in one again after saying this. About a decade ago, thanks to the social media phenomenon, recording artists started posting their work themselves without signing restrictive contracts. I thought to do the same and am really grateful for certain circumstances, opportunities and changes — things way beyond me — that made it possible. Since then I’ve sold over 100 pieces.”
A native of Wilmington, Delaware, Ginger always wanted to be an artist. She graduated from the Randolph Macon Women’s College in Virginia as an art major, which was encouraged by her parents. (“Mom had a good sense of color, and dad had a good sense of design.”) While in college, she also studied with a contemporary of Andrew Wyeth, Tom Bostelle, at the Brandywine Valley School in Lenape, near Chadds Ford.
When she was 38, Ginger was married (much to her mother’s relief) to Jim Arthur, who is 10 years younger than she is. Jim, a University of Pennsylvania grad, is a full-time cabinetmaker who has just launched a new category of furniture, the screencase, “a clever and elegant solution to the flat screen dilemma.” (You can check it out on www.AiRK.co) Jim also built a sailboat, launching at the invitation of the Independence Seaport Museum three years ago and naming it GINGER! “Such a beautiful boat,” the immortalized Ginger observed. “It and he are now showing up on sailing magazine covers and calendars with small but quite discerning circulations.”
What is the hardest thing that Ginger has ever done? “The two hardest things were saying goodbye to my mother and father.”
More information at gingerarthur.com or 267-259-6416.