Ginger in her Chestnut Hill studio.

by Len Lear

Ginger Garrett Arthur is one Chestnut Hill resident who is working just as hard now as she did before the pandemic. Ginger, 65, is a successful artist whose studio is at 8044 Germantown Ave., where the popular restaurant, Under the Blue Moon, held court for more than 20 years until 1997. For years she has also been the flower buyer for the Weavers Way stores in Chestnut Hill and Mt. Airy (not Ambler).

Ginger would normally be having an exhibit of her new “Sunrise Series” of paintings of nature and the outdoors, inspired by Monet. “I would like to have a show with this new work, but realistically, that won’t happen until the fall at the earliest,” she said last week, “but folks have already bought several pieces, so I’ll send them out and keep working. I have thankfully sold  several from this new Sunrise Series through my website as well as continuing my commission work.” (Ginger is working with a new medium for her, mylar; oil paint on mylar lends a translucence to areas unpainted.)

Regarding her floral buying for Weavers Way, “There’s still a demand for cut flowers, but we have limited the number of shoppers inside the store, so there isn’t the same quantity flying out as before. However, the starter plants (herbs, vegetables, annuals and perennials) are just the opposite. We can’t keep them in stock. Our general manager, Jon Roesser, said that the Covid garden is the victory garden of our era. One customer even said that herbs and vegetables have become the new toilet paper.”

Regarding her own garden, Ginger has “put in all sorts of flowers, all sizes and colors. Who knows what it’s going to look like?!  Angelonia, dahlias, pansies, snapdragons, sunflowers. I’m hoping for a rainbow effect. Thank goodness we have lovely, open-minded neighbors! We had been planning a painting trip to Italy in June, which has been postponed until June of 2021. That’s OK; we now have something lovely to look forward to.”

And speaking of the beauty of her paintings and flowers, Ginger 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. But 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, has been 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 in the summer of 2017.

When she was 38, Ginger was married (much to her mother’s relief) to Jim Arthur, who is 10 years younger than she is. “It took me a long time to find him!” said Ginger. “And then 10 years after we were married, we discovered a mutual ancestor from the 17th century, whose story parallels the way we met. You can’t make this stuff up.”

Jim, a University of Pennsylvania grad, is a full-time cabinetmaker with a wide-ranging clientele from around the world. In fact, he was supposed to be in Cambodia right now for a client, but the pandemic put a halt to that trip.

Jim has also built a sailboat, launching it at the invitation of the Independence Seaport Museum five years ago and naming it GINGER! “Such a beautiful boat,” the immortalized Ginger observed. “He and GINGER are now showing up on sailing videos on YouTube, produced by some of his talented sailing buddies. Really beautiful shots with great music, exquisite scenery and lovely sailing boats.”

For more information, visit gingerarthur.com. Her studio is always open by appointment; masks, gloves and 6-feet separation required. Or follow her on Instagram, where the new work first appears! Len Lear can be reached at lenlear@chestnuthilllocal.com

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