For Rebecca Tully Fulmer, art is in her genes. Passed on from her mother, Toni Tully, who was an artist renowned and beloved in the Southeast, Rebecca has followed in her footsteps and is blazing her own unique trails. Though you can see her work at Gallery 1930, we’re delighted to get to know a little bit more about the woman behind the canvas today.
Where did you grow up?
I was born and raised in Birmingham, AL; I tried to leave, but it is just too beautiful here. I love all the trees and the mountains.
My husband, Ben, and I have four boys, and we feel so fortunate that they can grow up in such a safe and friendly community. Also, I am very proud to be Southern and stay Southern. We have a special thing down here.
Tell us how art became integral to your life.
My mother was and is my inspiration and my motivation. She was a wonderful artist here in Birmingham, and there were always creatives around our house. She started out as a painter but later got into fiber art. Today I work mostly with mixed media: acrylic paint, sumi ink, transparent film, digital prints.
I finished college with a degree in interior design, which influences my art today. And I’m still influenced by my years as a classical dancer. The understanding of what makes a beautiful, complete line and how that line moves through space permeates my thinking as I work. I am so grateful for those two experiences.
Also, I had an art professor who taught us to really look at something, to see it in all its dimensions. I try to always remember that when something captures my eye. I like to take an image from ordinary life and turn it into something visually meaningful, and usually the end result looks nothing like the original image. There are so many parallels to that in nature: Light on the sidewalk can look like bubbles underwater. Fireworks become flowers or a waterfall. Water in the bathtub becomes an abstraction of colors.
If you could have lunch with any woman in the world, who would it be and what would you order?
Pat Steir. She is a New York artist who creates these huge paintings that look like waterfalls. They are incredibly beautiful and mesmerizing. I would have many questions about how she paints them to look so fluid and real, yet abstract at the same time. I would probably order a salad.
What did your bedroom look like when you were a teenager?
A mess! Still does.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
K.I.S.S.: an acronym for “keep it simple, stupid.” I tend to make everything too complicated. K.I.S.S. reminds me to simmer down.
What advice would you give to others?
Laugh a lot. My mother passed away from ovarian cancer a few years ago. While she was ill, I asked my parents’ friends to send them emails with really funny jokes. The emails kept coming and coming; they really helped us to stay strong through a terrible time. Laughter gave us a break from all the sadness.
Don’t take yourself too seriously, but just seriously enough. And have funny girlfriends.
What is your favorite thing to do to relax?
Drink coffee and read the paper with my husband, and cook for my boys and all their friends.
Favorite thing to do on a Saturday night?
Watch Saturday Night Live.
Favorite local restaurant?
I could not choose. We are so lucky to have so many great chefs. Birmingham has Frank and Pardis Stitt to thank for the growth of great restaurants in Birmingham with Highlands Bar and Grill, and now there’s Hot and Hot Fish Club, Ollie Irene and, of course, Gilchrist. I love the Mayberry atmosphere there; I hope they never change.
Favorite local dessert/cocktail?
Baby Bites at Pastry Art.
What are you listening to?
Recent downloads would be The Dirty Heads, Ben Sollee, Bach’s Brandenburg concertos, Audra Mae and the Almighty Sound, Jean Knight.
What books are you reading?
What celebrity’s closet would you most like to have?
What fashion item would you never be caught dead wearing?
A mini dress.
What is your must-have purchase for Spring 2014?
A good pair of white jeans. I can’t seem to get the right ones.
Do you have any personality quirks or irrational fears?
I’m always talking in my head too much — it’s a bad habit when someone is talking to you. Also, I don’t do heights well at all.
If your house was on fire, what’s the one nonliving thing you would grab?
My iPad. It has my whole life on it, from my images for my art to books to cherished photos.
Name three things you can’t live without, excluding friends, family and God.
My eyes, my eyes, my eyes. I have to see.
Thank you, Rebecca! And thank you, Catherine Mayo, for today’s beautiful photographs! www.catherinemayo.com