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Catharine Liles:

A Retrospective Art Exhibit


St. Charles Bridge, Prague, oil on canvas, 6 ft. x 4 ft., 2002

Special thanks to our donors: Susan and Bill Allen

Pamela Holmes

Nancy and Lanier Anderson

Charlotte and Thomas Hope

Libby Bailey

Emma Jo Ploeger Ivey

Kathleen H. Cook

Louise and Jerry Kaplan

Abbie Dillard

Betty Sweet Ladson

Katherine Douglas

The Liles Family

Suzanne Engle

Susan and Doug Morton

Rebecca and Joel Grist

Carey Pickard and Chris Howard

Georgia and Robert Hatcher

John and Rosemary Spiegel

Leila B. Holmes

Frances Bush Wood

Cover: Louise Barfield, oil on canvas, 5 ft. x 4 ft., 1982


Backstage at the Grand, Ms. Lasky, oil on canvas, 6 ft. 1 in. x 4 ft. 1 in., 1976

Catharine Liles:

A Retrospective Art Exhibit January 23 – March 7, 2014 Opening Reception, January 23, 6:00-7:30 p.m. Cowles Myles Collier East Gallery Porter Family Memorial Fine Arts Building Contributors to the Catalogue Catharine Liles, Artist Ruth A. Knox, President of Wesleyan College Nancy Anderson, Executive Director (1982-99), Museum of Arts and Sciences Hazel Caldwell, Niece of the Artist Edited by Libby Bailey, Professor of Art History at Wesleyan College


Dear Friends of Wesleyan College, The opening of this exhibition, Catharine Liles: A Retrospective Art Exhibit, reminds us of the enduring power and universal appeal of art. From beautiful and serene to jarring and anguished, each of Catharine’s paintings is a passionate expression of what her heart feels. You will notice personal painting techniques in both oil and watercolor, allowing you glimpses into Catharine’s feelings as depicted on canvas and paper. Her self-portraits invite us to look inside the artist herself in tentative, confrontational, and even humorous ways. Other subjects reflect her love of travel, her countless friends, and the challenges she has faced. We are honored to be celebrating this milestone in Catharine’s life and career with her family, her friends, and our community. Catharine Burns Liles, artist and entrepreneur, wisely followed her mother’s footsteps to Wesleyan College and later inspired her sister Hazel to attend as well. Although she entered Wesleyan as a history major, she planned a career in fashion design and served on the Mademoiselle Magazine College Board. Her marriage to Marion Harper Liles, Jr., and the birth of their three daughters temporarily interrupted her college studies, but Catharine continued to study art, particularly portrait painting, and to draft architectural renderings. We are pleased that she returned to Wesleyan to earn a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree magna cum laude, studying with Dr. Libby Bailey and developing her artistic talents. She also applied her creative abilities with Liles and Associates, the marketing agency she founded and led successfully for many years. Painting remained a central focus for Catharine, however. Today her works are in the permanent collections of King & Spalding Attorneys and the University of Texas Medical School, and she is among the few contemporary artists to be included in the Sellars Collection of American Women Artists. Catharine’s exhibit reflects the historic commitment of Wesleyan College to the visual arts – a focus maintained today through our outstanding permanent collection, the Adopt-a-Painting Program, three academic majors in Studio Art, Art History, and Advertising and Marketing Communication, and three professionally maintained galleries. We offer courses in all areas of art history, drawing, painting, graphic design, printmaking, photography, ceramics, and sculpture. Like Catharine, our graduates enjoy successful art careers. We, the faculty, staff, and students of Wesleyan College, feel privileged to share Catharine’s beautiful works of art with you. We also thank each of our generous sponsors for their support of Catharine’s exhibit. Enjoy the show!

Ruth A. Knox ‘75 President


Portrait of Hali, oil on canvas, 24 in. x 40 in., 1995


Nutcracker Rehearsal (Study), oil on canvas, 32.5 in. x 20.5 in., 1977

Catharine Liles Artist Statement To me, the UNIVERSE is ART. Not all of art is always beautiful nor is the world. I am so fortunate to see it for its awe-inspiring glory/ beauty.  My passion and affairs outside family have always been with art. At my age I am not ashamed to confess that I have an obsession to produce. I’ve always liked to paint outdoors or with the widows open. But, one of my most productive years was when my studio was in a warehouse. My work may have been more creative at that point than any other. The older I have gotten, the further my interests spread for all the arts - movement and sound in addition to visual. In 1997 I suffered Viral Encephalitis. This caused major brain damage. After a month in the hospital and about seven weeks of alphabet and reading therapy, I stayed at home happily sitting outside enjoying the beautiful Spring. No one had the courage to tell me that because of the grand mal seizures I had experienced, by law I could not drive for a year. Learning this, my happiness was immediately swept away. The darkness that I had experienced in the hospital returned in my feelings. In my adult life I had always become depressed when I didn’t produce art for a long period of time. This was definitely one of

those intervals. I had to paint. My first painting was an abstract. I tried to explain on canvas what I could not say in words, the climb through the darkness I was in, back to the light. In my next “creation,” I attempted to philosophically paint the formation of earth and the transformation of humans from very primitive creatures to prehistoric individuals, or, in other words, to where I felt my brain had matured. That was not so very far.   These paintings could let those close to me know my feelings much better than I could with words which were and are often not there. Just before my year of not driving was up, I had another seizure. This pattern continued until 2001. I’ve been extremely excited about having this show for the following reasons: It has made me remember or find things I had totally forgotten. I have gone through boxes of paper work that have been through three moves. I have found damaged work that I got to mend myself. Even though I have continued to paint and have had a few shows, I have not written any statement about my work or my philosophy on art since my illness. I have new ideas about where my art is going.


Heart Attack, oil on canvas, 30 in. x 40 in., 2005


Keeping Guard of Vesuvius, oil on canvas, 4 ft. x 3 ft., 2013

Catharine Liles What do we mean when we say someone is an artist? The word derives from the Latin ars meaning a skill or method. After the Renaissance it came to denote a ‘master’ of art, the follower of a pursuit in which skill is acquired through study or practice. Still later it evolved to describe a person engaged in any of a broad spectrum of activities related to creating art, in particular someone who expresses himself through that act of creation. It’s appropriate to be reminded of the fullness of that definition when considering the life and work of Catharine Burns Liles. Yes, as this exhibition demonstrates, she is a painter. But her drive towards self-expression through creation has characterized a far broader impact on her community than that vocation might suggest. Her artistic perspective, in tandem with a keen awareness, unusual determination and persistence, as well as a remarkable boldness, inspired her leadership in multiple civic and business affairs. It was most particularly as executive director of the Museum of Arts and Sciences that I came to appreciate this aspect of Catharine’s work: because she loved art she devoted herself to arts organizations. Early in my tenure the Museum was given an opportunity to mount an exhibition of the work of George Bellows; it would be the first in the South and demanded a professional catalogue, but the Museum had minimal financial resources and didn’t even have a graphic artist on staff. Catharine volunteered both the time and expertise of her advertising agency for that

substantial task, to great success. And that was just one instance in which she used her business to bolster the Museum’s marketing and communications efforts. Another time she facilitated a generous yearend gift from a gentleman who came to be one of the Museum’s most significant donors. Still later, as president of the Board of Directors, she stood firm through a particularly challenging dust-up, mindful that a climate in which creativity can flourish requires strong institutional support. Yet the Museum was far from the only arts organization to benefit from her involvement. Nor were business and civic activities the only measure of her creative self-expression: her very person made a visual statement! Catharine was the first woman in Macon to don a pantsuit for dress wear—it was stunning, pink, as I remember— and confirmed her role as an adventurous style-setter. The clothes she chose simply became another form of artistic expression. Painting, however, is the primary medium through which Catharine Liles has expressed her artistic vision. It is a calling she has pursued with zeal. And because she was born, raised, and attended college in Macon, married another Macon native and brought their children up here, our city has been the fortunate beneficiary of that creativity. Nancy Anderson Executive Director 1982-99 Museum of Arts and Sciences


Self-portrait at Age Eight Crayon on dry cleaning paper 24 in. x 30 in., 1952

Lady Macbeth (Self-portrait in Trying Times) Oil on board 21 in. x 39 in., 1977

No Creativity, Another Self-portrait pastel 16 in. x 21. 5 in., 1988

Self-portrait for the Show at the Museum of Arts and Sciences oil on canvas 26.5 in. x 43.5 in., 1978


Giant Blue Gill, oil on canvas, 4 ft. 7 in. x 2 ft. 34 in., 1978

Biography of Catharine Liles Catharine Burns Liles was born in Macon, in 1944 on her mother’s bed, delivered by her grand-father, Dr. J.P. Holmes. Only such dramatic entrance into this world could have created such a passionate and talented artist. To say Catharine Liles is a rare individual is a vast understatement. Her first teacher was her uncle, J.P. Holmes, who was also an artist. At the early age of 4, she knew she wanted to be a great artist. She rapidly moved from crayons to oil paints and canvas.

Ad Club of Central Georgia; and Liles & Associates received the Gold Award in the 1989 Strathmore Competition.

Over the course of Catharine’s adulthood she has combined being a wife and mother of three daughters with a successful business and artistic career.

As a true entrepreneur, Liles also received the Business Owner of the Year Award from the Greater Macon Women Business Owners.

She graduated magna cum laude from Wesleyan College with a degree in Fine Arts in 1979, studied abroad in Cortona, Italy in 1984 with the University of Georgia, working on her Masters of Liberal Studies, which she completed at Mercer University in 1989.

Amidst this busy and active life, Liles also has had many professional affiliations, She was one of the first women on the Board of Directors of the Greater Macon Chamber of Commerce Kiwanis Club of Macon, and served on the Middle Georgia Military Affairs Committee.

Her artwork appears in numerous catalogues and is in many prominent corporate and private collections throughout the Southeast and Europe. Liles has been the cover artist for the 1988-89 Southern Bell Macon Telephone Directory; and was also artist for the 1996 Cherry Blossom Festival’s official fine Art print. Catharine is listed in Who’s Who in American Art, 20th edition.

Liles has now come full circle and has returned to her life’s passion – painting. Her five wonderful grand-children are her extra pleasure. Over the many years Catharine has been awarded, honored and recognized; her art work has never been more skilled developed and perfected than it is now. Her many travels to other countries have helped her develop a unique style that can only be recognized as her own. That four year old knew her calling was to be a successful artist!

She [designed] the cover of Stratford Academy’s new cookbook. During the years from 1980-1994 when Liles ran her two businesses, one, then the other received the “Best in Show Award” from the

Outside of the many awards and recognitions Catharine has received for her artistic career, she was presented with the Alumni Service Award from Stratford Academy in 1989 and the Alumnae Award for Distinguished Achievement from Wesleyan College in 1991.

Hazel Caldwell, 2003


First Abstract (by Liles) Watercolor, 27 in. x 39 in., 1984

Off the wall #8 Oil on canvas, 25.5 in. x 18.5 in., 1984

Primary Steps, Brain Recovery Mixed media, 29.5 in. x 21.5 in., 1987

Tunnel to Recovery Oil on canvas, 24 in. x 18 in., 1997


Thomas Williams, M.D., Oil on canvas, 30 in. x 36 in., 1993 In support of Wesleyan’s art restoration program, your tax-deductible donation may be made by credit card or in the form of a check payable to Wesleyan College and designated for Art Restoration or Adopt-A-Painting. Please contact the Office of Institutional Advancement at 478-757-5187 for additional information about the program’s specific needs, paintings awaiting adoption or about donating a work of art to the College. Thank you for investing in the preservation of our special Wesleyan Treasures.

4760 Forsyth Road Macon, GA 31210 WesleyanCollege.edu


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