Hutto Black’s mixed media works on display
Story and photos by Laura Brookhart
The eye is drawn to an old screen door, hanging just inside The Coal Yard gallery space, from which a little girl’s pouting face peers out—a mixed media work by artist Fay Hutto Black.
“Remember the Sabbath” portrays her memory, one Hutto Black says seems very old-fashioned now, of being a little girl and upset with her grandmother in Winona, Mississippi.
“She insisted I wear my church clothes all day and not go outdoors or get dirty. She wouldn’t even let me cut with scissors on Sunday,” Hutto Black said with a smile.
Many of Hutto Black’s works are of large scale and mixed media incorporating acrylic or oil paint. They are signed Hutto, as they were created during her marriage to Dr. W.B. Hutto, who practiced Internal Medicine at Loyola Hospital before passing away at just 53.
“I never liked the idea of size restrictions,” she notes. “I needed to express my ideas fully.”
Several now on the walls of The Coal Yard gallery space have won awards through the years in shows around Birmingham.
“The Fisherman’s Wife” won first prize in the 1967 Birmingham Art Asso Juried Show, and her work has been shown at Littlehouse Galleries in Vestavia.
Fay Hutto Black grew up in Gulfport, Mississippi. She attended Ward-Belmont College in Nashville for two years, then earned a degree in art from University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
After graduation, she taught junior high school in Jackson, Mississippi. This was in 1949, at the first Mississippi school to offer art classes.
“I was really happy to get that job,” she notes, “as there were not many art teacher positions.”
After teaching two years, she took the opportunity to work as a designer/illustrator for the U.S. Corps of Engineers in Vicksburg.
There, she was one of some 10 workers at her drafting table creating bulletins, brochures and illustrating machinery and equipment designs.
Rosalie Oetting first met artist Hutto Black when she visited the Ice and Coal Gallery with her daughter, Polly Levert, prior to the restaurant opening.
“They came in and we had a marvelous conversation and I fell in love with her and her spirit,” Oetting recalls. “The next week, she came back and brought me ‘Remember the Sabbath’—it has been hanging there since.”
Hutto Black believes studying portrait painting to be an integral part of her training.
At Ward-Belmont, there was, of course, then no nude painting of models, but she later studied under several prominent teachers—Frank Tauriello, Paul Leville, Gordon Wetmore (Portrait Society of America), Daniel Greene (the foremost pastelist in the United States) and Ed Jones.
One of the founders of the Vestavia Hills Art Association, a board member of the Bluff Park Art Association and the Alabama Watercolor Society, Hutto Black is a member of the American Society of Portrait Artists.
Her daughter, Polly Levert, art teacher at Our Lady of Sorrows, shared, ”Mom taught me to draw early in elementary school. Later she taught me to draw people and I modeled for her figure drawing classes.
“I listened to what she told her students and applied it to my own efforts. She also taught me to love art which led me to becoming an art teacher.”
The work of Fay Hutto Black is now part of the permanent collection in The Coal Yard gallery space and may be seen during regular business hours.