The Columbia Daily Tribune recently featured an article on Renate Brady in their section known as Niche: A weekly peek at an emerging artist.

Farah Nieuwenhuizen and Renate Brady

By SARA AGNEW of the Tribune’s staff
Published Sunday, February 23, 2003

It’s funny how lives that take root in cultures seemingly so different can come to embrace a spirit that is universal.

Farah Nieuwenhuizen and Renate Brady
Ed Pfueller photo

Art has a way of nullifying our separateness by speaking a language we can all understand. It brings people together by reminding us that the world isn’t such a big place and that maybe we aren’t so different after all.

A girl in Iran can paint a picture of purple pansies, and 51 years later, a woman who grew up in Germany can look at the painting and marvel at its beauty. That is the magic of brush to canvas or hands to clay.

"Oh, Farah," Renate Brady says. "That’s lovely!"

Farah Nieuwenhuizen nodded her appreciation and pointed to the square-looking black script at the bottom right corner of the painting. "See how I signed it in Persian?" she says.

The women, both in their early 60s, met more than a decade ago through the Columbia Art League; both are members and past presidents. Over the years, they’ve exhibited their works at many of the same local shows and festivals. Though both women paint, Nieuwenhuizen is known best for her jewelry, which she expertly crafts from stones and glass.

Last fall, Nieuwenhuizen was asked to exhibit in the annual Kings Daughters holiday bazaar in November at the Columbia Expo Center. She agreed on one condition - that she be able to show with another artist. Organizers agreed, and Nieuwenhuizen invited her friend, Brady, to join her. Both artists enjoyed their best show ever, selling more paintings and jewelry than they ever expected. If all goes as planned, Nieuwenhuizen and Brady will continue to exhibit their works together.

Neither woman would have imagined such a destiny when they were little girls with big dreams growing up in countries thousands of miles apart.

Brady came to Columbia in 1968, a young bride on the arm of an American soldier from Brookfield. As a child, she enjoyed drawing and painting and imagined herself as a fashion designer. But when the time came to attend college, she couldn’t afford the hours required for a degree in her chosen field in her native land.

"I needed money," she said. "So I took a different route. I got a business degree."

While a member of the American Business Women of America, Brady was asked to design the local group’s scrapbook. Her passion for art awakened, and she rose to the occasion, earning several awards for scrapbook and newsletter designs.

Inspired, Brady enrolled at Columbia College and received a degree in art/graphic design. For 10 years, she owned and operated an advertising agency, but she closed it to pursue her painting. She uses watercolors and acrylics and has been known to mix them on occasion.

"I use a lot of color," Brady said. "I love the freedom an artist has to show things as I see them. My paintings are realistic with a touch of abstraction."

Nieuwenhuizen arrived in Columbia in 1969, the wife of a psychiatrist and the mother of three children. When she was a teenager, Nieuwenhuizen moved with her parents and a brother to Brazil, where she later attended the School of Fine Arts. She had always dreamed of becoming an architect and was studying to take an entrance exam to enroll in an appropriate school when a brother who was serving a medical residency in St. Louis became ill. Nieuwenhuizen came with her mother to the United States to be with her brother. Before long, she was taking courses at Washington University, where she met her husband.

For a while, her art was something Nieuwenhuizen fit in when the kids were napping. But when they moved to Columbia, she realized the University of Missouri offered her a chance to finish her art degree. Five years and a fourth child later, Nieuwenhuizen received a degree in art education with a special emphasis in jewelry making and ceramics. For the next 20 years, she taught art at Hickman High School, and she retired five years ago. "I had received several recognitions over the years - like best teacher - and I decided to quit while I was on top and do my own art," Nieuwenhuizen said.

But don’t kid yourself: Nieuwenhuizen didn’t retire. She continues to teach art courses at MU and has published a book about teaching art to young people. She also continues to paint and has focused on her jewelry making, which includes pieces made from dichroic glass - multicolored glass wrapped in gold and silver. She also has shaped the glass into stunning vases and plates.

"People often ask me, ‘Where do you get your ideas?’ " Nieuwenhuizen said. "I dream about it. I’m not kidding. I dream about it, and then I wake up, draw it and go to it."

Brady’s creative ideas spring from a similar experience when her paintings take on lives of their own. "I start something, but then it comes automatically, the colors and shapes," she said. "Life can seem so hard sometimes, but when I go in my studio and close the door, I am in my kingdom."

View this article at the Columbia Daily Tribune.