Jessica Schatz, the artist of the month at the Plateau Creative Arts Center, has been an artist for as long as she can remember. She also remains busy as an interior designer, specializing in staging and new construction, and is also a pet portrait photographer. In addition, she donates her photography services, photographing homeless pets in order to help them find homes.
Schatz and husband, Robert, recently became Fairfield Glade residents. They have been coming to Fairfield Glade for 27 years, as she has family in the area. Originally from the Midwest, she once ran a gallery called Widow’s Weeds that featured both Civil War reenactment photography and more contemporary art. Perhaps, the most fascinating part of her artistic history is how she became the only woman at that time to photograph camp life and battle reinactments of the Civil War.
“I hate war, but I love history, and the genre of photography of that time," she said. So when she was asked to record the reenactments by Prince William County, VA, (site of two Civil War battles), Schatz said, “Yes.”
Getting into the costume of Widow’s Weeds, the grieving attire of a Civil War widow, was a good trick. Layers and layers, as one can see. And then there were hoop skirts. The artist laughed and said, "Getting into a porta-potty in hoop skirts can present a challenge.”
Schatz first became interested in photography by using her mother’s point-and-shoot camera as a young girl. A friend of hers, who had been badly injured in the war in Vietnam, gave her her first Nikon, as he was unable to use it. She has been a professional photographer, specializing in hand-painted black-and-white photography, until recently.
“It’s a dying art,” she stated.
She also enjoys another near “lost art” —painting floor cloths, the precursor to linoleum. Thomas Jefferson had a floor cloth as a rug. Itinerant artists used to go house-to-house, painting the floor cloths. They can also be utilized as placemats, table runners and as wall hangings (one is hanging in her exhibit).
“I am currently starting a garden of cutting flowers and vegetables, so I can paint them,” she stated.
She certainly is a busy woman.
Her exhibition at the PCAC, 451 Lakeview Dr. (off Peavine), Fairfield Glade, will be exhibited through June 12.