CORNELIUS – Three years ago, Lynn Manis zeroed in on a painting hanging in Davidson’s Flatiron Kitchen and Taphouse during Christmas in Davidson festivities.
When she found out the artist was Elie Bou Zeidan of La Parisienne Fine Chocolate in Cornelius, she begged him to start teaching art classes.
Today, the aroma of chocolate in Zeidan’s shop has been replaced by easels and a ceiling mural reminiscent of Michelangelo’s “The Creation of Adam.” He and Jane Ellithorpe teach watercolor, oil and acrylic techniques at the renamed Elie’s Café Art Studio & Gallery several times a week.
Originally from Lebanon, Bou Zeidan worked as a professional painter in France before moving to Huntersville in 2007.
On Oct. 12, 11 of his artists will display their work in an exhibition, which includes a wine reception and chance to mingle with the painters. Bou Zeidan is partnering with Bella Love, a movement intent on turning Cornelius into a major art hub, the night before, too. Manis said Bella Love will transform the parking lot in front of the gallery with colorful food trucks, craft tents and live music.
Manis runs Mama’s Pizza Express in Cornelius and Huntersville and repurposes the pizza peel, the wooden slab used to pull pizzas out of the oven, into a canvas for fruit still lifes. She also focuses on landscape paintings, including one of the bridge pond at Daveste Vineyards in Troutman and another of a lighthouse in Kennebunkport, Maine.
“It’s an amazingly relaxing hobby that I have, and I think Elie is an amazing teacher,” she said. “We have a group of people here that are so inspiring and so uplifting.”
Hard economic times in New York allowed Cordell Ferguson to turn his passion for art into a professional skill several years ago.
After being laid off from his job at an Outback Steakhouse in Manhattan, he moved to Cornelius in 2005.
“You fall into the trap sometimes, the trap of making money and paying bills,” he said. “And so when I got laid off, I said, ‘What better time than the present to go for it?’”
He was adding purple hues to “Organized Confusion,” at Bou Zeidan’s studio on Oct. 7 while discussing the more intellectual reasons why he paints.
“Organized Confusion,” for example, compares the “ignorance is bliss” axiom to the idea that too much knowledge can make a person isolated and lonely through a series of symbols.
Yet seascapes will be the dominant genre of his displayed works this weekend.
“The reason that I like the water movement is because it catches a lot of emotions. You can almost tell what mood an artist is in when he does sea painting because the sky determines it. Was there a storm? Is there sunlight? Is it calm?” he said. “But I could watch the news and get inspired. I could watch a comedy and get inspired.”