Tribune Print Share Text

Artist to artist

Created date

August 24th, 2010

Trudy Brown spent her career as the executive assistant to the chairman of a large engineering firm. But in her spare time, she was working in watercolors. [caption id="attachment_13877" align="alignright" width="280" caption="Artist Trudy Brown (right), who lives at Tallgrass Creek, presents an original portrait she created for Kansas City-area singer Ashley Cooper. (photo by Jill Cline)"][/caption] Since she retired about a decade ago, Brown has had more time to dedicate to her art. Her favorite creative endeavor is to create portraits of people in pencil using photographs. Taking weekly classes with an accomplished art teacher who has published nearly 30 books has contributed to her growth. In 2007, she moved to Tallgrass Creek, which she says brought her closer to her art teacher s studio and gave her even more spare time to work on her drawings.

Reminiscing through music

Recently, Brown put her artistic talents to work to show her appreciation for a musician who made a big impression on her. Ashley Cooper, a Kansas City-area performer, takes audiences back in time with authentic performances of hit songs from the 1940s and 1950s. Cooper says he grew up in the same house with his grandfather and became accustomed to the music of his grandfather s era. At a young age, he learned to love jazz, big band, and swing music. What happened was that I never quite made the transition from my grandfather s music to the music of my peers, Cooper jokes. He previously worked as a carpenter and as a cell phone salesman. But, about three years ago, Cooper realized that he might be able to make a living doing what he did best singing and performing. His style appeals particularly to older adults, so Cooper has made a name for himself entertaining audiences at retirement communities. I ve been groomed for this since I was a kid and didn t know it, Cooper says of his musical performances. When he performed for the first time at Tallgrass Creek, Brown says she was really impressed by not only his talent, but also his energy. He has a very distinctive performance style, Brown says. He dances and sings, he is a lively sort, nice as can be, and he has two dimples that just don t end.

A truly special thank-you gift

After the show, Brown had the chance to chat with Cooper. She was impressed by his determination to make a living as a performer and asked him if she could take a photograph of him. Unbeknownst to Cooper, Brown used the snapshot to draw a portrait of him. She had the portrait framed and gave it to Cooper as a gift. When Cooper received the portrait of himself, he says he was touched because he could tell by the detail how long it must have taken Brown to create it. It dawned on me that this woman had the altruism to take a picture of me and sit down and take the time to draw this beautiful sketch portrait, Cooper says. Ever since then, I thought about her, and I thought, I want to get back out [toTallgrass Creek] and see Trudy [Brown]. Cooper did come back toTallgrass Creekfor another performance in July. To show his gratitude to Brown, he waived his normal performance fee and treated residents to a free evening of music and nostalgia.