A Message From The Artist

From time to time we receive requests for information about my grandmother, Carley Craig, and her artwork. Below you can find a brief summary of her remarkable career.

Please note that this article is for curiosity-satisfying purposes only. At this time there is no comprehensive catalog of her works and there is no set process for authenticating a piece. Many of her works are signed and dated, but many are not. If necessary, I can take a look at a piece of artwork and say, “yes, that’s probably one of hers” or “it’s possible that she made this”, but that would be as official as it gets. (Also please note that I have neither the knowledge nor expertise to offer an appraisal. For proper appraisals, please seek out a qualified art dealer.)

Enjoy! Julie Keaten-Reed

 

CARLEY “TEDI” CRAIG
Carley Craig - A name that carries so much weight to it, the name of a woman with a creative past you can’t imagine. Coming from an assortment of careers from costume design to art, Craig found herself engulfed and living in a world of all things creative, and her journey to becoming one of Atlanta’s noted artists of the late 20th century is one for the books.

Let’s rewind. Born in 1906 to well known conductor of the Metropolitan orchestra, Leon Strashun, and his wife, Henrietta Hallowell Foy, a former opera singer, Carley Craig’s original name was Henriett Strashun. But that name didn’t last long. Most of her growing up years were spent on the west coast of California, and it was here where Craig, adopting the stage name Tedi Berri, made her first impact in the creative world as a free-lance sketch artist. She soon graduated to fashion design in Hollywood for the famed Paramount, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Warner Brothers, Universal and First National Studios for an astonishing 25 years. At Paramount, she worked under Edith Head, considering Head to be lifelong friend and mentor. While working on her motion picture assignments, Craig would grow her reputation by designing wholesale and custom dress lines, throwing some special revues in the mix.

Following the end of WWII, and after impacting the fantasy-filled world of costume design in Hollywood, Craig shifted focus by using her talents to create a line of unique children's apparel. This is when Kim’s of California was born which presented a new era in clothing, introducing her very own, revolutionary idea for manufacturing small girls dresses that would reduce ironing time. As impressive and innovative as this time in Craig’s life was, the post-war supply conditions ultimately led to the collapse of the company in 1948.

It didn’t take long for Craig to pick up, though. During 1949-1950 she ran a small custom dress shop that mainly catered to the local socialites of Sante Fe, New Mexico called Southwest Derivatives. Although the business was largely successful, providing her clients dresses with that ‘Hollywood flare’, she and her husband picked up and moved to Georgia looking for long-term professional opportunities for him as an engineer.

It was this move that triggered Craig’s painting career, lasting 18 years. She became well known in the Atlanta art community as a painter and teacher. Craig’s use of different media in her art became something of a demand, leading to a period of exhibiting throughout the Southeast. By this time she had fully transitioned out of using her stage name, Tedi Berri, to using her legal name, Carley Craig in order to establish herself as a serious artist, separate from her Hollywood career.

Craig’s next career move came in 1967, following her supportive husband’s passing. She felt that she needed a change, a new goal and focus. It was at this point when Craig returned to school in order to start training to be a sculptress, which she continued for 25 years until her death in 1992.

Craig’s pieces are believed to be contributed to her multiple avenues of study and fine arts training under S. MacDonald Wright of the Old Art Students League in LA. Many of her paintings, particularly her “Dancer Series”, reflect the idea of flowing movement which she largely attributes to Wright. Interestingly, the graceful yet haunting and shadowy effects of her paintings reflect her theatrical roots, resulting in Craig’s distinctive, dramatic works of art. The move to Georgia provided the biggest stepping stone for the artist where she spent her first years studying composition, life drawing, watercolor and experimental painting under nationally known artists Joel Reeves, Ben Shute and George Beattie. She financed her studies and painting materials by teaching and selling her early watercolors. By now, Craig had established her reputation, launching a series of solo and group shows with pieces offering her newly-found, distinctive style of art.

Craig briefly returned to costume design for the Decatur Civic Ballet which launched her dance series. She turned to the study of modern dance, including jazz and ballet, to gain the knowledge of body movements - unfamiliar to a non-dancer. Determined to master the expression of dance and in order to translate it on canvas, Craig enrolled herself in nine dance classes a week. This allowed her to be in constant contact with the movements of a dancer’s body, muscle memory, eye and rhythmic sense; all equally important to that of an artist or musician.

Craig continued to work and create well into her 70’s, with her final exhibit being a joint show with Janice Loovis and Gonzala Durant at the Museum of History and Art, Ontario. 

 

ARTIST STATEMENT

"My sculpture is my vocabulary. Through it, I can share my definitely 'upbeat' view on life with people I will never have the opportunity to meet. My subject matter whether people, animals, flowers or complete non-objectives take on the quirky mannerisms of people rather than physical appearance. I love things to have movement - to look alive.

I can, through my sculpture better express myself than through words. Sculpture is my 'Art Form' - I have a love affair with sculpture."

- Carley Craig

 

EXHIBITS, HONORS AND ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

  • Quinlan Art Center - 1964
    • Featured artist for the dedication exhibit that opened the museum
  • Art Fair Gallery in Decatur - 1963
    • One-woman exhibit displaying Craig’s new versatility of style
  • Bradley Museum of Art in Columbus - 1963
    • Featured artist for a one-man exhibition
  • High Museum of Art/Atlanta Art Association Museum - 1963
    • Browse-Borrow-Buy Gallery
  • Lenox Show - 1964
    • Won the popular vote award
    • Won an Award of Merit
  • One-Woman Show in Dalton, GA.
  • Broke all records both in dollar sales and in number of paintings sold for the Creative Arts Guild