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Jennifer Hayes & Suzanne Manning

The Art Scrawl

February 02, 2018
We all know the clichés about the artist. He is a starving creature paralyzed by existential angst, with his head stuck in the clouds and his accounts in disarray.

Well, Jennifer Hayes and Suzanne Manning might disagree. Jennifer is a painter and Suzanne owns the UPS store right across from the Kirkwood Train Station. If you walk into Suzanne's UPS, you might see her wrapping up a massive box, ten feet or longer. It's art of course—what else could be so awkward, unwieldy … and prone to puncture. It's so large because that's what Jennifer Hayes makes — really large paintings, like the three, four-foot by six-foot paintings she recently sent to Fleur, Hubert Keller's restaurant in Mandalay Bay, Las Vegas.

Jennifer, who lives and works out of her home in the Webster-Kirkwood area, says that, while she has always made art, she started painting seriously shortly after her husband passed unexpectedly — leaving her to raise their two children as a single mother. What started out as personal art therapy quickly became a career that now supports her family. Jennifer hangs her paintings in hotels and restaurants across the country, where patrons with an eye for art can purchase them.

While painting provides for Jennifer's family, it also sustains her spirits. Painting for her — especially after the loss of her husband — is about building relationships. She loves to do live-painting events and connect with passersby. And she has made friends with the owners and employees of the businesses that display her work. And to hear Suzanne speak about her, it's clear Jennifer has won Suzanne over too.

Suzanne ships Jennifer's paintings all over the country, and this work has a real positive impact on Suzanne's small business. Each year, Jennifer sends off about 20 to 30 paintings. All those shipments — averaging about $400 each —make her a nice client to have. But of course, there's the deeper pleasure of working together and supporting each other. Suzanne and her employees are always eager to see what Jennifer will bring in next. How colorful is it? How big is it? They are excited about the challenge of packing it safely and attractively. Jennifer is quick to mention how well Suzanne's team takes care of her — the packaging, yes, but also how much they support and encourage her career.

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The Webster-Kirkwood area is crawling with artists, like Jennifer Hayes, who help support the vibrancy and economic growth of the area. Every other week, the Art Scrawl will introduce Times readers to another way in which the arts enliven and support our community.

See what Jennifer is up to at www.JenniferHayesSTL.com. Want to share a story? Please send an email to William at theartscrawl@gmail.com.

William Frank is a member of the Kirkwood Arts Commission, works as an artist with Emil Frei & Associates, and lives in Kirkwood where he digs in the dirt, rides bikes and chases chickens with his kids.

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