Mother-daughter show avoids real conflict

It may sound like Lisa Baggs’ patience with her mother is wearing thin.

“She doesn’t have her studio set up in her back yard yet, so she invades mine. But she promises that 2007 is going to be the year that she gets out of my studio,” she says with a grin you can hear over the phone.

Don’t let her fool you. The affection she feels for her mother is almost palpable. And mom, Libby Osbon, knows it: “Actually, she’s very kind about letting me go into her studio at this present moment,” Osbon says. “I know what the rules are and I try to follow them.”

The two women, who share many characteristics — wit and aplomb among them — are very different in technique and style.

“She is very neat, very orderly, and I am not. I am just the opposite. She says I blow up everywhere,” Osbon chuckles.

Baggs is accustomed to working in privacy, whereas Osbon spent years in the collaborative environment of the interior design business.

“For me, art is a solitary activity,” Baggs explains. “For her, she can just block stuff out.”

Baggs prefers music in the background and Osbon likes to sing along. Mom keeps a messy kitchen whereas daughter categorizes her ingredients meticulously. The differences may scuff the shine on the partnership, but they never break the bond — although an adolescent anxiety that Baggs says is less than artistic sometimes surfaces.

“I turn into a teenager,” she explains, and begins to mimic the singsong cadences of the teenage girl. “I turn into: ‘You’re getting on my nerves. You’re singing. You’re humming.’ It’s horrible. I’m not pretty.”

“She gives me that look and I go, ‘OK, OK, OK, I’ll gather it all in,’” Osbon says, sniggering at the amusing role reversal of daughter chastising mother. “If she’s painting it’s OK, but if we’re both working on collages it can be a problem.”

Their upcoming art show at Sacred Heart Cultural Center will downplay their differences. They’ll reveal collages, oils and acrylics that, of course, differ from one artist to the other — Baggs says her mother’s work tends to be simple in concept and quick to complete, that she has an instinctual grasp of what she wants and how to get there.

She works best under pressure. Osbon says her daughter’s art tends to be detailed and labored over, that she’s a perfectionist who takes her time.

These distinctions help explain why the two are at different stages of prep for the show. Their goal was to have 20 pieces to exhibit. Although the show is just a week away, neither has completed their quota.

“She’s going to kill me. I think she has three,” Baggs says, with characteristic cheer, probably because she is working on pieces eight, nine and 10. “But she has a ton of ideas. They’ll probably be so much better than mine.”

Osbon unsurprisingly disagrees, saying that her daughter is so sweet that of course she would compliment her mother’s artwork.

“But then I think her stuff’s better than mine. Lisa’s the artist; I’m just the amateur. She very nicely lets me tag along,” she says.

Their disagreements are utterly lacking in hostility — none of their future shows will feature cage matches or mud wrestling, not even under the category of performance art.

Sacred Heart Cultural Center will host an opening reception for Lisa Baggs and Libby Osbon on Thursday, Jan. 11, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. Free admission. Call 706-826-4700 or visit sacredheartaugusta.org.

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