‘Delighted’ entrepreneurs seek immortality through art

 

Linda Brown and Tom LOHRE came to Newport for immortality.


Mrs. Brown is a successful businesswoman, Mr. Lohre an artist. Their paths have crossed at

Mrs. Brown’s bar, Trixie Delight Cocktail Lounge, on Newport’s storied Monmouth Street.


Trixie’s, a strip bar, is undergoing historic remodeling. As part of the remodeling the bar will

feature four, 7-by-7 foot murals by Mr. Lohre.


“He works wonders,” Mrs. Brown said, looking with admiration and excitement at the paintings

in progress at Mr. Lohre’s Clifton home. “He makes people look the best they can look.”


The people in the paintings are customers of the bar and family members of Mrs. Brown,

including her husband, Bill. Mr. Lohre first photographed the subjects, and then painted them

into the scenes.


Mrs. Brown pointed to the figures enjoying the camaraderie of a bar from Newport’s past.


“He’s an electrician,” she said. “This one’s a photographer. ‘Big Mikey,’ he’s a doorman

around town. Benny and ‘Big Tom,’ they always hang out together.


“Every one of them has a story.”


But it was not easy to get Trixie’s customers involved in the project.


“At first people didn’t want to,” Mrs. Brown explained.“But then I told them, ‘I’ll make

you immortal.’ What we’re doing is immortalizing people.”


Mr. Lohre, for his part, says he saw “an opportunity to paint the great characters of Newport in a public setting.”


Said John, one of those characters, “I hope my ex-wife sees me every day as she drives down the street.”


The mural project represents a big step for Mrs. Brown and the bar. It started when she applied for a permit to paint the outside of the building, and learned that any renovations “had to make the building look the way it used to.”


“I’ve been hearing about historic renovations for years,” she said, “and I wondered what they wanted, what it would look like.” She had commissioned Mr. Lohre to paint portraits of her sons when they were small, so she talked to him about doing a project.


Working with an architect, they developed a plan to make the façade resemble the 1950s, when patrons of Green’s Bar stepped or stumbled across sawdust-covered floors to an evening of merriment.


But the Newport of today is a different city, and Trixie’s has changed too. When Mrs. Brown bought it, the club featured topless dancers; now the women all wear bathing suits.


“The bar has changed because of city regulations,” she explained. “When we had topless dancers, every bar did better business, all those restaurants on the street did a better business, and all those little shops did a better business.


“They think of my business as a second-class citizen. But I’ve made a good living, and this is my way of giving back.”


Mrs. Brown hopes this project will lead city administration to let her to remodel apartments above the bar, and open another business next door.


“People are going to come by and see the façade,” Mrs. Brown said. “Students are going to come from all over to study it. It’s not even going to be about a strip bar.”


Twenty years before he met her, Tom Lohre might have been one of those students. He grew up in Park Hills, but left to pursue painting.


He moved to Newport while studying art in college and in museums; his first studio was on Overton. After college he set out for New York City, taking up residence in Greenwich Village.


His work has taken him to Florida to paint the Shuttle, and to Mt. St. Helen’s to capture the exploding volcano.


“These did nothing for me,” Mr. Lohre said. But with the murals, “there’s a longevity here. It’s built in. They’ll be here long past my death.


“All I can do is be grateful.”



Contact the entrepreneur at tom@tomlohre.com


For your own feature, contact entreprenews16@yahoo.com