Artist In Residence
A girl’s best friend? For this Birmingham art collector and painter, it’s horses — and dogs, too.
In the studio: Weatherly Stroh takes a break from putting the finishing touches on her foxhunt painting, commissioned by the owners of the renovated White Horse Inn in Metamora. It will hang behind the restaurant’s bar. Keeping Stroh company in her studio are dogs Kobe, front, and Kenai.
It’s a few days before her painting’s deadline, so artist Weatherly Stroh is putting the finishing touches on a large work that soon will hang behind the bar at the recently refurbished White Horse Inn in Metamora.
Stroh, who was commissioned to create the work, is painting an 1800s foxhunt scene in which a woman, among other subjects, is riding sidesaddle, dressed in a long blue dress. She and her horse seem to be flying over the fields and a picturesque little creek.
Although Stroh most definitely embraces horseback riding, she probably wouldn’t ever participate in an actual foxhunt, “for various reasons,” says the animal lover from her Birmingham home and art studio.
The painter, a longtime nationally ranked equestrienne, grew up in a century-old farmhouse in Metamora. Two and a half years ago, she returned to her Michigan roots after living in Colorado for 20 years.
A fifth-generation member of the Stroh’s Brewing family, Stroh is also the great-grandniece of American impressionist painter Gari Melchers, some of whose paintings hang at the Detroit Institute of Arts.
Having grown up with dogs, horses, cats, and the like, her passion for equestrian style and the world of animals shows itself throughout the artist’s Birmingham home. Pillows with zebra- and cheetah-themed prints casually accent a couple of sofas, and paintings of horses and dogs (large and small) by Stroh and various other artists bedeck the walls and are propped on chairs, floors, shelves, and more. In addition, one might spy a few captivating landscape paintings reminiscent of northern Michigan.
Stroh found her home in an online search nearly three years ago, and made an offer without seeing it. Thankfully, her mother, Susanne Stroh of Metamora, was able to check it out and reported back to her daughter that it would be a good fit, for several reasons: it was within walking distance to downtown Birmingham, it was located in a quiet neighborhood, and it had a light-filled space on the top floor that would be perfect for a studio.
“When I first saw the house, it was a gray Michigan day, and the home was painted gray, and I thought as I walked up to it, ‘What did I do?’ ” recalls Stroh, a graduate of Cranbrook-Kingswood and the University of Colorado.
But those feelings vanished the moment she stepped inside. “I fell in love with it,” says the artist, who, with her mother — a former interior designer — could immediately envision her art collection, favorite antiques, equestrian style, and 11-year-old dog, Kenai, being right at home.
Mane Quarters: The living room and front room welcome with equestrian ribbons and trophies, animal touches (the zebra pillows are from Pottery Barn), and several paintings. The large work above the fireplace, Palomino Pause, is by Colorado artist Jill Soukup. The painting to the right is by Howard Post. Favorite pieces include Grandmother’s old hutch, a perfect spot for horse trophies; a dry bar from the Saline antiques market; and a coffee table from Santa Fe; all set off by a colorful rug from Turkey (near a steer painting by Stroh). The curtain and matching pillow fabric, called Ubud Sunstone by Iman Home, is from Calico Corners.
Taking a break from adding final details to the foxhunt painting, Stroh surveys her living room, picks up a brass harness embellishment, and eyes a large horse painting above the living room mantel as well as casually displayed equestrian trophies. She can quickly tell you which are her favorite furnishings.
First off is her grandmother’s hutch, which graces her living room and is filled with crystal, various plates, vintage Stroh’s Brewing steins, and horse-show trophies. “It’s a nice reminder of Grandma and Dad,” she says of the piece that once was in her family’s Grosse Pointe home. Nearby, above her living room mantel, the powerful aforementioned painting of horses by Colorado artist Jill Soukup draws the eye. “I love the composition of the horses and Jill’s use of color,” Stroh says. “She does an amazing job of using complementary color schemes. Also, I love her brush work and the texture she creates.”
Another coveted home treasure is Stroh’s distressed antique dining room table, from a shop in Edwards, Colo. “It’s traveled with me to a lot of homes,” she notes. “I appreciate its character.” Stroh surrounded the table with Scandinavian-style chairs in different colors, including light greens and reds that are perfect atop a wool rug she purchased in Turkey, which showcases the same shades found in the chairs.
Two prints by 20th century American artist Maynard Dixon, who often portrayed the American West, hang on the dining room wall next to pencil art by Stroh’s mother, who also creates bronze sculptures. On the dining room window hangs stained-glass art from a Boulder, Colo., antiques shop.
A distressed sideboard and bedside table, both from the Sundance catalog, also caught the eye of the painter and rank as favorite pieces. “I like folk-arty items that are rustic, vintage,” she says. Stroh uses the sideboard for a television stand.
Welcome Home: The distressed antique dining table is from a shop in Edwards, Colo. “I love its character,” the artist says. She surrounded it with Scandinavian-style chairs in light greens and reds that complement a wool rug she purchased in Turkey. The large horse painting is by Stroh, while the two prints are by 20th century American artist Maynard Dixon. Next to them are bird sketches by Stroh’s mother.
Left: The home gets simple touches during the holidays with a custom wreath from Meldrum & Smith Nursery in Grosse Pointe. Right: In the foyer, a collection of antique mirrors adds reflective light, making the area feel spacious. The landscape painting is by Stroh. Her custom-made riding boots are at the ready for a trip to the stables.
As for the home’s wall colors, most are various shades of white — which enhance Stroh’s art collection, she says. The entryway, on the other hand, is all about color; a splash of rich turquoise-green welcomes visitors. “I love that color and didn’t want to do too much of it because it’s so strong,” she says. “It’s perfect here because it picks up a color in the living room window treatments.” That fabric, Ubud Sunstone
by Iman Home, is from Calico Corners.
On one of the foyer’s walls hangs a small collection of mirrors, which adds light, Stroh explains. Another rug she picked up in Turkey brings instant warmth to the space.
Left: In a bedroom, a mix of patterns complements a treasured bedside table from the Sundance catalog. Right: Paintings aren’t just for walls. This paper placemat is from Stroh’s Foxhound Collection package of 40 placemats that are copies of her original oil paintings. Each package has four different foxhounds. She also creates note cards, pet paintings, and more. Growing up in the foxhunting countryside of Metamora, she most often features dogs, horses, and pastoral scenes in her works. Stroh is the great-grandniece of American impressionist painter Gari Melchers and is a nationally ranked horsewoman.
Most of the home was move-in ready, Stroh says. She removed carpet in the studio and on the stairs, and also spruced up the backyard. “It was quite overgrown; now it has a lawn and space for the dogs.”
And that gray exterior? It’s gone. It was quickly changed to a “seafoam-sage-y” tone, Stroh says, accented with white trim. After all, the artist in residence must absolutely live in a home that’s just the right shade.
For more information on Weatherly Stroh’s art, visit weatherlystroh.com. Stroh supports the Michigan Humane Society, and some of the proceeds from her works go to this nonprofit organization.
The Quest for Equestrian Design
Weatherly Stroh loves many things equine, from riding boots to books that cover every detail of the subject. Sitting on her living room coffee table is the popular equestrian lifestyle book, Equestrian Style: Home Design, Couture, and Collections from the Eclectic to the Elegant (by Vicky Moon, Clarkson Potter). Its pages focus on the art, architecture, clothing, and people inspired by the classic horse motif. Echoing those passions, Stroh says one can find great horse-related pieces at flea markets and antiques shops in Michigan. Some of her favorite finds are the brass decorative medallions, right, that used to adorn bridles or harnesses of carriage horses. She found them in an Elk Rapids antiques shop. Highly collectible, the equestrian embellishments come in many different designs and motifs. They typically hang on a long leather strip, but also can be found singularly. — MS