This gallery is a virtual archive of the many fascinating works designed, created, and enjoyed by my mother, Carla Sue Rucker Nix.
Carla had one brother Hugh. Aunt Rachie painted each of their portraits as children, so I always see the pair of matched frames in my mind. A happy child who enjoyed living life in 'the good old days' surrounded by family and long-time friends, Carla was a third-generation Dallasite who loved her hometown and extended family roots. She was healthy and happy and appreciated her circumstance every day.
Joe always referred to this portrait of Carla as 'sweet sixteen and never been kissed' so 1951 (9 years before her marriage to Joe) is close to the right date. Carla had a serious side that guided her every step - in spite of a vivid imagination... Choosing to be happy was a key to her success. This rendition of her character captures her youthful innocence, deep trust, and never-ending hope.
Carla enjoyed sharing the good 'things' in life. She inherited, enhanced, and passed along the style and grace and sense of adventure of her mother. Named after her father, Carl Henry, and grandmother, Sue Breeden McClung, she named most everything of import in her life, thoughtfully acknowledging the significance of the finest detail.
This photo was taken in their first Dallas home at 4500 Rheims Place. So proud of Carla's paintings, Joe made wooden frames for most of her original art that was displayed throughout their homes.
Carla somehow always came off as the epitome of class... often ahead of trends, she presented herself with as much care and respect as she did her creations - including Rebekah! This picture was taken in 4500 Rheims, but I have no earthly idea what the occasion could have been... No matter what Carla and company were setting up, cleaning up, or building up, it was always an uplifting, worthwhile, and memorable experience - "White Gloves and Party Manners" or otherwise!
Aunt Jeanne captured every aspect of Carla's complex personality and commanding presence in this photo composed in Carla's 'office' at 4001 Miramar. The stately American Chippendale chair was found in Joe's hometown Tennessee to complement the antique desk acquired during newlywed days in New York.
This is where Carla wrote countless notes of thanks, condolences, encouragement, and celebration. She also poured over notes for any public remarks, expert presentations, and special occasion toasts. One would never guess she suffered from terrible stage fright because her eloquence and charm pulled everything together into the most natural delivery - which was just as meaningful and pleasant for her in the end.
Carla hosted and attended numerous social events for as long as anyone can remember. This looks like a photo from one of many seated dinners at The Dallas Woman's Club, where she was an active member. Sporting her own knitted scarf matched to her self-appointed ensemble, she could and would converse with any guest - always making each feel 'at home' and welcome in any venue. That takes the rare talent and genuine authenticity that only Carla encompassed.
Carla loved to build on a theme for gatherings, like this family dinner to celebrate January birthdays at 3828 Normandy. Carla never seemed to tire, of either work or play and certainly never of entertaining, which was synonymous with decorating. The attribute of Carla's being that I associate with each remembrance is that she was always present, in the moment, no matter when or where or what was going on around the center.
Carla took interest in every of her children's endeavors. A 'thank you' from Rebekah for their support with launching the new online program, this large glass vase was etched with the logo and appreciation statement at Carla's engraving studio, then filled with 'lifesaver' and 'smartie' candies and wrapped fittingly for delivery to the Austin office - with many refills to follow!
If she hadn't been so clever, Carla's eclectic eye could have caused her to have been called eccentric. After Joe died, Carla spent some quiet time at the Colorado cabin. Rebekah had remodeled, so a visit was due - and a delightful distraction in exchange for professional decorating services. Carla carted the over-sized birdcage up from the Santa Fe flea market earlier; careful consideration and adornment with string lights made it the focal point of the new area.
Carla was always happy to give her opinion on pretty much anything and everything! Her 'eye' for art, antiques, auction items a mile away, and all else was eagle-class excellence. A patient soul open to learning something new everyday, she was my best critic - and able to accept constructive criticism to improve her own endeavors.
Sharing our friends as well as our friendships allowed us to see each other from different viewpoints. In this picture, Carla is critiquing an interesting work-in-progress. Whether or not something was of Carla's preference, she could 'see' things from the artist/owner perspective, which allowed her to experience a breadth and depth of the things of this earth in the truest sense.
Carla created a unique ambiance or atmosphere that perfectly suited every occasion. This picture of her 'helping herself' is rare in that she always put others first and honestly reveled in serving others. Taken in 3828 Normandy at Thanksgiving, it was nice to outwardly honor her earned respect and unconditional love in these sorts of small actions every now and then. Individual admiration of Carla's essence continues to grow exponentially to this day.
Carla never stopped adding to her repertoire. After apprenticing, she practiced the noblest lost art of hand-engraving until she became expert in her own right. At the Colorado cabin, she up-cycled a bottle (for mixing hummingbird brew) by adding 'H-bird' in a beautiful script.
Joe appreciated those 'little things' and had taught me long ago that realtors (himself included) sold houses, not homes. Personal touches everywhere, like that, are what made our shared houses our safe, sacred, and special 'homes'.
Carla mastered several culinary delights for which she became rather 'famous' around town. This teapot-shaped tuna pate was made for a special addition to a friend's movie premier. A screenplay based on "Ida Mae Tutweiler and the Traveling Tea Party" was released on the Hallmark Channel in April 2009. I was thrilled to be Carla's 'plus one' that fun evening with mutual friends.
Carla 'live(d) every day to the fullest' - as the coin she gave me for no reason but that it spoke to her on a girl's trip with a sentiment she wanted to share - and for me to remember. I learned how to do just that by watching her, and reflecting on how she managed her life. As adults, we ended up being best friends, in addition to sharing the mother/ daughter relationship for 46 good years.
In this photo, taken in the store room of the engraving studio, Carla had just finished the second original design needlepoint for new leather chairs at her new 1229 Glen Cove. (Note: One always signs and dates a work when it is finished, not started.) Because she was so adaptable, she not only survived but blossomed in her ways. She shared her love of life through her unique creations, leaving behind a beautiful legacy that lives on in countless people, places, and yet-to-be-imagined ideas.
Carla sought out, developed, and maintained truly timeless friendships, without regard to one's age, location, or frequency of engagement. This photo was taken in an historic Staunton, VA hotel just before Carla was recognized by one of her alma maters, Mary Baldwin College. MBC roommate and dear friend of the family ever since, helped Carla get started on a new knitting project they put together in a quaint New Hope, PA shop.
In spite of the first pains of fatal cancer, Carla's smile reflected her deserving of the "Lifetime Service to Community Award" she accepted so humbly and graciously that fine evening.
Carla's children (John, Carl, and Rebekah) donated three artworks to New Friends, New Life - a group that Carla was working with most adamantly when she died. Rebekah made this bookmark for guests.