Emily Gordon. My roots are in Portland, OR. I was one of five kids in a family of very artistic women. We all grew up on a farm, riding retired racehorses all over the countryside. My younger years were enhanced by ski teams, Outward Bound and cleaning endless stalls.
I graduated from the University of Rhode Island with a degree in Agronomy. After graduation, I was a grain inspector on super tankers based in Galveston, TX. My job was to certify that the hold was clean enough to put grain in for the return trip to the Middle East.
I then relocated to Washington, DC to work at the Agricultural Research Center doing research on grain enzymes. I was working on my master’s degree and was very restless, so decided to join a charter airline “for the summer.” At the time, charter airplanes would have long layovers, so the chance to explore different parts of the world was limitless. I decided to extend my magical adventure and accepted a Saudi Arabia posting to “fly the Hajj.” This seasonal posting entailed flying Muslim pilgrims, from all over the world, in and out of the holy city of Mecca, in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
This evolved into accepting a job with Saudi Arabian Airlines. They were recruiting like crazy but were hard pressed to find experienced flight attendants. I was initially based in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, but then lived and helped open training centers in Cairo, Athens, Karachi, Paris (3 years), Bangkok (4 years).
After meeting Patrick in Jeddah, we married, and I lived there and flew corporate/VIP families and companies. While in Jeddah, I started dabbling in different art mediums. After 10 years, Patrick accepted a job as aviation manager and chief pilot for a Fortune 100 company in Los Angeles, CA. While in LA, we bought, and I renovated, two condominiums where I started painting artwork to enhance their interiors. My first sales started to trickle in. After several years, we both decided that we were confirmed expatriates and wanted to return overseas.
Patrick accepted a job with the royal family of Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. He was to help local, national, military pilots transition to VVIP, international flight operations. At the time, the country was on a building boom, and there was a huge need for colorful paintings by local artists. Once I had a few hotel and palace commissions under my belt, the work came rolling in. I could structure my year in January around how long and involved the upcoming work would take. Based on that, I knew what commissions I could accept.
I have mostly been a commission-based artist meeting with clients. When someone asks, “Can you do this?” I usually say no in my mind.
When I sleep on it, I immediately come up with a solution that might need further conversation and tweaking with the client but will ultimately work.
I’ve had some fun challenges like a ten-painting commission for an ice-restaurant/bar. The paintings had to be big and be able to survive subfreezing temperatures. Dinner guests put on winter weather clothes for the evening. They wanted a very edgy, architectural feel for this most unusual desert-based restaurant. The end result was large, silver-colored wood panels layered with encaustic/wax and resin. The desired effect was an edgy, contemporary, architectural wall depicting a building that had melted with ice chunks slipping down the surface.
Another one of my favorite commissions was for an Architectural Digest editor who bought a monastery in Medellin, Colombia. He saw my artwork in Dubai and ordered four (4) long paintings to be stacked, replacing the cross in the deconsecrated chapel.
My extensive international travel has instilled an appreciation for a wide range of expression which I strive to reflect in my work. As a self-taught artist living in Abu Dhabi, UAE, I had to create my own exhibition/gallery space in a new country that was literally rising from the sand.
As a co-founder of International Art Management (iAM), I forged relationships with major hotels such as Emirates Palace, Fairmont, Sofitel, and Hyatt to turn their fabulous new properties into “pop up,” or dedicated art galleries. As part of our artist management service, we are proudly nurturing and promoting emerging and established talent for these venues.
As a result of working for 40 years in the Middle East, I can schedule my own specific commission projects. My work is hanging in corporate board rooms, royal palaces, merchant villas, hotels, airport lounges, super yachts, executive jets, and homes around the world.
Since moving to Amelia Island, Florida I was asked for a painting for Concours d’Elegance, the largest annual classic auto show in America, held at the Ritz Carlton – Amelia Island. It is now hanging in their headquarters in Jacksonville, awaiting auction. In addition, I have been fulfilling commission commitments and developing a new “Florida Collection.” For more information on my total exhibition history and corporate projects please visit HERE.