With all that in common, they began dating once they returned home. But the timing must not have been right, because each moved on and married someone else.
More than 25 years later, and on more than one occasion, Charles saw Jacquelyn’s uncle, artist Paul Untersee, at a local art gallery. Their chance meetings led to the couple dating again and eventually marrying.
Given how they met, and met again, you might say the Hills owe their relationship to art. But had you never known the role art played in their history, one step into their
Art and antiques fill their neighborhood house, from entryway to back bedroom. The home’s bright living room, with its large windows, white walls and mostly white furniture, offers an excellent backdrop for several colorful paintings. Where a window or door prevents a painting, a sculpture or porcelain figurine stands nearby.
Much of the Hill’s collection has a western theme, softened with paintings of
scenes and Jacquelyn’s favorite birds, swans. The combination gives a personal, comfortable feel to the rooms.
“We have a very eclectic collection,” Jacquelyn says. “If you really look at it, it’s not one specific theme. The blend of the different paintings makes it much more interesting, I think.”
Art isn’t the only thing the couple collects. Their furniture is mostly antique, including a recent acquisition: a black lacquer cabinet accented with Serves porcelain inside and out.
“Another couple was bidding on it, and they wanted it really bad. But we got it,” says Jacquelyn with a gleam in her eye.
On the opposite end of the room is a 1920s Chickering baby grand piano, once Jacquelyn’s grandmother’s and now equipped to play along with CDs of classical music.
Above the room’s fireplace is a lovely painting of swans. The couple owns a number of paintings and ceramics of the birds, many of which were surprise gifts from Charles.
“He is so funny,” she says. “He likes to sit behind me at auctions, and I might say to the person next to me, ‘I love that painting.’ I don’t see his hand go up, so I have no idea he’s bought it. I think he gets a big charge out of surprising me.”
Included in their swan-themed collection are several pieces by Mary Stergenberg, recognized for her ability to capture color and light. Another artist known for that ability, and the creator of several more of the Hills’ pieces, is Curt Walters, famous for his Grand Canyon paintings. One of their favorites is the large painting of sunlight hitting the canyon’s walls, hanging in the couple’s bedroom.
“We say we get to wake up in the Grand Canyon every morning,” Jacquelyn says.
An interior designer with an art degree, Jacquelyn decorated all of the home’s many rooms, with no shortage of paintings to choose from when doing it.
But art is much more than just a way to fill walls for the Hills. For as much as they love their art collection, they seem equally enthralled by the act of collecting.
They’re frequent attendees at art shows, galleries and auctions across Texas and the Southwest, and they often meet the artists whose works they enjoy, counting many of them among their closest friends. Knowing the people behind the art, Jacquelyn says, is an important element of their passion.
And, at least for Jacquelyn, a bit of firsthand knowledge adds to her appreciation of art.
“I used to paint,” she says, “and I still always plan to go back to it some day, when I have more time.
“When I create a room or a design, I feel like that’s my canvas, so I get my creativity out that way. But I look forward to some day being able to go back to painting, and I will.”
In the meantime, they’ll keep collecting. Not only does it add to the beauty of their home, but it gives them a sense of satisfaction like no other, Jacquelyn says.
“Living with such wonderful pieces of art gives me a warmth inside, knowing that each was painted by an artist who put their heart and soul into what they were painting,” she says.
“I just have such admiration for the artists, knowing all the hours it takes.”
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