Artist Edie Showalter Fagan, a native Winter Parker, got married in Knowles Memorial Chapel on the Rollins College campus. Obviously, Fagan says, the Ralph Adams Cram- designed landmark is brimming with good karma: She and her husband, Bill, recently celebrated their 40th anniversary.
“The chapel holds great significance for me,” says Fagan, whose art has graced the cover of Winter Park Magazine twice before, in 2011 and 2015. Her father, commercial aviation pioneer Howard Showalter, graduated from Rollins in 1936 and later became a college trustee.
Although the Showalters were members of another church, they often went to Sunday services at the chapel. And it was a family tradition to attend Christmas Vespers there.
“After church, my dad and I would climb to the top of the bell tower, where the view of Winter Park and the surrounding lakes is unbeatable,” Fagan recalls. “I was one disappointed little girl when climbing the tower was forbidden.”
Showalter died in 1965 while saving a drowning boy in the surf off New Smyrna Beach. He was posthumously awarded the Carnegie Hero Fund Commission’s bronze medal.
Showalter Field in Winter Park — where the family operated a grass landing strip before taking over operation of what would become Orlando Executive Airport — is named in his honor.
“Dad loved the chapel so much,” Fagan recalls, adding that her brother, Bob, also a Rollins graduate and trustee, walked her down the aisle when she married in 1976.
Although Fagan’s work is nationally recognized, she has a fondness for local themes and subjects. She was the poster artist for Winter Park’s 2005 Doggie Art Festival, the 2006 Winter Park Autumn Art Festival and the 2011 Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival.
In 2012, Fagan published Adored Dogs, a collection of 61 watercolor portraits with an endearing biographical sketch of each furry subject. She has painted more than 300 dog portraits, and still accepts occasional commissions.
The National Watercolor Society and the Florida Watercolor Society have honored Fagan with signature memberships, and her work has been published in Splash 9, a collection of watercolors by top contemporary American artists, and in Splash Retrospective: 20 Years of Contemporary Watercolor Excellence.
Fagan, who as a child took summer art-camp classes at Rollins, later majored in art at Queens University in Charlotte, North Carolina, where she “focused on design, drawing, printmaking, pottery and art history — everything but painting.”
She took up watercolors in 2001, after her children were grown, and calls Pasco County artist Pat Weaver, under whom she studied, her mentor.
These days, Fagan paints from a spacious studio on Lake Keowee in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. “But we plan many visits back to my beloved Winter Park to visit family and friends,” she says.
To see more of Fagan’s work, visit her gallery representative, Be On Park on Park Avenue. Or check out her website, where signed, numbered prints are also available, at ediefagan.com.