Mark Tucker : Journal

Virginia Team’s world

Posted in Interesting People, The South by marktucker on January 25, 2013

Last Sunday, Jerry Joyner made a meal from scratch, and we drove out and visited Virginia Team, at her home near Ashland City. I met Virginia in the early 1980’s, when she was the main Art Director at CBS Records, on Music Row. She had a reputation as being a world-class Art Director, with high standards. I remember being terrified when I went their the first time to show her my book. I remember it was summer, and she was dressed in all white, and the sun was shining in the window, and she was nice to me and welcoming.

Later, we became true friends, as we traveled the country, doing record covers over the years. There were many fun adventures out west, in Arizona and New Mexico, scouting remote locations. She has a heart of gold, (even though it was scary to work for her!). She has an eye for subtle CMYK color like I’ve never seen with anyone else. She was known for taking her grease pencil to Matchprints, and marking them up for retouching. I’d just stand in her office and marvel over what she’d take note of. There was this retouching broker, in those days — Bob Towery — and he’d bring in these Matchprints and retouching — on dye transfer prints, done by hand in those days, and she’d send them back, over and over, til they were perfect.

Now, she’s retired, and lives on many acres outside of Nashville, with sixteen chickens, two cats, and Beau, the dog. Pete died a while back; he looks a lot like Beau.

We made a nice meal that day; took the golf cart out across the land; and built a nice fire. Was a good day.

Virginia Team, behind one of the many outbuildings on her land. She's holding a basket that we used to gather lettuce for the salad, out of her winter garden.

Virginia Team, behind one of the many outbuildings on her land. She’s holding a basket that we used to gather lettuce for the salad, out of her winter garden.

A day afterwards, Virginia emailed me this photo of her as a small girl, in South Carolina. Look at that priceless face, and her prized possession.

A day afterwards, Virginia emailed me this photo of her as a small girl, in South Carolina. Look at that priceless face, and her prized possession.

Virginia throwing seed to the chickens, outside the kitchen door. Jerry amused by it all. She even grows homemade sprouts to spoil the chickens. Best fed chickens in all of Cheatham county.

Virginia throwing seed to the chickens, outside the kitchen door. Jerry, amused by it all. Beau, following our every footstep, on security detail. She even grows homemade sprouts to spoil the chickens. They’re the best-fed chickens in all of Cheatham county.

Virginia said that one day, she left the kitchen door cracked, and she turned around and the chickens had come into the house, and were on the kitchen side table, eating the cat food. So she showed me how they entered...

Virginia said that one day, she left the kitchen door cracked, and she turned around and the chickens had come into the house, and were on the kitchen side table, eating the cat food. So she showed me how they entered…

Serene setting in her living room, with Scooter holding court.

Serene setting in her living room, with Scooter holding court.

While we were in the winter garden, collecting lettuce, the cat delivered a prize, in the center of the kitchen floor.

While we were in the winter garden, collecting lettuce, the cat delivered a prize, in the center of the kitchen floor.

Virginia, armed and dangerous, and looking like either Annie Oakley or Shirley Temple, with her father, in South Carolina.

Virginia, armed and dangerous, and looking like either Annie Oakley or Shirley Temple, with her father, in South Carolina.

We made a nice campfire that burned all day. This is one of three firepits on the property; take your pick.

We made a nice campfire that burned all day. This is one of three firepits on the property; take your pick.

Beau followed us wherever we went, all afternoon. He's about 12 or 13, but doing great, for a large dog.

Beau followed us wherever we went, all afternoon. He’s about 12 or 13, but doing great, for a large dog.

Every afternoon, Virginia takes out the golf cart, through the roads on her land, and Beau gets a workout, running along beside the cart.

Every afternoon, Virginia takes out the golf cart, through the roads on her land, and Beau gets a workout, running along beside the cart.

This is Simon Levy, one of the many roosters on the land. (Simon, in real life, was well-respected Art Director at Warner Brothers, in both LA and Nashville. Great guy and excellent artist).

This is Simon Levy, one of the many roosters on the land. (Simon, in real life, was well-respected Art Director at Warner Brothers, in both LA and Nashville. Great guy and excellent artist).

A wooden egg, in the henhouse, to remind the hens about their role in life.

A wooden egg, in the henhouse, to remind the hens about their role in life.

Interior of the henhouse, in the late afternoon, when they (automatically) come home, and hop up on their perch, for bed.

Interior of the henhouse, in the late afternoon, when they (automatically) come home, and hop up on their perch, for bed.

On the dining room table was a beautiful book from Virginia's father. He'd made the book when he was about eleven years old. (Love the typeface, and everything about this book).

On the dining room table was a beautiful book from Virginia’s father. He’d made the book when he was about eleven years old. (Love the typeface, and everything about this book).

There is this famous graphic that floats around the internet -- a mark-up by Richard Avedon, to show his B/W printer how to print the final print. I sent this to Virginia to show her that there was at least one person more demanding about retouching than her! (Not bad playing second fiddle to Richard Avedon).

There is this famous graphic that floats around the internet — a mark-up by Richard Avedon, to show his B/W printer how to print the final print. I sent this to Virginia to show her that there was at least one person more demanding about retouching than her! (I guess it’s not bad to play second fiddle to Richard Avedon).

10 Responses

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  1. Arunima Orr said, on January 25, 2013 at 6:38 pm

    Oh, Mark, these are wondrous photos, and you text is brilliant and loving. In just a few photos, you have captured Virginia’s uber-unique character and the arc of her life. i am so happy you spent the day with her. These photos are precious to me. What an artist you are– carrying on a low-key but insightful dialogue with your subject while recording her/his life in the most vivid and rich way.

  2. Sharon Lester said, on January 26, 2013 at 8:53 am

    Mark,

    I so enjoyed your images and comments on Virginia.

    Virginia and I have been friends for decades and she remains one of the most important people in my life.

    She has promised to bring you to see me soon. Please consider this as a formal invitation to visit me and my farm with Virginia as the main guide.

    I have a small wood workshop with a bulletin board know as my wall of fame. On it are pictures of Virginia at various stages of her life. One of the pictures is one you have on this e-mail…..it is the one of her holding the chicken when she was probably 6 or 7 years old. I would love to add one of your photos of her taken here to add to my collection.

    I do hope to meet you and see you soon.

    Regards,

    Sharon Lester

  3. grace schrafft said, on January 26, 2013 at 9:30 am

    Dear Mark, i learned more from you than i knew before about our VT. All her professional arty stuff, while i’ve seen & admired enough of her finished products to know she’s brilliant in that regard, i couldn’t know it in the ways you described. i do/did know about her love for those feathery layers, but what do ya expect from this back-country girl? My dog Hobo & I stopped by her spread last spring for a few, way too few, days, on our way back north from FL. We hadn’t seen each other since the mid-70s when Brownie was the dog, Booger was the cat, & our family of 4 were the tenants on her 40 acres in Mariposa, CA, near Yosemite while she was art director in SF at Rolling Stone & Outside Mag. We tended her dozen goats, 2 dozen hens, 2 horses & 1 cow. Being w/her in TN, it was as if we hadn’t missed a beat. She still has more energy in her little finger than anyone i know. Guess you appreciated her perfect woodpile enough to record her w/it. Dear beloved Virginia Team. Hope to meet you some day, Mark.

  4. Jack Lowe said, on January 26, 2013 at 11:04 am

    Lovely post. JL

  5. T. Hopkins said, on January 26, 2013 at 4:47 pm

    I want to meet Virginia! Thank you for capturing some of the essence of her and her world and presenting them beautifully.

  6. Louise Merritt said, on January 27, 2013 at 7:16 am

    You’ve captured the VT that I know & love~such beauty inside her & all around her! What a life of love & dedication to those chickens & the rest of us humans in her inner circle!

  7. Chris said, on January 27, 2013 at 2:26 pm

    Wow. First Jerry then VT. These are fantastic and priceless portals into their worlds. The most amazing aspect of these are the images of Virginia as a child compared to now and seeing the continuity of joy and “inner child” that is alive and well, and the seeming timelessness of Jerry’s apartment and belongings. Thanks Mark.

  8. Sarah Foster said, on January 28, 2013 at 3:14 pm

    Our “Aunt T” is certainly an “interesting person!”

  9. Norman Clayton said, on January 28, 2013 at 6:45 pm

    Mark, Thank you for reconnecting me, via your beautiful photographs, to a very precious time in my life when I had my first graphic design job working for Tania Owen in the back of Team Design. That was around 1987. I have so many treasured memories. One is receiving shipments every week of Peet’s French Roast from California and religiously drinking that strong brew every morning. I just want to know why I’ve aged 25 years and Virginia (and Jerry!) still look like I remember them. All my love, Norman Clayton, Ojai, California

  10. Anonymous said, on January 30, 2013 at 10:40 am

    Mark, Love the VT pix. To know her is to truly love her. What a special human being. I manage to visit at least once a year just to recharge the old batteries, share memories of the last 40 years and feed the damn chickens. Antoinette


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