Elsa (Gibbs) Lockert , my mother is easy to write about as she is without a doubt one of the most interesting people I know ! Elsa came from a large family with seventeen brothers and sisters. (Zelma, Constance, Paul, L.C., Edith, Bruce, Marshall, Lucille, Doris, Arthur Thomas Jr., Maureen, Barbara, Elsa, Evangeline, Marion, William, Hester, and John Churchill.) Her father, Arthur Gibbs, was a farmer and land broker, and her mother, Bessie Jackson, seemed to be always with child. (see page 204 of "The Deserted Sycamore Village of Cheatham" written by Lois Barnes Binkley. My mother, Elsa, had the greatest influence over my life with the preponderance of these times being overwhelmingly positive. Nothing could have been more exciting than life with Elsa. As the eldest child, I remember mother telling interesting stories, laughing, giggling, singing, playing the piano and
pulling tricks on my brothers, sister and many on me. She made it her mission to expose us to the variety and the diversities of life as we visited different places and tried unusual foods far from the norm of the day. Elsa insisted that we pursue anything; coaching us that we could do anything we set our mind to do. As I remember, her words were, "Just keep working at it," or "Tear it down and do it again!" That was mother's mantra! We were taught morals but mother allowed and understood that we would certainly make mistakes. Practicing what she preached, we were encouraged to keep trying. As a child, Elsa’s family relocated often as Arthur Gibbs bought, sold or traded homes and farm land to supplement his farming wages. Around 1946 he purchased what is now called "Sycamore's Bird Song" log home and lived there until about 1968. Elsa and my father, Jimmy Lockert, were married there in the early 50’s. After my father completed pharmacy school in the mid-50’s, we lived with grandpa & grandma Gibbs and had many happy times together.
Elsa’s First Painting
Bronze Bust of Jimmy P. Lockert
people considered junk. After fixing it up and painting, the “antique” would draw peoples’ attention like a magnet . She often sold or traded for another “fix-r- upper” and we kids complained as we “knew” we had to move yet another heavy object. As a result, we learned about antiques, how to bargain shop for deals, move heavy objects from point A to B, avoid mother for short periods of time, but there was no avoiding the inevitable, You were going to have to move it ! As I remember, in the early 70's, we travelled to Nashville in our Dodge truck to pick up hundreds of wooden cigar boxes onto which mother painted various subjects. She sold almost all of them and tripled her money. I, by the way, managed to hold on to one of the last cigar boxes she didn’t sell. It is painted with butterflies and I still treasure it today. Elsa continued painting in just about any media from watercolor to oils. She either sold or gave paintings away to friends and relatives as gifts, slowly making a much deserved name for herself. Eventually she made prints of her best works, selling them along with frames from the frame shops she owned and operated in Ashland City. She discovered that people loved the past; so she concentrated many of her works on historical landmarks and numerous times gave a framed print to new businesses or offices!
In 1957 we moved to Ashland City. Two of mothers younger brothers lived with us and were like brothers to me as well; I enjoyed swimming and cutting up with them as brothers do! In her teenage years two of Elsa’s eldest sisters exposed her to many places and cultural events of which country folk could only dream. Constance Banister, the renowned baby photographer in the 50’s who lived in New York City, and socialite, Edith who resided in Palm Beach FL, showed Elsa the experience of cultural differences not available in the rural Tennessee county of Cheatham. Later, Elsa did the same for her children and I know for a fact that it affected us all positively. It was in the early 60's when Elsa began to paint in earnest when my father entered Law School. There were many hours she spent alone while Jimmy was studying. Elsa had drawn and painted before, but this renewed interest prompted a life long vocation. An accomplished seamstress, Elsa also created her own clothes, became an accomplished chef, played the piano, and would you believe, she even she laid rock walls, remodeled and painted the house! Nothing was beyond Elsa’s reach! She would try anything. It was not unusual to find her sawing the legs off a piece of furniture or altering an antique to fit her artistic style. Often she would enlist or shall I say, draft us kids to pick up, load and unload all manner of things most
It brings pride and joy to my heart to see
one of her masterpieces hanging in an office, school or home. She makes me proud to be her son! People always ask about family, but by far, my mother receives the most attention and smiles as I address their questions. She is extraordinarily talented, pleasant and easy going, slow to anger; however, you don’t want to see her mad! People are naturally drawn toward her. Some were jealous, but in a humorist way, as they would admit their jealousy and admire her at the same time. Memories are still being made today, but one of my favorites of the past is mother sitting on the back deck of our home. It was summer and mother was multi-tasking as she was tanning with her swim suit on, painting one of her wonderful pictures and teasing the pet crow that we had. I thought it such an unusual site that I snapped a photo of the scene. The crow was interested in mother's work and was sitting on the top of the chair where she was seated. In between paint strokes, mother was tickling its feathers with the paint brush. Although I still have the photo, the image is ingrained in my mind and co-mingles with the everlasting love of my one-of-a-kind mother. A fact recently brought to my attention is how beautiful my mother’s eyes are ! Through those endearing eyes, Elsa Lockert created so many wonderful paintings, saw so much potential in an old piece of furniture or future art student and now
those eyes are failing her. You see, Elsa has macular degeneration today. Although sad, it can be said her eyes both spiritually and physically have served all of us well !
James P. Lockert, #1 Son
A lot of people might remember the smells and taste of a favorite food or some comfort received from their mom. I have those memories but a rather different recollection springs to mind when I think of my mom. Rocks! Yes, rocks. I am not sure if we were two kindred souls or if I picked up my like of rocks from her, but we were always on the look out for a good rock. Mom made walls from them and I just collected them. I can remember building those rock walls on hot, humid summer days. She was on a quest to “wall in” the entire Lockert Fortification atop Valley View Drive. Heck, Dad even gave her a concrete mixer for Christmas one year. It stirred some distant castle building instinct in me because even though it was hard work, I rather enjoyed it. We quickly exhausted the ready supply of rocks nearby and thus the quest was born. Find rocks. Not just any old rocks but ones that would look unique and add flare to the walls.
graded’ gravel road. The rainstorm the night before had been a "gully-washer". As we turned a curve, a perfect rock presented itself. Mom stopped the car and I hopped out to gather the rock. I placed it in the trunk and was about to close the trunk but mom said, "grab a few more". I did as I was told. As I picked up the last rock, I saw a round rock the size of cannon ball that had been unearthed by the rain. I grabbed this round, smooth rock and put it in the car. We continued to whatever function that was our destination for that day, mom with a few more wall rocks and me with a smooth, round rock. I still have that rock today. I have often thought of cracking it open to see if it contains a geode. I just can't do it. I have passed this rock on to one of my sons because he likes it. I guess some rocks are meant to build walls and some just build memories.
Historical / Landscapes
Shawn Lockert, #2 Son
Now mom may have not thought of it as a quest but she rarely passed up a good rock. I can remember driving to Clarksville on a ‘just
Country / Slaves
The most striking thing about Mother is her perseverance. She never seems to let anything stand in her way. Having inherited that "perseverance" from her, we tended to collide often when I was younger. She always seems to be able to accomplish everything that she sets out to do. This mindset was present whether she was building rock walls, painting or starting her own business. I believe that she is the only woman I have known who bought her own electric concrete mixer so that she could build her own stone walls. And build them, we did! We could never escape when she would corral us into the truck in order to search for the rocks that became a part of the many walls we built. She and my father had a slight disagreement about how one should operate a pharmacy, so Mother opened her own pharmacy and was successful with it. She also opened numerous other businesses and was successful with them. She could look at an empty building and create a workplace from scratch. If she had it in her mind that something could be done, then it
would be done.
Today, as I gather vegetables from the garden and can them, I think about Mother canning and how she used to get me up at dawn to go pick blackberries before it got too hot. There we would be in our bathing suits, covered with chigger spray and keeping an eye out for snakes picking those@#!# blackberries. But the blackberry jam was wonderful. I hated it then, but now I love to get up and go pick blackberries and make that jam the old- fashioned way. S he could cook anything and would often have dinner parties ( and still does) and serve exotic dishes. She could sew clothes without patterns. My Barbie dolls were the best-dressed dolls in town! Bottom-line is that if Mother could see it in her mind, then it would become reality. I just wish she had saved that concrete mixer because I am gathering rocks to build my own stone walls at my own house!
Suzanne Lockert, daughter
Fruits & Veggies
My memories about mom are unique to say the least and range from art museums of New York City, New York or Washington D.C. to our many travels in and around middle Tennessee. What I really remember is that mother was always, and I mean always, creating something whether it be a portrait of some sort or another artistic endeavor ranging from paint color mixing, sculpting, rock walls, fashionable clothes, excellent meals, or the famous moving studio/art shop. Mother had and still has the knack and ability to do things that others truly dream about and was not usually afraid to try it, which she says is a testament to her growing up in a large family and exposure to travel like New York City and Palm Beach with her sister Edith in her early years. As a young child, I can remember the smells of oil paints, cooking or canning, and construction occurring simultaneously around the home and typically, I was in the middle of it playing or watching which would help lead to my ability to multitask in the future. My favorite memories still are the evening meal when the family would gather around the table. Mother would always have a
country meal prepared with plenty for all and some of her work close by for opinions and suggestions. It was a genuine family atmosphere with an artist's flare, and her days mimicked our current lives "a constant work in progress".
Eric K. Lockert, youngest son
Family & Friends
Masterpieces Ladies Fruits & Veggies Historical & Lanscapes Ceramic Tiles Flowers Furniture Angels
My friend, Elsa. Through the “eyes of Elsa” we hope you will enjoy her journey in time and history, as you enjoy her artistic works she saw as beautiful, meaningful and fulfilling. Elsa is the mother of four children, Jimmy, Shawn, Suzanne and Eric who have contributed their wonderful memories of their childhood growing up with Elsa...what a treat and testimony to her creativity and lust for life! I met Elsa when I married Bob Keenan, friend of Elsa and her husband Jimmy. I will never forget what she told me when I first visited her home for an authentic evening of Chinese cuisine. She was quite the entertainer. She said to me, “I am so glad that Bob married someone from the “outside.” I didn’t know what she actually meant at the time, but after the years have passed, I discovered that Elsa was quite a gem. There was no one else like her whom I met, who possessed the culture and hunger to know more of what was beyond Cheatham County. We spent many fun hours together painting, shopping and entertaining over the first few years after meeting. As things go, we got busy with our careers and families and time spent together became less and less. However the circle of life finds a way of bringing those people we love back together. We found each other
again, encouraging each other and began this quest to share her life’s works with the world. You see, Elsa has developed macular degeneration which she still struggles with today; however, she continues to fight to create inspite of this little set back! Her will to create is never ending, an inspiration rarely found in those who have been dealt a bad hand. Her children say it best, “...if she puts her mind to it...it will become reality!” As a photographer, graphic artist and printer, our talents finally blended to bring forth this wonderful collection of Elsa’s “found” art into this collection for your enjoyment and entertainment. Her work has been divided into twelve groupings as listed to the right of this page.
Family & Friends Country & Slaves Animals Later Works
It is my pleasure to present to you the works of Elsa Lockert.... “FROM THE EYES OF ELSA.”
WIth much love and admiration Debbie Brust Keenan
Elsa’s art is produced as calendars, poster prints, canvas prints and
specialty note card collections for purchase. For more
information: 615-746-2443 or 615-792-4650
Historical & Landscapes
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