FORT PIERCE FOLKS
country, at Florida House in Washington, D.C., and has been
featured in several magazines.
During the George W. Bush presidency, one artist from
each state was asked to supply an ornament for the White
House Christmas tree. Schindehette represented Florida with
a depiction of a roseate spoonbill in a stand of mangroves.
“Walking into the White House as an invited guest,” she
says, “was absolutely one of the most exciting moments of
trained to be a helicopter pilot.
“A year later, he left for Vietnam,” Schindehette says.
“Thankfully, he came back.”
Harry’s job with Florida Power and Light took the growing
family to several cities. They made lifelong friends in Fort
Pierce where he eventually headed the Fort Pierce Utilities
Authority. Schindehette’s schedule revolved around their
sons’ Little League teams and other activities.
Because she enjoyed visiting art museums, a friend suggested
that she meet Fort Pierce’s best known artist at the
time, A.E. “Bean” Backus. The idea of just showing up,
uninvited, to someone’s home was daunting to a southern
girl. But one day — one fateful day, as it turned out — she
did just that.
Schindehette took a deep breath and stepped inside.
“I can still smell the turpentine,” she says. “See it all, hear
Bean’s voice: ‘Come on in. How are you? Who are you?’ ”
Schindehette became a regular visitor, content to observe
Backus and his protégés at work.
“Why don’t you paint with me?” Backus finally asked.
When she said she didn’t know how, he gave her a list of
supplies to buy. For the next 10 years, her easel was beside his.
Not only did she learn from Backus, she got to know the
steady stream of artists who drifted in and out.
“From the highest to the lowest, Bean welcomed us all.”
At first, Schindehette simply copied Backus’s technique,
occasionally accompanying him outside for en plein air painting.
She’d get her boys off to school and head for Backus’s
home studio on Avenue C. Her dedication paid off with her
first sale — $25, a confidence-booster. Today her paintings
command prices from 10- to a hundred times that.
Schindehette was at Backus’s studio the last day he painted
— June 6, 1990, coincidentally, the day after her birthday.
“He quit earlier than usual so we knew something was
going on,” she says.
Backus died of heart failure at the hospital later that day.
Her mentor’s passing reinforced Schindehette’s passion
“He made such an impression. I still think, ‘What would
Bean do with this color or this value?’ He was a hoot.”
When her boys were in high school, fellow artist Carl Hantman
and his wife, Jane, convinced Schindehette to attend Art
Students League in New York City for intensive training.
“I was only there five months but the impact has lasted a
lifetime,” she says.
Her husband’s career took the couple to Provo, Utah,
where she met other artists, some internationally renowned.
She was invited to join a group of artists who camped together
in the mountains, painted all day and then critiqued
one another around the campfire.
“I put on my big girl boots, practiced with Harry’s gun and
traipsed along with whoever would let me.”
When another job change moved them back to Florida,
Schindehette opened an Ocala gallery with two other women.
And when Harry retired, Fort Pierce became their home
once more. Schindehette’s gallery at 101 S. 2nd St. is open by
appointment; she also works on commission.
Backus frequently said that Mother Nature was the best
teacher and that artists should experience the places they
painted. Schindehette’s mother, an avid bird watcher, reinforced
that idea. It’s no wonder that Schindehette is known
for detailed oils of Florida landscapes and birds. Her work
hangs at the state capitol, in corporate offices around the
JACQUELYN MODESITT SCHINDEHETTE JACKIE
Lives in: Fort Pierce
Family: Husband, Harry; sons
and daughters-in-law, Chad Jodi
and David Donna; grandchildren,
Logan, Damie and Connor
Education: Coral Gables Senior
High, Miami-Dade Junior College,
University of Florida, Arts Students League in New York City
Hobbies: “Harry and I play pickle ball. We used to play
tennis. I won a rosette at the county fair once for sewing,
but since I started painting, if I have time, that’s mostly what
Who inspires me: “I have a friend who can take charge of
a situation without causing problems. She reads, shares her
knowledge. She’s athletic, the catalyst for her family. Our
kids grew up here together.”
Something most people don’t know about me: “I used to be
a professional dancer — tap and ballet. My brother and I did
shows at hotels all along Miami Beach.”
Schindehette’s gallery in downtown Fort Pierce is open by appointment but
her work may also be seen at: www.floridalandscapes.com.
Having once spent 15-20 weekends a year traveling to
shows and festivals, Schindehette’s award-winning artwork
now has an extensive following. One of her paintings was
included in a fourth-grade social studies textbook. She is also
on file with the National Museum of Women in the Arts in
All because one reticent southern girl mustered the courage
to walk through a stranger’s door.