Former Russian Tea Room owner enjoys an artist’s life in Bridgewater
BRIDGEWATER — Although Faith Stewart-Gordon now lives a sleepy life in a sleepy town, it wasn’t always that way. She’s a painter now, but in a previous life she was the sole proprietor of the Russian Tea Room in Manhattan.
Although her work then and now are rather different, she said in a slight southern drawl, they both fit her just right.
Now, as Steward-Gordon has just finished up an exhibit of her work at a museum in Waterbury, she spoke with the Spectrum about her life; and trading in celebrity wrangling for something more difficult — keeping her five dogs in line.
Q: You’ve worn a few hats in your life. For years you owned and ran the Russian Tea Room in New York City, and for years you’ve painted. What period, or which hat, do you think fits you best?
The first hat, running the Russian Tea Room, fitted me best in those years, when I enjoyed the hurly-burley of New York life. Today, the other hat — painting — suits me best, as I am enjoying a more peaceful life in our beautiful area of Connecticut.
Q: As a proprietor of the Tea Room you had an eye on New York City high society. Is there a story, an anecdote, that you best remember?
There are so many stories! And so many fascinating people! I remember Salvador Dali pacing up and down the aisle, twirling his cane. I remember a little Polish lady who always came in on roller skates. I remember Carol Channing always bringing in her own lunch. And the pets that were left in the check room
When their owners, for instance, Joan Rivers, forgot them and we had to deliver them to their homes. I wrote a book about my life at the Tea Room, called “The Russian Tea Room, A Love Story.”
Q: You moved to Bridgewater, after years of renting in Washington. What first attracted you to the area?
In 1988, I wanted to find somewhere in the country to go for weekends. My lawyer suggested Washington, where he had a house, and I have loved the area ever since. The scenery reminds me of my childhood summers spent in the mountains of North Carolina.
Q: Has the area’s famed beauty informed your painted work in any way? If so, how?
Yes, I love painting the landscapes in Litchfield County. There is so much variety and color all around. And the barns are just spectacular.
Q: You said you try to make it out to the city once a week. What’s something you really miss about the town?
I miss the action in New York, and I am constantly amazed at the changing scene and the humor that pervades the life on the streets. There is enough great dining and history and art in New York to keep a person who loves those things busy for many lifetimes.
Q: You just finished up an exhibit in Waterbury, where else can we see your work?
Yes, I just finished a show at the Mattatuck Museum this summer. I thought it was especially interesting because of the unique way it was displayed. You can see my work online at www.faithstewart-gordon.com, and I have a painting currently at the Burnham Library in Bridgewater.
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