Chandor Gardens is a ‘treasure in our midst,’ mayor says after video

Posted Tuesday, Sep. 17, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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The beauty and history of the Chandor Gardens are a part of Weatherford’s heritage and pride.

But a recent discovery revealed at the city’s council meeting on Sept. 10 gave a new glimpse into that heritage.

For the first time, members of the staff and the city heard the voice of artist Douglas Chandor who once lived in Weatherford.

Danielle Felts, Director of Parks and Recreation, said they are “constantly looking” for more information or artifacts from Chandor’s life that show more than what can be seen at the gardens in Weatherford.

“We are always searching for things that connect Chandor to the original Chandor which is the art, not just the mansion and the property itself,” Felts said.

That search recently turned up a black-and-white video of Chandor painting a portrait of Winston Churchill.

Churchill was a painter himself and even helped trim in his waistline of Chandor’s painting.

In the video, Churchill praised Chandor for the completed portrait.

“What most people don’t realize is he may have been the premier portrait artist of his time,” council member Craig Swancy said of Chandor. “And, possibly, the premier portrait artist for centuries.”

Chandor is also seen signing the portrait, asking Churchill which corner of the canvas he should sign.

A portrait of President Franklin Roosevelt had already been completed, around the time of World War II. Joseph Stalin was also to be painted but decided not to sit for it.

Chandor still receives praise for those portraits that are known for seeming so realistic they appear to breathe and their eyes seem to follow one across the room.

The artist and his wife – Weatherford native Ina Kuteman – moved to Weatherford more than 70 years ago.

While being a renowned artist – painting portraits for not just Churchill but Queen Elizabeth, Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt among other famous figures – Chandor also devoted much of his time to the gardens, his living artwork.

In January, the gardens received a state historical marker. Felts said it is now on track to receive a national one.

“We have a real treasure in our midst,” Mayor Dennis Hooks said of Chandor’s gardens where his home is located and his story told.

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