I am an expressionist and
an impressionist who paints from emotion. The emotion the land, particularly the North American landscape, gives
to my eyes, ears, and heart evolves through the movement of the tall
grass, the shadows in the forest, the constant transition of colors in the
landscape from the early morning to twilight, and the shapes of the clouds. I
interpret this on-going change in the layering of colors and building of texture. The
vastness of the high country as seen from a peak in the Sangre de
Cristo Mountains of New Mexico, the immensity of the Grand Canyon,
the tree covered valleys of Colorado, the animals and endless land
of Alaska, the hills and lakes of Tennessee, create an excitement
that cannot be verbalized, only experienced and made into a story on
I want the viewers of my work to allow themselves to
imagine, experience a moment of contentment, and dream and walk
with the Spirit of the Land.~ Ann
Ann Ellington Wagner was born to Buford Ellington and Catherine Cheek Ellington on March 26, 1941 in Verona just outside Lewisburg, Marshall County, TN, a rural farming community located some 60 miles South of Nashville, TN. She has one brother, John Earl Ellington, six years her elder.
The summer of 1953 brought about a drastic change to a 13-year-old Ann and her family when her father, Buford Ellington, began his political career as campaign manager for Frank Clement, then a candidate for Governor of Tennessee. The Ellington family moved from Verona to Nashville to be closer to the campaign which resulted in Clement's election as Governor. Mr. Ellington's career thrived in public service as he went on to hold several offices including Tennessee Representative for Marshall County, Tennessee Commissioner of Agriculture, Governor of Tennessee (two terms), and Director of the U.S. Office of Emergency Planning. While her Father's life was quite public, Ann's Mother made sure that life was as normal and private as possible. Sometime quite a task.
Nashville and her parents' political responsibilities afforded Ann opportunities not readily available in Verona.
During these years, Ann attended Hillsboro High School in Nashville, TN, and continued to Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, TN, graduating in 1963 with a Bachelor degree in Art Education and Fine Arts. When not in school, Ann frequently traveled with her parents across the United States. These trips initially developed her desire to paint and create impressions of the beautiful land on canvas, and later inspired much of her work in glass and jewelry. These trips also afforded Ann an introduction to influential leaders and personalities including President Harry S. Truman, President & Mrs. John F. Kennedy, President & Mrs. Lyndon B. Johnson, Prince Charles and Princess Anne of England, Chief Butterfly and Chief White Antelope of the Blackfeet Nation, Pat Boone, Brenda Lee, Col. Tom Parker, Tennessee Ernie Ford, and Lawrence Welk, who invited her to appear on the Lawrence Welk Show. In 1961, Ann met Elvis Presley when he addressed the Tennessee State Legislature at the State Capitol in Nashville, TN. Rising from a rural beginning into a public personality, Elvis understood and helped Ann adjust to being in the public light and instantly-recognizable. This meeting was the beginning of a long-lasting friendship. Her father's career enriched her life and provided the memories from which she built her art career and perhaps a book to be written in the future.
Ann married Tim W. Wagner in November 1963; they have two daughters, Malinda and Jennifer. Ann and Tim love to travel and they have been to England, Ireland, Scotland, Alaska, Prince Edwards Island, the Caribbean, Mexico and British Columbia. They particularly love to spend time in New Mexico, Colorado, Montana, Utah, and Washington State. These lands are very interesting to Ann with their vivid colors across an ever-moving terrain. She sketches and photographs the land during her travels to work from when she returns to her studio. The single studio houses all of Ann's media work as on any given day she may shift from one piece to another as motivation draws her. Always playing in the background will be Gospel Music, a life-long love which her brother John encouraged by taking her to the Ryman Auditorium on Friday nights to hear the great Gospel Quartets. Ann and John both still share a great passion for this music.
When Ann is not traveling or in her studio, she is occupied by projects at home and in the greater Nashville community. At home, she enjoys working in the flower garden, growing container vegetables and herbs, spending time with her two adapted cats, Bear, a Maine Coon and Rocky, who came to her home and adopted them, knitting and crocheting, yet another way for her to work with colors. She also keeps in touch with many people who have Meniere's Disease, a hearing and balance disorder, sharing experiences and offering lifestyle suggestions to help in daily life based on decades of her own experience.
In her community, Ann has served with the American Christmas Seal Association, American Red Cross, Board of EAR Foundation, Governors Small Business Task Force, Tennessee Agriculture Museum, Middle Tennessee State University Alumni Association, and Hearing Bridges. She continues to be active especially with the Tennessee Agriculture Museum and several of its special year round projects. Two of these projects are: The Music and Molasses Arts and Crafts Festival held every October at the Ellington Agriculture Center, Nashville, and the Preemie Evergreen Project, a Christmas Tree decorated with hats, booties, mittens and blankets knitted and crocheted by talented people across the state for the premature infants at Baptist Hospital. Ann was thrilled to receive the 2010 Volunteer Award of Excellence from the Tennessee Association of Museums for this project.
Ann has had many one-person shows of her art work at private clubs, galleries and restaurants across Middle Tennessee. Three of her paintings were loaned to the Executive Residence while Governor Ned Ray McWherter was in office. One painting is owned by Middle Tennessee State University. Many of her paintings are held in private collections across the United States. Ann loves to work in several media including, paint, loomed bead work, jewelry design, and leaded glass. She finds it particular interesting to interpret the weaving patterns of the Navajos into glass windows. The first weaving patterns were very geometric and great for glass. She also finds Totem Pole designs of the Northwest easily translated into glass or bead-weaving. Life needs balance as shown in nature if we take the time to listen, observe and feel.