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Real Nancy Drew Using Art to Unravel Mystery of Business Success

December 10, 1991

CHICAGO (AP) _ The real Nancy Drew is an artist who has solved the mysteries of business success.

She’s splattered a doubledecker tour bus with electric neon colors to advertise her six The Real Nancy Drew stores around the nation.

She scrawls messages to her family on the walls of her house and cranks the stereo up while painting in the basement of her countryside home near Niles, Mich.

Starting from a storefront in Harbor Springs, Mich., Drew now employs 30 people her stores stocked with her paintings, sculptures, clothing, furniture, and greeting cards.

Yet to Drew, the retail end of business is a means to an end - the freedom to create what she wants.

″I never wanted any of this, except my first store,″ Drew said in a recent interview at her store on Chicago’s Magnificent Mile.

″I just wanted to get away from wholesaling and expand my audience. What I’m doing is talking to people, and that’s what all this is about.″

The 43-year-old mother of three has found many voices.

Since 1978, Drew has given more than 42 solo showings of her work at galleries across the nation. And her cartoon ″A Fine Line″ runs weekly in the Chicago Tribune.

She also has developed a clothing line distributed to more than 300 stores and published a coloring book - ″An Eccentric Coloring Book with Paper Dolls For Grown-Ups and Little People by the Real Nancy Drew″ - that features Tip the Farm Dog, who lost an eye in a fight with a horse.

Like literature’s mythical teen-age detective, whose name Drew shares, she sees life’s mysteries around her - in her kids, her housework, in nature - which she weaves into art works that combine painting with household items, fabric and objects to create her vivid commentary.

Her vision draws its vivid colors from the Expressionist movement, its droll humor from her feminist ideology, and its characters from her daily life.

″It’s what I see and think and feel all the time. I really don’t have much of a social life, so this is the way I communicate with everyone. When I’m here and people don’t know it and I hear them laugh at something, that’s when I know I’ve connected,″ she said.

Deyna Vesey, who runs a New York advertising company and has bought some of Drew’s works, said, ″I think she has a really good feeling for the highs and lows of motherhood, in a not-too-saccharine kind of a way. It comes out bright and smart, whimsical without being cute.″

″If you can look at something and instantly fall in love with it, it’s got something going for it,″ Vesey said.

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