The first time I met Joe Eula was in the early nineties when he walked into my farm stand with his chin held high and said to me, “Well sonny, how do I look?” Honestly, I didn't think he looked all that great, but considering his tone, sensed he was feeling pretty good about himself, so I replied with a barely convincing, "pretty good.” As we talked, I learned that this trip to my farm stand was his first outing since recovering from a near-fatal heart condition, which explained his pasty glow. I also learned that he had been friends with my recently deceased father; that explained his instant familiarity with me.
Our strange first exchange was the kickoff to a friendship that lasted until Joe's death in 2004. I soon found out that he was a renowned fashion illustrator whose fifty-years-plus career took him from his home in Lomontville to work around the world. He was present for Yves Saint Laurent's first collection for Doir in 1958 and his last in 2002. He created album covers and posters for performers such as Miles Davis, Bette Midler and Liza Minelli. His renderings could be found at Saks Fifth Avenue, Italian Harpers Bazaar, Tiffany's, The New York Times Magazine, and Vogue. He was a master of image-capture; one line from Joe's brisk hand could bring a human form to life. His illness put an end to his traveling, but nothing could squelch his creativity.
Anyone who knew Joe would agree he was he was always willing to offer his honest opinion. The more he liked a person, the more honest he was with them, even if it hurt. Joe's friends never wondered they stood with him. But along with blunt criticism, Joe would always offer a solution.
Over the years, I've had many questions and comments about the signs in front of the farm stand. The following is the story of the artist behind the signs.
Joe at our tractor pull in 2002
In my case, he didn't like the signage in front of my store(and I'm putting that mildly). One day, he turned to me and said something along the lines of, "Eccck, that shit looks awful. But I've got an idea..." His idea included a wholesale signage makeover that incorporated these concepts:
Seasons change so why shouldn't my signs? Don't advertise things, sell feelings, like the rebirth of spring and the abundance of summer. Throwing in a bit humor and a pinch of sex never hurts. Using color is out of the question; if you want to be noticed, black and white is all you need.
The result is the signs you see driving past the farm stand on Route 209 in Stone Ridge. His images can also be found in our print ads, on our T-shirts and coffee mugs, and in subtle ways, throughout the farm stand. Joe loved to teach his way of looking at the world, and he changed the way I see things. I had the honor of getting a full scholarship to the School of Joe. He was a good man, generous with his talents and I’ll never forget him.