Mike Hoss / Eyewitness News
NEW ORLEANS - You've seen it 100 times: the movie opening from Columbia Pictures and the woman with the elegant pose reminiscent of the Statue of Liberty. It all began right here in New Orleans, in the French Quarter studio of artist Michael Deas.
Eyewitness News first met Michael three years ago, for a profile of his work. His work is all over the world - literally. Twenty-one of his paintings, from Edgar Allan Poe to Abraham Lincoln, have become U.S. postage stamps. But in 1992, Columbia Pictures asked him to paint their new logo.
Deas interviewed several models, but none were right. But then he talked to a friend of his at The Times-Picayune.
“And he said, ‘I have the right person for you and she works here at the paper.’ And I was like OK and then I saw Jenny and though ‘She's the one,’” Deas explained.
Jenny Joseph, then 28, was a graphic artist at the newspaper. She agreed on her lunch break to help out.
“So we just scooted over there come lunchtime and wrapped a sheet around me and held a regular little desk lamp, a side lamp,” she said, “and just held that up and we did that with a light bulb.”
During the session, which lasted only a few hours, Deas noticed something.
"At some point she just started listing a bit and she very politely said, in her beautiful British accent, ‘Do you mind if I sit down?’ And she sat on the edge of the dais and announced that she had just discovered that she was pregnant.”
“Now my daughter is able to claim that she was there too,” Joseph remembered.
But Deas said she got back up and continued to pose. “And I guess the rest is history,” he said.
For two months, Deas worked on the painting day and night. But he's only seen the finished product once in the last 20 years and Jenny Joseph had never seen it, until a recent showing at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art.
Then, for the first time, artist and model saw it together.
"How he even begins to think that through, I have no idea,” she said. “It’s amazing, and the brilliance of the colors really stayed sharp considering it’s 20 years old,” she laughed.
"I never thought it would make it to the silver screen and I never thought it would still be up 20 years later,” Deas said. “And I certainly never thought it would be in a museum, so it’s kind of gratifying.”
Columbia Pictures has used Michael Deas’ painting for its logo for 20 years – an eternity in the industry, but a testament to both the artist and the model. For Jenny Joseph, who now lives in Houston, it all came out of a few hours’ work on a lunch break.
"You never know how paths cross and what's going to come out of events. I always tell my kids if something comes along, just go for it, you know.”
She had never modeled before and hasn't since. One pose, one painting that is standing the test of time, and then some.
For more on Michael Deas’ art, click here.