Local artist and fashion designer Eugene Snively is known to his friends and fans simply as "Mr. Eugene."
"I don't use my last name," he teases, "unless you're writing me a check."
At Back Pages Antiques on 21st Street, he sits below a sign that reads "Mr. Eugene's Hollywood." Portraits of "his girls" gorgeous women in vintage gowns peer over his shoulder while he sketches and chats up a gathering crowd.
With each completed work, another girl comes to life. He introduces them like party guests:
"This one reminds me of a young Lana Turner."
"That one is wearing a Howard Greer design."
"This girl doesn't have any clothes on because she's deciding what to wear."
Each girl is different, but they share the same pizzazz, all waiting to steal the show like their colorful creator.
"When I was young, people would say, "Eugene, your work is so busy, so overdone.' And I would say, "So am I.'"
At 78, he has seen many eras, but prefers a time when glamour reigned.
"My favorite year was 1938," he says. "I was 10 years old and I fell in love with a fashion magazine."
The dresses of Hollywood designer Howard Greer especially caught his eye. That love led him from his home in Ohio to California where, "by sheer coincidence," he met and worked with Greer at Paramount and MGM studios. "It was like something out of a movie," he remembers of his time rubbing elbows in Hollywood.
"When you see the stars on the screen, they look so perfect," he says. "Well, they've got 129 people helping them to look that way. I was one of those 129."
Mr. Eugene's Hollywood
Back Pages Antiques, 297 S. 21st St. (in the Anglers Covey Building)
Hours: Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
For more information, call 520-1139.