Leanne Renee talks about her art Savannah GA, works at Lone Wolf Lounge

People who really like Savannah often romanticize her. That’s not a bad thing.

When “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil” author John Berendt discovered his love for the city of hostesses, we were left with a book and film that drew people from all over the world.

In her own way, artist Leanne Renee does the same thing but in the form of illustration.

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“If The Peanuts and Franz Kafka had a Sunday brunch, that’s basically what I’m producing,” she said.

Leanne Renee’s work is both autobiographical and observational. His style often alludes to New Yorker cartoons or old newspaper comics.

“I’ve always been a big Peanuts fan and I’ve always been a big Sunday Papers fan. The Sunday papers, I think, are the best way to describe Savannah in a way too, because it has that family feel. As everyone feels like family here, everyone feels close. It all feels nostalgic in a way. I feel like the style I have goes really well with the stories that are happening here.

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The stories Leanne refers to are often her own or those of people she observes around Savannah. She said her bag always contains five different pens and her sketchbook to document what she is going through.

“It all started because I started looking at these people and drawing when I was going out. I’ve been doing this for a while… I always like to draw people around me and just observe and write it down on paper. I do usually little writing on it because I want to remember it.

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Leanne said she’s lived in Savannah for about six years, but “mentally, I’ve been here two years.” She said that while in college, her teachers often encouraged her and her classmates to move to places like New York and Los Angeles. Leanne said she felt like something was holding her here.

'Untitled' by Leanne Renee

“When everyone I was kind of connected with left, I was really…left to explore Savannah in a way. And in my way of exploring Savannah, Georgia, through my observations and through other people, I feel like I’ve kind of come to know myself.

She said she noticed it was easy for adults to enter a cycle of work and home without realizing what all Savannah has to offer.

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“I think there’s so much beauty, and there’s so much genuinely interesting material and content, people, events and things happening in Savannah. But I think because Savannah is cyclical, people don’t stop to realize how great we have it here and how great we have it here and how amazing people are.

Lone Wolf is a neighborhood favorite, serving everything from cheap beer to fancy cocktails.

Documenting the interesting people she finds has given her a new appreciation for those who visit and call Savannah home. One of Leanne’s goals is to show others the beauty of the city through her art. While some of her earliest sightings occurred in Forsyth Park, more recently she has haunted the Lone Wolf Lounge on Lincoln Street.

“This is my landing ground. They call me “Eyes and Ears of the Lone Wolf” because I’m just in a corner with my sketchbook and nothing gets past me.

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In fact, Leanne just finished a month-long gallery show at the Lone Wolf Lounge. Although it seems obvious to showcase her work in the same place where she created so much, Leanne admits she was nervous.

“Jerome, one of the bartenders approached me and said, ‘I see you drawing all the time. I see you sitting there and drawing everyone. So how fun would it be to set it up [Lone Wolf] and let everyone see your opinion on everything? And I was like, oh, that’s being really vulnerable. It’s like a step out of my comfort zone, but I guess, and when I tell you, I wasn’t expecting the uproar and the support and the people showing up.

The day before it opened, she says she panicked a bit.

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“I don’t have enough content. People have never wanted, and they won’t want to start hearing what a 23-year-old has to say about love. It’s not really top-notch entertainment.

After a pep talk from a friend of hers, she set up her work in the Cobra Room of the Lone Wolf Lounge. In keeping with his DIY style, some comics were left unframed and were simply torn from his sketchbook and taped to the wall. To his surprise, the room filled with people after only 30 minutes of opening.

'Untitled' by Leanne Renee

“I had an interactive corner because at the end of the day the show might be about me, but I still want to know what everyone has to think. So I set up a little side interactive where I had three questions: who Savannah taught you to love, what keeps you here, and then a broad question to tell me about them.”

Leanne said the responses she received were so personal and beautiful that she wishes she could frame each one.

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“It was just heartbreaking and also like it made my heart grow but broke my heart. I was going through a roller coaster of emotions after reading all of this. But I remember at one point in the night, Jérôme had come back and said to himself, I had never seen so many people in this room, and I thought it was such an incredible experience. And just one of those moments when they are so rare in life , where you can really look at your work and look at the people consuming your work and say to yourself, oh I did something good.

Since launching her show at Lone Wolf, Leanne has attracted more people to other work. She said that although she has had other offers for gallery exhibitions, she is not interested in pursuing this until she has more work and another topic she wants to share. She has a few upcoming collaborations and an observation zine is in the works. Currently, you can sign up for her weekly newsletter on her website, LeanneRenee.com.

“It’s usually just some writing and some illustrations when I go for my walks, which is my favorite time of day.”

Continuing, Leanne still wants to share her love of the city and the people here and continue in this observational work like “Midnight in The Garden of Good and Evil”, but with a softer approach.

“If you think of [the people in the movie], nothing has really changed. It’s always the same. Again, that’s the cyclical thing, and that’s what’s beautiful about the cyclical side of Savannah, I guess you can easily compare these people [in my work] to this movie too.

To find more information about Leanne Renee, you can go to her website leannerenee.com or follow her on Instagram @leanne.reneeillu.

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