All her life, Viretta Brady expressed herself in a variety of mostly abstract art forms: sculpture, drawings, paintings, ceramics, mixed media and photography. She didn't try to sell any of her works, but she did present some of them to friends as gifts. What gave her the most satisfaction was simply fulfilling her creative vision.
"Unlike most artists, Viretta was not concerned with fame and fortune," said William Newman of Corcoran College of Art & Design in Washington. "She was so secure and confident that she saw no need to show or market her works."
"She took a couple of my classes, and having her there was like having a star; the rest of my students held her in awe, " he said. "She was a great drawer, a great painter and an even better sculptor. Her work was powerful and gorgeous."
Mrs. Brady pushed the edge of reality as a modern artist, said her assistant, Kim Dokka of Atlanta.
"Viretta was ahead of her time," Mrs. Dokka said. "For example, in 2007 the famous English sculptor Damien Hirst sold a piece called ‘For the Love of God,' a human skull coated in platinum and encrusted with diamonds, for $100 million. Viretta came up with the same concept years before."
A close friend, Judy Bentley of Atlanta, said Mrs. Brady's artwork was unique. "She did beaded dolls in ornate doll beds, with each bead hand-sewn by her. She did floral sculptures covered with crystals in a range of pastel colors. Earlier in her career, she did pottery in unusual shapes, then turned to sculpture in marble and bronze."
Viretta Rozhon Brady, 66, died Jan. 24 at her Atlanta home of complications from frontotemporal dementia, a little-understood neurological disease. Her memorial service will be at 3 p.m. Sunday at her art studio. In lieu of flowers, the family asks that checks payable to Emory University School of Medicine be sent to the Viretta Brady Discovery Fund in care of Emory University, 101 Woodruff Circle, Atlanta GA 30322, Attention: Barry Steig. H.M. Patterson & Son, Spring Hill, is in charge of arrangements.
Born in Chicago, Mrs. Brady came as a child with her family to live in Sandy Springs. She studied art at Florida State University, where she met and married her first husband. She went on to complete her studies at the University of Maryland, earning a master's degree in fine arts in 1982.
In the early 1990s she met Charles Brady, CEO and co-founder of Invesco. The two of them surprised family and friends by turning a gala 1995 birthday party for him into a memorable wedding event for both of them.
Together they renovated his Buckhead home and turned a house on an adjoining lot into an artist's studio custom-designed for her. Spacious and flooded with natural light, it contains ample work room, a well-stocked art library and living quarters that enabled her to work well into the wee hours, which she often did.
Four years ago, she was diagnosed with the onset of FTD, a disorder that causes portions of the brain's frontal lobes to atrophy. Mrs. Brady continued to work in her studio for as long as she could, Mrs. Dokka said, but gradually her ability to create diminished.
Last year Charles Brady donated $500,000 to establish the discovery fund in his wife's name. "His gift is a crucial step toward opening the door to the cause of FTD and finding effective treatments," said Dr. Allan Levey, chairman of Emory University's Department of Neurology and director of its Alzheimer's Research Center. "We are assembling a team for that purpose at Emory, and we intend to collaborate with two or three major U.S. research centers."
Other survivors include a daughter, Heather Pulier of Santa Monica, Calif.; a son, Michael King of Atlanta; a brother, Jeffrey Rozhon of Wrightsville; and four grandchildren.