For 35 years Todd Healy has been a treasured presence in Alexandria, whether at his Gallery Lafayette on S. Royal Street or at the Old Town Farmers’ Market on Market Square. His framed maps, calendars and notecards are immediately recognized, as much a hallmark of Old Town Alexandria as pineapple finials or dog statuettes bearing baskets of flowers in an enticing doorway.
Zebra visited Todd’s studio on a busy, blustery President’s Day, after the annual parade. The windows displayed an array of vintage and antique images of Mount Vernon. One was a map of the vast property once held by General George and Martha Washington. Todd greeted us from the back workshop where he crafts custom framing in addition to creating his iconic artwork, exclaiming “I love the Zebra!” Sure enough, the February issue was open on the front counter.
Todd loves Old Town. It’s not only where he and his family call home, and his place of business, but it’s where his heart is. Gallery Lafayette is a treasure trove of the visual history of Port City. Maps adorn every wall and display window. While most of the maps and prints depict Alexandria in the 18th and 19th Centuries, Todd is currently working on a bird’s eye view of Annapolis, circa 1863-64, by Charles Mangus.
His work involves painstaking hand coloring of a printed copy of an original map that was in the possession of an 85-year-old career Air Force retiree, a framing client who gave permission for the reproduction. Todd has so far spent some 160 hours perfecting color, shading and illumination of the map illustrations. Ships in the harbor, landscape features, and building details make these images a masterpiece worthy of collectors who pay five figures and up for rare and noteworthy original cartography. With about 20 hours of detailed work to go, the untrained eye would hardly know that the illustration as it stands today isn’t complete.
Todd Healy has earned immediate name recognition in Old Town, across the city, and among art circles throughout the DMV. Clients have included A. B. Culvahouse, Katie Couric, developer Charles E. Smith and Cokie Roberts, who used an 1861 image of the incomplete Capitol dome, colorized by Todd, for the cover of her book, Capital Dames. “Lincoln told them to keep working on the dome despite the outbreak of the Civil War,” Todd explained. “So they kept working on it!”
When asked when he’ll be done with the Bird’s Eye View of Annapolis, with a wink and a smile Todd mused, “Ohhhhh, when I’m done working on it!”