Sister Sister owners Rita Harrington (left to right) and Tina Higdon are pictured with Christie Hudson, who is responsible for the collection of artwork by her late husband, Gary Hudson. Harrington and Higdon returned this artwork to Christie after she'd believed it lost for a long time. Photo by Kathryn Schiliro

Sister Sister owners Rita Harrington (left to right) and Tina Higdon are pictured with Christie Hudson, who is responsible for the collection of artwork by her late husband, Gary Hudson. Harrington and Higdon returned this artwork to Christie after she’d believed it lost for a long time. Photo by Kathryn Schiliro

By Kathryn Schiliro, Managing Editor

Christie Hudson didn’t think she’d ever see her late husband, Gary’s, painting again.

The artwork, the canvas of which is taller than the average person, was completed in 2003, shortly after the couple came to Madison and repurposed the old Farmers Hardware space into a studio for Gary.

Gary befriended Michael Hutchins around that time, and loaned Hutchins the piece for his office, Christie said. Money never exchanged hands, she said, and so Hutchins never actually owned the painting; it was always on loan.

The artwork was housed in Hutchins’ office at the Ice House in downtown Madison and he moved it with him when he moved his office to the old Piggly Wiggly building on North Main, Christie recalled. Eventually he left the space, and Christie assumed the painting went with him.

“It was a lost painting,” she said.

Three months ago, Rita Harrington and Tina Higdon, owners of Sister Sister Beauty Salon, bought two spaces at the North Main building. The deal included the contents of the spaces, one of which housed the Hudson piece.

In a strange twist of fate, someone came into the salon and offered $200 for the artwork. Anne Browning, who works at Sister Sister, had a customer in her chair who stopped the transaction.

“She said, ‘That’s a Gary Hudson painting.’ So I pulled Tina and my customer aside,” Browning said.

The Sister Sister owners soon learned of the artist, the significance of the artwork, and that it hadn’t exactly been bought and paid for to begin with. So they decided to make it right.

After a few phone calls were exchanged, Christie picked up the painting, actually worth about $8,000, last Friday.

“It just felt like the right thing to do,” Harrington said, when asked about why she and Higdon returned the artwork. “It had to be God’s set-up for it to happen the way it did… He wanted you (Christie) to have your painting.”

“In today’s world, it’s just the sweetest thing ever,” Christie said. “I am deeply endebtted to them.”

A show of Gary’s work is slated for the Georgia Museum of Art in 2016. Now, the curator will have one more piece to choose from, Christie said.