By Nick Brothers
Liz Cantwell had just gotten off work from her job as a hairdresser at JC Penney on a Saturday morning, Jan. 18 of this year, when she walked outside and saw there was a large billow of smoke about a half mile off in the distance. Her workplace had no cellphone reception, so after walking outside she started to receive several emergency text notifications all at once. They all said that her house was on fire.
Cantwell got to her street on foot. Most of the house had burned down, but firefighters had been on scene extinguishing the flames. Inside of her home, there was a man who rented space from Cantwell and two of her pets. There were animals in the yard when she got there, and the firefighters thought the pets inside had made it.
“Those are not my pets,” Cantwell said.
In the fire, Cantwell lost all of her artwork, her beloved dog, Joy, and her cat, Love, as well as all of her belongings. To this day, the cause of the fire has remained undetermined. There were no fire hazards at the source of the fire, and her roommate at the time was asleep when the house caught fire. The fire didn’t leave much, and she still
had her mortgage on the place. Insurance was able to help out, but since then, she has been living in a mobile camper and paying off debts as she can manage it.
To help Cantwell get back on her feet, her sister, Melanie Norman — with some help from friends and family — organized a benefit “Bon Temps Party,” which is French for “good times,” in reference to Cantwell’s New Orleans history.
The benefit will be held at George’s Majestic Lounge Sunday, June 8, from 5 to 9 p.m. There will be live music from Bonnie and Stephen Turner, Emily Kaitz, Mike Sumler, Snake Eyes & the Bug Band, and Oreo Blue throughout the night. There will be a silent auction and seafood gumbo provided by Lyn D’s Cajun. The suggested donation is $12 in advance and $15 at the door.
The silent auction will feature art, pottery, stained glass, fine jewelry, a resort vacation, massages, professional services, dance lessons, gift baskets, gallery pieces, private yoga or dance lessons, photography, among others.
“I hope we can make as much money as possible for Liz,” said Charlene Schubert, who has known Cantwell for eight years. “She’s one of the most positive people I know. Every time you talk to her she will point out something positive.”
Her personality lends itself to her work with Home Instead Senior Care. Four nights a week, Cantwell provides company to senior citizens overnight. When she isn’t providing care, she works as a Realtor with Coldwell Banker.
“Liz was why I moved my family to Fayetteville,” said Dianne Stewart, who has known Cantwell for about 15 years. “She’s been an integral part of my family, and she’s enriched my life in countless ways. She’s such a special person, and when she hugs you, you feel it in your soul. I’m hoping this benefit will help her. I can’t wait to help out.”
Beyond her kind attitude, Cantwell is known for her paintings of still life, nature and portraits. She often takes photographs of different things and translates the image onto a canvas, painting what she sees.
“A favorite one of hers that I have is of a water lily,” Schubert said.
Because Cantwell was occupied with attending classes at the University of Arkansas to become an art teacher, she was not available for comment.