More than fifty vivacious and colorful artworks pack the gallery at Warner Library in Tarrytown this month.
What might surprise you is that all were produced at nearby by senior citizens participating in the Wednesday afternoon art workshop, which meets year-round. Thanks to noted philanthropist Kathryn Davis, their paintbrushes can continue to transform blank canvas and tubes of acrylics into art for the next year.
President, expressed her gratitude as she announced the donation to an excited group at the exhibit's opening reception on Wednesday, July 6, noting that Mrs. Davis is “a senior artist who is a major benefactor to the Hudson Valley through her relationship with Scenic Hudson.”
The workshop participants come from many different backgrounds, but all said they have found great opportunities for growth and satisfaction in their artwork, coupled with pleasurable friendships. Assisted by professional artist (and for a while some years ago, this reporter) they explore, experiment, and enjoy color and form.
"I started out wanting to be a painter when I was young, but I had to make a living. In those days you weren't encouraged to be an artist unless you were really outstanding," said Cora Hubbard. "I didn't realize that you can become outstanding if you work at it. People are benefiting now from the new attitude that you can start later in life, even as a senior. When I was young, you had to be academically good or just forget it.”
"In the background I placed a painting O’Keeffe did in the 60s. I got the idea to put the two together, to contrast the black-and-white image with the color one in the background. It's fun,” she said. "It's hard work, but that's okay. That’s what you’re supposed to do to get where you want to go.”
The delicately beautiful artistic accomplishments of Claire Gagnon, whose arms and hands are formed in the manner caused by exposure to Thalidomide before birth, will probably surprise many people. She has been coming to the class for several years.
"People thought I couldn't do things, but I wanted to, and I found a way," she said. "I had to use tools sometimes to do things I couldn't do like everyone else, but there are ways around that and you get the same results. If I think about it in terms of other people with regular arms, I'd be stuck for the rest of my life."
A beach scene she did is, unfortunately, missing. She hopes that someone reading this might recognize it as something they picked up somewhere, maybe mistakenly believing it to be abandoned when it was temporarily on a floor or leaning against a building while in transit. If you know of its location, you can return it to .
“It’s out there somewhere,” Gagnon said. Turning her attention to her current work, she noted, “Sometimes, it gives me a very emotional feeling. In the beginning when I was painting, tears would come out of my eyes -- I don't know why. The first time I came here, someone put a paper on an easel, and I just dabbed paint on, experimenting. The color popped out at me."
Fina Randazzo was almost seventy years old when she first came to the class.
“I couldn't draw at all before the class,” she said. “I started when I met Marilyn Walters, who started the class and taught it for several years. The friendship of the group made it so enjoyable that I really wanted to learn and keep coming back every Wednesday. I love to do landscapes now, and I enjoyed learning how to do them in class. I had never done them before. I've had such pleasure. I want to express my unending gratitude to all the instructors over the years for teaching me so much.”
Ewa Cichalewski takes her own photos and does her paintings from them. Cichalewski was a doctor in her native Poland. She came here in 1987 and worked in the lab at Westchester Medical Center. She had never tried to paint before finding Neighborhood House two years ago.
“I was a little unsure of whether I could do it... It wasn't easy for me," Cichalewski said.
She takes a lot of photographs and uses some of them for her painting. When she sees something special, she said, like a single flower in her garden, she wants to preserve it, and painting enables her to do that. Instructor Christina Blatt said of Cichalewski’s creations, "She works in many different styles. She's amazing."
is a painter and illustrator. She buys the supplies, cuts the mats, and frames and hangs the show each year. Blatt illustrated a children's book, Earthquake Games, which was originally published by Simon & Schuster, and then again by Chicago Review Press in a new version for adults called Earthquakes, Volcanoes and Tsunamis.
“I did pen and ink drawings. To make them, I got all the information I needed from Warner Library,” Blatt said. “I would love to illustrate a story about and I'm looking for someone to team up with who can write it. Living in this area, I'm inspired by and the Legend.
Of the group she said, “These are people with so many different abilities. They could all sit at home and not do anything, and it's so inspiring that they come. They all have a good attitude and a good sense of humor, and we all have a good laugh. I find them all very inspiring. What makes me happy is that they are all so happy. They're so excited to see the results of their work hanging together.”
Participating workshoppers are Peggy Baird, Rani Bhatia, Anne Brown, Ewa Cichalewski, Josephine Capossela, Claire Gagnon, Bob Heinrichs, Cora Hubbard, Mary Lester, Violet Manca, Nancy Marin, Elaine Marks, Francesca Martinelli, Joan Lynn Padian, Fina Randazzo, and Gloria Sanchez. Rounding out the show is a large, complex, and carefully rendered gouache by instructor Christina Blatt. For information about the library gallery, please call 914-631-7734, or click here to go to their website.