Artist Helen Dillon recently turned 89 and found herself having to give up her long-time successful printmaking business, along with 53 acres and her horses, to move to The Gables in East Mountain, a retirement community in Rutland.
“It was a big change for me,” she said over the phone recently.
But she found the Gables a great place to live and started making art on a smaller scale. The truth is, her story is that of many people, those who reluctantly move into a nursing home with preconceived ideas, only to find a pleasant surprise – an unexpected community.
What does this have to do, you might wonder, with the opening of two new exhibits in downtown Rutland on Sunday from 2-4pm? Local artist Bill Ramage put on two shows, one in particular, to highlight the gables and the people who live there.
In a small retail space on the corner of West Street and Merchants Row, Ramage has set up a pop-up gallery in an empty storefront.
“The reason I want to do this is because I know people who believe that places like the Gables are a place to die, and they just refuse to take the plunge,” Ramage said. “I had a friend who was 90, he was alone, all his friends were dead, he was housebound, and one time I started saying, ‘You should think about moving’ – and as soon as I I said it, I thought he was going to kill me. People honestly believe that places like the Gables are death camps, and they’re not.
Ramage moved there three years ago and found an unexpected community where people “love each other, care about each other and look out for each other”.
He, Dillon and fellow artists Bob Lloyd and Lowell Snowdon Klock are the featured performers on Ramage’s new show “Four Artists from the Gables.”
“It’s a celebration of gables,” Ramage said. “It’s a good life.”
Klock, a well-known local photographer, moved to the Gables with her husband years ago and said: ‘The reason we came here is because we had a friend (who was) one of the early settlers of the Gables when it opened. And the apartment we have is lovely.
“I think people think it’s just for old people who are wasting away, but (it’s not), Klock said. being here. It’s independent, and that’s what a lot of people don’t understand; they think they’re going to a retirement home and they’re not.
Klock takes several of his photos directly from the windows of his apartment, one of which is displayed in the exhibition.
Ramage’s display is eye-catching at the back of the room – a grid of squares that seem to tell a story.
“It’s my memoir on the t-shirt,” he said, and he talked a bit about being raised in the Salvation Army and going to 17 different schools because of it, followed from art school, a master’s degree and an entire summer on a motorcycle. on the country.
Dillon’s pieces in the exhibit are those she collected from galleries and they reflect much of her work, landscapes and landscapes of Vermont.
And Lloyd’s 30 smaller pieces were hung in a row to create a cohesive piece called “Shoreline”.
“He sees in it a separation between being alive and being dead,” Ramage said. “As (that which) separates earth and water.”
“I realized in a general sense, I’m 88 and I’m kind of on the shore of life,” Lloyd explained. “I was interested in how the shoreline can have a lot of variety, not just one thing, one place, one experience.”
“I’ve always had a passion for art, but my other passion is art history,” Ramage said, and to that end he’s set up a second exhibit in the B&G gallery just down the street. street, titled “A Lamentation for a Lost Lexicon”. , Phase Two, Jasper Johns Variations on the Three Flags. The exhibition is a tribute to the work carried out by Ramage over the course of approximately one year.
If you don’t know who Johns is, he is the American abstract and pop art painter best known for his depictions of the American flag, which he started in 1954 after apparently burning all of his previous works. His work has sold for millions more than once, including a $110 million sale in 2010. Johns is 92 years old today.
Ramage spent a year working on his interpretations of Johns’ famous flags, combined with the influence of another famous painter of the time, Jackson Pollock. Ramage layered their famous styles with lyrics from harrowing songs and poems he altered and footage from the school shooting news. The result is a powerful statement about this country.
“There was an incredible cultural shift after World War II between 1949 and 1964,” Ramage explained. “The other subject of the show is all the elementary school children who have been killed in school shootings,” he added. “I consider all these children as collateral damage of a culture war. This is about bereavement, I can’t imagine the grief of the parents.
Both exhibits open with a joint reception at both locations at 57 and 74 Merchants Row, 2-4 p.m. on Sunday, August 21, featuring music, wine and appetizers. The common thread of the two:
“I just turned 80,” Ramage said. “People of my generation, (we are) living history.”
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