Every now and again, I am startled out of my daily routine by something that brings me face to face with why I have dedicated my life to Art and Music. Such a moment occurred this week while I was hanging my little show at the Nathaniel Witherell House. I had been there before, taking photos of other people’s work for the website but, in those instances, I was there just long enough to get the job done and hadn’t gotten a feel for the place. So, I went over there to hang my pictures (10 days later that I had hoped due to the late arrival of my frames) not knowing what to expect and not expecting anything. Perhaps I am most receptive at such times, I don’t know. I carried in my things, two bubble-wrapped stacks of paintings in their shiny new frames and a bag of tools, and set to work. I unwrapped each one and leaned them up against the walls deciding where to hang them.
A staff member walked by and said, “Oh! New art! Hooray. We were afraid there wouldn’t be any this month. Looks great!” I felt guilty, of course. Late, especially 10 days late, is not my style.
The first group up was a set of four that I wanted to hang evenly spaced and at the same height, which took a little doing. While I was fiddling with the paintings, I overheard the conversation of 4 ladies sitting in their wheelchairs together in the hallway.
“Oh look,” one whispered loudly into the ear of her neighbor, “there’s new art going up. Let’s go over and look at it.”
“No, no. We shouldn’t do that,” her neighbor hissed. “We wouldn’t want to make her feel uncomfortable.”
“I know,” said the third, “let’s wait until she gets those up and then we’ll go look at them.”
They all agreed this was a good plan and waited respectfully, but impatiently, as I hung and re-hung, trying to get it right. Just as I was about to move on to the next group, two other people wheeled up and started to talk to me.
“Are you the artist?” one asked. “They are just beautiful.”
“Oh! We’re so happy you are here!” the other said, clapping her hands in delight and launching into a story about art that used to adorn the walls of her home before she came to live as a resident at Nathaniel Witherell. “I just don’t think I could live in a place without art,” she declared quietly, looking me right in the eye.
“I don’t think I could either,” I said, gazing into her vivid blue eyes.
At this point, my four respectful friends couldn’t restrain themselves any longer and came rolling at me with smiling, expectant faces. Suddenly, I was surrounded by a large group of people – staff members, patients in wheelchairs and visitors – all wanting to see the art. It had turned into a party. They were exclaiming and pointing out little details to each other and helping me get each painting positioned just right. I don’t think I have ever seen so much joy taken by so many at the simple act of hanging a few paintings.
After I was finished, my new friends and I stood back and surveyed our work.
“It looks good, don’t you think?” one lady whispered loudly to her neighbor.
“Yes, good. Very good,” she whispered back. “This will do nicely.”
The Nathaniel Witherell House is a treasure and the Greenwich Art Society is so lucky to be able to exhibit there. For me, it is a great, great privilege to show my work to these appreciative people in their home. It makes such a difference to them and reminds me that, as artists, we do something very important.
Several times during the year, the Greenwich Art Society reviews artists’ work for exhibition in small venues in Greenwich like the Nathaniel Witherell House. Watch the website for notices of these screenings and bring your work in. You will be glad you did.