It was like a scene from school days when our art teachers released our creative urges with finger paint and broad expanses on which to play.  On Tuesday, December 10 the entire community was invited to a free for all Paint Party on the ground level hallway outside of the Plymouth Harbor Art Studio.

Resident artists – from the seasoned pro to the rank novice – picked up a brush and palette, pastels or whatnot to create their own design and make their unique mark on the walls that will soon come down to make way for the Wellness Center renovations.

Fran Knight and Maureen Aldrich, two of the Art Studio stalwarts, planned this special event for weeks in advance with some very specific goals in mind.  Of course, this Paint Party was a festive way to celebrate the transition of the old studio – grown tired from almost two decades of constant use and accumulation of old stuff – to the new, which will be available to artists this Spring with the unveiling of the new Wellness Center.

Many of the active studio artists participated on that first day and there were guest painters as well.  Beverly Vernon, one of the bright newer stars of the studio, created the “talk of the show” in her splash painting inspired by the chaotic drips and splashes of the famed expressionist Jackson Pollack.  Bev said she’s always wanted to try throwing paint at a wall and her results were spectacular.

Other artists took their cues from Vasily Kandinsky, the Russian artist credited with the first abstract paintings.  Kandinsky’s abstract circle designs in tightly contained squares inspired a long series of colorful patterns down the southern wall.

Pat Barkoff, a studio regular, aimed for whimsy with a giant rabbit, where on the opposite wall “windows” revealing two imagined, yet realistic worlds, from our artist/organizers Maureen and Fran.  Their trompe l’oeil designs created the illusion that these windows on the interior wall looked out onto Sarasota Bay filled with sailboats, a blue sky with birds and bright cheerful orange geraniums blooming in the window boxes.

A Yellow line, yet another illusion painted right now the center of the hallway floor, served as our yellow brick road ending at the glimmering green Emerald City on the far wall arising from a bright red field of poppies. Thanks to Maureen for that extra touch.

Isabel Pedersen and Celia Catlett were also adding their own fanciful art. Celia created a William Morris design with sidewalk chalk on the wall.  Bill Murtagh painted a cook in homage to the tasty creations of dining services and Jim Myers, our director of Environmental Services and lounge pianist, scratched out a stick man (bless his heart!)

Maureen and Fran smiled and watched as a parade of residents who rarely sought out the art studio came down the hallway to admire the work in progress.  Over the next week days and weeks leading to the holidays, more visitors strolled through the crowd-created exhibit.   That extra bit of attention was all part of the plan, according to Maureen.

“Our primary purpose was to create an event that included and attracted all residents, not just those of us who actively use the art studio,” Fran added.  “The new art studio will not be larger in square footage and it will likely still accommodate up to 11 individual artist work stations. However, the new studio is expected to be organized in such a way to be even more functional space for group workshops and classes.”

There are great expectations for a “renaissance” for this thriving little arts community. Their excitement about the plans was all the more evident when Joanne Hastings, one of their first visiting artists, arrived on the floor accompanied by executive staff Harry Hobson, Tena Wilson, Becky Pazkowski and Gordon Okawa.  It is thanks to the vision and a generous gift from Joanne that the Wellness Center renovations could begin to take form.  Now with construction beginning, it is clearly an exciting time for the entire community.

Joanne, a long-time art aficionado and artist herself in younger years, nonetheless picked up a brush again and proceeded to create a charming vision of a tree. “Frankly, I was impressed with her impressionistic technique,” Maureen later shared.

The nature of some art is that while universal or ageless, only a very small percentage of created art lasts forever.  Some say art is truly in the making and creative process.  When the walls are torn down to make way for the exciting new future of Wellness at Plymouth Harbor, these ephemeral gems (and scribbling) will give way to bright new memories.  Here’s to a Happy and Artful New Year!