Some came from Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Long Island; others from the New York area… all to celebrate and participate in the 4thAnnual Art Show, an event inspired by the spirit and enthusiasm of Br. Gerard Cormier. “Four years ago, when I turned 90, I thought it would be a good idea to mark the occasion by having an exhibit of some of my Bellport inspired watercolors. I never thought the event would, over the years, turn out to bring together so many talented people who have discovered the wonder of art.“
This year’s event, which happened the day after Br. Gerard’s 93rdbirthday included an exhibit of 60 of his watercolors. Also on exhibit were 21 photographs taken by three brothers—Brothers Ken Hogan, Steven Kappes, and James Norton—focusing on nature, still-life objects, and architectural design. Constance DelVecchio Maltese, an accomplished Portrait Artist, was unable to attend for health reasons but did send a representative sample of her portrait work celebrating the great explorers of the 1500s.
This year’s event added a new feature: a Paint Nite event. Twenty brave souls took up the challenge of discovering the artist within! Provided with easels, canvas, brushes, and paints, each promising artist, under the guidance of a Paint Nite artist, took their initial steps at creating a painting of their own. With a portrait of sunflowers as a model to follow, each participant added their own creative interpretation of the sunflower portrait. Lalow McDonald, one of Champagnat Hall’s longest serving heath aides, said the experience made her feel, in her words, “Liberated!” “I sat down in front of my easel and felt nervous. ‘I can’t paint. What am I doing here,’” she said to herself. “Once I started painting, I felt relaxed and free. It was a great experience. I created my own sunflower painting.”
Afterwards, Br. Gerard reflected on the day. He said, “It was a truly remarkable day. There was something different about this year’s event. It was more of a festival than an exhibition. People got involved in the experience. Even when I was teaching, I never accepted the excuse, ‘I can’t draw a straight line with a ruler.’ We all have a talent to create something beautiful. Once you paint a cloud you will never look at a cloud the same way. You see it through the eyes of an artist.”
While Br. Gerard and his paintings may have been the inspiration for the art exhibit, it was the personal involvement of everyone who participated in the day that made it so amazing. “I have been given a gift” said Br. Gerard. “Painting, living and being involved in the Bellport community, my family, friends, and other artists—it’s all a GIFT. I am so grateful for it all.”