Artist of the Month: Mary Kay Hopkins

By Mary Kay Hopkins

I have been painting at the Dunmore Senior Center for 13 years now. Where does the time go?  I was wandering around trying to decide what to do with my life after having been diagnosed with breast cancer.  

I decided to try my hand at painting, and I was welcomed with open arms by Jill Swersie, our teacher, and her students, who changed my life. The years flew by. I blossomed, as all of Jill’s students did.  

Then COVID reared its ugly head.  The Center had to shut down.  My husband of 55 years was hit by a car and died 13 days later from his injuries.  A year later, I was once again diagnosed with breast cancer.  This time, I relied on my painting ability to get me through. 

 Jill is not currently teaching at the Center due to the virus, but a few vaccinated students still get together there to paint. We miss Jill and wait for her return.  She always knows what colors to mix together or to add to a painting to make it pop!

I am proud to have some of my paintings displayed at the wonderful Mansours Restaurant in Scranton’s Hill Section.  Because there are so many in need right now, all my sales are being donated to the local food bank. 

I am now working on a portrait of one of my dogs, aptly named “Trouble.”  Happily, I am also in full remission and enjoying life.  

Note from Dolly Michalczyk:   When I joined the oil painting class at the Dunmore Senior Center, I only knew one person there, and I had never painted before.  When I saw the beautiful paintings that people were working on, I was quite intimidated.  

Mary Kay Hopkins was like a Welcome Wagon, encouraging me, giving me suggestions, and loaning me items that I didn’t have.  I was so uptight.  

She would greet me with a smile and throughout the class ask, “Are you having fun, yet?”  I would answer with a crabby, “No!”   

Because of Mary Kay and the welcoming people like her, I stuck it out, and, yes, and after 12 years, I can say that I am still painting and having fun!  In so many ways, Mary Kay is an inspiration to us all.

Artist of the Month: Dolly Michalczyk

June Artist of the Month Dolly Michalczyk is shown working on her abstract painting entitled “Long Island.”

By Dolly Michalczyk

Painting classes at the DCC have provided us with a creative outlet, contact with other like-minded folks, and friendships.  For a year-and-a-half our classes had been cancelled.  

At first, classmate Bev Petrini and I would paint outside, while a few of our braver classmates painted as a group.  Then it just got too cold. 

One would think that with all our free time we would have been painting up a storm, but in reality, most of us did nothing on our own.  Perhaps that speaks to the power of the group, or the need for our teacher’s input, or in my case, my laziness to drag out all I would need to paint in my dining room.  I did take a few online drawing and watercolor classes through The Greenhouse Project, as well as creative writing.  

I missed my friends and colleagues and our terrific teacher Jill Swersie.  May was my first time back.  Returning, it was wonderful to see a few dedicated painters, a few new faces, and even greater to hear of the return of our class on June 6. 

In reality, my only work in oils during this quarantine was touching up a huge commissioned piece of Long Island, as seen in the photo.  It is an abstract representation of that seaside area.  This is my first attempt at abstract painting, and while I enjoyed the freedom, I enjoy realism or impressionism best.  

I am currently working on a painting of my grand-puppies, my youngest granddaughter, Kara, in a dance recital, and my oldest granddaughter, Maura, running cross country.

Being back at the Dunmore Hub has been a joy.  We truly motivate each other.

Artist of the Month: Joe Bartos

Joe Bartos poses with some of his unique creations,including “Hi, Toucan,” “Sweet or Dry,” “Jacarandas,” “Lemonade, Anyone?” and “Young Norma Jeane.”

This month’s Artist of the Month is Joe Bartos, a Dunmore resident. He has been painting with the group at the Dunmore Senior Center since 2008. 

Joe’s fellow students applaud him for his vision, as he is the originator of this column, after wondering aloud why “no one ever recognizes senior citizens” for their talents and artistic achievement.  

Joe says he is still learning and “experimenting with realism and impressionism.” He favors “rich and bold colors,” and explains, “nothing cold,” which he avoids.

 A lifelong learner, Joe states that he learns something new with each painting.  His biggest challenge and one that consumed a great deal of his time was “Young Norma Jeane”, a painting of which he is most proud.

Joe enjoys his friends at the Center and has even been painting there with a small group since it reopened, before official classes resumed.  

He commends Alison Boga, the director, for her innovations.  

Eagerly awaiting her return, Joe also has a great admiration for our teacher, Jill Swersie and her expertise.

Joe’s final words of wisdom to fellow artists is, “Keep on painting!”