Artist of the Month: Martha McAndrew

By Martha McAndrew

The picture is of Toby, my small seven-year-old bichon/maltese pet.  I was very fortunate to get him when he was five, because his first family could no longer care for him, and my 17-year old-poodle, McGee III, had just passed away.

I painted Toby a few months ago.  He’s pictured on my living room carpet and you may have spotted his toys in the picture.

When I retired in 2002, I filled my life with prayer, meditation, golf, and bowling. Then I decided to take a few one-hour watercolor art classes at the library. I really got hooked on art ,and as my 88-year-old bones began to reject golf and bowling, I searched for an art teacher.  

Al Ondush, a wonderful artist and great story teller agreed to give me private lessons. I studied with Al for eight years until he sadly passed away in 2019. At that time I was painting with a group near home that Joyce Harrington joined.  She invited me to join the art class at the Dunmore Senior Center where she belonged to a class of about 30 members. 

I took her up on her invitation even though I lived 10 miles from Dunmore, and I am so happy that I did because it is so much fun there.

Our great art teacher, Jill Swersie, is so helpful and positive. She is a wonderful teacher and a great artist, and she is a friend to all of us. About 25 members work in oils and there are five of us doing watercolors.

Until our class was interrupted by this terrible pandemic, we met on Mondays from 1 to 5 p.m. and we had a wonderful time. Members brought delicious treats every week and we really enjoyed seeing one another.  We had an annual Friday night art show with music and dancing and delicious teats.  

Our annual Monday afternoon Christmas party was very enjoyable, as we celebrated with a great sing-along featuring Ruth Boyles on guitar and Dee Noll on piano.  We also contributed money for presentation to a worthy charity each year. Our class recently reconvened on a small basis, but because of the pandemic I have not been there since last spring. I hope that everyone will be vaccinated soon so that our class can get back to normal.

Art has become a really big part of my life. I have one of my paintings printed for my annual Christmas card that I send out to 130 relatives and friends. I fashion other cards to use as birthday greetings, get well cards, and just friendly messages.  

I am so grateful that I joined the art class at the Dunmore Senior Center because I have made so many new friends there and I have also benefited from Jill’s great instruction.

 I have isolated myself because of the virus, and since I have no teacher, I decided to copy Saturday Evening Post covers of the fantastic artist, Norman Rockwell. This endeavor has provided me with hundreds of joyful hours, trying to learn from the master.

I’m almost a Dunmorean because I grew up in Scranton on the 900 block of Monroe Avenue, only five blocks from the Dunmore Senior Center.  In addition, my father was one of 10 siblings who were born and grew up at 152 E. Pine Street in Dunmore. My brother Jim and his wife Mary later lived in that family homestead, where they raised their six children. 

 I also arranged to have a Hometown Hero poster of my father, Eugene McAndrew, a World War I veteran, displayed at the Turkey Hill Market on Blakely Street for two years. Dunmore is a wonderful town!                              

Artist of the Month: Lucille Banick

Lucille Banick is shown with some of her paintings. Her preferred subjects are animals and landscapes. Shown here are a variety, including an owl, autumn scene, and floral still life.

The Dunmorean is responsible for Lucille Banick signing up for painting classes at the Dunmore Senior Center.  Prior to this class, her only art experience was in school and a brief, four week community course she took years ago. 

This is her fourth year painting with the Dunmore group.  Besides the artistic benefits, she enjoys the comraderie of the other students and learning from them as she visits and observes them during the class.   

“I miss not going to art class during this quarantine, and seeing Jill Swersie, our instructor, and the other artists,” she states, and mentions that she values Jill’s advice on “color, technique, and design.”  

Although Lucille’s preferred subjects are animals and scenery, during this quarantine she has channeled her energy and talent into touching up old paintings, frames, and yard décor.  She loves and enjoys the art group and the relationships forged there.  

“At home, I don’t paint as much, but recently reviewed and organized my finished art,” Lucille says. “I made 8”x10” copies of some of my paintings and will frame these as gifts for the holiday season. I am so glad to have learned painting at the Center!” 

Artist of the Month: Bill Graziano

Artist Bill Graziano

Graziano is trying to continue his artwork at home during the COVID-19 pandemic. This work in progress is called “The Artist.”

By Bill Graziano

After the Dunmore Senior Center had to close due to the pandemic, I found it necessary to seek other diversions to fill my time. It made me realize how much I missed the comaraderie of my fellow painters in Jill Swersie’s art class.

Having been a member of her class for over three years, its members have become like an extended family to me.

To fill the downtime, I began to work on overdue chores, such as downsizing basement storage. Upon completion of that task, I asked myself, “Now what can I do to fill the empty hours of confinement?” So, I decided to venture on a painting working from home.

I began by sketching my subject with chalk, then called upon my memory to aid me with all of Jill’s previous instructions. I have entitled it “The Artist,” and as you can see, it is still a work in progress.

The temporary closing of the Dunmore Senior Center has reminded me and fellow members how important its services are to the local seniors, and how it fulfills a void in our lives.

Hopefully, it will soon be able to open again!