The Creamery Arts Center presents "Neighbors, Strangers and Friends," celebrating life in the North Fork Valley through the voices of 18 community elders, and the lens of photographer Rita Clagett. This multi-media installation, opening Sept. 13 in the Peach Gallery, features portraits of senior citizens that Clagett interviewed over the past year and a half, and highlights some of their stories in a soundtrack that will play throughout the show.
"I hope people will come and sit in the gallery and listen to these stories of valley lore and unique personal experiences, and enjoy looking around the room at the faces of their neighbors," says Rita.
The exhibit is the culmination of Clagett's term as senior outreach coordinator for the Creamery. While the volunteer duties of the post include scheduling Creamery artists to present ongoing demonstrations and workshops in several senior centers and homes throughout Delta County, she wanted "to do something more to recognize and celebrate the value of older people." The Creamery enthusiastically embraced the idea of honoring and showcasing some of the community's senior citizens.
"Some of the people I interviewed were friends," she says, "and some were neighbors or strangers who have become friends. If you come to the show, you'll see some of your own friends and neighbors, and probably some strangers, too." Clagett says she put the word out that she wanted to interview people over 65 who had lived in the valley all their lives or who had chosen to come to it later.
"At first I didn't get a lot of response," she says, "and I also felt kind of awkward asking strangers to open up to me like that. It took a while, but eventually one person would suggest another, and so on. I heard a lot of wonderful stories in the past year and a half. Everyone has stories that other people can enjoy and learn from. Sometimes it just takes someone wanting to hear them."
Selecting audio clips from the interviews, Clagett has woven together a soundtrack of voices that will accompany the photographic portraits with stories of wisdom, courage, humor and local history.
The people she interviewed will each get a disc of their interview and a portrait as a thank you for participating in the project. "Their families will be able to enjoy these stories for years to come," says Rita, "and the community will have a recording of some of its history."
Also on display in the gallery will be artworks by some of the residents of Horizons Care Center in Eckert, who participated in watercolor classes taught by Creamery artist Sherry Polcyn last winter. As part of the senior outreach program, Polcyn volunteered to teach two classes a month for three months to an avid group of senior students, and framed their resulting paintings for display.
The Creamery invites everyone to come meet "Neighbors, Strangers and Friends" at an opening reception for the show on Friday, Sept. 13, from 6-8 p.m., at the Creamery Arts Center, 165 West Bridge Street in Hotchkiss.
This gala event is free to the public and features refreshments, a cash wine and beer bar, great art throughout the beautifully restored building, and always excellent company. Summer hours for the Creamery are Monday — Saturday from 11 a.m. until 6 p.m.blog comments powered by Disqus