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Maggie Ross paints memories of Fayette County

A watercolor painting by Maggie Ross of the Spartan Bowl is one of 52 works Ross will have on display in the Whitewater Valley Arts Association gallery beginning Fridayevening.

By DARRELL SMITH - dsmith@newsexaminer.com

The 2019 Whitewater Valley Arts Association art show schedule will get off to a memorable start Friday with 52 watercolors.

Arts Association member Maggie Ross painted one of her memories each week during 2018, Sharon McQueen, WVAA president, said. The paintings will be displayed this month, with an opening show from 6-8 Friday at the WVAA gallery, 402 Central Ave.

Ross said that she and her daughter moved back to Connersville five years ago.

“About a year ago over the holidays I decided life wasn’t working and I didn’t know why. Then I realized I hadn’t unpacked and really made this place a home,” she said. 

So she began painting one place a week.

“It was amazing, the change in myself; all of sudden I felt more rooted and felt this was home,” she said. “I started with my grandparents’ home, the first memory I have of here.”

She worked through memories of the area from the time her family moved here at age 10. She wrote a poem about each memory, a person associated with it or a personal memory of that place.

She painted several memories associated with the Fayette County Free Fair around fair week. Her painting of the Spartan Bowl came around Thanksgiving because that is the week of the big game with Union County, Ross continued. She painted Roehler’s Christmas Tree Farm near Christmas.

“My grandma passed away during the year,” she said. “She always took us to Dairy Twist after everything big, every dance recital, music recital or graduation, we always went there after. That week, I painted Dairy Twist in her memory.”

The project took over and structured her life for those 52 weeks, she said. She completed each painting Thursday night or early Friday morning, wrote about it and then posted it on Facebook. Then she went out to find the next location, take a picture and start over.

Each painting took about 10-12 hours and each poem, an hour or two. Her only rule is thatwhatever she painted had to be local and if a business, locally owned, she said.

“There are so many negatives today about our community and I think they are so loud, but there are so many good things we forget about or we overlook,” Ross said. “I tried to figure out each one of those places that are the good things in this town that are why I wanted to stay here, raise my daughter and make it a home.”

After posting pictures of the works online, many people encouraged her along the way, some she had never met previously. 

Each painting is accompanied by a story that either begins or ends with a paragraph starting with “Let me tell you a story ....”

For her painting of the WVAA gallery, she concluded with:

“Let me tell you a story. A story of places; places we did not realize we had, A story of people; people, creating and dreaming big, A story in paintings and words. A story of home.”

She also said during Ross’ show opening Friday from 6-8 p.m., time will be taken to remember and honor Richard Smith, who passed away Tuesday.

Smith practiced law in the building he and his wife Marilyn donated to the Arts Association after he retired. The building has been transformed into the gallery as well as a place for artists to work and for programs for the public.

WVAA benefactor recalled

Richard N. Smith, whose former law building is now the WVAA gallery, will be recalled and honored during Friday's opening reception for Maggie Ross's artworks. He passed away on Tuesday.

Smith practiced law in the building that he and his wife Marilyn donated to the Arts Association after he retired. The building has been transformed into the gallery as well as a place for artists to work and for programs for the public.

His obituary is on Page A2.