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Four Rutland artists want their work to inspire other 80-somethings to keep at it

A downtown window reflects the cityscape over two colorful framed prints of flowers.
Nina Keck
/
Vermont Public
Helen Dillon's silkscreen prints are part of a pop-up exhibit in downtown Rutland put on by four residents of the Gables, a senior living community in the city.

Four residents of the Gables, a senior living community in Rutland, have made art for years.

And while the way they express their creativity has changed, their passion as artists hasn’t dulled.

Their work is currently on display in downtown Rutland in a pop-up exhibit.

Helen Dillon’s silk screens look like colorful snapshots taken with a whimsical camera.
Round yellow blossoms explode from one, while in another, brown horses lazily gather in a snowstorm.

Framed printed image of three brown horses gathering in snowstorm in front of red barn.
Nina Keck
/
Vermont Public
Helen Dillon has sold silk screen prints in galleries across Vermont. This one, called "Winter Morgans," is one of her favorites and is on display with the work of three other artists who all live at the Gables, a senior living community in Rutland.

“My inspiration is mostly Vermont,” Dillon says. “A lot of landscapes. I use my own photographs sometimes, and other times they are things that I clip out of magazines or newspapers.”

There’s a print Dillon made of a farmhouse and bright red barn. They’re perched on an emerald lawn and nearby trees are in full autumn glory.

“That’s in East Calais,” she said. “The round barn is no longer there, but the house is.”

Dillon’s prints have sold at art galleries across Vermont. But silk screening is labor-intensive, and the 89-year-old says it became too much.

Today, only a handful of her prints remain, which is why she was so pleased when her neighbors asked her to participate in this exhibit.

“It's just great to be at the Gables where I’m not doing any printing anymore, but be able to show them somewhere," Dillon says.

And while she can no longer do silk screening, Helen Dillon says she’s found a new creative outlet: felting wool, and creating small animals with it.

A look down an art gallery wall at more than a dozen white rectangles with printed lines and colors.
Nina Keck
/
Vermont Public
Artist Bob Lloyd used Photoshop on his computer to create 31 images that use lines, colors and photographs to explore how things relate and blend. He calls the series "Shoreline."

Bob Lloyd has found a new artistic outlet as well.

In college, Lloyd said he studied architecture, then he taught art for 35 years at Andover, a prep school in Massachusetts. He and his wife had a home in Tinmouth.

“I would love if I could go around sparking people, you know put a little electrode on their nose or something, you know, and say: 'You’re here, you’re still alive, don’t give up yet.'”
Bill Ramage, who organized a pop-up exhibit of art by residents of the Gables

But when they moved to the Gables in 2016, he left his drawing and painting supplies behind.

Now, the 88-year-old uses his computer to make art. For this exhibit, he used Photoshop to craft 31 images that play with intersecting lines, photographs and colors, to explore how things relate and blend.

Four older artists pose for a photograph with two men standing in the rear and two women seated in front.
Nina Keck
/
Vermont Public
Bill Ramage, back left, has been active in the Rutland arts scene for decades and was a professor of art for 37 years at Castleton University. He now lives at the Gables, a senior living community in Rutland. He organized the Gables pop-up exhibit with fellow artists and neighbors (clockwise from top right) Bob Lloyd, Helen Dillon and Lowell Klock. You can see part of the memoire Ramage created for the exhibit using his old T-shirts.

Lloyd stands in front of an image with vivid stripes of blue and orange. He encourages visitors to stare for a few moments at the line where the colors overlap.

“This is the idea of finding something between two edges that is more than just an edge,” he says.

Lloyd is curious about all sorts of edges. He uses photographs of cities and beaches to explore the line between surf and sand, skyscraper and sky, and other, deeper chasms.

“Now, I’m growing older right? And I’m standing on kind of a shore of my life, and I’m thinking, well, this could be alive and dead,” Lloyd says as he steps away from one image and tilts his head. “Or it could be more interesting than that and more complicated than that.”

More from Vermont Public: How senior center patrons, admins are connecting after — and because of — pandemic isolation

Artist Lowell Klock moved to the Gables four years ago. Since the 1970s, her creative outlet has been her camera.

“Photography really took me,” Klock says, “because I love to capture the things that I see that are often unusual.”

Things other people may not notice, like a staircase dappled in shadow, the curve of an old-fashioned shutter latch, or the ripe red fruit of a crabapple tree.

A mental curved latch against brick and a green painted shutter in sunlight.
Nina Keck
/
Vermont Public
Lowell Klock says she likes to take pictures of things other people may not notice, like the ornate curve of this old-fashioned shutter latch.

Klock has taken photographs all over the world, and several of her faraway images are on display in the Rutland exhibit.

At 82, she says carrying her heavy cameras has gotten more difficult. So she’s using her iPhone more, and focusing its lens on subjects closer to home.

“If it’s really a passion for you, you can continue it as long as you can," Klock says. "I mean that’s the thing, and that’s what I’m doing.”

Artist and Gables resident Bill Ramage says that’s why he organized this exhibit, to show that if you’re an artist, your creativity might evolve, but it doesn’t have to stop.

“Monet painted his water lilies in his 70s, which was pretty old for someone in 1920," Ramage says. "And Frank Lloyd Wright designed the Guggenheim when he was in his 80s.”

Ramage taught art for more than 35 years at Castleton University, and he turned 80 this year. He says he still spends three hours a day in his studio, and is grateful he can do that. But he says he’s saddened by how many people feel defeated by age.

“I would love if I could go around sparking people, you know put a little electrode on their nose or something, you know, and say: 'You’re here, you’re still alive, don’t give up yet,'” he says.

The pop-up exhibit showing four artists from the Gables is at 57 Merchants Row in Rutland and runs through Oct. 1.

Have questions, comments or tips? Send us a message or get in touch with reporter Nina Keck:

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One in five Vermonters is considered elderly. But what does being elderly even mean — and what do Vermonters need to know as they age? I’m looking into how aging in Vermont impacts living essentials such as jobs, health care and housing. And also how aging impacts the stuff of life: marriage, loss, dating and sex.
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