The Art of Gathering

Weather, unseasonably warm last weekend. Uninterrupted cobalt blue skies. Temperatures in the 70’s. November in Vermont?

A reception for my solo art exhibit was scheduled for this unseasonably exquisite day. An “artist talk” too. Nerves always get the better of me when I know I am speaking in front of a group. Talking about myself never comes easily but I believed in this body of work and was ready to chat about it. The day felt particularly festive. Maybe it was the influence of the weather? Something was in the air. Due to Covid my show at the Norman Williams Library in Woodstock, VT had been postponed and rescheduled a couple of times. Disappointingly so. Yet, it hadn’t been the right time until it was.

Somewhere before 1pm last Saturday I prepared for the reception. Seltzers, sweets, and a fresh bouquet. My husband Jon and I carried the many items from the parking lot to the library entrance. I paused at the large announcement chalkboard easel positioned just outside the main library doors.  My name carefully written in white chalk. The announcement of the reception and artist talk written with equal precision just underneath my name. I took in the special moment as a smile grew upon my face. A flood of thoughts raced through my brain. The years of hard work. The even longer years of study. A solo exhibit in my new home.  Vermont. As my breath settled my mind rested on how much my parents would have enjoyed this day especially my mother.

We continued into the library and up the stairs to set up for the afternoon. The paintings immediately came into view at the far end of the stately building. I was thrilled. The subtle grandeur of the Mezzanine Gallery stunningly framed my soul on canvas. Eight large paintings from my dance series were meticulously installed. One smaller piece featured on an easel off to the left near the guest book and my artist statement. Cherished images.

Years of study. Form and movement. How the body moves. How does the body move? A lifelong question I hope to pursue forever artistically. Dancers in quiet moments deliberately narrated on the left wall. Reflective in their human moments. Dancers in motion grouped by design on the right wall. Posters. Signage professionally created by my exquisite friend and fellow artist Paula Cloudpainter. My exhibit made better by her.

The reception started early as people began to visit prior to the scheduled time. My talk was to begin somewhere around 2pm. Chairs seemed to be set up while I focused on my nerves but once behind the podium, I looked at the audience of friendly faces and relaxed into the reason for the day. Interested and accepting. Some trips and stutters were steadied by a few very familiar faces. My artistic voice was celebrated. I was grateful…

The afternoon quickly passed as visitors streamed in and out. I chatted with lovely neighbors, students of mine, friends of mine, new acquaintances, and fellow artists. I adored each conversation. The art of conversation refreshingly new again. An artist friend and I spent quite a bit of time talking about the dancers as the reception wound down. He asked me the most inspiring question of the day “What next?” “Where will I take my work next?” I reveled in his questions as I had already begun imagining the “what next!” Excitedly while painting my newest piece “Repose” the possibilities of the “what next” have started to emerge. The perfect question to end a truly wonderful afternoon. With so many endings and interruptions in living due to the pandemic it felt strikingly reassuring to have hopeful thoughts once again for the future.

“Art is a very personal thing. It supersedes the concept of career or success. It is available to us all and because of it all things are possible” –Carole Ann Borges



Author: Elizabeth Ricketson

A graduate of Providence College with a BA in English, Elizabeth Ricketson has always had a love of literature and the fine arts. Elizabeth’s essays focus on life experiences and life in Vermont.

3 thoughts

  1. I wish I could have seen this exhibit!
    I admire your artistic ability, Liz, to make your ballerinas flow and dance for me.
    I’m so glad your talent was showcased and celebrated!

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