TimeGallery opens Saturdaysm,, 11-1 and DAILY with a text or call to 315-941-9607.
Art Show Supports Peacemaking
Art Exhibit Supports Peacemaking
Cooperstown NY- True Friends, an Art Garage exhibition of works by Nancy Waller (1918-2017), will continue through Saturday April 8, 11-1.
Dedicated to her friend, Ellen St John (1925-2022), the show will help build awareness of the new Ellen St. John Peacemaker Award. All proceeds from each modestly priced artwork will benefit the award fund. Deb Dickinson will be at the gallery on the last day, 11-1, to informally discuss the new award she has been a leader in establishing. Purchases are not necessary to make a donation to the Award Fund. The award will be given annually to a graduating Cooperstown Central School student who is recognized as a peacemaker by the school community. Proceeds from sales will be managed by the Friends Fiduciary, a Quaker investment firm. Donations will also be gratefully accepted. St. John’s many friends hope “to keep her loving creative spirit alive by investing in young people who show their own capacity for creating possibilities for peaceful solutions to conflict in school and the wider community— and who plan to continue with peacemaking efforts in the future.” An application for the award will be available in the Cooperstown Central School guidance office.
The show will be open Saturday April 1, 11-1, and always daily with a text or call to Art Garage director –and Nancy’s daughter– Sydney Waller, 315-941-9607.
The Art Garage is located at 689 Beaver Meadow Road, Cooperstown in the Town of Middlefield.
Ellen St John was a beloved member of the wider Cooperstown area, a quiet but powerful instigator of change to make a positive difference in many people’s lives. She started the Cooperstown food pantry and supported countless individuals and causes with a concern for peace and social justice. Trained as a nurse, she could see peoples’ needs in ways that prompted caring responses not only from herself but others in her community. She regularly organized letter writing campaigns to elected representatives on peace and social justice, recommended actions and made trips to the state capitol and Washington D.C. to lobby for justice for all and support of refugees. Mother of four and wife of Fred St. John, Ellen St. John was of slight build and soft voice but fearless and strong in determination and spirit. She hosted the food bank in the Presbyterian church basement for many years, that today nurtures many in an ongoing endeavor. For 19 years she stood weekly in the peace vigil in front of the only federal building in Cooperstown, its post office, in all kinds of weather, with a dedicated cadre of fellow vigilers, including Waller. “Bearing witness to the brutality and futility of war with her homemade signs and open mind, and heart, she listened carefully to others with respect, and challenged us to work for peace locally, nationally and internationally,” noted Dotty Hudson, another vigiler. She continued that St. John, with her carefully thought-through messages on her signs, did not shrink to point out how US money and policies are responsible for so many deaths and atrocities in far off countries. Her signs asked pertinent questions and offered positive action, according to her fellow vigilers.
Waller, a longtime pacifist, with her flair for beauty and color, dressed for the vigil weekly with an awareness that not only young students and older “hippies” need to speak truth to power – that it was important for everyone in the wider community to take a stand. St. John and Waller had much in common. Both lived into their late 90s. Both grew up in a ‘long ago’ China, the children of educational missionaries who taught at Yenching University, Beijing, and the University of Nanjing, respectively. As children they experienced the tremendous wonders of living in another culture and knowing they were truly ‘world citizens’ Both also experienced the trauma of a brutal war. Their shared history of growing up in China brought a sense of seeing themselves as part of the “we” in a different culture, not dividing humanity into “us” vs. “them”. Both were also active in the Otsego County Jail Ministry for years and in many other justice and social action expressions of vision and care extending far beyond geographical and cultural borders.
The exhibition features landscapes, seascapes, still-lifes, mostly watercolors—from the 1950s through 2012: Nova Scotia, the West, Maine, the Pyrenees, the French Alps and closer to home, South Kent CT, Cherry Valley and Cooperstown. This is Waller’s second benefit exhibition: the first in 2021 benefited three of Nancy’s social justice charities, including the food pantry. Waller was better known for her memoir, My Nanking Home, 1918-1937 – copies may also be available—yet to make art was also a creative outlet. When her children were young and life was hectic, making art was a centering activity. She enjoyed working with fellow-artists in a companionable manner. Some art on display, for instance, were done in her friend Carlita Hunt’s studio, where she learned to make silkscreen prints and batik. She studied technique informally and persistently with different artists in the Kent area. Later she enjoyed classes at the Cooperstown Art Association. Waller exhibited in group shows including at the Kent Art Association, the Roseboom Historical Association and the Cooperstown Art Association, among others. She only stopped painting only when her eyesight failed in her late eighties. Similar peacemaker awards exist in other schools in the midstate area, Including Binghamton and Norwich, for $125 – $500 annually. “We hope her contagion of kindness, love and creative response to conflict will continue, and establishing the Ellen St. John Peacemaker Award is a part of that process,” noted Dickinson. She also noted that the Friends Fiduciary does not invest in the military industrial complex, that St. John would appreciate that the proceeds it will generate “will not come from the sale of those things in our culture which lead to death rather than the celebration of life.” To learn more about contributing to the fund to support the award, please contact Deborah Dickinson, another vigiler at 606-435-9951 or PO Box 238, Fly Creek, NY, 13337. ###