Tuesday, April 3, 2018

What Hidden Talents Do Each of Us Have?

Today I had the honor of speaking at the Ewing Presbyterian Church Seniors Club. A "seniors" club might imply anyone aged 60 and above, but in this case the members are octogenarians and above. They were contemporaries of my mother-in-law, Honey Bunny. She attended the noon Seniors group up until she moved to the assisted living place, even after she stopped attending church because it met too early in the morning.

The topic of my presentation was Honey Bunny's art.

Last month when I showed Wayne and Sylvia pictures of Honey Bunny's art they were in awe. Though they had known her for over fifty years they had no idea she was an artist.

This led to the question: What hidden talents do each of us have no one else knows about? What stories do the dozen people who turned out to hear me speak would make great topics for a different month? Think about that. If you were asked to share with a group something they don't know about you, what would that be? You might think no one would care, but in this case at least one woman attended because she had no idea Honey Bunny was such an amazing artist, and she wanted to learn more about it.

Sadly one woman asked me where Honey Bunny is. She hadn't heard that she passed away last October. 

All dozen thanked me at least once for coming.

It was drizzling out so I only brought a couple of pictures and two copies of the Shutterfly album (thanks, mom, for the loaner).

Here is what I told them:

Joyce lived from 1929 to October 2017. Born in Lancaster, Ohio, Joyce married Robert Pillsbury, the love of her life, and resided in Ewing, New Jersey for nearly 70 years where they raised their four children. Longtime member of Ewing Church, she is most famous for her thousands of watercolor paintings of quirky local scenes, including barns, historic buildings, industrial sites, nature scenes, and urban buildings; Joyce also created needlework (counted cross-stitch), knitting, and loom weavings. From 1985 to 1997 she studied watercolor painting under local artist Joanne Augustine. She was a prolific non-fiction reader of art techniques. In later years she dabbled in graffiti art, visiting Terra Cycle in Trenton for Graffiti Jam. She always lived with a cat or two, and was often seen in her neighborhood riding her bicycle or adult tricycle.

Before her move while looking at her artwork she lamented about it all ending up in the trash. Years of hard work gone. While at the assisted living place there was a one day exhibit where she was happy to hear people were enjoying her artwork. 

I have taken over a thousand pieces and culled them to about 600, photographed each, and created this book with my favorite 160. Someone asked me how long that took. To the best of my estimation I would say about 50-60 hours.

I have tried to find good homes for all of her work, with people who will love them. Many went to friends and family. I have about a dozen I want to frame, but no one has space for 600. More recently I have been donating them to: the Ewing Historical Society, Hopewell Valley Historical Society, a non-profit law firm in Trenton, Washington Crossing (both New Jersey and Pennsylvania), Thursday I am taking some to Bowman's Hill, Titusville Presbyterian Church, Stonybrook Watershed, and the Lawrence Nature Center. Homes I could identify went to the current owners. I still have at least 200 pieces of art.

As for her other artwork, the loom weavings were donated to HomeFront where they plan to stitch them together to make blankets for the homeless; and her cross-stitches went to a church for their rummage sale. At least 1,000 art books were donated to the Lawrence Library -- enough they needed to create an annex space for their book sale. I've tried to keep what I can out of the landfill.


The seniors seemed impressed both with Honey Bunny's talents, and with my ability to find homes for items. They invited me back on a dry day in order that church members could come over and, for a good will offering to Bowman's Hill Wildflower Preserve, they, too, can have a Honey Bunny painting. I'd much rather they were loved than they were lining a landfill. I'm happy with the dozen or so we have chosen. Time to share the love.

A few pictures from today:

With Wayne and Sylvia

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