Show to run gamut of late artist Larry Ziemer's works

Show to run gamut of late artist Larry Ziemer's works

MONTICELLO — Art lovers already know the name of Larry Ziemer, but his wife, Carol, hopes they can learn a little more about the depth of his talent at a Celebration of Life Art Exhibit being held in his memory from 1-4 p.m. today in Monticello.

The gathering will be held in the same place he sold his works for some 30 years, at the Ziemer Gallery, 210 W. Washington St.

"Most people think of Larry as a barn and lighthouse painter, and I wanted them to see how versatile he was," said his wife of 53 years. "Larry could do anything."

Known for his watercolor landscapes, the Monticello-based artist — who passed away in May at the age of 79 — also dabbled in oils and even some pottery and would take on just about anything. Today's display will show some of his more familiar nature scenes, but also others that have some expressionist tendencies that he would explore on occasion.

Mr. Ziemer's works sold well, to the point there are only a few originals left at the gallery. So Carol asked collectors to share their pieces for the exhibit, and they have come through, sending originals from Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan and Florida.

Locally, pieces of art from Mr. Ziemer that are currently on display at First State Bank, Tatman Village and Kirby Medical Center are being loaned back to the gallery for the special day.

"We only own four of the paintings that will be in this show. The rest, people were gracious enough to bring them back," Carol said.

Getting ready for the show has been a melancholy experience for Carol, who misses her soulmate but revels in the artwork that made them both happy. She also remembers the life-altering decision they made in 1970 to abandon life as a graphic designer (Larry) and teacher (Carol) and hit the road to pursue their passion for art.

"It kind of sneaked up on us," said Carol, noting that their family included a newborn son at that point.

"We got thinking that things and money were important instead of what's really important in life. And I told Larry, 'You know what? We're going down a path I don't know if we want to go down.'"

They backed up their vision with action, selling most of their possessions, purchasing a station wagon and small camper and hitting the road.

"We had enough money to get through three months," she said.

But people enjoyed watching Mr. Ziemer create his paintings — most of the time purchasing them on the spot — and that three-month bankroll lasted five years.

It also solidified their dream that art was not only fulfilling, but could put food on the table.

That road trip also showed Mr. Ziemer what would become his greatest passion — watercolors. It first came out of necessity, as there wasn't enough room in the trailer for oil painting supplies, but it became the artists' trademark.

"That's how he got into watercolor. There was no room for oils when we ran away from home," his wife said. "He got majorly addicted to watercolor."

The Ziemers eventually returned from the road when son Nick grew old enough to go to school.

"It got time for us to put away our hippie clothes, get a haircut and pretend we were responsible people," Carol said. "We tried to pull that off."

They opened the Ziemer Gallery 30 years ago this October, and Carol said she is going to keep it open despite the passing of her husband.

As for today's Celebration of Life exhibit, she has one request of attendees: "Just enjoy his talent."

If you go
➜ What: A Celebration of Life Art Exhibition, featuring the work of the late Larry Ziemer
➜ When: 1-4 p.m. today
➜ Where: Ziemer Gallery, 210 W. Washington St., Monticello

Steve Hoffman is editor of the Piatt County Journal-Republican, a News-Gazette Media community newspaper. For more, visit journal-republican.com.

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