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The Walworthians: Visionaries

The Walworthians

 

A collection of telephone interviews published in the Wayne County STAR Newspaper and Wayne County MAIL Newspaper, 1994-209

by Kate Chamberlin

 

 

Visionaries

August 21, 2003

My hand moved across the thick folds of the garment and landed on a knee. With both hands I caressed the athletic calf muscle down to a well-turned ankle onto a powerful foot ending in blunt toes.

“Yes, that’s quite a muscle,” a woman’s amazed, throaty voice exclaimed.

My hands found that the other foot was artfully poised behind the first ankle.  The garment was provocatively cascading around both legs.

Another woman’s soft, sensuous voice encouraged me to move my hand upwards.

I traced the smooth, cool, bare thigh up the side of the torso to the shoulders and back out along the arm to a very smooth, flat, round surface. A much smaller hand was also on the oval. I traced this little arm to the wings of the little cherub and his bare bottom.

“Now find the other hand, the soft voice challenged me.

My hands retraced the right arm and across the chest.  It was, however, a perky, little breast.  To my surprise, this was not a virile, young male’s athletic body, but a nubile female in love and on the verge of womanhood.

Have you guessed by now that I’m in an Art Gallery exploring the white marble statue “Love’s Mirror” carved by Nicola Cantalamessa-patotti  in 1875?

Jim Fleming of the Visionaries Club for seniors with low vision and Faith Bell of the Webster Community Center had invited Anne Hotchkiss and me to join them on a special trip into the University of Rochester’s Memorial Art Gallery for a program called: The Art of Visualization for the Visually Impaired.

Our docents Diane, Mary, Heidi and Suzy escorted us to the third floor of the Cutter Union. A Museum object was set before each of us at one table and we were encouraged to feel, describe and discuss the item. It turned out that we each had an elephant, but each was very different from the other. They ranged from large to small, realistic to abstract, soft materials to hard as well as varied in details. They were all recognizable as elephants by the trunk and tusks.

Another table was set up with all sorts of scooping implements.  They ranged from the very simple wooden Dixie paddle to the intricate and tiny, souvenirs spoons commemorating numerous places to a spaghetti scoop to a dirty, well-used garden trowel.  The first challenge was to identify each, then group them into categories such as wooden or metal or plastic for other members to guess the common characteristic.

After the large group presentations, we went exploring. Susan Dodge-Peters Daiss, the Director of Education, became the docent for Anne and me. She is a petite, soft-spoken woman with lovely white hair tamed with a headband. Her exuberance and enthusiasm were echoed with each quick flip-flop of her sandals and clinking of her dangling shell earrings. She guided us up the wide marble stairs of the main section and into the ballroom. We went through the arch into the side gallery where “Love’s Mirror” is on display. She had me put on latex gloves and turned me loose like the famous five blind men when they first touched an elephant.

I was enthralled. I was in ecstasy. I was in tangible heaven.  It was awesome to feel the power and sensuousness of the statue’s beauty; the Sculptor’s strength and skill in using his chisel, and the life and love the marble emoted.

Our wonderful morning culminated at Bert’s Bistro in the Webster Community Center for lunch. Fortunately, the heavy rain didn’t dampen the spirits of the Visionaries trip to the Rochester Memorial Art Gallery. Thank you, Jim, Faith and Suzy.

2019 Up-Date: The Visionaries are still going strong. Now, under the guidance of Ed Wilconski and meet in the Webster Senior Center on the first Wednesday of each month.