‘Destinations’ Exhibition Evokes Memories of Happy Moments

April 27

Gentle waves lapping a sandy Montauk beach, snow falling along the Bronx River, bucolic Adirondack farm scenes, and a gazebo gracing Larchmont’s Sound Shore are among the subjects of the newest exhibition at Willow Towers at United Hebrew of New Rochelle. Titled “Destinations,” the exhibition features paintings by Scarsdale artist Dorette Gerspach on view for residents from May 4 through June 1.

Selected for their calming properties, the paintings use of color, light, and subject matter set the mood, says Gerspach, a member of the board of directors at United Hebrew and chair of the Quality Assurance Committee.

“When the viewer observes my artwork, I am telling them a story of a happy place, time, or moment.  In some of the paintings in this exhibit perhaps I wanted to share a place of beauty or interest. They remind you of somewhere. Our goal in mounting this show was to spark conversation and to help residents make personal connections.”

That’s always been a central tenet of United Hebrew’s philosophy of care and it’s one of the reasons the artist was invited to display her work, according to Rita Mabli, president/CEO. “Art is an integral part of life on our campus. It helps to awaken the senses, trigger memories, and create connections. It sparks conversation and lifts our spirits.”

Bringing the outside in

The paintings are created in the styles of realism and photo-realism, says Gerspach.

The artist with her granddaughter and portraits she has painted of her.

“It’s not because I’m trying to make an exact copy, rather, I enjoy vividly representing a subject or scene.” That approach works especially well for people who are less mobile, she notes. “The artwork brings the outside in, front and center. My hope is that viewing these will stimulate the senses — you can almost hear the water and feel the sun when viewing a beach scene, for example.”

In addition to the painting of the Montauk Point and lighthouse, Gerspach selected one of a Kiawah, South Carolina beach with shrimp boats in the background, evocative of a different region. Another depicts a Santorini landscape, captured from a photo her son took on his honeymoon. Two paintings show country scenes in Ireland, where the artist has family connections. There are city scenes from the Lower East Side in Manhattan.

Curated from the artist’s personal collection as well as borrowed from friends and family, the exhibition is a collection of the artists’ favorites. Initially slated to go up just before the pandemic, the show holds special meaning for the Gerspachs, whose family member, Lucille Oskutis, has been a resident of Willow Towers since August 2021. The family is looking forward to viewing the art together with her and sharing it with the community. Gerspach will give an artist talk with the residents on May 10.

That the exhibition is taking place now, two years after Mabli asked Gerspach to curate the show, feels especially poignant, notes Mabli. “It’s been a long time in the making, yet it feels like it’s happening at just the right time.”