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Published: Wednesday, 8/4/2004

Metamora: Outdoor exhibit of new art planned at old train depot


METAMORA - When Norma Whitmore was trying to find ways to cope with life after the death of her infant daughter, she turned to brushes, watercolors, and canvas.

"It was my husband's idea. Harold told me I should think about taking some art classes," she recalled. "He was very encouraging." Their baby girl had cancer.

Mrs. Whitmore, who grew up in the Swanton area, agreed that it would be a good idea to try painting, and signed up for lessons with Earl North in Haskins, Ohio. "I learned a great deal from him," she said.

That was back in the mid 1960s. Today, Mrs. Whitmore continues to paint a few hours a week, and she shares her interest in painting with her daughter Karen Cooley who has a fine arts degree. Both are active members of the Fine Arts Association, a nonprofit organization with members from northwest Ohio and southeast Michigan.

"Norma is one of our most active members," said Nannette Sturtevant, president of the Delta-based group. "She is one of our founding members." The arts association formed in 1991.

Mrs. Whitmore's artwork has been featured in many area art shows, including the Fine Arts Association's shows. The association generally holds at least two shows a year, one in the summer and in the fall. This week, her artwork will be on exhibit during an outdoor art show at the Brailey Depot.

Special activities during the art show include tours of the depot. The restored depot is the subject of a watercolor created by Mrs.Whitmore, who now lives in the Metamora area. She became interested in the depot as an art project after talking with Jean Wagoner, who owns the structure. The two women attend church together at Brailey Union Church near the depot.

A smaller version of Mrs. Whitmore's Brailey Depot watercolor is featured on notecards that have been printed by the Fine Arts Association as part of a fund-raising project. Two years ago 10 pieces of artwork by association members were made into notecards, following the theme "Preserve Our Surroundings in Art." This year, six more designs were made into notecards, including the Brailey Depot watercolor, said Mrs. Sturtevant.

The art show is 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. tomorrow and Saturday at the Brailey Depot on Fulton County Road 3 near Swanton.

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