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Sylvia Valentino takes prize at art show

‘My entry was inspired by my life at Riderwood’

Created date

July 27th, 2010

Inspired by Riderwood, artist Sylvia Valentino s mixed-media work Walk at the Pond recently won first place at a local juried exhibition. [caption id="attachment_13556" align="alignright" width="280" caption="Sylvia Valentino s award-winning mixed-media work, Walk at the Pond. (Photo by Kelly Shue)"][/caption] Valentino joined approximately 160 artists from the Mid-Atlantic area who submitted pieces to the 41st Laurel Art Guild Open Juried Exhibition at the Montpelier Arts Center. According to juror Michael Janis, The show is a survey of the area s painters, sculptors, photographers, and mixed-media artists. Many are familiar names, including faculty at area universities and colleges of art. From this pool of distinguished competitors, Valentino was awarded first place for Walk at the Pond. This was the first juried show I have ever entered, says Valentino. My entry was inspired by my life at Riderwood. She used watercolor, gesso, magazines, white pastel, pencil, ballpoint pen, and India ink to create Walk at the Pond. But humans were a part of the piece as well. Art involves more than paint, palette, and clay; I draw upon all the positive energy radiated by the many artists who live here. At Riderwood, I have neighbors who are quilters, knitters, bakers, gardeners, actors, fiddle and ukulele players, bell ringers, singers, TV producers, dancers, and woodworkers. [caption id="attachment_13555" align="alignright" width="280" caption="Valentino has created a studio in the second bedroom of her apartment home at Riderwood. (Photo by Kelly Shue)"][/caption] It is against the backdrop of this community that Valentino finds her creative voice. One glorious October afternoon, I went for a stroll around Riderwood s Swan Lake, she recalls. As soon as I returned home, I picked up a brush and started to express the joy I felt in the colors of the season. The lake is a place I can walk to every day and watch the seasons change. My piece reflects the enchantment.

The heart of an artist

Valentino s love of art sprouted at a young age, when she would spend hours in the attic of her family s home. In that small space that was all mine, I grew a large imagination, she says. I used a pad, pencil, and crayons to write stories and draw pictures, and that gave me my greatest joy. Down deep, where the important dreams hide, I knew that someday I would use these tools more than the other toys of my childhood. In her 60s, Valentino began taking watercolor classes while living on the Outer Banks of North Carolina. When my husband and I decided to move toRiderwood, I was sad to leave the ocean behind, but in the seven years we ve lived here, we have received gifts beyond our expectations, she says. Not only do I have an art teacher at Riderwood, I have had excellent teachers through its continuing education program as well.

The fairytale begins

While taking a class in conjunction with Prince George s Community College, Valentino was encouraged to have her first show at the teacher s studio outside College Park, Md. Valentino agreed, and over the course of two open houses, sold nine of her paintings. And she keeps creating more. She makes her masterpieces in the studio of herRiderwoodapartment home. We had the guest room divided into two areas by a half wall with storage for books and art supplies, she says. My husband uses the other half of the room for music and all his computer stuff. We had an overhead light installed, and we have a large picture window that gives us lots of natural light. I call it the Happy Room. In addition, the Valentinos placed shelves outside their front door where I change my artwork every few weeks to the delight of our neighbors, she says. It s like a changing show at a museum. And as nature puts on a show outside her patio door, Valentino paints that too. When the weather is nice, she likes to sit outside and sketch.

Only the beginning

With the exhibition win to her credit, Valentino refuses to rest on her laurels. She continues to develop her skills with more classes atRiderwoodand local workshops. There are even discussions underway for a show of her new work in the fall. I m so fortunate with our location, she says. We re less than 15 minutes from Montpelier Art Center, home of the Laurel Art Guild. There have been some wonderful master watercolor classes there by artists like Skip Lawrence, who is nationally renowned and publisher of The Palette Magazine. She makes sure to take at least one museum trip a month withRiderwood sspecial trips department. Last month, I went to the Georgia O Keefe exhibit at The Phillips and the C zanne exhibit at the Baltimore Museum of Art, she says. My cup runneth over! Every Wednesday morning, she attends Artist to Artist, a meeting where she and her fellowRiderwoodartists share painting time, ideas, and critiques. Life atRiderwoodhas given me freedom from daily household chores and time to pursue the pleasures of painting and writing, says Valentino. While I may have won a prestigious award, it is my fellow residents...that deserve top honors for perfecting senior living.