The Mountain Times

°F Sat, April 19, 2014

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The power of friendship

Mary T. and I went to see the "Face of Humanity" a Retrospect of Ann Wallen's work on a Saturday afternoon in celebration of her life. Annie's pictures, poems and quotes were everywhere. It seemed to me to be more about the power of friendship than the art of any one person.

Ann lived by many mottos: "Seek to make your life long and its purpose in the service of your people" (Chief Tecumseh, Shawnees Nation 1768-1813). "Expect the worst. Hope for the best and take whatever comes." (Her own)  and a verse  "Some time has passed since I have heard your voice or watched the gradual drawing of your smile. Yet time seems never to erase your shadow on the back drop of my heart." (Perhaps hers as well.)

Her friendship with Gail Weymouth helped to build the library collection and activities. She spend many many days, sometimes six days a week, there to help. The existence of the library made the formation of the Killington Arts Guild possible-gave it a room for meetings and a center for its activities.

For 12+ years Ann served as KAG president. Her friendships within the KAG membership produced a poetry book and laid the foundation for a gallery when the Millers offered space.

She was my best friend and everyone's best friend. Those friendships had power, they were constructive and uplifting. Laura Wilder with Ann started Ars Poetica and Ann started Annie's Painting to encourage everyone to learn how to paint or to paint better. Laura is continuing to lead both the poetry and the painting-friendship, friendship, friendship, bonding and building - What a gift!
On the night of the Retrospect, after sharing a potluck supper and listening to the Pot Luck Trio in a big white tent, associates, friends and admirers gather in the field behind the library to send off lighted balloons in honor of Ann Wallen.

Mary T. struggled with her balloon briefly, holding it up while the candle filled it with hot air and then it rose. We were a field full of friends in the warm late summer evening, laughing, singing and lighting the balloons which rose reluctantly one by one into the night sky - to send Annie on her way-it was memorable.

Photo by Betty A. Little
Mary T. holds up a balloon as a candle below fills it with hot air lifting it into the night sky.