Mary Wiley-Lewis has a lifelong enthusiasm for art. Yet it wasn’t until the age of 39 that she picked up a paint brush to fulfill her dream of becoming an artist.
The 71-year-old Central City woman is presenting a one-woman show at the Community Arts Center of Cambria County, 1217 Menoher Blvd., Westmont.
Over three dozen works in a variety of media are on display in the art center’s Goldhaber-Fend Fine Arts Gallery.
“Having a one-woman show is a rarity for me because my works are usually part of larger exhibits with multiple artists,” Wiley-Lewis said. “A one-woman show is a real plus for me because people will get a better sense of who I am and what I represent.”
Arts center Executive Director Rose Mary Hagadus said the exhibit will be on display through July 31.
“This exhibition has a lot of variety as far as subject matter, style and media,” Hagadus said. “Visitors will savor the drawings, oils and pastels.”
As a youngster of 11 or 12, Wiley-Lewis remembers leafing through a magazine when she came upon several pages featuring pictures of paintings.
“I studied those paintings as my eyes locked on those pages,” Wiley-Lewis said. “I told myself that I would someday be an artist.”
The motivation to become an artist came from caring for her gravely ill mother.
“My mother had cancer and I was taking care of her,” Wiley-Lewis said. “She spoke so much about how many regrets she had over the course of her life. It was then that I realized that time was fleeting and we all run out of tomorrows.”
After the funeral, she quit her job and dedicated her time to really learning to paint.
She converted one of her bedrooms into a studio and began to explore her art.
“It wasn’t easy financially and I often questioned my decision,” she said. “But by the grace of God, I got through the rough times.”
For the most part, she sees herself as a representational artist.
Wiley-Lewis understands an artist’s personality shows through as each work progresses.
“It comes through whether you know it or not as bits and pieces of a painting fall together like pieces of a puzzle,” she said. “It happens each time that I put my brush to canvas or paper.”
While oil is her favorite method of expression, she has become accomplished with colored pencils and pastels.
“Years ago, a dear friend persuaded me to try pastels,” Wiley-Lewis said. “I steered clear from using pastels because I thought they were too messy. But I experimented with them, kept coming back to them, and now I’m comfortable using them.”
Wiley-Lewis paints landscapes and also created works in still life, portraiture, florals and animals.
All of the art works are for sale. They range in price from $150 to $1,000.
“People’s lives are so hectic. I hope my art gives those who see my work a sense of peace and tranquility,” Wiley-Lewis said. “I want my work to be a reminder to people to take some time and appreciate the many beautiful and peaceful things that surround us each day.”
Tom Lavis covers Features for the Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter @Tom LavisTD.