Wesley UMC showcases local artists

Oct 23, 2022

Al Garrity never had his portrait done before. It was hard for the retired policeman and firefighter to describe the feeling of being brought to life on cardboard-colored paper, sitting still while artist Herby Thompson delicately penciled in his features. Thompson drew their portraits and others at Wesley United Methodist Church’s third semi-annual art show on Saturday, Oct. 22. 

“Of course he was hesitant,” said Anne Doherty, Garrity’s girlfriend. “I convinced him.”

“Do you have green eyes?” Thompson asked Garrity.

“Hazel,” he replied. “In between the bloodshot.”

Doherty has hazel eyes, too, and they showed up vividly on Thompson’s drawing of her and Garrity sitting together. Their eyes, and the red and blue on Garrity’s American flag baseball cap, were the only things he colored in.

“Boy, that’s startin’ to look like him,” Doherty said. “It’s amazing.”

“That’s good,” Garrity said, “he got me airbrushed. He got all the wrinkles out.”

That Saturday, the pews were filled not with worshipers, but with paintings, drawings, prints, collages, photographs, needlepoint and knitwork by local artists. The church plans to hold two art shows each year, one in the spring and one in the fall.

“[Drawing] relaxes me,” said Thompson, a retired graphic designer for the U.S. Navy who was born in Middleboro. “It calms me down. It makes me aware of everything around me. It makes people happy.” 

Thompson has been drawing since childhood. People are his favorite subject, but he also draws dogs and landscapes, the quaint scenes of New England coastal life that most of the artwork at Saturday’s show depicted.

“I try to capture their personality,” he said, “to make [the drawing] somewhat look like them. They don’t have to look exact, but…”

Thompson attends Wesley UMC every Sunday. He recently completed a series of lush, gently-colored drawings of summer flowers that grew in the churchyard.

“I love Wareham,” he said. “I’ve always been close to here.”

“Wow, you’re such an artist,” said Thompson’s realtor, Holly Harrison. “Who knew?”

“You thought I was just a wild guy,” he replied.

Doherty was looking for an artist to paint a “beautiful ocean picture” and decided Thompson was her best choice. At the show, she “fell in love” with his portrait of Rev. Ginny Doran’s mother in law.

“It looked just like her,” Doherty said. “It was amazing.”

Doran herself had artwork featured in the show.

“We try to bring in art from people who are somehow connected to the church,” she said. “It’s a way to connect with the community in a different way. Our doors are open.” 

The centerpiece of her work was a pastel sunset which she viewed from her home on Cuttyhunk Island.

“The sky was cotton candy-like,” she said. “I had never seen a cotton candy sky before.”

She also drew a robin’s nest she saw outside her home in Wareham, and a trio of mushrooms, a favorite subject of hers. 

“It’s interesting how the one hovers over the other two,” she said.  “Almost like the shelter of a parent.”

Doran is self-taught, having not taken art classes since middle school. However, both of her parents are artists.

“I guess it just runs in the blood,” she said. “And it’s just fun. It’s a nice, fun way to just release and relax.”