Panel looks to further local artist’s legacy

The Warren Sentinel

FRONT ROYAL — Even though she is gone, artist Patricia Windrowís presence radiates throughout Front Royal.

During 22 years as a town resident, Klein left her mark in the form of murals and renovated buildings. Her birthday, Sept. 12, was declared Patricia Windrow Day by the Town Council in 2013.

Now, the Patricia Windrow Arts Committee, a group of friends and admirers, is attempting to further the name and work of Windrow. One focus of the committee is to preserve her outdoor and indoor work.

Locations of her murals include Main Street Mill, the Visitors Center and local schools. The muralsí fates now rest in the hands of building owners, who the committee will reach out to in hopes of preservation.

"People look at a painted wall, and if it doesn't say Michelangelo on it, they paint over it," Windrow's widow Howard Klein said. "People don't know how to value art. Art has a value of what you'll pay for it."

The committee formed last September at the unveiling of a memorial plinth near the Millennium Sundial she designed in the Town Commons.

Joe Ortiz attended the unveiling, and upon realizing rain was approaching, offered to fetch a tent. He ended up becoming the committeeís chairman.

"If Joe hadn't gotten the tent, we would've had a real problem doing the event and we probably wouldnít have formed the committee," Klein said.

Other founding members of the committee include Klein, Sue Riner, Anna Arena, Joan Kay, and Shawn Patterson. The committee developed three projects to celebrate Patricia Windrow Day.

A retrospective exhibition called ìPortraits and Placesî will be held Sept. 11 at the Blue Ridge Arts Council and show about 25 Windrow pieces. The exhibition will be run for two weeks by curator Phillip Larrimore.

The Patricia Windrow Young Artists Awards also were created. The winners were seniors Zoe Ris and Mikayla Michael and junior Selei Buracker. Three of each studentís pieces will be displayed at the September exhibit. Each student will also receive a Michaelís gift card.

The committee also will renovate a 1920 Baldwin piano in the Blue Ridge Arts Center.

Windrow painted on a variety of canvases. Riner fondly remembers paintings of eggs and a chocolate sundae. Riner also often wears a pair of shoes on which Windrow painted.

If a person has to look at an object every day, Windrow believed it should be beautiful. That attitude inspired her to paint items such as a broomstick, dining room table and trash can.

Windrow was not fond of items money could buy. Klein once bought her a pair of diamond earrings, which she returned. She then smashed coins at a railroad crossing and created earrings.

Windrow was born in England and grew up in France. She was a self-taught high-school dropout with a professional life that included acting in films, Broadway performances, radio and, of course, paintings.

Her television show, "The Cable Easel," ran for 12 years and won a Cable Ace Award. She is listed in the Who's Who in American Art and the Dictionary of Achievement.

Windrow moved to Front Royal in 1990 and considered it her adopted home. She renovated the building at 401 E. Main St. and turned it into her studio for 12 years.

Klein said Windrow painted because she was curious about why items appear the way they do. He has no idea how many paintings she created in her life.

"First thing in the morning, hit the ground running. Breakfast — and then immediately to her easel or into the car to go and paint on site," Klein said.

While at the gallery on Main Street, Windrow noticed empty flag pole holders that lined the sidewalks. To mark that the gallery was open, she began inserting a wooden portrait of herself into the pole holder. Other vendors loved the idea, and soon there were portraits of all the owners down Main Street.

"She sure did put her stamp on this town," Riner said.

Although Windrow is gone and the flagpoles are empty, she cast a shadow through her art that has still not faded.

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