Diane Keaton in the house
Sally Wright Bacon, Painter
I am in love with Diane Keaton. Not the film actor, per se, though I like her well enough too. What has captured my heart and eye is the painting (above) by Sally Wright Bacon, a portrait of a goat that channels Keaton’s sartorial style and demeanor.
Sally Wright Bacon is an artist known primarily for her sophisticated, beaded necklaces and rosaries. (She was commissioned to create a rosary for Pope John Paul II in 1995.) How and why did she gravitate to this series of whimsical, soulful paintings of animals?
Wright Bacon is also the owner of OODLES in White River Junction VT. According to her, COVID-19 was “a huge gut punch,” as in the initial stage of this pandemic Sally had to close the doors of her retail establishment. She said, “Our world seemed to shut down. We became isolated from the people we love and the things we enjoyed doing. . . . It was a time of uncertainty. I was riddled with stress.”
With “newfound time”on her hands, Sally decided to teach herself to paint, and her enthusiasm, not to mention the paintings themselves, began to fill the void brought on by physical and psychic isolation.
“I’m a creative soul by nature. I had to learn to see differently which was the key to learning to draw. I picked up a brush/pencil. And so the process began. I would paint 12/15 hrs a day. Every day. I was obsessed. I was filled with joy and determination. I painted 120 paintings from March – December. Our living room became a gallery. There were paintings everywhere. You couldn’t sit on the furniture, use the fireplace – paintings were on the wall, against the wall. It was a burst of creativity that I had never experienced.”
Why animals? She likes them, preferred them to dolls throughout her childhood. (Petey, her current canine companion, is an official greeter at OODLES and a genial celebrity throughout the Tip Top Building where the store is located.) “When I decided to paint, I wanted to paint things that would make people smile. Feel good. Even laugh. Animals were a natural choice for me.”
In addition to “Diane Keaton,” two favorites of mine are “Perplexed,” (above), in which this giraffe’s facial expression seems particularly apt and ubiquitous. It settles frequently on my own face—and no doubt on yours—as we all try to make our way through the fog of the last 10 months. And “People Watching” (below) switches the gaze. We’re looking at a dog that is peering out a window looking at us.
To see more of Sally’s work, and for store hours, click here. The paintings are for sale online and at OODLES in White River Junction.
COVID-19 certainly presented challenges for retail businesses like OODLES (now open). Asked what has kept her going through this difficult time, and what she sees in the near future, Sally’s vision is this:
“My hope is that with the vaccines coming people will feel more comfortable going out and about. I’m looking forward to the day that my shop is once again filled with people. My shop has always been a place where people gather to just chat. They come, sit on the couch (with Petey of course) and share their lives. It’s rare that you would come in and not find a group of women – and men – sitting around enjoying one another’s company. People shop, buy, visit and gather and I’m hopeful when the COVID dust settles, things will get back to that again. Because OODLES is one of those places that you leave feeling better than when you walked in.”
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Susan B. Apel shuttered a lifelong career as a law professor to continue an interest (since kindergarten) in writing. Her freelance business, The Next Word, includes literary and feature writing; her work has appeared in a variety of lit mags and other publications including Art New England, The Woven Tale Press, The Arts Fuse, and Persimmon Tree. She connects with her neighbors through Artful, her blog about arts and culture in the Upper Valley. She’s in love with the written word.