Besides her artistic talent, Deirdre Grunwald had a knack for making people feel welcome whenever they visited her studio at Lowell's Brush Art Gallery and Studios.
Small children often received a drawing pad or watercolor set for beginners that Grunwald -- Deedee to her many friends -- would stock in the corner. Adults, myself included, were treated to pretty notecards of her lovely floral still lifes.
Grunwald, a Brush studio artist for close to 30 years, passed away unexpectedly from surgery complications on Jan. 5. Her death saddens all who knew her and leaves a void in Lowell's thriving art scene.
"She was a true talent in the Lowell arts community and a mentor to countless artists," Executive Director Jim Dyment notes on the Brush website. "Her kindness will be missed by all."
News of her passing spread quickly on Facebook.
"The Brush family is crushed," Brush artist Leslie MacPhail wrote. "My heart goes out to her family. DeeDee was an honor to know -- the truest, kindest, honest artist and person."
"So empty with the loss of my Art Mentor, Art Mother, Spirit Mother, Brush Comrade, Giver of Courage and Ultimate Go to Friend," wrote Chrissy Theo Hungate, another Brush artist.
"A light went out in our arts' community yesterday ... a woman of immense talents, grace and beauty passed unexpectedly and has left many of us grieving," noted MaryAnn Coravos, another artist and longtime friend. "I look around my home and see the prints and paintings she created that I am so fortunate to own and think lovingly of DeeDee Grunwald. She was one of the brightest, kindest souls I have known. I am so blessed to have had her as a friend and mentor these past 25 years."
Grunwald's final Facebook post on Dec. 30 reflects her love for family, friends and making art.
It features a photo of a flower bouquet, sent by her kids, with the note: "Thank you Nathan, Tara, Jason, Brianna & Erika for the beautiful flowers, which I will try to paint tomorrow. Love, Mom. To family & friends, please send me worry free prayers of light & love. Thank you!"
On a personal note, DeeDee and I worked together at the Beacon newspapers in Acton in the late '70s and early '80s.
She put together pages on Tuesday night deadlines, and I worked as a reporter and editor on the Acton and Littleton papers. After we both started working in Lowell, we discovered our mutual Beacon connections and enjoyed reminiscing.
She made beautiful art and was a beautiful soul. The Brush will post information about arrangements on its Facebook page.
Nancye Tuttle's email address is nancyedt@ verizon.net.
FEE-FREE MLK DAY: America celebrates the life and legacy of Civil Rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., on Monday, Jan. 15. Locally, the Boott Cotton Mills Museum at Lowell National Historical Park offers free admission to all that day. Visit www.nps.gov/lowe or call 978-970-5000 for details. At the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston a free open house from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., offers an array of programming for all ages. Events include art-making, musical performances, a scavenger hunt and remarks by Boston Mayor Martin Walsh. Visit www.mfa.org for details.
PAINTING DEMO: Tom Dunlay demonstrates oil-painting techniques at a meeting of the Chelmsford Art Society on Saturday, Jan. 20, at 2 p.m., at the Chelmsford Public Library, 25 Boston Road. A Weymouth native, Dunlay was introduced to painting at an early age by his father, an amateur painter. He studied at Massachusetts College of Art. Dissatisfied with the curriculum there, he began training with Robert Douglas Hunter in Boston and Provincetown, and at R. H. Ives Gammell's atelier in Boston and Williamstown. A follower of the Boston School tradition, his paintings re-emphasize what he learned about value and color in his studies. The winner of many awards, he lives in Westwood and summers in Nantucket, where he can often be seen painting in plein air (outdoors). The demonstration is free and open to all.
SAVE THE DATE: The Lunar New Year -- one of the most important events in Vietnamese culture -- will be celebrated Sunday, Jan. 28, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the UMass Lowell Inn & Conference Center, 50 Warren St., Lowell. The free festival, ushering in the Year of the Rooster, is presented by UMass Lowell's Vietnamese Student Association in partnership with Lowell's Vietnamese community. It will showcase holiday traditions and will include games, music and live performances. Free admission. For info, email Henry_Zhang@student.uml.edu.