By William Valerio
The Patricia Van Burgh Allison Director and CEO
Woodmere Art Museum
Sometimes when I write for the Local I get an email or two with a follow-up question or comment. Last week was different. Many of you wrote notes of appreciation about Woodmere’s repurposing of holiday lights to make our Harry Bertoia sculpture, Free Interpretation of Plant Forms, glow in blue, a tribute to frontline workers. The sum total of the messages: we’re all in this together, and we are lucky to be part of a strong, mutually supportive community.
John Cacciamani, president of Chestnut Hill Hospital Tower Health, sent me a note that I’d like to share: “Thank you, Bill, for the dramatic gesture of Bertoia in blue! It is truly a fabulous way to express the community’s appreciation for first responders. When the hospital staff see the lights on the way home from a stressful shift, it serves as a reminder that their efforts are recognized. More than twenty emergency vehicles from Chestnut Hill and neighboring communities streamed past Woodmere in parade formation last Tuesday with lights flashing and sirens blaring on the way to salute hospital workers. They too, recognized your salute to their service. I couldn’t be prouder of the team here at the hospital. Since the health crisis began, their dedication and commitment to our patients and this community have not wavered. Our staff has shown up and stepped up to continue to provide the quality care that our patients expect. Thanks again for lighting up the night to remind them that you and our compassionate community care.”
Thank you, John, and let me say that I too am inspired by what I’ve seen across the community. Residents have responded to the Business Association’s call and have shopped local, supporting the #KeepItOnTheHill promotion and the new small business grant program. Ingenuity is on display up and down the avenue, with businesses, restaurants, and institutions finding new ways to connect digitally, to not just sustain relationships, but grow them. The Local itself has risen to the challenge of publishing a newspaper with a staff working remotely, proving its value to the community time and again. I’ve noticed more vitality and robust updates in the online edition, and my friend John Derr, the Local’s publisher, tells me that online readership is up over 30 percent since mid-March. I’m not surprised: digital access is free and we all need to be informed.
I fully expect that this digital creativity will continue into the future—this will certainly be true at Woodmere. The art activity books we’ve been posting on our website these last weeks have been a big success, engaging children and families in conversation about paintings and sculpture and hands-on creativity while we’re all staying safe at home. Mother’s Day is just around the corner, and we’ve prepared a special activity book just for the day: if you’re thinking about what to give Mom, there’s nothing better than something you’ve made! And you don’t have to be a kid to enjoy: Woodmere Activity Book
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