By DARLA MCCAMMON
Lakeland Art Association
Our vivacious Lila O’Connell will be having a 90th birthday party. I have known O’Connell for a number of a years and her enthusiasm and dedication to promoting art has never waned. O’Connell was born July 30, 1925. She has watched her world transform itself from a society with party-line telephones to today’s tiny wireless phones you can hold in your hand. She has seen the emergence of computers, observed medical breakthroughs like the eradication of polio and lived through wars, peace, depression and prosperity.
Born in Peru, O’Connell married in 1943 and came to Warsaw in 1966. The mother of 10 children, many grandchildren, great-grandchildren and even one great-great-grandchild, O’Connell stayed at home with the kids and also cared for a father in the home. The need for income with that large family was great so she also worked almost 10 years as a dealer and manager with Stanley Home Products. Always busy, O’Connell has owned and managed several businesses over the years.
Shortly after moving to Warsaw, O’Connell was invited by a neighbor to attend a Lakeland Art Association meeting and made a lifelong commitment. O’Connell has served almost every position and more in the organization, has been tireless in fund-raising and being the gallery manager, and even today continues to volunteer her time to work in the gallery.
O’Connell is a self-taught artist but did seek training from several area teachers. I asked her, “Which of your paintings are you most proud of doing?” Her answer was “Hmm. Guess the one I called ‘Jazz guitarists’ because it was considered for Best of Show in a Plymouth Heartland juried show. It did get the next place, and a monetary award and a glowing review by the judge. It’s a large charcoal. It was my first serious piece.” I personally like a piece she did after Sept. 11, 2001, that triggered her to create the dramatic work. Her work is interesting and could be called a cross between primitive, and yet also has a rather Pablo Picasso-like quality.
Alvon Abbott, Fred Olds and Gladys Huffer were charter members among those who formed the LAA. O’Connell was fortunate to have met the originators of the organization and says she was encouraged by them. She has followed their legacy with hours of time in which she has done everything she can to promote the arts in our community.
There will be a family reunion combined with a birthday bash for O’Connell’s 90th birthday. Many of them will be traveling a long distance to attend.
“There are lots of us!” she laughs, and with 10 children and their children and their children … well, you get the picture. That isn’t even counting all the friends and other relatives who will want to wish her well.
If you want to recognize O’Connell’s contribution to our community, think about sending her a birthday card, and if you want to make it extra-special drop in a little donation to support her favorite charity: The Lakeland Art Association, 107 N. First St., Pierceton. Happy Birthday Lila!
Upcoming and Current Events:
- The Bev Garner exhibit opened on Tuesday, April 7, at Warsaw City Hall Gallery. Garner is a marvelous colored pencil artist and has many awards to her credit. You can visit for free from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. weekdays.
- Small but Mighty exhibit ends at LAA Saturday, May 2. Last chance to find a bargain and bid.
- Adult and Children Workshops are coming up. Call (574) 594-9950 for information
- Spring Show Competition is soon. Bring your entries Saturday, May 2, for big prizes. The prospectus is available at Lakeland Art Gallery. Address and info at www.lakelandartassociation.org
Contact [email protected] any time with questions or comments.