“Stop letting age make your decisions for you. Go out there and do the things you want to do but were always afraid to do or try. Life isn’t meant to be lived from a recliner!” -a Wise Woman
If one Wise Woman — let’s say any woman 65 years or older — can get up, march out the door with her chin at a stubborn angle, her shoulders thrown back, and the wind whipping her hair, announcing, “I Can. I Will. I Shall Make Things Happen!” then what do we suppose FIVE of them can do!
The answer is that five dedicated and committed women have, for the second time since the pandemic, decided to “put on a show” — a glorious exhibition at the LeMoyne Museum of Art extolling the contributions of the “Women Among Us” who, over the age of 65, have made astounding contributions to the city, their professions, and the passions they cherish.
Mary Jane Ryals, a beloved Tallahassee poet, is one of the five initiators of the project. She is also one of the 20 featured women in the 2023 exhibition.
“In 2018, a few of us listened when 75-year-old conservationist Eleanor Dietrich said, ‘What are retired women doing at my age? What about all they’ve accomplished?’ She wondered at how little people realize how very much that is good about our community is a result of what older women have already done,” Ryals said.
And thus was born among Ryals, Dietrich, photographer, Becki Rutta, Carol Lynne Knight, a poet and artist, and artist and sculptor, Linda Hall a commitment to honor women in Tallahassee who have made the city a vibrant and stimulating place to live.
The first LeMoyne exhibition in 2019 honored 17 women with megalithic photographs, each one true to the beauty of age and what a life well lived looks like. A biographical sketch and poetry sat beside each portrait. The self-funded show was an immediate success. And people began to come forward with other names and other inspirational stories of women who needed to be known.
On Sept. 28, the Puckett Gallery and LeMoyne’s long Hallway will once again hold the large-frame likenesses of the Women Among Us who have given so much. With photographs, taken again by Rutta, of the women in an environment they chose, poetry haikus, and biographies attached to their portraits, we see even more of their personal stories in these stirring black and white images.
In addition, there will be a hardcover, “coffee table” edition and softcover book of the exhibition available for purchase.
The 20 women who this year are recognized are: Judith Birtman, clay artist and chef; Joy Bowen, 23 years on the School Board; Dorothy Brickler, biologist; Ann Camp, interior designer; Norine Cardea, mental health counselor; Susan Cerulean, naturalist and writer; Terry Galloway, founder of Mickee Faust Club; Barbara Hamby, poet and author; Quincie Hamby, jewelry maker; Celeste Hart, endocrinologist and art gallery owner; Jane A. Marks, mental health counselor and dancer; Myra Hurt, first dean of FSU College of Medicine (she died on Aug. 26, 2023); Kamila Kavka, chemist; Mary Proctor, artist; Mary Jane Ryals, poet and professor; Nalini Vinayak, sitarist; Ruth Wharton, business manager; Marjorie Williams, long-time educator; Rosanne Wood, on School Board of Leon County.
The Women Among Us Collaborative was saddened to hear of the Aug. 26 passing of Dr. Myra Hurt, who was affectionately known as the mother of the FSU College of Medicine, and has dedicated this exhibit to Dr. Hurt, who “exemplified the power and perseverance and fire we so admire in these Women Among Us.”
Many have contributed to the 501c(3)project. The five originators say they would be grateful for additional funds to cover the costs of a production that is a tribute not only to these 20 women, but to all women who set goals and achieve them; who have visions and create them; who honor the earth and live by its rules; who hear words in their heads and share them with us; who take the wisdom they have gained and distribute it widely.
For how to help, contact email@example.com.
And as an extra bonus, while you are at the Women Among Us exhibition, the LeMoyne Arts gallery invites you to visit the Art & Soul Celebration Silent Auction.
In celebration of 60 years of community and art the Art & Soul Celebration will take place on Thursday, Oct. 19 from 5:30-8:30 p.m. in the LeMoyne Gardens. There will be live music, heavy hors d’oeuvres, open bars featuring festive specialty cocktails, and the highly anticipated silent & live auctions featuring fine art and all things good for the soul.
Another opportunity to visit the Women Among Us show is during an Artist Round Table from 5-6:30 p.m. Oct. 12, with its creators and subjects.
If you go
What: Women Among Us — Portraits of Strength
When: Opening Reception is 5-7:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 28. Refreshments by Chicken Salad Chick; craft beer from Deep Brewing; and live music
Where: LeMoyne Arts, 125 N. Gadsden St.
Cost: Events are free for LeMoyne Arts members and children under 12, $5 for non-members
Additional events: Muffins & Mimosas Event: Saturday, Sept. 30, 11 a.m.-noon. Artist’s Round Table Discussion, 5:30-6:30 p.m., Oct. 12. Art & Soul Celebration, 5-30-8:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 19.
Marina Brown can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org.