When B. Kay Gerehart’s life partner of 27 years, Artie Liles, died last year, she used art as a way to work through her grief.
Though Gerehart, 69, started painting later in life, she has accomplished much in a short time and is now the featured artist in Nansemond-Suffolk Academy’s 34th Annual Art Show and Sale, which takes place at the school from Jan. 25 through Feb. 2.
Being a featured artist is something he always wanted for her, and the two used to come to the NSA show together — the last time being two years ago.
“All of my art is through him,” Gerehart said.
Sometimes she’ll go to her studio and just sit, and she writes daily to him in a journal — “Letters to Arthur” — about the things that have happened in her day, but she said being the featured artist and honorary chairwoman has pushed her.
“The two things that I’m just truly thankful for, in addition to all the people that have been supportive of me is, one, I have the art to do, (and) that I have the studio to go to every day, even if I don’t paint,” Gerehart said. “And the greatest gift is being the featured artist in this show, because it made me go to the studio, it made me function, it has made me paint. And I don’t know where I would have been this year without it.”
Though late to art, Gerehart has pursued her new passion with a purpose and a flourish.
After wrapping up her career in commercial and corporate real estate in Vermont and Virginia, Gerehart split her time between Norfolk and the small town of Mathews in the middle Peninsula, and in 1999, opened a retail store and gallery that showcased regional artists in Mathews.
She began to pursue her own interest in art with mosaic tile, glass wall art and acrylic painting in a mostly primitive folk art style, and in the winter of 2008, Gerehart took a trip to Key West and was introduced to oil painting under a locally renowned artist, Letty Nowak.
She continued her oil painting interest with…
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