European artist come to Grove City

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 Messenger photo by Cindy Kazalia
 Valda Fitzpatrick’s art work is now on display at City Hall. The exhibit "Valda!" displays colorful artwork on handmade paper.

The City of Grove City recently announced the opening of a one woman show featuring the artwork of European artist, Valda Fitzpatrick. The show, titled simply, "Valda!", displays rich, vibrant pieces designed with handmade paper.

Born in Germany prior to World War II, Fitzpatrick grew up in a home that celebrated creativity.  

"I’ve been an artist ever since I was born," she explained. "I was the oldest child. My uncle, my brothers, my mother – they’re all artistic. I was always exposed to art. My dad was a professional tailor and he designed the most beautiful clothes."

Fitzpatrick was also surrounded by artistic expression at school.

"I attended a private boarding school and I was surrounded by art," she said.  

She participated in all forms of art, including a heavy focus on theater. Students at the school designed all their own costumes for performances. This educational experience taught Fitzpatrick to be very resourceful.  

Prior to high school graduation, Fitzpatrick met an American serviceman on the street.

"He was riding a bicycle and we started talking," she reminisced.  

The pair started dating but the artist did not immediately concede to marriage. Instead, she opted to visit relatives in America and work in various parts of the country.

Fitzpatrick remembers this period in her life as if it were yesterday.

"It was a different culture in America and I wanted to understand it, to learn English."

The smitten serviceman, however, was not deterred. He somehow managed to show up in the various cities Fitzpatrick visited. Finally, at the urging of a couple in California, the two married. Valda and Donald Fitzpatrick have now shared over 46 years, as well as one son, together.

Those years passed quickly yet art was a fluid constant for Fitzpatrick. She earned a bachelor’s degree in fine arts and art education. Subsequently, she again returned to school for her master’s degree. Her work has been exhibited in Canada as well as cities throughout the United States, including Cleveland and Chicago. Critics celebrate the intricate blending of color with handmade paper and other natural objects such as leaves.

Fitzpatrick often works with private interior designers to create one of a kind pieces for both traditional and contemporary homes. She develops a relationship with clients, listening to their needs and designing original works that feed their souls.  

"I want to make them happy," she explained. "My pictures are very soothing and calming to come home to at the end of the day."

To young artists, Fitzpatrick offered these words of advice.

"Acquire skill. Talent can only take you so far. You must study and develop your skills."

Then she added, "Art is my life."

"Valda!" runs though April 11 in council chambers at 4035 Broadway. For more information or to arrange a private tour, contact Ray Kline at 875-2423. The public can contact the artist through her Web site at ateliervalda.com or by calling (419) 946-5420.    

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