Continuing to inspire: Rick Devin’s art supplies find a perfect home at Jonnycake Center – The Westerly Sun | Candle Made Easy

HOPE VALLEY — The late Carl “Rick” Devin, an artist widely admired for his whimsical creations, community involvement, generosity and kindness of heart, left behind many treasures — and one mystery.

When he died last January, to the chagrin of his family – his wife Robin, their sons Eric and Darton and their families – he left behind a studio stuffed to the ceiling with the painting supplies he used during his 50 years as a Artists had used designers to create his illustrations, paintings and imaginative little creatures.

The conundrum, Robin said one morning last week while discussing her late husband and the remarkable contents of his art studio, is what to do with the material he used to paint and create what he once called “animals with.” human characteristics,” or “surrealistic anthropomorphism”.

“There was fabric and ribbons and trim and cording,” said Robin. “There were buttons and frames…lots of frames, all levels of frames.”

“There were many,” she added with a light laugh. “Many different things.”

Her Pittsburgh-born husband began his career as an assistant art director for a Pittsburgh advertising firm, became a technical illustrator for the Atomic Energy Commission, and then left to pursue his dream of becoming a freelance artist.

When Robin got a job as a librarian at the University of Rhode Island, the Devins moved to Hope Valley.

“He was a homemaker,” said Robin. “He stayed at home with the boys.”

He also got involved in community life. He has served on Hopkinton Town Council, the Chariho School Committee, the Hopkinton Charter Commission, the Hope Valley Revitalization Committee, the Hopkinton Historic District Commission, and the Chariho Community Educational Project.

He also served as director of the Wickford Art Festival, was a life member of the Wickford Art Association and a member of the Fayerweather Craft Guild.

Rick was also a long-time supporter of HopArts – a group of artists and craftsmen from southern Rhode Island – and participated each year in the HopArts Studio Trail, which allows art lovers to take a self-guided tour of artists’ galleries and studios in the USA join Hopkinton area.

When the family spent six months in Jéremie, Haiti — while Robin was doing field research for her doctorate in medical anthropology — Rick gave drawing and painting classes to the locals, she said.

“He loved it and they loved him,” Robin recalled. “He taught all ages. They wanted to know when he’s coming back…exactly when he’s coming back…what day he’s coming back.”

Over all these years, Rock amassed the impressive amount of material that lay in his studio, the same space where he welcomed visitors eager to see how he would transform his stuff into unusual works of art.

“My husband’s fear was that it would all end up in a dumpster,” said Robin.

Somewhat overwhelmed by how best to handle the mountains of material, Robin mentioned her dilemma to Westerly’s Donna Celico, a longtime family friend who had worked with her husband on many projects over the years.

Celico, a retired English teacher known for her own creativity and many artistic projects, stepped into action.

“Of course I wanted to help,” said Celico, a big fan of Rick’s work who owns one of his paintings. “That was the smallest thing I could do.”

Celico’s friendship with the Devins dates back more than four decades. She and Rick worked on projects at the former Westerly Center for the Arts and for the Colonial Theater of Westerly. When the theater’s box office was on the High Street, Celico designed windows – once the talk of the town – inspired by the play being performed at the time and Devin created the content.

“Rick was a consummate artist who was drawn to whims,” ​​Celico said. “He also spoke softly and was a lovely, lovely person.”

First she thought of teachers and students and how good it would be for children to have access to the wealth of material.

“I figured I’d contact every art teacher in the tri-state region to let them know about Rick’s supplies,” Celico said with a chuckle. “And then it hit me.”

“I thought about the Jonnycake Center,” said Celico, who quickly called social services.

She visited Lee Eastbourne, the executive director of the Jonnycake Center of Westerly, she said, and explained the situation.

“He never took the smile off his face,” Celico said.

Eastbourne said the center is honored to accept Rick’s art supplies.

It was a sizeable donation, he said, which included “quality fabrics, pieces of wood, jewelry, paints and brushes.”

“Supplies sold incredibly quickly,” Eastbourne said via email on Friday afternoon. “…We’re excited to know that they will continue to inspire budding artists to produce new amazing pieces!”

Most notably, he added, as Robin told him she hoped the donation would not only raise funds for the Jonnycake Center, but would “enable others to create their own art.”

“This donation will achieve both,” Eastbourne said, “we really appreciate that Robin chose the Jonnycake Center of Westerly to receive these wonderful items.”

“I’m so relieved,” said Robin.

Fittingly, Robin and her sons set up a bursary on behalf of her late husband. The Rick Devin Memorial Arts Scholarship is administered by the Community 2000 Education Foundation, PO Box 1161, Charlestown, RI 02813.

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