Decades-long Friendship on Display at West Suburban Medical Center Art Exhibit

March 31, 2017, 5:19 PM


Friends for close to 40 years, Oak Park Art League members Janet Talbot and Fran Sampson are partnering for their first art exhibit together titled “Garden Reveries and Red Letter Days” at West Suburban Medical Center April 7 – May 30.

Here is a discussion with the artists:

Meaning of the title:
Sampson: The title is a combination of Janet’s series of paintings, called Garden Reveries, and my painting series called Red Letter Days. I’ll speak to my title: When I started my current series, I titled the original piece Red Letter Day, to capture the celebratory feeling of the work. The term, “Red Letter Day,” originates in the Roman Republic, when red was used to mark significant days on the calendar. The practice continued past that time, and the phrase now means: any day of significance. As these landscapes vibrate with the pulse of the natural world, I believe they capture the significance and marvel of nature on any given day.

To viewers of my art:
Talbot: I am concerned with the juxtaposition of stasis and movement, and with purposeful contradictions. I strive for coherence and unity in composition, as well as with fluidity in color, shape, and texture. My intent is to engage the viewer in the spirit of the paintings, for it is this which is the core of each work: transforming the concrete into its essence. I believe in the expressive power of color to shape visual narratives.

Sampson: I hope the celebratory nature of my work brings joy to those passing by whether they be staff, visitors or patients. I try to create a feeling of place, not just the physicality of it. Spring is certainly natures greatest celebration so I think both my work and Janet’s fit in with the season. I hope they simply enjoy the color, textures, shapes and sense place that my landscapes offer them.


Talbot: This series of paintings, Garden Reveries, is a meditation on order and chaos found in nature. Amid the ordered garden beds are gemlike flowers and there are also overgrown weeds of every variety.

Sampson: Nature and poetry have often been inspirations for me.

My connection to Oak Park:

Talbot: My husband and I have been Oak Park residents for many years, and I have been an artist member of the Oak Park Art League for almost 15 years.

Sampson: I have lived in Oak Park since 1986. My two daughters were raised here, both graduating from Oak Park River Forest High School. I live here with my husband and potter Ted Sowinski. My eldest daughter lives in Oak Park with her husband and two children, so I get to see my grandchildren often. What I love so much about Oak Park, such as the libraries, Oak Park Art League and the great schools, what I love the most are the interesting and friendly people who live here. There is a vibrant sense of community in Oak Park that makes it one of the most special places to raise curious, open, and civic-minded children.

My connection to West Suburban Medical Center:

Talbot: My connection to Oak Park and Austin is of long standing. My father was the first person on both sides of my family to be born in a hospital–West Sub in 1919! I can’t think of a better place to live.

Sampson: My husband was taken to and treated at West Sub after suffering a heart attack. He also did his Cardio Rehab there. I recently had a foot surgery there.

All are invited to attend the free opening reception to enjoy wine and appetizers on Friday, April 7 from 6:30 – 8 pm. The exhibit is at West Suburban Medical Center, Main Building Lower Level, 3 Erie Court, Oak Park, IL 60302. “Garden Reveries and Red Letter Days” will be on display April 7 – May 30.

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