STRONGSVILLE – The Strongsville Historical Society hosted an Art Walk at the Strongsville Historic Village May 19. It featured the work of Velda and Howard Chapman, the founders of the society, as well as the work of local artists.
The Chapmans created the Strongsville Historical Society in 1962, just shortly after purchasing the house that is now their namesake in the historic village on Pearl Road and Zverina Drive in Strongsville. Their home and property became the foundation for the historic village, and their legacy has been carried on with the help of many local people over the years.
The idea for the art walk was because of the paintings that exist and are held by the historical society.
“This all started because people who knew her and knew about her wanted to see her work displayed,” said Sylvia Pakish, who does many of the displays throughout the village. “We wanted to find a way to show these paintings and display the work that Velda Chapman did.”
What Velda Chapman did was capture the history of Strongsville through her painting. She is known for her love of children and her love of art. Many of her paintings are of churches, barns and homes around the Strongsville area. Howard Chapman also dabbled in painting, being drawn more toward landscapes of the lakes and nature, and even some of his tools.
But it was Velda Chapman who really painted history, whether she knew it at the time or not. She started drawing as a child, and continued into her adult life. She was interested in Strongsville and its past, and began painting some of its old buildings. Some she even painted from photographs or detailed descriptions from older residents.
She became known for her paintings, and started giving presentations to groups who had an interest.
The Chapmans are gone now, but their legacy continues at the village. Local people are carrying on their legacy and adding their own paintings to the mix. Along with the display of the Chapmans’ work in the art walk, other artists displayed their work in the Lathrop House of the historic village. They were led by resident artist Bobbie Dorr, who teaches watercolor classes to local people who are interested in the trade. She became involved with the historical society largely because of her artistic abilities and her desire to preserve history through art.
“Velda wanted to make sure that art was an important part of Strongsville’s history. It’s important that local people get involved and keep the arts programs going within the community,” Dorr said.
The art walk was free for the community. The village will be open for tours this summer, and fundraising opportunities to support the village will be available as well.