Celebration of Life art exhibit Sept. 9 for Larry Zimmer

Art lovers already know the name of Larry Ziemer, but his wife Carol hopes they can learn a little more about the depth of his talent at a Celebration of Life Art Exhibit being held in his memory from 1 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 9.

The gathering will be held in the same place he sold his works for some 30 years, at the Ziemer Gallery, 210 W. Washington St. in Monticello.

“Most people think of Larry as a barn and lighthouse painter, and I wanted them to see how versatile he was,” said his wife of 53 years, Carol Ziemer. “Larry could do anything.”

Known for his water color landscapes, the Monticello-based artist – who passed away in May at the age of 79 – also dabbled in oils and even some pottery, and would take on just about anything. This Sunday’s display will show some of his more familiar nature scenes, but also others that have some expressionist tendencies that he would explore on occasion.

Ziemer’s works sold well, to the point there are only a few originals left at the gallery. So Carol asked collectors to share their pieces for the exhibit, and they have come through, sending Ziemer originals from Ohio, Wisconsin, Michigan and Florida.

Locally, pieces of art from Ziemer that are currently on display at First State Bank, Tatman Village and the Kirby Medical Center are being loaned back to the gallery for the special day.

“We only own four of the paintings that will be in this show. The rest people were gracious enough to bring them back,” said Mrs. Ziemer.

Getting ready for the show has been a melancholy experience as Carol misses her soulmate but revels in the artwork that made them both so happy. She also remembers the life-altering decision they made in 1970 to abandon life as a graphic designer (Larry) and teacher (Carol) and hit the road to pursue their passion for art.

“It kind of sneaked up on us,” said Mrs. Ziemer, noting that their family included a newborn son at that point.

“We got thinking that things and money were important instead of what’s really important in life. And I told Larry, ‘you know what, we’re going down a path I don’t know if we want to go down.’”

They backed up their vision with action, selling most of their possessions, purchasing a station wagon and small camper and hit the road.

“We had enough money to get through three months,” she said.

But people enjoyed watching Larry create his paintings – most of the time purchasing them on the spot – and that three month bankroll lasted five years.

It also solidified their dream that art was not only fulfilling, but could put food on the table.

That road trip also showed Ziemer what would become his greatest passion – water colors. It first came out of necessity, as there wasn’t enough room in the trailer for oil painting supplies, but it became the artists’ trademark.

“That’s how he got into water color. There was no room for oils when we ran away from home,” said Carol. “He got majorly addicted to water color.”

The Ziemers eventually returned from the road when son Nick grew old enough to go to school.

“It got time for us to put away our hippie clothes, get a haircut and pretend we were responsible people,” joked Mrs. Ziemer. “We tried to pull that off.”

They opened the Ziemer Gallery 30 years ago this October, and Carol said she is going to keep it open despite the passing of her husband.

As for the Sept. 9 Celebration of Life exhibit, she has one request of attendees.

“Just enjoy his talent.”

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