…dotted by Bekki*
“People love nostalgia.”
I thought she was exaggerating. Then I promptly melted upon seeing a painting of my beloved neighborhood. Celia was right…we all really do love nostalgia. There is something magical about seeing familiar places lovingly transformed into art.
As you will read on her website, “Celia (McDonough) believes that it is important to paint one’s own landscape and interpret the treasures, often overlooked, residing in our own backyards, surrounding neighborhoods, and shores.”
Clapp's Pear, Edward Everett Square
I had the good fortune to spend a Sunday afternoon with Celia. I had been talking about DottieHotties at the middle school where I teach art. One of my lunch-buddies suggested I contact her longtime friend. “You’ll love Celia!” declared the computer teacher, “She has done hundreds of paintings of Dorchester. She does all the watercolors for the Celebrate Dorchester Calendar. All the proceeds go towards this great school program, Project D.E.E.P.” Two emails later, I was welcomed into one of Celia’s many galleries — although she called it her living room.
Celia McDonough in her Adams Village Home
Over the next hour I was inspired hook, line and sinker. Every square inch of the McDonough’s Adams Village home is covered in family artwork. “This was my cubist phase … these are some vignettes … I did that one while sitting in a van in Florida … that is my daughter’s … those are some collages, if you look closely you can see I used paper decorations from my nail salon … and in the kitchen is some artwork by my grandchildren.”
The watercolor landscapes, however, were where I became sentimental. My maternal grandmother, “Mema,” was an accomplished painter, and I have precious memories of using watercolors along the warm Maine coastline with her; it made me wish for more time. Celia’s voice was comforting, “You have a lot on your plate with your two little ones, a full-time job…yes, you will paint again — once the kids get older. Keep the drawing going every little chance you get. You can paint with me this summer, I like to paint with people.” My Mema would have loved Celia.
Crossing Town Field
Once I composed myself, I asked Celia about her favorite places in Dorchester, “As far as restaurants go, I love the Venezia with its wonderful bay views, day or night in all seasons–I’ve painted the areas surrounding it countless times including the ever-present gas tank, boats, and nearby yacht clubs.”
Rainbow Tank from Squantum Seawall
Celia continued, “I think that’s what makes Dorchester so unique with its varied shores and inlets extending from South Boston to Milton. I never tire of painting or sketching the waters around UMass Boston and the JFK Library; the watershed areas along the Neponset River with its marshes and wildlife, and the dams, flowing currents, and ancient buildings surrounding the Bakers Chocolate Factory. My other favorite painting sites further inland include the wilderness areas near Franklin Park, the zoo, and the William Devine Golf Course.”
Mid-Winter at Malibu Beach
“In addition, there are Dorchester’s never-ending cityscapes, architecture, historical sites, and panoramic skylines begging to be captured. Over the last three decades, I’ve painted hundreds of watercolors of Dorchester and vision many more possiblities up the road. We’ve got it all– who’d want to live anywhere else!”
I couldn’t agree more Celia … although maybe I’m just being nostalgic.
An Evening at the Strand
Besides painting watercolor landscapes, Celia McDonough has also received commissions to paint numerous house portraits and still life paintings. A selection of her work is currently on display at The Mud House, 389 Neponset Avenue.
Each year, the Celebrate Dorchester Calendar can be purchased at Gerard’s Adams Corner Store, Cedar Grove Gardens or by contacting the Dorchester Educational Enrichment Program (Project D.E.E.P).