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Artwork of elder artists shines
Two featured in 'dreams' project
Art WEB 1
Artist Anna Maria Samms, right, talks with friends Bob and Jacquie Gallagher. - photo by Jim Dean

Their fingers may not be as nimble as they once were, but their work still holds great beauty.

The paintings and drawings of Anna Maria Samms and Maria Kehr, both residents of Cumming Nursing Center, were put on display Monday at Market 334 in Cumming.

Candi Roderick, the center’s activities director, said the one-day display was part of a monthly program in which staff members try to “make dreams true.”

“We partner with the Second Wind Dreams Foundation,” Roderick said. The organization seeks to fulfill dreams of elders in nursing or assisted living care.

“We have a ‘dream team’ who works to help our residents’ dreams come true,” she said.

According to Roderick, the nursing and assisted living facility tries to hold dream-granting events and activities about once a month.

Monday’s gallery showing, which featured artwork from Samms and Kehr over the years, came about after the women realized they had both been artists earlier in life.

“They’re two very talented ladies,” Roderick said.

Kehr worked in a variety of media over the years, including water colors, charcoal and pen and ink.

“I’ve been an artist most of my life,” the 85-year-old said. “My first job was illustrating shoes.”

She said in the days before computer graphics and digital photography, advertisements in newspapers and magazines were drawn by hand.

“I also had a company that would call me whenever they got new dresses in, so I could go sketch them for their ads,” she said.

Samms, now 87, didn’t pick up painting until she was in her 50s.

She specialized in portraiture on porcelain, something her son, Greg Ellinger, said took time and skill.

“She would do part of the painting, fire the porcelain, then come back and do more and re-fire it,” he said. “It took a lot of steps.”

Added Samms: “You don’t see too much of this work anymore.”

She created her first porcelain piece in 1978.

“I lost count of how many I did,” she said. “I held seminars and taught other people how to do it. I enjoyed it so much.”

Kehr’s son, Pete Kehr, said his mother’s work spanned more than 50 years.

“Here’s one of me when I was 3, so that was more than 50 years ago,” he said. “And here’s one of my son, who’s now 27. He has her gift for sketching and works for a big ad agency.”

For both ladies, Monday’s gallery display was a treat.

“They’ve both been on cloud nine about this,” Roderick said.

Added Samms: “I’m overwhelmed. I can’t believe this is happening.”