For this group, Tuesdays bring out artistic expressions

By Regina Villiers. Originally published April 7, 1999 in The Suburban Life, added April 16, 2018.

For more than 20 years of Tuesdays, members of this artists’ group have met for an all-day work and social session. From left are: Sarah Hershey, Mary Jane Heltmeyer, teacher Mary Lou DeMar, Loraine Nichols, Lois Krieger, Jane Bordman, Martha Richardson, Fran Eckstein and Lavern Barron.

They came together more than 20 years ago.  No one is sure exactly when, but it seems as if they’ve been together for their lifetimes.  Now, they cling as if welded by Super Glue.  They describe themselves as  “sisters” and “family,” though they’ve never settled on an official name for themselves.

They’re an art group, a bunch of women who get together to do the thing they enjoy most, dabbling in paint.  They are artists.

It began sometime back in the 1970’s when they took a class at Madeira High School when adult education classes were taught there.  The class was taught by Mary Lou DeMar, a Madeira artist who is well known in the area.

When the classes at the high school ended, they weren’t ready to give it up.  Painting had become important to them.

Mary Lou told them that she would continue the class at her home in her studio.  For more than 20 years, they’ve come together on Tuesdays to paint and to learn.  They meet every Tuesday.  It’s an all-day affair.  They come in the morning, break for lunch, and then go on through the afternoon.  They bring a brown bag lunch, though they have started a tradition of going out to lunch on each of their birthdays, which means several lunches out per year.

There are 10 members now.  On the day I attended the session to do this column, two members, Betty Haynes and Jean Walter, were absent.  But eight connected souls were there, doing together what they do every week, what they love to do most.

Mary Lou has a large, beautiful studio set apart from the rest of the house.  Airy and lit by natural light from many beautiful windows, there’s room to spread out and paint.  Most of them sit around a central arrangement of tables.  A couple of them had positioned themselves near windows, while one sat back in a far corner.  It wasn’t clear if she’d been exiled there by a vote of the group, or if it was by her choice.

She is Lois Krieger from Loveland-the newest member of the group and the life of the party.  Every group needs a “Lois.”  She’s funny. She’s bright.  From back in her corner, she was first to chime in.

“It’s tough to get in this group,” she said.  “It’s worse than trying to make a sorority.  They even took a vote, and you don’t know how scared I was.

I had met two of the artists before.  I first met Sarah Hershey years ago when my son was in first or second grade.  I was a volunteer hall monitor at his school, and Sarah was on the school board.  A genteel, hard workingwoman, she took her job seriously, constantly dropping in at the schools and making an effort to know the volunteers.

She’s still a hard worker, patiently plying her paintbrush.

I had also met Martha Richardson before.  Martha says the members of the group are like her sisters, and they help her through things, like a hip replacement operation she had.

I had not met the others before, but I’m not likely to forget Mary Jane Heitmeyer, or her talent.   She had brought in some of her framed paintings that day, including a beautiful painting of purple irises.

“It’s not for sale,” she said.

Loraine Nichols lives in Madeira.  When she paints, she tries to tell a story, she says.

Fran Eckstein also lives in Madeira.  Her husband is a wood-carver, and they share an interest in art and nature.  He volunteers at the Cincinnati Nature Center. She likes to paint birds.

Verne Barron loves animals.  She likes to paint them.  She also likes to paint seascapes and ocean waves.

Jan Bordman lives in Montgomery.  She likes to paint lighthouses, boats and water.

Mary Lou DeMar, their teacher and leader, has lived in Madeira most of her life.  Her family moved here from Pleasant Ridge when she was in fourth grade.  Most of the time she lived across the street from Sellman School.  She was Mary Lou Jackson then.  Then she grew up and married Russell DeMar.  They are solid, mainstay Madeira people who are active in many areas, but who are most proud of their family.  They have a son, a daughter, and nine grandchildren, who do not live in Madeira.

Mary Lou says she no longer teaches the group.  They go their own way.

But Mary Jane Heitmeyer insists otherwise.  “She has taught us everything we know.”

“They followed their own ways,” Mary Lou said.  “They’ve branched into their own personalities.”

“Art is a wonderful thing.  You get in an altered state, and you lose yourself totally.”

Every week, she brings them together to lose themselves, to give them something to help withstand the stresses of life.

Tuesdays at Mary Lou’s is a commitment for them now.  In more than 20 years of combining colors, they have forced a family.  Mary Lou and some of the Tuesday artist will exhibit their work at the Madeira Art Fair May 2.