Artists in Residence – Mary Beth Dillon and Lela June Schwark
by Judith Campanaro, with permission.
“In 2009, The Arts Council of Kern started the art cart program at San Joaquin Hospital in Bakersfield, California. The purpose of the program is to provide and engage patients with art projects that will help heal their spirits, create conversation, and make meaningful interaction. Recently the Council has brought the program to the Adventist Health Medical Center of Tehachapi.
For the past few months, Mary Beth Dillon and Lela June Schwark have been creating art from their bedsides.
Lela June or June as the residents call her has been at the Medical Center for a little over a year. She said “God put me where I had to be when I had to be there. It’s like family here. There are a lot of wonderful people and I have nice friends. It’s like a college dorm. “
June has always loved art and used to draw and paint when she was younger. She is currently working on a series of Tehachapi landscapes.
Her plan is to paint the mountains in summer, spring, winter and fall.
A stroke victim, June paints with her left hand even though she is right handed. She is proud of her work and is starting to get commissions.
Mary Beth Dillon has been a resident at the center for the past four years. She says she is very happy there and has made a lot of wonderful friends.
“I love to paint because it’s exciting. You can see things come alive. I look forward to it every week.”
Mary said she never painted before but she used to do line drawings when she was younger. Her paintings are colorful and fun.
The first painting she did was a rendering of Winnie the Pooh for her son. She said he always had a Pooh bear when he was a boy. Mary also likes to play bingo with June.
The two of them have several hats that they wear to the bingo games. The girls claim they have “hat-attitude!”
Activity director, Zoila Schrader, says the patients have been enjoying the art program. “The painting brings back good memories and talents the residents thought they couldn’t achieve again. Their work also provides a point of interest for them to share with others,” said Schrader.”
by Judith Campanaro for The Loop newspaper in Tehachapi, California, with permission.
“Mary Beth Dillon, a resident at the Adventist Medical Health Center Tehachapi, recently passed away but her memory will never leave us.
Mary’s roommate, June Schwark said she looks at Mary’s passing as a celebration and homecoming. Says Schwark, “I miss Mary but I am happy for her because she is no longer in pain.”
Long time roommates, the girls created beautiful memories together. One of their favorite activities was their love for painting. Through a program sponsored by the Arts Council of Kern, the girls painted every week.
Mary’s quick wit always brought a twinkle to her eyes and made everyone smile. The painting sessions were never boring. Mary always said, “I love to paint because it’s exciting. You can see things come alive.”
Before Mary Beth passed away she was working on a set of barn pictures. She requested that if she left before they were finished that her friend June complete them.
June did just that. The paintings remain a tribute to a beautiful friendship. Some people make life better just by being here. Mary Beth was one of those people.
Says June, “By the way Mary, I’m wearing the smile you gave me.”