Dashed onto a canvas in oils is an image of Sabrina Style’s front window, dresses displayed in the pane glass of the Washington Avenue dress shop and boutique. Again with dabs of vibrant oil colors, Main Street and other Newtown and Sandy Hook scenes have come to life thanks to artist Jim Chillington, who lives in Newtown’s Hattertown district.
Four of the painter’s pieces will be sold or auctioned off during a June 15 Sandy Hook Organization for Prosperity (SHOP) fundraiser and wine tasting event to benefit local businesses. The second annual SHOP fundraiser will benefit Newtown Scholarship Association and FAITH Food Pantry, as well as provide SHOP with future event funding. The evening of wine, food and auctions will be held at Sandy Hook Volunteer Fire & Rescue Company’s main station, 18 Riverside Road, starting at 7 pm. John Voket will provide entertainment. Local vendors are contributing food, wine and beer. Tickets are $30.
Looking forward to the fundraising/wine tasting on June 15, PJ’s Laundromat owner and SHOP member Sharon Doherty said, “It’s going to be a lot of fun.” Of the many contributions to the evening, she focused recently on Mr Chillington’s work.
A Part-Time Artist
Employed as a roofer working in the Stamford and Greenwich areas, Mr Chillington also enjoys “life outside, landscapes,” and scenic places captured with a brush and easel in the open air. Residents may have seen Mr Chillington around town since January, when he began painting scenes starting with Washington Avenue, after the main intersection had cleared following 12/14. He soon met Ms Doherty, and the two had the idea for contributing a portion of his painting’s proceeds to SHOP.
He has also set up his supplies at Main Street locations including Newtown Savings Bank’s main branch and C.H. Booth Library. After moving to town nine years ago, he said, “I was attracted to the natural beauty and historic charm of Main Street with the dramatic flag blowing in the wind in the center of road.” A flagpole scene is included in some of his work. He has spent hours at a time recreating Sandy Hook Center scenes including the small footbridge behind Sabrina Style.
His art has helped him work through emotions that had been delayed for him since 12/14. Standing with Ms Doherty Saturday afternoon, May18, he said, “I don’t know why I cry so much now, but I do.” Soon after the school tragedy he noticed in towns as far away as Stamford that the numbers 20 and six, or 26 were represented in artwork, plantings, and other remembrances to Sandy Hook.
He recalls in the days before Christmas, “I had been working in North Stamford and passed by a scene where I thought I could be alone and think, it was the Bartlett Arboretum. I parked and walked along the pond and came to a marker on a short pole that read 20 and a plaque that read ‘Memorial Walk.’ I felt this was a place where I could connect to the events with a painting and it was there over a few days where I really opened up and felt enough to bring tears and visions of what may have happened that day.”
Feeling some relief recently, he said, “It’s healthy to cry now. I feel better that I am having the emotional reaction.” He plans to continue painting the Newtown scenes.
Painting locally has helped connect him to his hometown. While in Sandy Hook Center in February, he said, “School busses went by; children had their thumbs up, it was just a good time.”
Regarding his local scenes, he describes the days when he started painting in Sandy Hook.
“I think it was the end of February when I saw things quiet [down] and thought it was time to paint there. I always wanted to do a painting of the Sabrina Style window but started a bit further away up Washington Avenue and the composition included a few other buildings as well. I wasn’t content with the painting.”
He wanted to get closer to the window and did another painting up close, he said.
“Again I got positive feedback with thumbs up and some people stopping to talk a bit, although I couldn’t hear that well over the music.” Mr Chillington said that he paints while listening to music through earphones. “I went on to paint other scenes and always had people stopping and saying they enjoyed what I was doing and that is a rewarding feeling.
“I have had tears of sadness in every painting since Christmas day, even in a bed of tulips I see 26 pure [angels] and break down for welcomed tears,” he continued, adding he welcomes the tears as a healthy reaction.
“I will continue painting, I am hooked for life. I think about it all the time,” said Mr Chillington. “I would like to continue painting in Newtown for the reasons I moved here and to share joy of our town.”
Offering some of his art background this week, Mr Chillingon said, “I’ve always liked art.” He believes that working with his clients as a roofer influenced him. “Meeting with all the potential clients at their homes over the 29 years and seeing the fine art on their walls has shaped me the most in being an artist.” He started painting about 30 years ago but only ten years ago he “started to think of it on a daily basis.” Now at 50, he said, “I feel it daily in my heart.”
Tickets for the SHOP Wine Tasting & Silent Auction, $30 each, will be available Saturday, May 25, during The Great Pootatuck Duck Race in Sandy Hook Center. They are also available from many local merchants, including most within Sandy Hook Center. For additional information and tickets, contact Sharon Doherty at 203-948-1688.