When Rappahannock County celebrated its ninth annual Artists of Rappahannock Studio and Gallery Tour earlier this month, 60-plus artists participated, both young and old. And though he is in his 80s, the term “old” does not apply to artist Jim Ramsay, whose paintings were part of the “Six Pack: Unpacked” exhibit that opened that weekend at River District Arts, where it will remain through December.
The more accurate “young” would better explain how Ramsay came to hold seven black belts, earn a scholarship to the Corcoran School (back when it was part of George Washington University) and go on to earn his master’s in art in Mexico. He’s also taught at universities, spent many years offering art therapy to patients of St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in D.C., and moved to Rappahannock in his later years because he loved to hike, falling for the little green house on Mount Marshall, close to Little Devil’s Stairs and the Mount Marshall Trail.
He joined the infamous Six Packers — a group of talented artists who showed their works in Washington’s old Packing Shed Gallery for a number of years. The group includes Pam Pittinger, Ann Georgia McCaffray, Linda Tarry, Chris Stephens, Janet Brome, Ann Currie and Jeanne Drevas.
Jim’s work is considered perhaps abstract, but he decided long ago that some paintings required more than thoughtful repose to discover their hidden symbolic meanings, and set about to make those meanings obvious. His work is splendid, colorful, creative and bold, pictures that long for entire bare walls to host them.
His modest Harris Hollow home is minus any living- or dining-room furniture, or whatever rooms are usually required to define a house. Rather, his abode is his studio. Paintings line the walls, some turned backwards, unfinished and leaning against floorboards; many gorgeous and rich finished works adorn the walls. He’s a master of his craft, disciplined and insightful. He and so many gifted artistic residents of Rappahannock make this such a wonderful place to be.
Pat Saltonstall recently celebrated her 88th birthday at the Thornton River Grille in the company of her son, Philip Rosemond, of Mountainside Dance Center fame. Tom Nash, the Grille’s chef, told me how Philip had mentioned to him and owners Ken and Andy Thompson that Pat “had celebrated her 78th birthday at the Grille 10 years earlier, coinciding with the opening of the Grille.” Much discussion and laughter ensued, and a group picture was taken with Nash and Andy Thompson. The Thompsons graciously treated Pat to her birthday luncheon.
And yes, the longtime Flint Hill resident is the Pat Saltonstall — the one who wrote for the Washington Star when JFK and later Lyndon Johnson were in the White House, and covered the diplomatic corps. She’s met with presidents; indeed, John F. Kennedy once remarked that he “really really liked her leads,” and Pat, a beautiful woman then and now, found herself awash in his charm.
She was there, in fact, covering the story, when Jackie Kennedy disembarked from the plane on that fateful day in Dallas, covered in the President’s blood. Pat has experienced much history first-hand, up close and personal, and is a woman filled with amazing stories, great humor and wisdom. (Ask her sometime about her meeting with the Beatles and a gift from George Harrison.)
Forty-five years ago, during the turbulent ’60s, she hungered for a quiet country place to rest her heart. She fell in love with Rappahannock, and bought her beloved hilltop Points of View Farm. According to an article in the Fairfax Times, she was asked what makes her smile, and responded, “Rappahannock and my mountain.” Pat, you make all of us smile, we’re honored you chose our pretty county as your home. Happy birthday to you and we wish you many more.