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Rising Waters and Unwavering Spirits

Will our little town survive this catastrophic flooding?

I don't live in Venice, Italy. My precious little art studio is above the canoe, and you can see our AC unit hanging out the front window. I was one of the lucky ones. Being on the second floor has its inconveniences, but on this day, it was a blessing. Almost every store, restaurant and private residence in downtown Montpelier was flooded on July 10, 2023. It was devastating and wasn't contained to only Washington County. President Biden declared a state of emergency in Vermont due to the severe flooding.

Katie Trautz, the Executive Director of Montpelier Alive, sprang into action before the flood waters receded. Amidst the natural disaster, she demonstrated innate leadership skills, and her swift actions and tireless dedication will forever earn our town's gratitude. A "hub" was set up in town, right next to my studio, where all volunteers would check in. They supplied food, water, hand cleaning station, tools, bathrooms and first aid. A month later, the hub still exists, because the work isn't over. This is a long, slow process of excavating and rebuilding. The town looked and felt apocalyptic, piles of foul-smelling debris lined the streets for blocks and blocks.

Every day, enormous truckloads of garbage are still being hauled away, and as a result, the sidewalks are gradually reappearing. But life has changed drastically on the other side of this natural disaster. Some businesses cannot afford to rebuild, some have chosen not to, while others are finding ways to make a fresh start. You can donate here at the Montpelier Foundation to support local businesses rebuilding. You can donate to individuals and businesses through their Go Fund Me sites or purchase products in their online shops.

Presently, the Drawing Board Classroom, which serves as the venue for my classes, is being utilized for storage. Our hope is by mid-September, it will be available again. Thankfully, I have my studio space, and with some strategic adjustments, I could turn it back into a functional classroom setting.

I have already heard from some of you about painting classes and purchasing artwork. I am diligently crafting my current class schedule and forging ahead. I plan on starting classes in mid-September, and I will be participating in Vermont Open Studio Weekend, September 29 & October 1. I'm excited to share that I'll be unveiling new pieces in my online shop this week. Keep an eye out for these updates! The easiest way to stay up to date is follow me on Instagram and Facebook.

If you're intrigued by the idea of acquiring artwork or enrolling in a class, I encourage you to get in touch and share your thoughts. Additionally, I'm genuinely interested in discovering your preferences for painting subjects or topics you're eager to learn about. Your feedback will greatly assist me in tailoring my offerings to meet your interests and aspirations. Feel free to reach out and share your ideas—I'm excited to hear from you!

Katie O'Rourke

Chris McGuire and I in my Montpelier, VT studio. That lovely little piece lives in Florida now, thank you!

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