When 68-year-old Donald Devine sat down with family for a Christmas Eve celebration, he never imagined the evening would result in a reunion with his artistic youth.
Thanks to Donald's nephew, David Devine, he was reunited with a priceless artifact from his time as an apprentice with Adon Trimm, a widely renowned Jamestown pastel artist who passed away in 1959.
According to Donald, when he was a student at Panama Central School he took private painting lessons from Trimm, who took him to various outdoor locations in the area to create landscape sketches. From the sketches, he and Trimm would create pastel paintings. The location in the painting returned to Donald was of Goose Creek in Blockville.
Members of the Devine family are shown with a painting that was returned to Donald Devine on Christmas Eve. From left are: Joyce, Donald and David.
P-J photo by Dusten Rader
"It's a tributary that runs into Chautauqua Lake with a lot of old trees and I pictured a deer running across the field," Donald said. "I thought it was lost. It was gone for more than 50 years, but now it's finally back home."
Although Donald never became a full-time artist, he's had his work on display at local galleries such as the Prendergast Library. One of the paintings Donald created in 1960 was of an old, dirt road in Niobe, and now, he says, it's paved. So, the only place the images still exist today is in Donald's mind, and on the sandpaper he used to create the painting.
"Most of what I did was landscapes and nature that inspired me. I also did things that just came out of my head like farmhouses, barns, fields of snow, and old, rotten, fallen down trees," Donald said. "Now, they aren't there anymore."
It wasn't by chance that Donald was reunited with one of his earliest paintings, rather it was the curiosity of a young, Panama Central School student.
While a student at Panama Central School in the 1980s, Donald's nephew, David, noticed a pastel painting hanging on the wall while on his way to the cafeteria. Every day he stopped to admire the beautiful creek landscape captured by the artist, until finally he took a closer look and discovered the artist's name was his uncle, Donald.
Both David's father, and Donald, attended Panama Central School, and although Donald dropped out of art class - he was still able to leave quite the impression. The painting David had discovered was a piece that Donald had created in 9th grade, and it had been hanging in the same spot since. However, when Panama Central School began major renovations, the painting disappeared from the wall, and yet again, David's curiosity got the best of him.
So, David asked Mrs. Trisket if she knew where the painting went, and she told him that they were in a closet ready to be discarded. That's when he decided to approach Mrs. Ireland, who worked at the office during the time, to ask if he could take it home, which he did.
"The journey this picture endured is amazing, in the sense that it has traveled many miles and still retained its originality," David said. "It got moved by many hands, so it's amazing nothing ever happened to it. Many times I sat looking at it thinking - wow."
THE PERFECT GIFT
David and his mother, Sue Devine, thought it would be a good gift for Donald. So, they took it down to Michaels to have it reframed before presenting it.
"We have a gathering every year on Christmas Eve - that's when we gave it to Donald," David said. "When I gave it to him what I was hoping for was astonishment."
"As soon as I got it I hung it up in the living room," Donald added.
Donald's wife, Joyce, said she loves having her husbands artwork all around the house, and she wishes she would have known him when he was a young artist.
"Sometimes it might seem like it adds a lot of clutter, but it also adds a lot of personality and memories - I love it," Joyce said.