It seems that everybody at Fairhaven knows Jane Weyrauch. As she passes a photo exhibit by Bruce Blum hanging on the art gallery walls, residents and staff greet her, some hugging her, others asking how she is doing or joking about her celebrity status.
The photo display is Weyrauch's doing. As Fairhaven's director of art, the art studio and exhibits, Weyrauch has coordinated art shows -- one every six weeks for the past 11 years for the Sykesville retirement community. She has exhibits scheduled through March 2011.
"The walls are never empty," Weyrauch, 77, said proudly, emphasizing "never."
For her tireless efforts on behalf of Fairhaven, Weyrauch was inducted into the Maryland Senior Citizens Hall of Fame last year. She was nominated by her assistant, Nancy Perry, and Fairhaven's executive director, Al Holsopple, said Cindy Yingling, vice president for development for EMA, which owns and operates Fairhaven and other retirement communities.
The Maryland Senior Citizens Hall of Fame, based at Edenwald in Towson, annually "recognizes the outstanding volunteerism of senior citizens," who are entered into the hall of fame in October, said president Parker Koons. A review committee selects up to 50 winners from submitted nomination letters and recommendations.
The honor included "a plaque, a handshake, a pat on the back and a free lunch. It was lovely and nice to be appreciated," Weyrauch said.
"From a Fairhaven perspective, Jane is one example of the many residents who live here that enjoy their life and enjoy the many activities," Yingling said. "I think she can speak to the many residents and friends that she's made here."
In the downstairs art studio, specially designed by Weyrauch with individual stations for the art students, Perry and other volunteers worked to set up the next exhibit, which opens tomorrow. As one exhibit comes down, another goes up immediately, Weyrauch said.
The new exhibit, colorful landscape and floral painting by the students of Baltimore area art teacher Carol Thompson, was a last minute scramble for Weyrauch and Perry. When the artist scheduled to show could not be found, Thompson, a judge for one of Weyrauch's special juried exhibits, was called and offered her students' art for display.
That happens occasionally, Perry said, when the exhibits are set up so early that when it comes time to show, they can't find the artist.
But Weyrauch "is very well known and respected in the art community," Perry said, so an exhibit somewhere is always available.
A retired school teacher who was married to an artist for 50 years, Weyrauch was asked to take over the exhibits almost as soon as she arrived at Fairhaven.
At first she said no, "but one day Ruth Dodge brought me a piece of chocolate mousse cake, and I told her she'd made me an offer I couldn't resist," Weyrauch said with a laugh.
Dodge and her husband, Robert, had designed the gallery and handled the exhibits for many years, Weyrauch said.
"They designed the gallery so that all the artists love it because the hanging system is so easy and there's lighting for the individual pictures," Weyrauch explained.
Another draw is the cost. Where most galleries charge the artist to exhibit, Fairhaven does not. The artists also can sell their work there, Weyrauch said.
"The artists call me, then they come and show me their work and I look at it and say 'thanks' or 'no thanks'," Weyrauch said.
The exhibits attract community visitors as well as Fairhaven residents and staff.
"A lot of people come in from around here and bring their children because they're afraid to go downtown [to Baltimore]," Weyrauch said. "They can bring the [children] here and expose them to art."
Once the exhibit is set, Perry handles the administrative duties. Weyrauch and Perry have volunteer residents who hang the works. Bud Becker, a resident and wood carver, is one of Weyrauch's "hangmen," as she calls them. Along with Blum's photos last week, Becker's carvings of carousel horses, fish, a woman's face and several whimsical abstracts, also were displayed in one of the gallery's three hallways.
"She's the one who deserves all the credit," said Becker, 85. "She arranges the artists and the art, and keeps the exhibits up. If it weren't for the inspiration of this lady... and she always has a smile."
Weyrauch intends to work with the art program as long as she can.
"I bloom where I'm planted," she said.