Watercolorist Combines Art and Healing

... Noted Artist Gayle Lerman has a different way ...

by D.R. Norris

In the brief two year history of the Melrose Mirror, nothing has drawn more positive comment than a painting that ran on the front page recently. It is a beautiful piece, done in vibrant watercolors, depicting the Milano Senior Center here on the Beebe Estate in Melrose.

Ironically, the artist, Gayle Lerman, was oblivious to the fact that her painting was being seen, electronically, around the world, for she is not one for computers -- yet. Her key interest is, and always has been art, both as a student, a practicing and successful artist, and as a gerontology therapist and teacher who uses her art as a means to better health.

The painting of the Milano Center was done with a grant from the Melrose Council on the Arts. Ms. Lerman is just one of several hundred artists - dancers, musicians, actors, painters - who have received financial support from local council, which originally was known as the Melrose Arts Lottery Council.

One of her prize paintings, done on commission from the Revere Cultural Council, was of Revere Beach as it was in 1935. The piece now hangs in the office of the mayor. Similarly, several of her paintings are in the Melrose City Hall gallery, as well as in Mayor Patrick Guerriero's office.

"I've been painting in Rockport and Gloucester for many years now, " Mrs. Lerman explained, "especially with Margaret Laurie, an elderly lady who makes magic with her brush. I love her style and she sets a good example, she provides that spark of incentive, of freshness, of beauty that just inspires me."

That inspiration has lead Mrs. Lerman to membership in the Malden Guild of Artists, the Winthrop Art Association, the North Shore Association and the Lynnfield Art Association.

She also finds time to continue studies in holistic health and healing at Leslie College in Cambridge, and, as a grandmother, anticipates earning her bachelors degree. "This is an alternative theory to healing," she said, "for we all have choices to make -- either the traditional trip to the doctors, or we can exercise our ability to heal ourselves. And my art is part of this healing process, along with other non-traditional methods that include meditation, yoga, exercise, nutrition, music, story telling, even creative writing."

A native of Chelsea, she has been a recipient of art grants in that city and is now conducting stress management classes for the Chelsea Council on Aging. She also works for the Revere Council on Aging as a teacher of watercolors, and has been president and treasurer of the Malden Guild of Artists for several years, until 1997.

Keeping it all in the family, Gayle also competes in her painting with husband Harry, who is a professional engineer and paints for the enjoyment of it. The two of them go head to head in several art association shows, and both have won top awards several times.

Her paintings in City Hall are available for sale.

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