It is a blessing to wind up living in a place that you love. And for those of us living in Montpelier, it is a double blessing when an accomplished artist shares her vision of this beautiful little city, nestled in the hills at the junction of two rivers.
Because of her personal interest in the values and vision of the Sustainable Montpelier Coalition, artist Susan Bull Riley is staging a special sale of several of her paintings that will benefit the organization and its focus on the future of the city. The paintings will be displayed through the end of March at The Drawing Board on Main Street, including the special pricing that Riley has set for this sale. The Drawing Board is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Tuesday through Saturday.
Riley, who has been painting scenes and landscapes in and around Montpelier for a decade, purposefully adopted Montpelier as home, “My husband and I moved here in 2011, choosing Montpelier over every other city in New England. We want to spend the rest of our lives here. For me, Vermont is home,” she explained.
“I want to see Montpelier thrive over the long haul. I am impressed by how the Sustainable Montpelier Coalition looks urgent problems in the face without flinching. I support them and all organizations that are working to address the challenges posed by the dramatic ways in which our lives are affected by complex factors,” Riley said.
“My donated paintings that hang at The Drawing Board . . . are weighted toward the North Branch River because I see the downtown stretch of the river several times a week and I am constantly inspired by how light plays upon the brick buildings, the architecture with magnificent cupolas, and the ever-changing reflections on the water. I frequently paint the view of Montpelier from Berlin Street and from North Street, where the sight of the church steeples, gracing a city embraced by surrounding hills, is irresistible.”
After growing up in South Burlington, where her father Wilbur Bull was the high-school cross-country ski coach, Riley attended Dartmouth College during the first years it was transformed to a co-ed institution. Playing the flute took priority over cross-country ski racing, and she met her husband Richard Riley, who is now the director of music for the Unitarian Church of Montpelier and the Burlington Choral Society.
Living in southern New England, she worked as a special education reading specialist and discovered a growing passion for painting, which has become central to her creative life. “I paint what I love every day. Sharing my response to this world, and this set of Montpelier paintings in particular, offers me the chance to transcend my life and reach beyond it,” Riley explained.
She also has passion for the forward-looking vision of the Sustainable Montpelier Coalition. Noting that the organization has spearheaded a novel, on-demand micro-transit system and helped to bring together and revitalize our neighborhoods, Riley said, “Since it was founded in 2017, the Sustainable Montpelier Coalition has brought together diverse stakeholders who understand the urgent need to create sustainable local systems in transportation, land use, and food security.” Her website is susanbullriley.com.