Graced With Talent

Connie Togel

Five women artists have been working individually from their homes across the country. Although they have never met in person, they have a connection so deep, they liken it to a marriage. Individually, they are Debbie Lincoln, Laurie Pace, Conni Togel, Diane Whitehead and Mary Jo Zorad; collectively, they are the Five Graces.

The women have been preparing paintings for two shows: one at the Earth Works Gallery in Penn Yan during the month of July, and the other at Belhurst Castle in Geneva during the month of August. In addition to the pieces for the shows, the women have each completed works to contribute to a tapestry titled “American Rural Farms.” The tapestry will be auctioned off, and the proceeds will benefit Hospice House in Yates County.

The idea for the Five Graces originated from the “The Group of Seven,” a group of Canadian landscape artists inspired by the wilderness paintings of Tom Thomson. Although each woman has a unique style, the artists all create bold, vividly colored pieces inspired by their surroundings.

The similarities are apparent not only on the canvas but within the women themselves. They have a deep love of art and a commitment to the highest standards. They wake up in the morning and can’t wait to get to their studios and start painting. Laurie Pace describes it as an addiction.

“When you come to the canvas, it’s like sitting down to a favorite meal and wanting to try everything. You can’t get enough of it,” she said.

The women believe it was a higher power that brought them together. While working on their pieces for the shows, they were in contact with each other through phone and e-mail. They discussed husbands and children, asked for advice on their paintings, and even shared photos of recent family weddings.

“We’re really excited about finally getting to meet each other,” Pace said.

The end of the shows does not mean the end of the Five Graces. The women plan to get together four or five times a year and paint.

Meet the artists
Debbie Lincoln lives in Stephenville, Texas, where the countryside, the people and the animals provide plenty of inspiration for her work. She specializes in light and shadows and loves to paint rodeo subjects.

Laurie Pace lives in Justin, Texas. She has taught art for 25 years both in schools and privately from her studio. She teaches her students how their own positive energy will pass through their hands onto the canvas.

Conni Togel was born in the United States, raised in Germany and now lives in South Carolina. She loves to paint sheep and draws inspiration from the flock that grazes on her farm. Togel finds sheep to be quirky, silly and cute, and she tries to depict that in her paintings.

Diane Whitehead works from her studio in Park City, Utah. She is an avid outdoorswoman and loves to paint animals and mountains. She uses bold brushstrokes and vibrant colors to make her paintings come alive.

Mary Jo Zorad lives in Olympia, Washington, and her work depicts the landscapes surrounding her. She takes daily walks with her dogs to explore nature and get inspiration.


by Stacy Majewicz
Stacy Majewicz is a graduate of Ithaca College.