Roanoke-born artist Dorothy Gillespie created a monumental 62-foot-tall sculpture in Orlando, Fla., that hung through the center of a spiral parking garage. Called “Encircled Path to the Enchanted Castle,” the towering piece was destroyed by a hurricane after its debut in 1998.
Gillespie had all its pieces recovered and used them to make new sculptures, said Roanoke County filmmaker Gerry McCarthy, her friend of 30 years.
In 2006, a new sculpture made from pieces of the old went in the same parking garage, a series of starbursts hanging on wires, just as brightly colored. Gillespie named it “Celestial Joy.”
Tuesday night, that was just one of the many stories to be heard about Gillespie in Roanoke City Market Building’s Charter Hall, where a group of about 30 friends and admirers of the late artist gathered to celebrate her life.
“Roanoke is very proud to claim Dorothy as one of our favorite daughters,” said Roanoke City Councilman Bill Bestpitch. “But more importantly, Dorothy was proud of Roanoke.
Gillespie died Sept. 30 at age 92 in Coral Springs, Fla. Art she left behind includes about 70 pieces in the Radford University Art Museum’s permanent collection, the cascading aluminum strips in the atrium of Roanoke’s Center in the Square, and the series of aluminum and enamel panels in the lobby of Jefferson Center, called “Celebrated Memories.”
The chance to create “Celebrated Memories” was special for Gillespie, as she graduated in 1938 from Jefferson High School, which eventually became Jefferson Center.