Staff writer Melissa Powell has this obituary today about Dorothy Gillespie, a nationally celebrated artist whose work adorns Center in the Square, Jefferson Center and other plaes. If you have any thoughts about Gillespie or her art you’d like to share, feel free to leave them in the comments below.
Roanoke native Dorothy Gillespie, who died at 92, devoted much of life to art
Although the nationally famous artist made her reputation in New York, she was always fond of her hometown, friends say.
By Melissa Powell
Dorothy Gillespie, a Roanoke native whose artwork has adorned public spaces from south Florida to New York City and museums from Israel to Richmond, died Sunday morning of natural causes in Coral Springs, Fla., according to her family. She was 92.
Nearly everyone in Roanoke has passed by Gillespie’s work. She designed and donated the 50-by-50-foot jigsaw puzzle mural on the former Grand Piano & Furniture Co. building in downtown Roanoke, created the five-story waterfall of sparkling aluminum confetti inside Center in the Square and gave a 24-part painting on golden aluminum panels to Jefferson Center.
The painter, sculptor, mother and grandmother grew up on Staunton Avenue and graduated from Jefferson High School before attending the Maryland Institute of Art in Baltimore and moving to New York City in the 1940s.
In a 1998 interview with The Roanoke Times, Gillespie said her parents were steadfast in their belief that their daughter would attend what is now Radford University and become a schoolteacher. They finally budged when a preacher visited the family. Gillespie told him, as she still told all who asked, that she would be attending art school.
“Well,” the preacher replied, “you have a God-given talent.”