UUSC honors artist Lau with memorial gallery
The Unitarian Universalist Society of Cleveland (UUSC), 2728 Lancashire Road in Cleveland Heights, has honored a lifelong Cleveland Heights resident and longtime UUSC member by naming its lobby space the Betty Lau Gallery.
The initial exhibit featured Lau’s landscape watercolors, and the church is soliciting work from student artists and artists who are beginning their careers, to help them gain experience in setting up a show, promoting their work and building an exhibition resume.
Lau’s daughter, Barbara Lau, said, “Betty Lau was a tremendously creative person who found a lot of joy in making art in numerous mediums. As a girl she crafted pins, belts, and jewelry in silver and leather. After graduating from Cleveland Heights High School, she attended Oberlin College where she worked on theatrical sets and began drawing and painting.
“Her interests grew to include silkscreen, woodcuts and felt banners. She was an avid seamstress and quilter. She made fabulous Halloween costumes for her young children and herself. My mother’s silk-screened Christmas cards were legendary, and her home was filled with furniture and wall art she made herself. Art became her healing balm during troubled times, and classes at the Cleveland Institute of Art during the 1960s and 1970s brought her new friends and personal confidence.”
Every summer, Lau traveled to Star Island off the coast of Portsmouth, N.H., to attend the Institute on Religion in an Age of Science conference. The trip was not just about workshops and chapel services; it was a week of art-making. The island was one of her favorite landscapes, and Lau made numerous drawings and painting of the rocks, shore birds and historic stone chapel.
Back at home, Lau’s colorful felt banners decorated the sanctuary of UUSC, where she was a member for 50 years.
In 1976, Lau’s mural Joy won a public art contest in the City of Cleveland Heights. It has been repainted several times, and still graces a corner building at Silsby and Lee roads, currently the home of Black Box Fix.
In 1995, 28 days after turning 65, and after 30 years as a social worker, Lau retired to become a full-time artist. She was a founding member of the Plein Air Painters, and a talented photographer. Her talents as a watercolorist blossomed in retirement, and she painted landscapes all over the world.
Barbara Lau said, “She was happiest when painting and we are all the richer for it. She passed away [on] March 7, 2014. She is deeply missed by family, friends, neighbors, members of her church community, and her fellow artists. But her spirit lives on. She inspires us to find creative opportunity in everything we do and to find our own joy along the way.”
For information about exhibits, call the church office at 216-932-1898. The gallery will be open for viewing from noon to 1 p.m. on Sundays, and 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., Tuesday through Thursday (please call in advance), and by appointment.
Patricia Solomon, a Cleveland Heights resident for resident 50 years, has lived in Shaker Square since 2013. A Cleveland Heights advocate, she was a member of Heights Community Congress and CH-UH League of Women Voters.