HACKENSACK -- Union Congregational Church of Hackensack will sell paintings done by the late Olive George from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Nov. 10 to benefit the church's scholarship fund.
George was well known in the Walker-Hackensack area as a gifted carver and watercolor artist for more than 50 years. She also did some oil paintings.
She and her pharmacist husband, Bob, came to the Walker area from Iowa during World War II. They worked for a resort first, recalled Mary Norton of Walker, who was a member of the Walker Art League with George.
When Norton returned from service in the Army after World War II, George was selling hand-carved necklaces and earrings at Walker Drug.
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About 1947, George and her husband opened the Whittle Shop east of Walker, first in a tar paper shack that also served as their home. With help from neighbors, they built a half-log structure for their home and business.
George did most of the carving and painting herself at first. Her subjects were the vast variety of birds in this area. Her husband, who did some carving, served as her business manager.
The enterprise grew, Norton said, until George was employing eight carvers and many painters. Because she enjoyed teaching young people to carve, many of her students became crafts people for her store.
Most of her formal art training came from classes at Drake University, Norton said.
After Bob died in November 1964, George continued her store another seven years before selling it.
In 1972, building upon the earlier oil painting focused art club in Walker, watercolor artist George started the Walker Art League. She brought many well known artists to give workshops, Norton said.
Among those were Russian-born artist Zoltan Szabo, who came to the United States via Canada, Norton recalled. He has published six books on painting since that time, she said.
A watercolor expert who taught classes for Walker Art League was Ed Whitney, Norton said.
George's preference was to use wildlife and scenery for her watercolor subjects. When other art league members challenged her to do some flowers, Norton said she produced some beautiful floral paintings just to prove she could do it.
George still maintained she did not like painting flowers, though, Norton said.
She was a "people person" who liked everyone and especially enjoyed sharing her artistic knowledge with young people in this area, Norton said.
George died Feb. 14, 1997, in Walker. She was over 90.
Union Congregational Church is located at 401 Lake Ave. E., two blocks east of Highway 371 from the corner where Hackensack Lumber and Hardware is located. Paintings will be shown and sold in the upstairs church fellowship hall.
A graduating Walker-Hackensack-Akeley senior will be awarded a scholarship next spring from proceeds of this sale. The church awarded its first scholarship from the Olive George Art Scholarship Fund last spring.
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