The “Hannah’s Hope” exhibit pays tribute to the life and work of Hannah Gettes, an Orange County school alumnus who died in February after experiencing anxiety and drug addiction. The exhibition is on display at the Margaret Lane Gallery in Hillsborough from June 16 to July 11.
Hannah’s mother, Edith Gettes, said Hannah’s expressive art style showcased her funny and courageous nature. Gettes said art was a constant throughout her daughter’s life.
“There would be pencils, papers and paint spread out on his floor,” Gettes said. “You would go in the middle of the night, and she would be lying face down on the floor, painting or drawing.”
After Hannah Gettes’ death, her former Cedar Ridge High School visual arts teacher Lori Shepley said she approached gallery owner Mary Knox and asked if she would be willing to organize an exhibition at the memory of Hannah Gettes. Knox said the gallery would be happy to do so.
Shepley said she was able to find and frame around 30 works by Hannah Gettes, spanning a wide range of mediums. She also said she found some of Hannah Gettes’ original writing to go with the work.
“The first piece of art she did for me was handled so well. I was blown away,” Shepley said. “I was like, ‘Oh my God, this girl is so talented. I’m so lucky to have her on the show.'”
Other Shepley students, she said, have helped support the show’s intention, which is to honor Hannah Gettes and shed light on issues related to mental illness and addiction.
Shepley said the show turned her on because it helped Hannah Gettes parents create a legacy.
Hannah’s Hope is on display in the Green Gallery, located behind the Margaret Lane Gallery. The gallery is open Wednesday and Thursday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Friday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Knox said COVID-19 precautions are still in place, so the gallery uses air purifiers and provides hand sanitizer, a hand washing station, and free masks for adults and children if needed.
“We think this is important because there are still people who are not yet vaccinated,” Knox said. “Not requiring masks serves to exclude people.”
The gallery will host a reception for Hannah’s Hope on June 25 from 6 to 9 p.m. The Art Therapy Institute – a local organization Hannah Gettes had hoped to volunteer for after the pandemic – will be at reception to serve as a resource and answer questions about art therapy.
Knox further stated that the National Alliance on Mental Illness will be there to provide information and copies of the book “Finding Hope: A Practical Guide for Families Affected by Mental Illness from the Experiences of Families Like Yours.“ by Donna Kay Smith and Susan Willey Spalt.
Those involved in the exhibit hope it goes beyond simply showcasing Hannah Gettes’ artistic talents and shining a light on the issues surrounding mental illness and addiction.
“If even a person has a less tragic outcome in their life because of everything they see or learn at the show, that will be great,” said Edith Gettes.
Gettes also said there will be another reception on July 11 for friends and family who were unable to make it to the June 25 reception. She said her daughter’s meticulous and perfectionist nature meant that she often didn’t place as much importance on her art as others and didn’t show it much.
“Being able to see so much of your art in one place at the same time is going to be a unique opportunity,” said Gettes. “We have never seen so much of his art in one place at the same time.”
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