Dublin Villager

Artist finds creative balance between engineering, painting

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Aida Garrity spends her life caught between two worlds.

The Dublin resident works 40 hours a week as an engineer and tries to devote at least 20 hours to her art.

While work from her full-time job can be seen all over the country in pipelines, her paintings will be part of an exhibition, "The Magic of Monhegan: Six Women Paint the Island's Charm," at the McConnell Arts Center in Worthington today, March 6, through April 27.

A Dublin resident since 2002, Garrity was born in Caracas, Venezuela, and was introduced to art as a child.

"I was 6 years old when my mother first introduced me to art, but I didn't really pursue it until 2006," she said.

"I ended up going to engineering school and I worked for a consulting and pipeline construction company," Garrity said.

"I worked on that for 33 years, but in 2006 once my kids were all grown up I realized I wanted to do what is in my heart, which is art."

In 2006, Garrity enrolled at the San Francisco Academy of Art and earned a master's degree in fine arts in 2010.

Since then, Garrity has been a part of the Dublin and Worthington art leagues and has had her work displayed locally and nationally.

In 2011, an invitation from her mentor, Hudson resident Judy Carducci, took her to Monhegan, an island off the coast of Maine to paint.

"It's an island known to be a resort for artists. It's where they go to paint," Garrity said. "It's a very tiny island that doesn't have roads and you will see artists all over with easels."

The island has long been an attraction for artists and has been an annual stop for Garrity since the initial trip in 2011.

"We stay between seven and 10 days and paint from 5:30 a.m. until late in the evening, until the sun goes down," she said. "It's so enchanting."

The work of artists Carducci, Greer Jennison, Carol Medhurst, Kimberly Moore and Susan Cone Porges will also be displayed at the McConnell Arts Center, showing different scenes of the island.

For Garrity, some of the charm of the island is seeing the work of famous artists alongside her own, including an often painted, famous red house.

"Everyone sees differently," she said. "It's a clear example of how you will see the same scene painted by different people and how it looks."

While art is Garrity's love, engineering is still a big part of her life, at least 40 hours each week.

"I work about 40 or 50 hours a week and as soon as I get home I take the other hat, which is an artist," she said.

"Last night I was up till 1 a.m. working after a whole day of being in the office."

Weekends also give Garrity time with her art as she travels the state with plein art groups to paint outdoors.

During the week, art and engineering are a balancing act for Garrity.

"Part of me, as you said, is really scientific," she said.

"When I go home and I change that hat, it is a totally different thing.

"My mind just switches and goes to the other one. It only becomes difficult if I don't stop completely in engineering and put myself in the arts.

"I need to really concentrate to be an artist. I need to give my soul and heart to art for it to be good."

"The Magic of Monhegan: Six Women Paint the Island's Charm" runs March 6-April 27 at the McConnell Arts Center, 777 Evening St. in Worthington.

An opening reception is slated for 6 to 8 p.m. tonight, March 6, and a lecture from all artists involved in the exhibition will be held from 3 to 4 p.m. March 9.

Garrity said the panel will discuss artwork that has come from the island and its history.

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