|Connie Bloom with John Olesky in her fabric art studio in Summit ArtSpace|
Tribute party to Connie Bloom at 3-6 p.m. Sunday
Dorothy Shinn, long-time BJ art critic, wrote an excellent article about the upcoming party (the word Connie wanted) for the late Connie Bloom, who retired as BJ Features editor and pet columnist to blossom into Ohio’s fabric art guru (quilt art in older days), and publisher of Ohio’s #1 magazine about fabric art, QSDS Voice.
Connie learned her journalism the hard, and effective way, under the tutelage of eccentric BJ Action Line leader the late Craig Wilson. Many eventual Ol’ Blue Walls reporters and editors began in Action Line, including Betsy Lammerding, who also retired from the BJ Features Department. I had the priviledge of working with both women.
I wouldn’t miss Connie’s party for the world. She was a warm-hearted individual without a mean bone in her body. There aren’t enough like her in our world, particularly with all the rancor stirred up in Presidential elections and wars.
Anyway, here’s Dot’s article as it appeared in the BJ:
Artspace to celebrate life of Connie Bloom
Longtime journalist, artist who died Aug. 29 wanted party instead of memorial
By Dorothy Shinn
Beacon Journal art and architecture critic
A celebration of the life of Connie Bloom will be held Sunday at Summit Artspace in her thirdfloor studio.
Ms. Bloom, who was born in 1947, died Aug. 29 of cancer. She wanted to be remembered as she was before her illness, and asked that friends, acquaintances and patrons gather that day to tell stories, admire her studio and buy the things she left behind. Fellow artist Joan Colbert said Ms. Bloom left strict instructions that there be food, wine and a band, Moustache Yourself.
“It’s a party,” said Colbert, whose studio is on the same floor. “Connie insisted we call it a party.”
She wanted the remaining quilts, fabrics, cards, equipment and supplies in her studio sold to benefit Artists of Rubber City and Summit Artspace.
Ms. Bloom was a journalist who found art later in life, after more than 30 years of pounding the keyboards at the Beacon Journal. She was hired in 1973 as a reporter for Action Line, the newspaper’s service that answered readers’ questions of all kinds, and over the years served as food writer, copy editor and pets writer, among other positions.
By the time she had retired from the Beacon Journal in 2008, telling stories with words had taken a firm backseat to telling them with a needle, thread and fabric.
She also founded and edited an art quilt magazine, the QSDS Voice; ran a political campaign; wrote life stories for Remember Me Biographies; and campaigned for Bernie Sanders.
She was an outspoken free spirit, and loved her husband, Bob Shields, animals and her studio at Summit Artspace, more or less in that order.
“I knew her before she moved in here as an acquaintance from Highland Square,” Colbert said. “Then, when she really started doing the art work, I told her I thought there was going to be a studio opening coming up here at Summit Artspace. She had a small space at the Red Light and needed more room.
“You never saw a woman fly into action like she did when she heard that, she wanted it so bad. This was her baby.” Fellow artist Terry Klausman agreed. “Connie and I were awarded studios at Summit Artspace just two weeks apart in 2010. It was one of the happiest days of her life,” Klausman recalled. “She told me several times that if anything bad happened to her financially, she would rather lose the house and keep the studio.” He continued, “Connie’s important works are in the homes of her memorial quilt clients. She brought great comfort to those who had lost a loved one or a beloved pet. “She would listen to the client’s stories about the subject of the quilt. Favorite articles of clothing and anything made from fabric were included in it. She would use her drawing and painting skills along with her writing skills” to tell their story in fabric and thread. Colbert said she, Klausman and fellow Summit Artspace artist Katina Pastis Radwanski were among the handful of people who knew of Ms. Bloom’s illness. “She swore us to secrecy,” Colbert said. “She didn’t want people coming by and asking her how she was. She had all sorts of ways of saying why she wasn’t here.” “Connie wanted a happy celebration, not a funeral,” said Pastis Radwanski. “She told us that except for the discomfort, she was not particularly sad about dying … she saw an advantage in having some time to put things in order to her liking and to form the details of her farewell gathering.”
Photos, articles and artifacts from her life will be on display at the memorial party, Pastis Radwanski said.
Dorothy Shinn writes about art and architecture for the Akron Beacon Journal. Send information to her at the Akron Beacon Journal, P.O. Box 640, Akron, OH 443090640 or firstname.lastname@example.org .