(Host) Brandon resident Warren Kimble is perhaps one of the world’s best known folk artists. His whimsical portraits of cats and cows, rural farmhouses and flags can be seen on everything from throw pillows and cookie jars to cards and potholders and even VPR coffee mugs.
Just after Christmas, Warren Kimble, and his wife and business partner Lorraine, announced their retirement and closed their popular art gallery in Brandon.
Yesterday, over a hundred people gathered to pay tribute to the couple for their years of support and community activism.
(Sound of fire truck’s siren)
(Keck) Everyone in Brandon was invited to yesterday’s open house and even the local fire department got in the act. The town’s largest fire truck was used to bring the Kimbles to the party – and loudly announced the couple’s arrival.
(Kimble) “Oh God – was that funny? I said at least they didn’t bring the ambulance – the fire truck was wonderful. What a gift – wonderful, wonderful gift from wonderful people. It’s a great town.”
(Keck) Warren Kimble beamed as he made his way through the crowd of well wishers. George Fjeld a Brandon physician and long time friend of the Kimbles was among them.
(Fjeld) “The Kimbles have been responsible for a lot of the important things that happen in Brandon. One, the Brandon independence parade and although they didn’t start it, Warren has been Uncle Sam and has been instrumental in doing it for many years. He was also one of the originators and the progenitor of the Brandon Artists Guild – and The Pig Project, which I’m sure everyone’s heard about.”
(Keck) Brandon’s parade of brightly painted fiberglass pigs three years ago was a huge success and many believe it helped launch an economic rebirth of sorts in Brandon. Many of those at yesterday’s party said Warren and Lorraine Kimble worked tirelessly to make that project and countless others successful. Carol Fjeld a long time Brandon resident says the couple has done much to revitalize Brandon’s downtown and attract other artists to the area.
(Fjeld) “I think because they’ve added so much to this town, their energy, their life has just been a major force in the town. And it was important for us to recognize that and celebrate what they’ve done, as well as this passage to a new thing that they’ve done.”
(Keck) While Warren painted, Lorraine Kimble marketed his art. And many say that it’s because of her business expertise that Kimble’s work is so popular. Today even Target sells items licensed by Warren Kimble.
Lorraine Kimble says at 73, she wanted more time to spend with grandchildren, more time to play tennis and more time for community projects. She says closing the gallery and retiring makes that possible for her.
Their fans shouldn’t worry, however. They have no plans to leave town and Warren Kimble says he’ll keep painting.
(Kimble) “Well it’s like when someone asks me, what’s my favorite painting is of the one’s I’ve done, and I always say the next one. Because when you’re finished with that painting, it’s done and the excitement is to go on to something new. So it’s the next one. It’s the next adventure.”
(Keck) Warren and Lorraine Kimble say they’re looking forward to a lot of new adventures.
For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Nina Keck in Brandon.