Virginia Marchiondo started drawing when she was 15-years old during her classes in school.
“I was supposed to be paying attention, but I would be drawing,” Marchiondo said.
Art grew to become a lifelong passion for the Mount Laurel resident, whose paintings and drawings have been exhibited across New Jersey. Now 90, Marchiondo continues to devote time to her craft every day.
“I get lost in the work. I can remember being in the kitchen sketching and my husband would come in and tell me it was 2 o’clock in the morning,” she said. “As a wife and mother, I had to spread my time around, but I never stopped doing it. That’s the secret; I do a little every day.”
Marchiondo is one of many Burlington County residents who have discovered the benefits of participating in the arts. While her work has been exhibited several times around New Jersey, one of her most recent creations was showcased with the works of dozens of local artists during the Burlington County Senior Art Show.
The annual show is open to both professional and amateur artists 60 or older working in various mediums. This year’s exhibit was held at the Warden’s Houe Gallery in Mount Holly.
Marchiondo learned about the show from an assessor who visited her Mount Laurel home and saw the art displayed throughout her home. It was her first time participating.
“It was perfect timing,” said Marchiondo, who has been exhibited as a member of the Burlington County Arts Guild, a community-based nonprofit group made up of artists from across the county.
She also has had her own solo exhibit at the Mount Laurel Library.
“The solo show was like applying for a job. I brought (library staff) my portfolio and said, ‘This is what I do.’ They wound up asking me if I could exhibit for two months,” she recalled. “It was a lot of work. I ended up with 31 paintings both small and large. In the two months, I sold five paintings, which is really unusual for one exhibit.”
She specializes in drawing and painting birds and scenic landscapes, but one of her favorite works is a recreation of the iconic 9/11 image of first responders raising a flag at Ground Zero in Manhattan, New York.
“Just reading about it was emotional and inspired me to paint,” she said.
These days, Marchiondo is hoping to inspire others to follow in her footsteps by either taking up artwork or continuing it. She recalled visiting some area schools to do painting and drawing demonstrations for seventh and eighth graders.
“I would tell the students ‘I’m, not a teacher. I’m not going to teach you.’ But I was able to get them interested (in art), which was marvelous,” she said. “I tell them to if they enjoy it to keep on going. That’s how I did it.”
Marchiondo, who suffers from an essential tremor, says her daily artwork helps her manage her condition.
“I don’t let it stop me. It hinders me a little but I go back and work at different times,” she said.
Marchiondo is a client of Burlington County’s Meals on Wheels program. She welcomes the daily interactions with the program’s drivers who deliver the meals regularly. She’s even created holiday greeting cards for them and other Meals on Wheels clients.
More than 500 county residents are enrolled in the program, which is offered to any homebound senior 60 or older. Meals are free but voluntary donations are accepted so the program can serve as many clients as possible. The program is managed by the Burlington County Office on Aging, which also helps organize the annual Senior Art Show with the Burlington County Parks Division.
Burlington County residents seeking more information about Meals on Wheels or the Burlington County Art Show can call (609) 265-5069.