From an article
in Charitable Legacies magazine, Fall 1999 issue
"Color her Dedicated, Late Painter's Widow Uses His Art to
realize Dream: Encouraging Young Talent".
Written by Susan Watson, Photography by Reed Rahn and Associates
and by Jerome.
Every now and
then, Gloria Laynor's three adult children ask her why she works
so hard. They already know the answer, but they ask anyway because
they are amazed by the time and energy Gloria devotes to this labor
of love: turning her late husband's dream into reality.
Harold Laynor, knew he had been lucky during his life. He graduated
from college, established himself as a leading art educator and
won recognition as a gifted and prolific painter, whose works have
been displayed in some of the most prestigious galleries and museums
in the country, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
But one thing
bothered him, says Gloria. "He had really talented students
who could not afford to continue their education, and he always
said that an art student shouldn't be deprived of an education because
of financial problems."
He and Gloria
used to talk about starting a charitable organization to give scholarships
to promising college students. When he retired in 1990 from Pennsylvania's
Millersville University where he taught art for 25 years, he planned
to move to Arizona where he would begin work on his dream. But he
died of a heart attack just eight months after arriving there.
found herself without her partner of nearly half a century. They
had met as teenagers in New York in the 1940s when she was 16 and
he was 19.They married three years later.
walked into a room, you knew it Gloria recalls. "He was such
a good-looking man and he had these beautiful blue eyes. Not only
was he an artist, he was so bright. And he sang and he danced and
he painted all the time, no matter where he was.
his death, Gloria and their three children decided to start a foundation
to realize Harold's goal. "My friends said I couldn't do it,
but I said I will, and I'll start it with his paintings." And
in 1991 that's exactly what she did. Using Harold's vast collection
of paintings and $10,000 in seed money, she started the Laynor Foundation
Museum in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Gloria as its president and her three children as officers, the
non-profit family foundation gives scholarships to art education
students and supports a summer arts program for Native American
children on the White Mountain Apache Indian Reservation in central
Arizona. In addition, the Laynor Foundation Museum holds about 1,000
of Harold's paintings. Most of the proceeds from their sale go to
support the foundation's charitable work.
this is what Harold would have wanted," Gloria says. "He
was a tremendous giver. He wasn't concerned with money; he was concerned
with people and art. Even though he's been gone for eight years,
working on the Foundation makes me feel like he's still with me."
a painter who is formerly executive director and curator of the
Laynor Foundation Museum, takes time each summer to return to the
reservation where he was raised. He oversees the workshops, which
he started eight years ago with support from Save the Children.
The Laynor Foundation added its support in 1997. The reservation
is a sprawling, 1.6 million acre expanse that soars into the breathtaking
White Mountains, dotted with clear lakes and laced with trout filled
Of the 14,000
people who live there, about half are under the age of 15. The summer
program gives youngsters a chance to develop their creativity while
exploring and celebrating their heritage.
painting at the White Mountain Apache Summer Arts Workshop founded
by Joseph Sanchez
about 110 youngsters, from toddlers to teens, participated in
arts and media classes. In one class, a respected shield maker
taught the spiritual and historical significance of shields
and instructed the children on how to make their own shields.
Each child incorporated individualized symbols, and the shield
became that child's personal prayer, Sanchez explains.
area, a muralist worked with 30-40 youngsters on a 7- by 10-foot
canvas that helped them discover their history and their place
in it. Other artists teach everything from computer technology
and print making to leather crafts.
At the end of
each summer session, Sanchez takes some of the children's work to
the Santa Fe Indian Market where observers are amazed by the youngster's
talent and skill. The artwork has been exhibited at Arizona State
University and is included in the permanent collection at the Fort
Apache Cultural Center on the reservation.
to expand the program to other reservations. "All kids need
art and all kids need their connection with their cultural legacy,"
the workshop as one way to reach and educate children. That's especially
important to her because each member of her family, from her late
husband Harold to their three children, has worked as a classroom
teacher. The fiery grandmother of nine is convinced that at-risk
children "won't have the opportunity to be involved in art
unless we make programs for them."
helps dreams take flight. Since 1991, about 20 college students
have received $500 to $1,000 Laynor Foundation Museum scholarships.
The awards are given to art education majors at Arizona State University
and Millersville University. Each school selects the recipients
based on academic performance, artistic talent and need.
Jennifer Wright received a $500 scholarship this spring. Jennifer
works 30 hours a week and still maintains a 3.8 average at Arizona
State University. The money helped pay for summer school classes
where she is working on her teacher certification. Her goal
is to teach junior high school students.
that age, they're just starting to doubt their ability because
they look at the work adults have done, and they think their
work doesn't measure up' she says. "I want to get in
there and help them to keep working at it. I gave up on my
art for a while because I became discouraged. I don't want
to see others give up."
Wright, a Laynor foundation Scholarship recipient, poses with
some of her own sculptures.
Some of Laynor's
most prized work was completed during and shortly after World War
II. Stationed in Europe, Laynor was a member of the 603rd Camouflage
Engineers Battalion, which was comprised of artists and architects.
Working directly under the command of General Omar Bradley, the
unit's sole purpose was to deceive the enemy by creating fake artillery,
tanks and other vehicles out of rubber, then painting them to look
like the real thing. These soldier-artists became known as the "Ghost
wasn't working on the decoys, he spent his time putting the unforgettable
scenes of war on canvas, Using dark acrylics and watercolors; he
even painted in the trenches. After being wounded, he was hospitalized
near Paris where he met Pablo Picasso, who encouraged him to paint
That body of
work, which numbers over 46 pieces, is the pride of the Laynor Foundation
Museum. "When I started the foundation, the children and grandchildren
consigned their paintings to the museum," Gloria explains.
"When a painting is sold, the children get 25 percent of the
sale price and the Museum gets the remainder." Gloria donated
Harold's wartime work to the museum.
foundation is a public, non-profit charity, Gloria has strengthened
her economic future, and that of her family, by avoiding and reducing
certain tax obligations on the sale of the paintings, which have
significantly appreciated in value over the years.
regret is that she isn't able to do even more, "What better
feeling can one have than the one that comes from giving an opportunity
to someone else? Doing all this makes me feel wonderful."