If you grew up in the West River Valley of Vermont, you ought to be familiar with Arlo Monroe. For older folks, he was the “headmaster” of our local public high school, then called Leland and Gray Seminary. For people of my generation and slightly older, he was the art teacher at what is now Leland and Gray Union High School. To many of us, he was the first landscape painter we knew. Mr. Monroe retired as I entered school. I missed his influence on my young mind by a few months. From what I’m told, I missed a lot.
Arlo was a prolific watercolor painter. He didn’t show in galleries. But his work was exhibited every August at our local Hospital Fair Day, a one day fair whose sole mission is to raise funds for the Valley’s only hospital, Grace Cottage Hospital. Mr. Monroe’s paintings were plentiful and reasonably priced. They were hung at the art show year after year. Most work was new. Year after year, more of Arlo’s paintings hung on display… until they no longer did. Mr. Monroe passed and with him that prolific talent us locals thought would always be there.
I am so happy I visited Arlo Monroe in 1995 when I was turning my new house into a home. He was gracious enough to spend a couple hours with me. We talked about art school and painting. He showed me his two A.T. Hibbard paintings in his home. Mr. Hibbard had been his neighbor for many years. Arlo was getting old. One eye kind of looked away while he kept the other on me. I bought three paintings based on his recommendations. If you’re collecting art from an artist who has created a lot, go for the best pieces you can afford. Years later, you’ll be glad you did. I wish I had bought more pieces. They are tougher to come by today. I recently reframed all three pieces because they deserved upgrades. Two of the paintings depict majestic old barns that are no longer standing. I miss seeing them along the road. Arlo seemed to capture their graceful old age just before it was too late for both the building and the artist. So here’s to Mr. Monroe and his many works. May their stories live on.
You can view a collection of Mr. Monroe’s paintings on the walls at this physical location.:
Grace Cottage Hospital