Monday, March 30, 2015

Saying Goodbye: Sandra Jean Coldren

Guest blog entry by Shayla Carey

Goodbye, Sandra Jean
Sandy in 2011 with one of her theorems
What do a bridge estimator with a 41-year career at High Steel Structures, a Landis Valley Associates board member, and an extremely talented theorem painter with a passion for Colonial art have in common?

Everything, as they were all one person:  Sandra Coldren.

A hard-working and dedicated member of the LVA board for 18 years, Sandy began her volunteering career with the museum in the late 1970’s, according to longtime friend and fellow LVA president, Clair Garman.  She became treasurer in 1980 and then ascended to the presidency in 1983. She stepped down and served as treasurer again from 1985-6.  During that time and after, she chaired many committees (among them Membership and Harvest Days), volunteered at the museum store, and, for 15 years, taught reverse glass painting and theorem painting at Summer Institute.

Sandy’s love of theorem painting began in 1972, when she painted her first theorem for her grandmother.  She took classes at the Fletcher Farm School in Vermont, Winterthur, Colonial Williamsburg (a place very dear to her heart), and the New York State Historical Association.  Over the years, as her technique improved and she studied more, she opened her own business, Theorems by SJC, in 1983.  Her business grew and so did her reputation for producing award winning paintings, but she didn't keep her talent to herself.  “I was lucky enough to be able to study under several talented theorem artists and historians.  Like every traditional craft, theorem painting must be learned and then passed on, so today I’m fortunate to take what I've learned and teach it to others,” she said in an article in the December, 2009 issue of Early American Life.

She passed on her knowledge of historic folk arts through juried craft and folk art shows, classes, and the founding, in 1991, of the Distelfink Artisans, a chapter of the International Decorative Artisans League.  She was also a juried member of the PA Guild of Craftsmen and a member of the Ephrata Cloister.  She was honored by Early American Life as one of America’s Top 200 Traditional Craftspeople.

To those who knew her, her active service record and accolades are not the first thing that comes to mind.  “She was a hard worker, but also a lot of fun,” Clair remembers.  “She could tell a joke with the best of them.  I remember when, in the 80’s, the museum had gotten a pair of pigs that would be butchered for Harvest Days and named them Clair and Sandy.  She looked at me and said, ‘Yours should go first.’  She had a sharp sense of humor.”

Clair carries his lifetime membership card, signed by Sandy, in his wallet—a treasured keepsake of their time in service together.  “If you were a friend of Sandy’s, you had a friend for life.  I miss her.  She was quite a gal.”

Click here to see a short video of Sandy's painting technique: