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By the Way: An artist’s map of Durham

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For years Linda and Stan Czech regularly crossed the Delaware River from their home in New Jersey and roamed the winding roads through Durham Township in search of a special place.

“We wanted to live in Durham,” said Linda. “It’s so beautiful.”

When a Realtor’s sign popped up on a property on Lehnenberg Road not far from the village named Durham, they bid on it, bought it and moved in. It was a small house on a wooded hillside with a view of more hills to the north, and they hired an architect to design additions.

It is a lovely home today, obviously put together with taste and love, the perfect answer to their quest.

Linda is an artist, and a spiral staircase leads to a loft studio where she works. Although she is a mother and grandmother, she is far too young to be a Grandma Moses, but her paintings in some ways resemble the folkloric work of the famed artist who didn’t start to paint until she was 78.

Although her work makes one think of Grandma Moses, Linda’s paintings – and they cover many of the the walls of her home – reveal a distinctive style.

“I’ve been drawing since I was a child,” she said, and although she did not go to a formal art school she has taken many art classes and is a prolific painter in both oil and acrylic. She signs her work LindyJ, the nickname her father gave her.

Among her paintings are an oil of Durham Village. It was inspired, she said, by Ranulph Bye’s well-known map of Bucks County. Bye painted it in 1960 and it was researched by Peter Stuyvesant Barry.

(My Bye map has been hanging in my living room for what seems like forever. I bought it soon after it was published and had it signed by Mr. Bye, but unfortunately, he did not use permanent ink. His signature has disappeared with the years, but I know it was there once and the decorative map still is one of my prized possessions. I also convinced the editor of the newspaper I was working for at the time that he needed one in his office.)

Bye’s lithograph shows geographic features and showcases drawings of distinctive homes, public buildings and churches. It is the kind of artwork that is both charming and delightful. It makes me happy when I look at it.

And Linda’s print of Durham does the same with its landmarks, but her colors are more dramatic and richer than the paler hues of the Bye map.

It’s fun to trace the path of Durham Road toward the Durham hills as it passes through the Village of Durham with its centuries of architecture on display.

Here’s the imposing Durham Grist Mill, soon to celebrate its 200th anniversary. Then there’s the red brick miller’s house, a handsome Victorian with its white gingerbready trim. Other houses are clustered in the village which then gives way to the surrounding hills and fields. There’s an orchard with trees lined up like a color guard, a pond, a farm with its distinctive blue silos, the old Durham Lutheran Church with its tall steeple topping the hill with little gravestones in its cemetery.

Linda has now had prints made of her oil on canvas painting, “Durham, a Village in Bucks County.” The reproductions are on display at the Riegelsville Branch of Penn Community Bank.

Susan Matthias, branch manager, has for many years created a kind of mini-gallery at the bank, showcasing the work of local artists and craftsmen. She said the print has drawn a lot of interest from the constant stream of customers who enter the bank.

The prints, mounted on foamcore, are available for $75. Linda said she is donating a portion of the proceeds to Community Fire Co. No. 1 of Riegelsville and to Our Lord’s Pantry, a local food bank. Both serve the Palisades community and beyond.

Linda may be contacted at lindyj13@ptd.net or 267-227-8500.

kathrynfclark@verizon.net


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