South Dakota’s famed wildlife artist Terry Redlin passed away in April after a nine year battle with Alzheimer's.
Joann Roti, one of his former classmates and childhood neighbors, remembers Terry Redlin as being kindhearted and adventurous since childhood.
“My mother came and took a picture of us, I think, it was in the second grade,” she recalled. “Everybody's looking at the camera but Terry. He's looking off into the sky. So way back then he was dreaming.”
It’s a trait he carried on throughout his life and that was portrayed in 209 paintings of South Dakota wilderness. Friday morning, his 210th painting was unveiled, strikingly unique from his others.
“We were used to a realism that Terry Redlin was able to capture with his paintings,” said Julie Ranum, executive director of the Redlin Art Center. “It almost made the paintings look like a photograph. In this painting, it almost has more of a caricature kind of feel.”
Ranum says "Evening on the Ice" was finished around the time Redlin was diagnosed with Alzheimer's. Although you and I might think it a masterpie, those close to Redlin know when it was completed in 2007, he wasn't satisfied.
“He started working on this in 2005, and at that time he had not been officially diagnosed. I'm sure he knew things were changing for him, but the rest of us really didn't,” said Ranum. “Finally, his family just took the painting off his easel and said, ‘Terry, I think you are finished with this.’”
That's why the painting will only be displayed for ten days through September 19, out of respect for Redlin, and to encourage people to participate in Watertown's Walk to End Alzheimer's on September 17.
His final painting serves as a portrait of what the mind endures.
“He worked for 30 years to please people,” said Ranum. “If he were here today, he'd say that's the greatest joy he had was to create art that would please people.”
Roti says he's accomplished that. She says finally getting to see one last painting is like coming home.
“Us that grew up in Watertown can see a lot of Watertown in it, and the joy we had as kids,” she said. "It's just a funny feeling coming out here again and seeing his last painting. Being here for as many years as I was, we watched every new painting coming in, and so it means a lot to me."
Prints of "Evening on the Ice" are available at the Redlin Art Center and on their website.
The Walk to End Alzheimer's in Watertown will be September 17, followed by Aberdeen's on September 24.