Gallery 53 show celebrates 95th birthday of Meriden artist Ellie Bender

reporter photo

MERIDEN — Local and national award-winning artist Eleanor “Ellie” Bender will be honored with a 95th birthday celebration at Gallery 53 next month. 

Bender was named to the city’s Hall of Fame last November for her long career as an artist and for efforts to promote the local art community and Gallery 53.

“Ellie exemplifies what a Meriden artist is,” said Gallery 53 Executive Director Sandy Goodyear. “She’s taught art with adult education, privately and in the gallery. She’s been a living part of Meriden’s art culture and well respected artistically and personally. We’re pleased to have her a part of the gallery.” 

Bender was born in Meriden in 1928 and is a lifelong resident. She attended Meriden schools and graduated from The Art School of Fashion and also attended University of Hartford. She was employed for over 35 years in the fashion industry as a commercial artist specializing in fashion illustration.

A changing job market found her attending classes with the nationally renowned Claudia Post, where she trained in portraitures and the use of pastels, after which she embarked on a new career as a portrait artist and educator.

She is an active member of the Meriden arts community, a signature member of the Connecticut Pastel Society, Gallery 53, and the Clinton Art Society. She has won over 125 national and regional awards spanning 25 years.

Her pastel portraits and landscapes, which she describes as "Contemporary Realism," have been exhibited in galleries in Connecticut, New York, and Massachusetts. “A completed Ellie Bender portrait not only portrays the individual, but it captures the essence of the individual through her meticulous attention to detail,” according to an entry in Meriden Hall of Fame. 

“Ellie continues to create pastel artworks and excels at all genres, but portraits remain her passion and specialty,” the entry stated. 

Bender’s daughter Christine Webster, also a prolific artist and Gallery 53 volunteer, recalled following her mother as a child to the city’s schools where she taught. 

 “My mother was always dragging me with her,” Webster said. She’s been an influence in my life for as far back as I can remember. She was teaching the Wallingford Adult Education class up until two years ago.”   

A display of Bender’s portraits will extend into the upper level of the Gallery for the celebration.. 

“She’s a relatively healthy and vibrant person,” said granddaughter Kelly Webster. “She’s something to celebrate.” 

The event will be at Gallery 53 on Oct. 14 from 2-5 p.m. 

The event is by invitation, but Goodyear expects a large crowd.

“It’s a great way to celebrate a life well-lived,” Goodyear said. “I want to be there to celebrate her 100th.”

mgodin@record-journal.com203-317-2255Twitter: @Cconnbiz


More From This Section