By BILL ACKERBAUER
CAROGA - Tom Healey does his creative work both at home in central New Jersey and at his summer residences, but the inspiration he gets from this region is most evident in his new art exhibit at the Caroga Historical Museum, aptly titled "Adirondack Influences."
Tom Healey sits in one of his handmade chairs Thursday at the Caroga Historical Museum, where dozens of his carvings, paintings and drawings will be on display through July 28. (The Leader-Herald/Bill Ackerbauer)
The show, his first solo exhibit in the Adirondacks, opened last week and will remain on display through July 28. It features dozens of Healey's oil and acrylic paintings, wood carvings, pen-and-ink drawings and handmade rustic chairs.
Many of the paintings capture the spirit of Canada Lake in the summertime, depicting swimmers, boaters, fresh air and mountain greenery.
"I've had a deep connection up here my whole life," says Healey, whose extended family shares a home built by his great-grandfather on Canada Lake's Kasson Drive.
"He loved Canada Lake so much," Healey said. "He had two children, and he built a six-bedroom home with the hope that it would stay in the family, which it has. It's now shared by over 100 people."
So they could spend more of the summer in the Adirondacks, Healey and his wife bought a small cabin in Piseco about three years ago.
Healey said he's been interested in art his whole life, having taken his first art class in his senior year of high school. Later, he was able to pursue that interest in the military.
"In 1972, I enlisted in the Marine Corps, and they made me an illustrator - an unusual case where the military actually used a talent that I had," he said. "I was stationed in Virginia and illustrated field manuals."
After his service, he studied fine arts at SUNY Brockport for three years, later turning his summer job as a house painter into a full-time occupation as a painting contractor.
"I just kept painting - it paid the bills," he said.
Healey says he's come to terms with the fact that fine art didn't turn into his full-time career, and he enjoys the freedom of treating it as a serious recreational pursuit.
"It's kind of a gift - I'm free to create what I want," he says.
The Caroga Historical Museum is on London Bridge Road, between Caroga Lake and Canada Lake. It is open from 1 to 4 p.m. Thursday through Sunday in July and August.
For more information about the museum and its schedule of upcoming events, see its website, www.carogamuseum.org.