by Donna McBride
Every house starts out with the basics: walls, roof and floor. Some are more expensive than others – but the basics are still the same. It’s what happens after that which truly creates a home. I’m not talking about furniture and fancy window treatments, or appliances. I’m talking about the warmth you feel just by walking through someone’s front door.
Casa Grande residents Larry and Cindy Patterson recently welcomed me into their home and from the time the door opened, that warmth of friendship was in full bloom. I know now why people refer to their home as the “happy home.”
The Pattersons did what many do upon retirement – sell almost everything, jump in the big motorhome and tour the country. They had a great time, met lots of good people and saw the beauty of the United States, from Florida all the way out west to Arizona.
They settled in Casa Grande back in 1996 after visiting with friends who had made Arizona their final destination. Cindy is a retired system administrator from a Washington D.C. law firm. Larry retired from a Maryland fire department and then from a second career of building houses.
Now considering themselves “settled,” both have found their passion in the art world by combining multiply levels of talent, creating a name for themselves and helping the environment through recycling.
I’m not sure what is more colorful, Cindy’s bubbly personality or the cans she recycles into pieces of art. She creates flowers that seem to pop out at you. The playful flowers for garden, walls and table are made out of recycled tin cans. Each one has a story of its own and Cindy can tell it like nobody else. Cindy can take an old can and bring it to life. Just listening to her talk about her creations makes you happy. She is known around town as the “tin can artisan.”
Larry, on the other hand, is a quiet kind of guy who seems to be a thinker. He has always enjoyed landscaping and when arriving in Casa Grande, signed up for a master gardener class to learn more about desert living. Embracing his talent for art and the outdoors, Larry has created a tranquil space in his own backyard that many would be envious of. His outdoor gallery paintings add exploding year-round color to sometimes flat desert landscapes. His work is often commissioned and never stays around too long. He had a blank slate in his own back yard that has transformed into a masterpiece.
Both Cindy and Larry are involved with the local art scene, donating many hours to community events. You most likely have seen their pieces of work at a local charity auction or raffle as they are generous at sharing their talents to benefit others.
This spirited couple has made their home a canvas to showcase their unique talent. Over the past few years, there have been many budding artists lucky enough to study under them with the beautiful garden as inspiration. Cindy teaches a series of classes between now and April. She offers 12 different classes in her home and two up in the Valley. Classes fill up quickly and are kept at low numbers to ensure personalized attention.
When they are not busy shipping their artwork to places like Holland, Washington, New York and California, you’ll find them helping organizations such as the Boys & Girls Club, Home of Home, Seeds of Hope and the local Casa Grande Art Association.
Cindy and Larry have a passion for colorful creations, matching their own relationship, friendships and community involvement. Casa Grande is lucky to have “transplants” like the Pattersons.
Coming from West Virginia over 35 years ago, I am still in awe of the beauty of Arizona. I never get tired of cactus and desert. Larry’s work of outdoor art has brought that beauty to a new level. Anyone who wants to “pop” their backyard into a true desert garden, Larry is the guy to make it happen. As a child, I remember playing the game of kick the can. I thought that was a creative way to spend a boring summer afternoon. After meeting Cindy, I don’t think I’ll ever look at a tin can the same again without thinking of the possibilities.