Drawing the Line on a New Adventure
November 28, 2022
It is no secret that Hillsborough is an artistic haven for those near and far. Perhaps it’s the centuries-old streets lined with historic architecture or the enchanting landscape that blooms with beauty all year round that inspires painters and poets to call this little town home. Whatever the draw may be, Hillsborough has no shortage of creativity. So when Ron Weisenfeld decided to venture back into an old passion, it’s no surprise that he and his wife retired in Hillsborough and became an integral part of the art scene.
Many have viewed Ron’s wonderous sketches and paintings hanging on the walls of Margaret Lane Gallery or the breathtaking depiction of the Alexander Dickson house displayed at the Hillsborough Visitor Center. But it’s been the tale of a rambunctious furry friend, Minnie Brown, that has brought Ron’s work into our homes and warmed our hearts. The Awesome Adventures of Minnie Brown, a book series written by Courtney Smith, Curator of the Orange County Historical Museum and illustrated by Ron, tells about the escapades of one spunky Orange County puppy. “I met Courtney after volunteering at the museum,” explained Ron. “She mentioned she was working on a children’s book, and we got to talking. To provide some encouragement, I drew her a little [border collie] dog, now known as Minnie Brown.”
Ron’s passion for art started at a young age, and his talents were quickly noticed. He fondly remembers his work displayed in the principal’s office at school and when the local television show featured his drawings. As he planned for his future art career, Ron attended Auburn University, graduating with a degree in visual design. But as it happens for many, plans were interrupted, and his career ventures changed. “Life happened. I went into the army, flew helicopters, and had two kids. When I got out of the military, at the end of Vietnam, the job [market] for people interested in art was just saturated. The best job I could find paid five dollars an hour, so I got into the restaurant business.” Following his father’s footsteps, who was also retired military and worked in the restaurant industry, Ron found a way to make a comfortable life for his family outside the arts community. “I did a couple of paintings but got busy in the work world and didn’t have time.”
It was in 2017 that Ron would dive back into the heartbeat of his creativity after being inspired by his time spent at Hope Reins, a 38-acre rescue horse ranch that provides equine therapy for children. Deciding to draw a picture of the instructor’s favorite horse as a thank-you gift, Ron purchased
all new supplies and went to work. “I sat there for two weeks, looking at a blank piece of paper, scared to death it wouldn’t come back.” After a few crumpled attempts, his artistic touch filled the page. Rediscovering his passion, Ron went on to draw all the horses at Hope Reins, creating thank-you cards for donors and customized Holiday Cards for the organization. As word spread, he began to receive requests for commissioned work. ” In 2019, I made a pledge to myself to do 52 pieces of artwork in a year, one a week. So I started with all the iconic buildings in Hillsborough; the [visitor center], Mercantile Center, Cup-A-Joe, Food Station Outlet.” Ron’s brilliant portrayal of the once dilapidated Colonial Inn now graces the cover of the historical nonfiction publication Collective History; Stories of the Colonial Inn.
Ron’s retirement schedule has swiftly filled with Last Friday Art Walks, Gallery showings, and a growing list of commissioned projects. What started as a dream career turned hobby has now become a wild adventure of potential and possibilities.
To view more of Ron’s work, visit the Margaret Lane Gallery at 121 W. Margaret Lane in Hillsborough.