Sandy Ray to show off works

Art by Sandra Ray will be featured as part of the gallery, “Feisty Japanese Lady opening in January. Photo provided

Art by Sandra Ray will be featured as part of the gallery, “Feisty Japanese Lady opening in January. Photo provided

When it comes to welcoming newcomers, is America a melting pot or a salad bowl?

I’ve always been one for the Goldilocks answers, and so am inclined to say: Maybe we’re a bit of both.

Whatever the case, I think the salad bowl theory wins out in the case of our first gallery of 2016 at the ArtWorks Center. “Feisty Japanese Lady” is so named for Sandy Ray — a Japanese immigrant who found love in World War II and home in Illinois — and the work will be displayed on our 2nd floor from Jan. 8 to Feb. 13.

Sandy married her husband, Myron, after the two met during World War II, and Sandy arrived in the United States as one of many “war brides,” or foreign women who married servicemen during wartime.

Although she knew very little English when she arrived in the Midwest after the war, she took her new life in stride and went to work for Woodward Company in Rockford, Illinois, eventually becoming such an expert in the company that she trained new engineers who arrived from college. While she adapted seamlessly to life in the U.S., she also lovingly maintained her Japanese garden.

Pat Ray, wife of Hormel Foundation Chairman (and Sandy’s nephew) Gary Ray, said of her aunt: “witty, graceful, talented and kind.” These qualities shine through in Ray’s work, and I’m hoping you’ll take the time to stop by and see for yourself.

If you’d like to hear the whole story from the horse’s mouth, you’re in luck; Gary and Pat will themselves be present at our open house from 5 to 7 p.m. on Jan. 22.

The event is, as always, free and open to the public, and all proceeds from Sandy’s artwork will benefit the Austin ArtWorks Center.

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