------------ Esther Lea --------------
Poet Laureate Lauds An Art Exhibition
By Vincent Godfrey Burns
Poet Laureate of Maryland
Lovers of the fine arts should visit the Cinema Theatre at Harundale Mall in Glen Burnie. In the foyer of the theatre, they will find an exhibition of 13 beautiful paintings by Esther Lea of Linthicum.
THE PICTURES are as striking as their names. "Family Pet" is a small picture of a horse. "Pink Ocean" is a lovely seascape. "Lombardies" is a painting of a garden which shows two tall Lombardy populars. "Grecian Columns" is a beautifully drawn painting of a formal garden aglow with color. "Serenity" is a vista of a peaceful valley. "Fury of the Sea" shows great breakers beating on a red reef. "The Firebird" is the only one of her pictures which leans toward the abstract. It is a painting of a wild bird in flight. "Ocean" shows a long stretch of beach with breakers under a waning moon. "Horizons" is a view of the western Rockies. "Laguna Beach" reveals the blue waters of a cove on a California beach. "Sound and Silence" is an ethereal reproduction of one of nature's many moods. 'Spring" brings to life the burgeoning colors and rich tints of the Springtime.
Esther Moorefield was born in North Carolina. Her father and mother had nine girls, all of whom are now married. She spent her early life in Yanceyville, N.C., where she graduated from Bartlett Yancey High School and from the Hughes Memorial School of Nursing. She moved to Maryland after her marriage to Earl Lea of Danville, Va., and she continued her professional career as a nurse at the Fort Meade Hospital.
HER FATHER, a native Virginian, was born in the Shenandoah Valley and some of his ancestry included the Moorefields, the Redds and the Throckmortons. Her mother was born in Roxboro, N.C., and her ancestry included the Jameses and the Crabtrees of Roxboro and the Dukes of Durham, N.C.
The artist says of herself, "I love to paint. I get ideas and I try to get them down on canvas. If I wait long enough the ideas come. It is as though a little door opens and a picture comes out. I keep working at it until it speaks to me. My husband doesn't understand. he says 'How can a picture speak to you?' I tell him I can hear them speak. And when they speak to me I know they're finished."
ESTHER is a true artist. She is not only a painter but a poet too. She is a dreamer and a lover of beauty. Her life is beautiful too. She is a very warm and radiant personality.
Of her poetry she says, "I have always been a writer of verse. I've always been a nonconformist and a dreamer.
It is said that a place of seclusion is lonely. Such is the inner-most recesses of my heart. i thank both my father and my mother for instilling in me an undying search for beauty. My mother loved beauty so she would kneel in wonder beside a little wayside flower. My father, who taught me the wonders of the woods and streams and compassion for its little wild creatures, was an outdoorsman who was in love with all of life. As a child I walked with him hand in hand to watch the sky and the sea and to drink in all the beauty in this wonderful universe. I longed to hold that beauty until my heart would finally break. I suppose that longing is the source of any talent I may have."
AS A POET Esther Lea has had many poems in anthologies and her book, "The Heart Whispers," is selling like hot-cakes in the bookstores of Maryland. She has painted more than 50 beautiful paintings, although only 13 are on exhibition at the Cinema theatre. She says she is mainly self-taught, but has taken a few lessons with Anne Schuler.
Her book of poems is redolent with glimpses of beauty deeply sensed and with mystic experiences warmly expressed. Here is a verse of seeking and longing for the lovely things of life, a reaching up to the ideal and the beautiful. The world today needs persons like Esther Lea. Here is a lovely person, a loyal citizen and a devoted wife. Her husband is Samuel Earl Lea whom she met in Danville, Va., when she was a nurse at the Hughes Memorial Hospital.
ESTHER is a prominent member of the Maryland State Poetry Society, a member of the Board of Directors and chairman of the Social Affairs Committee. She recently staged a delightful dance and evening of entertainment at Glen Burnie at the Harundale Mall for Valentine's Day. A recent poem of hers is called "Flight" --
Lift me up . . . and let my searching eyes
Behold Garden there . . . beyond the stars
That hold such beauty . . . my heart can not contain its splendor.
I stand . . . earth-worn, but restless soul
Yearns upward . . . like a bird in flight
Seeking . . . searching . . . unfurling shimmering wings.
And my soul's bird-eyes are rose . . . I think
That looked into the dawn of fairest-day
Sheltering lights first drops of shining dew.
I think my soul's hair . . . dusky . . . cloud-soft after rain
And lifting softly . . . by a gentle wind.
My soul's mouth . . . compassionate and parted lips
To smile at God.
O' lift me up . . . through blue-night-sky
To walk into Garden . . . never known.
In the 1960s, Earl and Esther Moorefield Lea purchased the Purley Methodist Church building shown below, restored it, and converted it into their Purley residence.