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Val Binder and Discovering the Perfect Place

December 1, 2021

As a teenager living in Mount Washington, Val Binder rode the local street car to Forest Park High School and later to the Baltimore Museum of Art to surround herself with inspiration for her lifelong passion. She studied under some of the best talent and launched a career teaching art. A mixed media artist, Val explores landscapes for ideas, from the rocky coast of Wales, the ancient sites in Mexico and Belize, to the sculptural quality of Utah’s canyons with its rich culture of Native American art.

Enjoy our interview with Val!

“Old Road in Fall”

Hello, Val, please tell us a little about yourself
I was born at the old Sinai Hospital in Baltimore in 1932 and went to different elementary schools in the area. At the last one I met a lifelong friend, and we went to camp together and had a great time. I got married in 1958 to my wonderful husband, Joe. He was very caring and so supportive of my art career. He died in 1988 and was the love of my life. Our son Robert died from cancer in 2018. My daughter Joey Tulkoff has been such a big part of my life, including helping me find Springwell which I adore. Early on I always found myself involved with organizations to help people, which I still enjoy today. I taught art in Baltimore County schools for many years and retired from there.

Tell us about your family
Although not large, my family was warm and loving. I never knew my grandfathers, but had two very different and warm grandmothers. I also had uncles and loving parents. My dad helped support my two grandmothers when their husbands died young. My brother is 7 1/2 years younger than me. When my children got married we were blessed with their families as well!

How did your interest in art come about?
As a young woman I would visit the BMA, traveling by street car, and my art teacher advised my parents to send me to the Maryland Institute, College of Art, where I eventually attended to obtain my M.F.A. in 1972.

At first I attended the University of Wisconsin where I explored rhesus monkey testing for the Department of Psychology lab. But it was in 1957 when I went to the University of Colorado in Boulder where I studied water color and jewelry design. That’s when I discovered that watercolor was my passion.

At that time my interest was in sculpture, and back in Baltimore during my last year at MICA I was able to study privately with Reuben Kramer, the prize-winning and internationally recognized Baltimore artist known for his sculpture and drawings. His work includes the 8 1/2 foot statue of Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall, which stands in downtown Baltimore at the Garmatz Federal Courthouse on West Pratt Street.

Later I was introduced to collage and painting collage with Keith Martin as well. I always drew.

Where do you get ideas for your work?
My process can begin almost anywhere. It may start with a line or color based on a pattern found in nature. Or it may be a conglomeration of my responses to a current event, a memory of a trip out west or something seen in my own backyard. I begin my work in a variety of ways: sketching, painting and photographing on location. Basically, it’s the forms, color interactions and spirit of a place that inspire me.

Finding the essence of a particular subject is my goal.

How did you discover Springwell?
At age 88 I decided to sell my house and concentrate on my art. I visited other retirement communities and didn’t care for them and then I discovered Springwell. I visited with my daughter and discovered this two-bedroom apartment where I could have my studio and paint. I fell in love. I just love it here. There is such a caring staff and I have met wonderful friends.

It is a diverse community, which I love, and I get rides to appointments, have my apartment cleaned every other week and there are so many friends and activities. It just doesn’t get any better than this.

This is the most perfect place, I am so fortunate.

To see Val’s work visit her website:

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