When Marian Pierce Hoffart received a phone call informing her she'd won a $25,000 grant from AOL Artists, she and a friend were sitting at her dining room table and writing the newsletter for the Needham Art Association.
"That was very fitting, the way it happened," Hoffart, a Needham resident since 1958, reflected after she had gotten over the shock.
25 for 25: The AOL Grant Program was created in honor of AOL's 25th Anniversary. Hoffart, one of 25 awardees chosen from among 9,000 applicants, is being inducted into an innovative and forward-thinking group of artists that includes a sustainable product designer from Israel, a bassoonist and executive director of the Atlanta Music Project, and an architect creating a portable shelter system for homeless people.
"I just look out at what I see, and then I change it to make it what I want. So I sort of work from what's in my line of sight," Hoffart said of her work, which is mainly in oils on canvas or board. "A lot of it's just imagination and sometimes it's based on old photos."
Hoffart began taking drawing classes when she retired from teaching 21 years ago.
"My daughter Peggy was active in art in high school and college, and she's an architect," she said. "I thought, well, she really likes doing that stuff. Maybe I should try it."
"I was sort of hooked," she continued. Since then she has become involved with a group of painters at Medicine Wheel Productions in South Boston, not to mention Needham's own Art Association. Her work is currently on display at the Amazing Things Art Center in Framingham and forthcoming on Nov. 20 at the Zullo Gallery in Medfield.
All of these institutions are possible recipients for the grant funding. "I haven't really decided how I'm going to distribute it," Hoffart said. "They all need money, and I'm interested in all of them. The town of Needham could use a boost in art."
Also among the list of additional possibilities is a return trip to San Gimignano, Italy, where Hoffart went two years ago with a group from Medicine Wheel.
"It was a great experience. We stayed in a monastery there and they had a garden where we could go and paint and a place where area where we could get together in the evenings," she said. "It was a very congenial, helpful group."
In the meantime, Hoffart is anticipating a trip to New York next month, where she'll meet the other 24 awardees, take part in a video interview, and attend an after-party.
"I think it'll be fun to get to meet some of these people in New York next month," she said. "I'm looking forward to that."
More information on Hoffart and her work can be found at the AOL Artists site.
Editor's Note: AOL is the parent company of Patch Media.