By: David Willard
On Sept. 21, 2014, Leigh Rodenbough passed away in his home located in Madison, North Carolina. In his lifetime, Rodenbough was a veteran of World War II. He was a lawyer. He was a member of the local rotary club. He was a leader of the youth in his hometown as he served as a local cubmaster and troop leader. He even established the community’s first Webelo’s scout group. With all this activity in his life, it becomes even more amazing that he was an artist who painted landscapes. Now, those paintings can be seen firsthand and treasured once again at a local Greensboro art gallery that has helped the downtown Greensboro area experience fine art by just a visit to the area.
Exhibiting from August to the end of September, Ambleside Gallery is playing host to many of Rodenbough’s finest works. Ambleside Gallery is located at 528 S. Elm St. in Greensboro and has become an integral part of the arts scene in the Triad. Established in 1982 in England and now making its home in Greensboro, Ambleside prides itself on housing many fine artists’ collections. Ambleside Gallery’s reputation has led to showcasing more than30 painters, sculptors and photographers from countries such as the US, Canada, England, France, Germany, Italy, China and Japan.
Now Ambleside is home to Rodenbough’s work for all to see and explore. Featuring 16 pieces, Ambleside is once again highlighting the Rodenbough collection. The first being when Rodenbough passed in 2014. The gallery’s director and owner, Jackson Mayshark, was a friend, an admirer of Rodenbough’s work and now brings the exhibition back to honor those ties.
“The show is important because he was an unusual artist and a dear friend, and I had the exhibition up at the time of his passing,” Mayshark said. “This is the first time I have showed his work since then. He was an amazing example of a painter and a human being. He became a professional painter at the age of 80, and I love showing his art, and sharing his story.”
This passion for the arts and his talent carried Rodenbough well, as he became a respected and sought-after artist who painted some unique and beautiful landscapes and scenery before his passing in 2014. This exhibition is a tribute to his work and to the man that made his mark at home and in his artwork.
“He was art enthusiast at an early age,” Mayshark said. “And he told his father he wanted to be an artist. His father told he needed to get an education and get a job, and then he could become an artist after he retired. Leigh did just that. At age 70, he decided he needed art in his life. He implemented painting by dedicating one day a week to his art. Then at age 80, he became a professional artist. He was an amazing individual.”
To exemplify this, after his passing in 2014, The Rockingham Arts Council featured some of his work and posted on its website, “The paintings of Rodenbough have stories and specific locations attached to them. This backstory adds to the texture that is such a prominent part of his artwork. Many local collectors have Rodenbough’s unique paintings, and several of our public buildings contain paintings. Throughout his life, Rodenbough donated to many charities, nonprofits and causes, supporting the community. The Rockingham County Arts Council’s Artist Studio Tour is honored to benefit from his continuing generosity.”
Rodenbough’s passing left a public who adored his work. Simply put, Rodenbough left a legacy of an example to be followed. He achieved success on many levels, and it’s not only in his art that this is shown, it is also in his hometown where this lawyer, scout leader and veteran took a few short years of living his dream and turned them into pieces of art that are waiting to be savored at Ambleside Gallery.
David Willard is a freelance writer in Winston-Salem and has written for Forsyth Woman Magazine, Forsyth Family Magazine, Winston Salem Monthly.