GALVESTON — Galveston Historical Foundation announces publication of this year’s Galveston Historic Homes Tour commemorative poster, which features a painting by Galveston-born artist Gay Paratore. Paratore was the winner of a competition held by GHF to find a new Homes Tour artist upon the retirement of artist Pam Heidt, who had been commissioned to do Homes Tour poster art for 20 years.
Galveston Historical Foundation's Historic Homes Tour May 3 & 4 and May 10 & 11
Galveston Historical Foundation
Wednesday, April 30, 2008
The artist will be on hand to sign copies of her work at the McLemore House, 1019 16th Street, from noon to 4 p.m. on the two Saturdays of the Homes Tour, May 3 and 10. Framed copies of the new poster will be on sale at several locations on the tour, and at the Heritage Visitors Center at Ashton Villa, 2328 Broadway.
The poster, as it traditionally does each year, depicts a composite image of the 10 homes that are open to the public on the tour. This year’s artist was selected from a field of 12 contestants who submitted samples to GHF earlier this year.
“I think we made a great choice,” said Beth Shriner, Director of Historic Properties at GHF. “There were a lot of good entries, but Gay’s work shows not only her extensive training, teaching and practice in art, but I think it benefits from a deep connection with Galveston that literally goes back generations.”
Paratore’s great-great-grandmother arrived in Galveston in 1846, when, for example, the Samuel May Williams house was only seven years old. It had been a stormy passage from Bremen, Germany, aboard the steamer Carl Wilhelm, and as the ship approached Galveston it finally succumbed to the tempest and began to sink. Mrs. Koester (Paratore’s forbear) and her son were taken off the distressed vessel in a launch, which soon became distressed itself. A “frailer craft” (according to the Galveston Daily News at the time) came to the rescue and brought them ashore. The son later served in Magruder’s Brigade, which recaptured Galveston from the Union Army in 1863.
Mrs. Koester’s many children married into prominent Galveston families. Paratore’s mother, Cora, married Owen Garrigan, owner of Garrigan’s Sporting Goods (later Naschke’s Sporting Goods). Mary Gay Garrigan married Phillip Paratore, Jr., and the couple had four children, all born at St. Mary’s Hospital in Galveston.
“I have always wanted to do these posters for Galveston Historical Foundation,” said Paratore, “but Pam Heidt was doing such a good job with them over the years that the foundation was right to keep her under contract for as long as she wanted. I’ve been delighted to finally get the chance to show what I can do with these historic homes. I love Galveston.”
Gay Paratore was educated by the Sisters of the order of Saint Ursula. She went to St. Patrick’s School and to Ursuline Academy. Her Aunt, Sister Monica Colleraine, OSU, is buried in the small cemetery behind Galveston Catholic School. “It was a special treat for me to go to the convent parlor as a small child to visit Sister Monica,” she said.
“I often recall how beautiful and impressive the entrance and parlor of Ursuline Academy were, and I still regret the loss of that great piece of Nicholas Clayton architecture to Hurricane Carla.” When the Ursuline Sisters left Galveston, Gay bid successfully on several items, including a Victorian loveseat that was in the convent parlor.
Paratore got her undergraduate degree, majoring in fine art, science, and education, from Sam Houston University; her master’s from University of Houston in Art Education; and was accepted to the doctoral program there while getting her state certification as an art consultant. Gay has taken workshops from noted artists here, on the West Coast and the East Coast. She attended both The National Academy of Art in New York City and the Art Students League of New York City. She has also studied art in Germany, Austria, Italy, and Mexico.
Paratore’s keenest interest is in introducing children to the joys, and the basic skills, of art. Nearing 70, she still teaches five children’s classes a week. She has classes after school at Our Lady of Fatima in Texas City and Our Lady of Lourdes in Hitchcock, one at The Art Alliance Center at Clear Lake, and two classes in her Studio in Santa Fe.
At The Art Alliance Center in Clear Lake (TAACCL), Paratore gives instruction to adults in all media. “I let my adult students tell me what they want to learn,” she says. “All of my instruction is individualized; every student is working on a different project, and I’m very proud of my students’ accomplishments.” Five of her students will have their work in Houston at the Rodeo this year. She has had at least one student as a winner every year for twenty-one years in the Houston Livestock and Rodeo Student Art show.
Given the Outstanding Teacher Award from the Rodeo this year, Paratore saw one of her students win Reserve Grand Champion in art. She has had one or more Glassell Scholarship Winners every year since the program was started. Thirty-eight of her students were state finalists in the Junior Federal Duck Stamp competition last year. Each year she has had students who win top awards at the Dr. Maira Felia Dog show Art Show at Reliant Center. Three of her students won on the state level in the “Treasure of the Texas Coast” contest. Gay is equally proud of her adult students who have also won many awards.
Paratore taught in the Alvin, Hitchcock, and Galveston ISDs. She taught art at Ball High in the 70’s, then went on to become art department head at Alvin Community College. She also taught art history for the College of the Mainland. She just finished teaching two workshops at the University of Houston in the VASE Program (Visual Arts Scholastic Event). She teaches at The Art Alliance Center of Clear Lake (TAACCL) and occasionally does workshops at the Rockport Art Center.
Paratore paints in watercolors, oils, and acrylics; she draws with pencils, pastels, oil pastels, and anything that will make a mark on the paper. She likes to find unusual combinations of media, as she did in the GHF Historic Homes Tour poster art. Printmaking is also one of her passions. Gay’s recent car and motorcycle paintings in watercolor and acrylics have won her multiple Best of Shows and First Place Ribbons. She also paints portraits and has had many portrait commissions; her last one was a large 3-foot by 4 foot painting of a father and his two sons.
Ten significant Galveston buildings that represent the diversity of Galveston’s architectural fabric--from modest raised cottages to the 10,000 square-foot Lasker House, a former orphanage—have been selected for the Galveston Historic Homes Tour this year, which takes place May 3, 4, 10 and 11 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Seven special events, in addition to Paratore’s poster-signing sessions, are scheduled in association with the tour. Information about the homes on tour and special events, as well as prices, discounts and packages, is available at
Tickets to all Galveston Historic Homes Tour special events are available online at www.galvestonhistory.org or by calling 1-877-772-CLICK. Advance Homes Tour tickets are $20 each. Patrons who purchase their Homes Tour tickets in advance will save five dollars over the gate price of $25 a ticket. Advance tickets may be purchased at Houston/Galveston Kroger Food stores. Advance tickets for members of GHF are $15 each.