Saturday, April 03, 1999

Obituary: Salli LoveLarkin, champion of the arts

North Avondale woman was 62

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Salli LoveLarkin, who devoted her career to art and to helping Cincinnati artists, died Friday morning at her home in North Avondale. She was 62.

        “She had a lifelong dedication to the arts in this community,” said Dennis Harrington, director of the Alice F. and Harris K. Weston Gallery at the Aronoff Center for the Arts.

        “She had an incredible career, in art, in dance, theater and arts administration; and a huge commitment to the community,” said Peter Huttinger, one of many local artists for whom Ms. LoveLarkin organized exhibitions. “She was incredibly supportive of the artists in this region.”

        “She was a remarkable woman — talented, kind, funny, spiritual; she had it all,” said arts patron Melody Sawyer Richardson. “She was truly a treasure in Cincinnati. She was a trouper.”

        On March 24, Ms. LoveLarkin was given the Ohio Arts Council's 1999 Governor's Award for Arts Adminis tration.

        Ms. LoveLarkin was a visual artist, performance artist and costume designer when she became director of C.A.G.E. (Cincinnati Artists Group Effort) in 1988. She expanded the alternative artists' space into a venue for experimental arts that presented challenging installations by artists from throughout the nation with an emphasis on the arts of the region.

        In 1992, she became director of Fountain Square Fools, an ecumenical theater group that toured internationally, sharing Christian values and presenting the Gospel in a new light.

        Ms. LoveLarkin also served on the Cincinnati Arts Allocation Committee and on panels for the Ohio Arts Council. She was an activist who has lobbied for expanded support for small arts organizations.

        Ms. LoveLarkin was appointed director of the Alice F. and Harris K. Weston Gallery for the Arts in the Aronoff Center for the Arts in 1995, creating a mission for the gallery to encourage regional artists.

        “The Weston Gallery was her vision,” said Ms. Richardson. “She planned the exhibitions. She set the style.”

        “She filled a void, Mr. Huttinger said. “She identified a need in this community to provide a place where area artists could show their work and create new work. She was willing to take risks with artists and let them experiment.”

        “And she did all that while raising five children,” Mr. Harrington said. “She was diagnosed with ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig's disease) three years ago, and yet she showed her determination and her courage by staying on for another year in spite of her illness.”

        She is survived by her husband, William Larkin III; sons Billy Larkin of downtown and Timothy S. Larkin of Loveland; daughters Maura Larkin of Philadelphia, Deirdre Larkin of Clifton and Shelagh Larkin of North Avondale; and 10 grandchildren.

        A memorial Mass will be held at 3 p.m. Wednesday at Xavier University Bellarmine Chapel. The family requests that donations be sent to the ALS Association, 2700 Agoura Road, Suite 150, Calabasas Hills, CA 91301-5104.


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