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All In An Artistic Family Lilla Matheson Ohrstrom helps people navigate life’s challenges through art-making. BY VI C KY MO O N

Lilla Matheson Ohrstrom and her sister and fellow artist Helen Matheson Hillard share a moment at Confederate Hall at Hickory Tree Farm. Photo by Vicky Moon

Lilla Matheson Ohrstrom comes by her immense artistic talents by way of hard work and, oh yes, a bit of genetic juice. We’ll get to that in short order. In her rustic, yet glowing Youngblood Art Studio tucked away in the village of The Plains where she serves as creative director of exhibitions, Ohrstrom has an out-sized energy for her work in mixed media as an artist and sculptor and is devoted to bringing in other artists devoted to all forms. One very impressive aspect of Ohrstrom’s accomplishments is as an art therapist. She spent years studying at such world-renowned institutions as the Parsons School of Design in


New York City and the École des Arts Decoratifs in Paris. She’s traveled the globe and also trained in the U.S. at the Rhode Island School of Design and the Corcoran School of Art & Design in Washington, D.C. To top it all off, she received a Master’s degree in art therapy at George Washington University. Ohrstrom says she likes to “help people navigate life’s challenges through art-making.” Visitors to the countryside should make a trip out to see her current show and sale, “The Enchanted World of Joan Danzinger” at her studio through Sept. 30. Danziger, a Washingtonbased glass sculptor, specializes in insects and animals.

“It’s nice synchronicity that Joan Danziger is on view at the National Sporting Library Museum through Jan. 5, 2020 with ‘Canter & Crawl,’” says Ohrstrom, who recently served as the honorary chairwoman of the Piedmont Regional Art Show & Sale at the Grace Church in The Plains. All of the five Matheson siblings, including her three brothers and a sister, are artists. As the local summer garden party circuit kicked off in high style with the 21st annual Land Trust of Virginia soiree at Confederate Hall at Hickory Tree Farm, several members of the family were among the artists invited to attend for an afternoon of painting en plein air. Helen Matheson Hillard, her sister, was working on the front porch on a small landscape painting. Of course, the patriarch of the family, her architect and artist father Charley Matheson, was at the party with his wife, Julie Martin Matheson. A resident of Markham, he does lovely pen and ink, oil and watercolors. His sister, Lida Stifel of Potomac, was also one of the invited artists. “Both of my parents were always encouraging our creativity,” Ohrstrom notes, adding that her mother, Bonnie Buchanan Matheson, “had a flair for costumes and encouraged imaginary play.” The afternoon at the LTV gathering included a specialty drink called the “Mimi Bellini” in honor of co-hostess Mimi Abel-Smith, whose late parents, Alice and James Mills, once owned Hickory Tree Farm. The current residents, Susan Pope and Joseph Gargan, were also on hand as the LTV honored several stewards and conservationists of the wide-open spaces where artists can blissfully paint the gorgeous surroundings. The organization has put in place 175 easements totaling 19,292 acres in 15 counties across the state. “Art allows me a way to understand the world, which is hard to make sense of sometimes,” Ohrstrom concludes.


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