Bringing Sri Lanka to Great Falls

Bringing Sri Lanka to Great Falls

Local painter celebrates opening of Sri Lanka exhibit at Java Junction this Saturday.

Three years ago, Frances Vecchi spent a month and a half in Sri Lanka and was captivated by its breathtaking natural beauty. Sadly, the December 2004 tsunami devastated the beautiful beach landscapes she had so admired, just a few short months after her visit.

“I was there quite close before it happened, and I wanted to go back and help and do soup kitchens, and my husband said ‘no, just paint — paint and that will help to create more awareness,’” said Vecchi, a longtime resident of Great Falls and member of the local artists’ consortium Great Falls Studios.

Vecchi took her husband’s advice and created oil paintings depicting the nature scenes she had taken in during her visit. Several of those paintings will be on display this weekend at Java Junction in Great Falls as part of her exhibit “Serendipty! Visions of Lovely and Exotic Sri Lanka.” Vecchi said she is still working on more paintings of Sri Lanka, and will save those works for a second exhibit.

“But this will be really neat because there will be both paintings of places, and photographs after the tsunami, as well as photographs of some poems that were written in Sinhalese,” said Vecchi. “There should be maybe 10 or 12 pieces, and there will be everything — the elephants, the monkeys, the beaches.”

When she was in Sri Lanka, Vecchi stayed with one of her father’s former graduate students at Cornell University.

“So he knew me since I was a young girl, and he and his wife are just like family to me,” said Vecchi. “One of their sons may come to the opening of my show.”

Vecchi has yet to return to Sri Lanka, but would like very much to visit again — particularly since she has heard that the devastated communities have really begun to make headway in the rebuilding process.