'I like the smiles'

Alexander Sinn • May 3, 2019 at 2:00 PM

GRAND HAVEN TWP. — Primary colors and hand-carved creations filled the art room at The Village at Rosy Mound on Thursday afternoon.

The artist, Jim Salisbury, talked with fellow retirement home residents about the life of travels that inspired his work, from intricate paintings to walking sticks evoking ancient American cultures. He is showing a small gallery of his art this month at the new retirement community.

Salisbury, 72, grew up in Grand Haven as a lover of art and history. Images in National Geographic magazines depicting the Mayan pyramids captivated him, and drove him to travel throughout Central America.

“I’ve visited just about every Mayan ruin around,” he said.

He recalled climbing the steps of Chichen Itza, in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula, three times. He visited Mexico City in the 1980s, just as a pyramid was discovered buried beneath the middle of the city.

Jim and Peggy Salisbury were married 11 years ago. He found a travel partner for another trip to Mexico’s pyramids, while Peggy said she is proud of her husband.

“He’s fulfilled my bucket list,” she said. “He’s made me the happiest woman in my life.”

The two grew up neighbors in Grand Haven, Peggy said, in the city’s Old Town district. She recalled the annual smells from the Coast Guard Festival in the summertime and living a block from the Grand Haven Tribune.

The two knew each other since third grade, Peggy said, but were both single for 20 years before finally connecting.

“You think somebody’s just going to walk up to you at the store and say, ‘Hey, you want to have supper?’” she said. “He walked up to me in the store and said, ‘Hey, you want to have supper?’ We haven’t been apart a day since.”

Jim’s artwork normally fills their apartment, gathered under their bed and in a storage closet. Their headboard is a Jim Salisbury original.

Bringing some of it out of hiding has helped other residents reignite their passion for artwork, The Village activities coordinator Julie Hofheinz said. Seniors with hidden talents have brought others to the art room to try their hand at all kinds of creative pursuits.

Salisbury often works in the art room. On Thursday, he picked away at a complex painting of Mexico City during the height of the Mayan Empire, with small boats traveling bright-blue canals and pyramids stretching into a red horizon. Salisbury said he works seven hours a day to keep his projects moving. 

The artist is not interested in commissions or selling his pieces. He has given some away, while he said he’s just happy to share his own collection.

“I like the smiles,” he said.

The artwork is on display through June 14 at The Village of Rosy Mound, 17283 Rosy Mound Road, Grand Haven Township, in the second-floor art room.

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