If you were a regular shopper of the old Gilmore’s department store at Oak Park Avenue and Lake Street (think Winberie’s) during the 1960s and ’70s, chances are you saw the art of Audrey Warnimont Brown.
In fact, her black- and white-wash illustrations of attractive figures wearing the latest fashions in the newspaper ads may have been the inspiration for a shopping trip or two.
Gilmore’s is long gone and so is the job of department store fashion illustrator. But Brown, at age 91, is still creative and creating.
“If I don’t paint, I sketch and if I don’t sketch, I read about art,” said Brown, now a resident of Bethesda Retirement Center in Chicago. “I know I’m happiest when I paint and when I’m around artists.”
More than 25 of Brown’s watercolor paintings are being exhibited at the Donna Pope Gallery, 185 N. York St., in Elmhurst. A special opening honoring Brown’s work will take place May 9.
Except for a series of paintings that hung in the Oak Park Arms, Brown has never had a solo show, though many of her works have been exhibited in group and juried shows.
Her work is well known to members of the Oak Park Art League, where she once taught and worked as a member of the governing board. She is also a signature member of the Illinois Watercolor Society.
Being in a skilled nursing facility has changed the way she works. She does not have the space to work on large paintings, though she does have her own cabinet for paint supplies.
“I don’t like that I have to work smaller, but at least I’m still working,” she said.