Clifton Forge artist still painting at 102

CLIFTON FORGE, VA. (WDBJ) – The Alleghany Highlands Arts & Crafts Center opened a new gallery show on Saturday.

It displays art and objects from the C&O Railroad that a number of local artists contribute to, but it can be difficult to open a large gallery show in the age of COVID.

But a special guest at this opening: Allen Hickman.

“We can’t do a train exhibit here without Allen Hickman’s painting being a part of it,” said Connie Baker, the centre’s executive director.

He worked on trains at the C&O shipyards for 43 years.

“Like I said,” said Hickman, “I’ve got smoke and ashes in my blood.”

And now he paints them as he has done for decades.

“I don’t know when I started painting, but I started drawing – there is a picture here somewhere that I drew when I was about 6 years old,” he said. “Came out in C&O Magazine.”

Hickman is 102 and still paints.

“I set up an easel and everything in the house,” Hickman said. “And when I come up with an idea, I just sit down and draw it and paint.”

“Everyone knows Allen Hickman,” said Baker. “He’s only been around a long time and everyone knows his pictures and there are several people in town who have them here in their buildings.”

And he knows his subjects by heart.

“I don’t know, I just remember things, you know,” said Hickman. “Like I said, I could just sit down and paint one without looking at a picture or anything because I know what’s there.”

The show ends on February 27th.

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