Editorial: Remembering Topton gallery operator Joyce Floreen

Submitted photo Joyce Floreen sketching en pleine aire.

I knew Joyce Floreen as the operator of the Toad Creek Gallery in Topton. I remember walking into the gallery for the first time a couple of years ago or so, probably more like almost five years ago. It was on a hot day and I had been covering a nearby community event in the sun most of the day. It was nice to get out of the heat for a bit. I was just going to stop in and browse for a while before leaving town.

Joyce greeted me. She was so friendly and welcoming that I stayed to talk and view the artwork on display.

Then, Joyce kept in touch, keeping me posted on upcoming gallery showings. I had a few opportunities to visit again, always finding a warm smile and words of encouragement. Our discussions were ones of art and the creative process. I always found my visits to be inspirational and uplifting.

One particular visit stands out in my memory. I was there covering a gallery showing for Kempton father and daughter duo Peter and Kim Stimeling in 2010. We all talked about art and the artist's life. This visit stands out for me in particular because it was not long after that I found out I was going to be a mother. I had plans of returning with my daughter, Anna, age one, but I never had the chance.

In June 2011 Joyce discovered that she had metastasized colon cancer and she lost her battle on June 17.

Now, Toad Creek Gallery sits empty, the showroom dark, the walls bare.

But her art, and the lives of other artists that she touched, will live on.

Joyce, you will be missed. You will be remembered fondly.

Lisa Mitchell is the editor of The Kutztown Area Patriot. Contact her at lmitchell@berksmontnews.com. Follow the Kutztown Area Patriot on Facebook and Twitter. Visit us on www.berksmontnews.com.

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