WELLTHVILLE — A kaleidoscope of green fields, azure rivers, forests, and colorful hot air balloons in the summer sky above past barns, whether seen through the lens of a camera or through the eyes of a painter, is natural. subject to artistic impression.
In the early days of the Great Wellsville Balloon Rally, local artist A. Thomas O’Grady, who had already achieved international fame for his Americana work, was selected to create posters to attract people to the rally. rice field. His first posters were mostly informative, but eventually O’Grady could not resist his natural style and he began creating posters that also functioned as works of art.
To this day, many of his posters adorn the walls of Wellsville businesses and homes.
O’Grady began a tradition of featuring not only Balloonmeister’s balloons, but local landmarks such as the Pink House, warehouses, libraries, famous barns, and local wildlife in his depictions. After he created over 30 rally pieces, O’Grady retired.
The Larry Committee then held a series of contests over the course of several years to attract another artist who could maintain O’Grady’s style and popularity. In 2016, a local woman, an artist named Tracy Hetzel, finally stepped forward.
Hetzel graduated from Wellsville High School in 1987. She grew up in Wellsville and appreciated the artwork he created for Larry, so she readily recognized O’Grady as one of her greatest art influences.
She attended art school at Alfred University and later earned a BA in art history from the University of Buffalo.
She is a famous illustrator. Her watercolors are mainly composed of fashion illustrations and portraits. Her illustrations are published in monthly magazines. New York Coffee Festival, Paris Fashion Week, United Nations, Times Square and America’s Promise, Cologne & Alma Powell Foundation.
She has written and illustrated a children’s book about her hometown of W(Ella’s)ville. She also manufactures and sells handmade journals and is her director of creative for Graphic Essentials, a marketing and design firm in Baltimore, Maryland. Links are available on her blog (LongBlueStraw.com).
Tracy currently lives in Baltimore with her husband and two children. Her parents, Barb and Rich Hetzel, still live in Wellsville. Tracy visits her beloved hometown as often as possible.
In 2017, Hetzel became the official artist of the Great Wellsville Balloon Rally. Following in O’Grady’s footsteps, she created Larry’s posters depicting local sights, but most of them focused on the Main Street scenery. The first poster for her gathering was the Pink House. Her latest work depicts an entire village.
The Hetzel poster is available in two sizes wherever rally goods are sold locally.