Article by Cathy Somer; photography by Melissa Tomich
Ann Bromberg is a gifted artist. She was accepted to study art at the prestigious High School of Music and Art in New York City, one of the city’s specialized high schools begun by Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia.
She then attended Cornell University. After graduation, Ann continued her art studies and received her master’s degree at the University of Cincinnati. In 1960, she and a friend enrolled in a weaving course that led to Ann’s specializing in weaving. While living in Rome from 1974 to 1978 with her husband and daughter, Ann taught art classes to students at St. Stephens High School.
Adorning the walls of Ann’s house are a number of her striking representational and abstract weavings. Many of them, like the three- paneled weaving of Martha’s Vineyard shown here, were created using soft colors and fluid designs that reflect her earlier training as a watercolorist. Ann began weaving using a portable hand loom but later switched to a large loom, now housed in her upstairs “loom room.”
Perhaps Ann’s most prized woven creation is a stunning weaving, 14 feet high by 10 feet wide, in soft tans, grays, and cream that Ann was commissioned to make for the altar at St. Peter’s Church in New York City. The church’s parishioners voted to have her create the piece after rejecting a painting done for St. Peter’s by the famous abstract expressionist artist Willem de Kooning.
Ann has three children. She encouraged them to follow their hearts in choosing their careers, just as her own parents had allowed her and her sister to make such important decisions for themselves as where to go to school and what to study. Ann’s daughter Liz played polo at Yale and now keeps horses on her property near the Chatham–Chapel Hill line. Jonathan is a transplant surgeon and immunologist, and Jim, now retired, is a lawyer and physician.
Another of Ann’s gifts, besides her artistic talent, is bringing people together. Ever since she moved to Fearrington Village, Ann and many of her East Camden Park friends and neighbors have occasionally gathered at her house to socialize. Ann enjoys getting to know other people, and she routinely introduces herself to new residents in her neighborhood and brings them a pie or other welcome gift. She is pleased to have several fellow artists on her street as well as other neighbors with whom she shares mutual friends from years past.
A very young 91, Ann feels comfortable about aging in place because she and her neighbors “watch each other’s backs.” She is aware that Fearrington Cares’ services are available to her, as needed, and she herself was a driver for Fearrington Cares for a few years before her husband became ill. Several years ago, Ann and two friends found it helpful to meet with Karen Metzguer, Fearrington Cares’ Executive Director, to obtain advice on how best to help a friend who needed support when her partner was dying.
The secret to Ann’s remaining so engaged with life into her ninth decade is surely her abiding love of art and her keen interest in family, friends, and neighbors.