Clifton Forge artist still painting at 102

Published: Feb. 9, 2021 at 4:50 PM EST
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CLIFTON FORGE, Va. (WDBJ) - The Alleghany Highlands Arts and Crafts Center opened a new gallery show Saturday.

It features art and objects of the C&O Railroad, with a number of local artists contributing, but it can be tough to have a big gallery show opening in the age of COVID.

But at this opening, there’s one special guest: Allen Hickman.

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

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

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

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

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

Hickman is 102, and still painting.

“I got an easel there at the house and everything setting up,” said Hickman. “And if an idea comes to me, I just sit down and draw it and paint.”

“Everybody knows Allen Hickman,” said Baker. “He’s just been around for a long time and everybody’s familiar with his paintings, and there are several people in town that have them in their buildings here.”

And he knows his subjects by heart.

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

The show closes February 27.

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