Lockport Union-Sun & Journal Online

April 14, 2014

MONKEYING AROUND

By HOWARD BALABAN howard.balaban@lockportjournal.com
Lockport Union-Sun & Journal

Lockport Union-Sun & Journal — LYNDONVILLE — Constance Maines graduated from Lyndonville Central School in 1964, and has remained friends with Pat Chapple Wright, a Class of ‘62 grad, since that time.

Both women have gone on to successful careers. Maines is now enjoying retirement in her hometown after many years spent as a mental health care professional in Massachusetts, and she now spends her leisure time doing what she loves — painting.

Wright, meanwhile, has become one of the most well regarded primatologists in the world. Her specialty is lemurs, and she is the founder of a research facility on the African island of Madagascar called the Institute for the Conservation of Tropical Environments and Centre ValBio. Wright “spearheaded an integrated conservation and development project that, in 1991, led to the establishment of Ranomafana National Park.”

Earlier this month, the IMAX 3-D documentary “Island of Lemurs: Madagascar” was released in select theaters, and it prominently featured Wright.

So where does Maines fit into the story?

“Pat was looking at artists to do something with the entrance to the Madagascar facility,” Maines said. The facility, she noted, was originally supposed to feature a mural depicting native wildlife, but she told her friend that would be a bad idea.

“I thought why not do portraits?” Maines recalled. “That way people could admire each individual lemur in a more natural setting hanging out with its family.” She said a mural would feature too much and take away from the uniqueness of one of the more interesting members of the primate family.

To date, Maines has painted 10 lemur portraits that are already on display in the lobby of the Madagascar research center where her friend is based. Two more will be sent out soon, and another is in the process of being made.

“What’s wonderful about lemurs is the fact that they have brains, they have individuality,” Maines said. “Plus, people relate better with paintings at an eye-to-eye level.”

Showing off a painting of a lemur, Maines said, “Just look at the humanness of her.”

Maines said she has enjoyed painting lemurs for Wright because of that reason.

“I like getting a feel for a person with emotions when I do a portrait,” she said. Noting that lemurs are only found on Madagascar and have evolved over millions of years, Maines added that there are so many to choose from, and she said she looked forward to helping Wright out more in the future with more paintings.