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09/07/2022 08:30 AM

Ellen Gaube: White Elephant Sale for Essex Art Association

What to do with a white elephant? Once perhaps it was a family treasure, but now it is something too good to throw away and too awkward to keep.

The Essex Art Association wants to help. The group is looking for donations for its white elephant sale on Saturday, Oct. 1 and Sunday, Oct. 2 from noon to 4 p.m.

Donations to the sale will be accepted on Sunday, Sept. 18 and Monday, Sept. 19 from noon to 4 p.m. and on Thursday, Sept. 29 from 4 to 7 p.m..

Both intake and the sale itself will be at the Essex Art Association gallery at 10 North Main Street in Essex.

Ellen Gaube, a board member of the association who is in charge of the sale, says the group needs art, crafts, sculpture, even art books and art supplies.

The proceeds from the sale will be used for much needed repairs to the association’s building in Essex.

“We need to redo the floor, strip it. There are gutter problems outside; we have to scrape the exterior and interior and the trim. There are so many coats of paint on it that we need to take it down to the bare wood,” Ellen explains.

The art association has some 200 members not only from towns along the Shoreline, but from other areas of Connecticut as well as from other states. Flipping through the membership list, Ellen points out members from Rhode Island, New Jersey, and Florida.

Ellen, who lives in Deep River, joined the art association after moving here six years ago. “I did it as a way of making friends,” she says.

Her own art takes many forms, with inspiration for all coming from her love of the natural world. “I like to capture nature in a different way,” she says. The heading on her web site,, expresses her artistic philosophy: Natural Simplicity Unveiled.

She paints and does graphite drawings and photography, both fine art photographs and abstract photographs that she creates by transforming images using computer programs. She once owned a Nikon D70 camera, but now takes her pictures with an iPhone.

She also creates designs that can be used on everything from fabrics and place mats to wallpaper. Even her tablet and cell phone have covers in fabrics she created. Ellen designs the fabrics on the computer and sells them using the name of her business, Three Plums Studio, through an online site, She chose the name Three Plums because her maiden name, of Czech origin, was Slivka, which means plum. As for the number three, she has two sisters.

Ellen has exhibited widely at galleries in Connecticut and won awards for her work, among them recognition by both the New England and American societies of botanical artists and the Audubon Society.

According to Ellen, art was her first love. She recalls sitting on her father’s lap drawing pictures as a small child. But when it came to school, art was not what Ellen studied. She graduated from the Albany School of Pharmacy and spent 30 years as a hospital pharmacist before retiring.

When she started painting seriously, she began to take courses at the Lyme Academy of Fine Arts, first one course at a time, then two courses, then as a part time student, and finally full time, earning her bachelor of fine arts.

“I adore that school,” she says

Ellen grew up in Pennsylvania and attributes her love of gardening to working in the garden with her grandmother.

“I liked it better than helping with housework,” she says. “My grandmother smiled when she was gardening. Otherwise, she was too busy, with washing, ironing, sewing, knitting.”

Ellen recalls her grandmother knit sweaters for the three girls every year for school and all their clothing was sewn at home.

She did her own sewing from scraps in her grandmother’s rag bag, creating doll clothes. “I had the best dressed Barbie in the neighborhood,” she says.

Before moving to Deep River, Ellen and her husband Gary lived in Woodstock, where she had a horse. She had always wanted to ride and when she was 31 years old, she bought her first horse and took riding lessons.

She has owned several horses but when she and Gary moved to Deep River, her horse could not come. She tried with no success to give the animal away but then the buyers of her house offered to adopt the horse and even put a clause to that effect in the sale contract.

“It was a win-win,” Ellen recalls. She still has two cats and a dog.

Ellen is eager for more people in the community to know about the Essex Art Association. “We need more outreach” she says. “I want to get the word out about our gallery. It is a really nice little gallery and I want more people to know about it.”