Wendy Caldwell Maloney might have spent more time on Park’s athletic fields than she did in its classrooms. In 2005, she was inducted into the School’s Sports Hall of Fame. These days she plays a mean game of tennis, but it is in the art world where Maloney has made her mark professionally.
“I had enough injuries in high school that I decided I’d better not count on my body,” Maloney says. “I was going to count on the art ‘thing’.”
Maloney went to Alfred University’s School of Art and Design, planning to concentrate in ceramics. She also took up drawing, photography, and printmaking. After graduation, she returned to Buffalo and worked retouching prints in a photo lab. She studied graphic design at Villa Maria College for a semester to get her start in that field. She worked at Printing Prep for 11 years doing typesetting and design work.
Maloney took a professional break in 1990, when her son, Colin, was born. Then, she and a friend from Alfred started their own graphic design business, Current Design. Her partner left the business after a couple of years, leaving Maloney to “wear all the hats.” She looks back on it as a great growth experience, but after a decade or so, her aspirations grew in another direction.
In 2001, she was visiting a friend in New England who was a painter and “I kept falling in love with the things she was doing. ‘I want to do that. I want to get back to my fine art,’” Maloney said.
After returning home, she studied with artist Margaret Martin. Martin was renowned not only in Buffalo but throughout the United States as a painter and the author of a book called No More Wishy-Washy Watercolor. Maloney took to the medium quickly.
“She helped me fall in love with color,” Maloney says of her teacher. “Within a year I was showing and selling my work. I had pretty good success right away.”
One of her first big shows was at Park. For the past 12 years Maloney has been showing and selling work at various shows and galleries across Western New York, including the Albright-Knox Art Gallery.
Maloney paints almost exclusively in watercolor, a medium that she says is quite challenging. Many of her paintings depict nature.
“I love the outdoors,” she says. “Park was part of that. I see beauty in the design and patterns in nature. I love color and I love music. And movement. I paint with those things in mind.”
Attending Park is a well-established pattern in Maloney’s family. Her sister (Valerie ’74), her father (Perry ’47), her paternal grandmother (Susan Dyett ’24), her son, and several cousins attended the School, and her mother (Rosemary) worked in the Development Office for many years.
Maloney recalls two adults from the School who were particularly influential. One was her lacrosse coach, Taddy Taylor Dann ’47.
“I played nine or ten different sports,” Maloney says. “My favorites were field hockey and lacrosse. Taddy Dann started a girls lacrosse team my junior year and I loved it. I co-captained the team. Taddy nominated me to the Sports Hall of Fame. That was really an honor coming from her. She had such a positive attitude – ‘everybody can learn how to do it, just jump in.’ She is the essence of Park.”
Then there was Ron Miller, her ceramics teacher in Upper School.
“He was a serious potter,” Maloney recalls. “My friend Weez (Louisa Herrick Crosby) and I would go to the art room and we’d throw pots. Lots of pots. We were not exceptional by any means. But Mr. Miller would throw big urns, with big gorgeous handles.
“One day we were falling in love with our own work a little bit too much. Mr. Miller picked up one of his pieces that was not yet fired. It was probably a foot and a half tall. He walked over to us and said, ‘You know, if you’re really good at something, you can do it again. Nothing is so precious,’ and he let go of it and it just crashed to the floor.
“It was shocking at the moment, but it taught me a lesson: to get really good at your skills. He inspired me to follow my abilities and my dreams.”
Maloney feels she was able to form bonds with her teachers that might not have been possible at other schools.
“One of the great things about Park was that we, as students, were invited and encouraged to have conversations with adults,” she says. “They weren’t at arm's length; they were right there sitting next to you at lunch. You felt so comfortable and so supported. That, and also the smaller class sizes, gave us the confidence to go out into the world as adults.”
Maloney continues to make her mark as an adult through her art. Her enthusiasm, however, is almost childlike. “My work is about seeing my world and saying, ‘Let me take your hand and come with me and look at this.’”