Adele Herter Seronde of Sedona, Ariz., painter, poet, author of books, and community activist, died peacefully at her home on April 16, 2019, surrounded by her family. She was 93. Her husband, Dr. Joseph Seronde, passed away in the year 2000, but she is survived by their five children, 13 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. She had lived in Sedona since 1982.
Adele was born in Manchester, Mass., in 1925. She was the daughter of Christian A. Herter, 59th governor of the commonwealth of Massachusetts and secretary of state under President Dwight D. Eisenhower. By age 5, she was avidly sketching horses and people and took inspiration from her grandparents, Albert and Adele Herter, both of them painters and gardeners with a deep love of nature. She attended Bennington College, where the poet Theodore Roethke kindled her love of poetry with his “I learn by going where I have to go.” She studied with prominent artists Karl Knaths, also at Bennington, and later with Hans Hoffman in New York City, resonating with their love of color and abstract form grounded in nature.
As a lifelong painter, she was strongly influenced by Impressionism and Abstract Expressionism. Her evocative paintings featured landscapes and seascapes, both vast and intimate, and the gardens and bouquets she loved. Throughout her life, she was devoted to the healing power that the arts can have on the individual and the community, stating: “I believe that art has the miraculous power of beauty which inundates and transforms both the creator and the world.”
Her life was a reflection of this profound love of beauty, made visible through her art, her writings and her humanitarian endeavors. Her work has been exhibited at the Decordova Museum in Lincoln, Mass., and in numerous galleries, notably the Weeden and Nova galleries in Boston, the Wingspread in Northeast Harbor, the Vigna Nuova in Florence, Italy, and the Goldenstein Gallery in Sedona, Ariz.
In the late 1960s, she served as co-director for visual arts for “Summerthing,” the mayor of Boston’s neighborhood arts festival, and worked with local artists to create murals throughout the city. She saw gardens as a metaphor for healing both self and community and founded the Christian A. Herter Center in Allston, Mass., to promote community gardens, environmental arts and alternative technologies in the Boston area.
During the 1980s, she moved to Arizona and worked with the International Friends of Transformative Art to promote the spiritual role of the arts; and in 1994, she founded Gardens for Humanity to help catalyze gardens in schools, hospitals and urban areas.
She was the author of 11 books including “Ask a Daffodil,” an illustrated book of poetry designed to help children learn to read; “All My Loves and Deaths,” one of her books of poetry that won a bronze medal from the Reader’s Favorite Book Awards; and “Our Sacred Garden, The Living Earth” — an endeavor to “awaken the visionary in us” and heal our relationship with the Earth. Her final two books will be published posthumously: “Easter Canticles,” a collection of haikus and sketches completed in the month prior to her passing; and “Pegasus on Fire: Art, Nature and Spirit in Education,” which offers a vision of holistic education for a rapidly changing world.
A memorial gathering of family and friends to celebrate Adele’s life was held at the Creative Life Center in Sedona, Ariz., on May 17, 2019. Another gathering will be held at the Herter Park in Allston, Mass., on June 15, 2019, from 3-5 p.m.