In early 2000 when Armand was now 80, Ben Perrin had just opened Mercury Head Gallery on Fulton Street in Merizon’s old neighborhood. It wasn’t long before Perrin invited Armand to bring some work to the gallery. As Perrin tells it, “One day he came walking in the gallery and he had a painting under his arm. I was shocked. I hung it on the wall and it sold within a week. I invited him to bring in more. That started the ball rolling. I think he hadn’t been showing anywhere for quite some time so he was excited to be back in the game, back to his old neighborhood. You know, here was some history. He said, ‘now I’ve come full circle.’

“Sometimes Chantal would drop him off here. This neighborhood was a great spot for him because he had the Buffalo Traders down the street to get his cigars, Van’s Pastry across the street to get donuts, and then he could stop down here to talk about art” (Olson/Zandstra Interview of Ben Perrin, 10-22-12).

Armand’s painful rheumatoid arthritis no longer allowed him to stand and paint in his studio. He now worked in the farmhouse living room sitting in a comfortable easy chair under a floor lamp, an end table holding his paints and brushes and his stereo system softly playing the music of Mozart and Beethoven. He began experiencing more frequent bouts of depression and was losing his drive to live and paint. Betty worried.

Zandstra Interview, 6-16-08

Oh, I’ve been for the last few years I’ve been throwing a tremendous percentage of my work away. Destroying it. To me, it no longer makes any sense to paint pictures. Time is too short, Muriel. 

Olson/Zandstra Interview of Larry Gerbens, 10-22-12

Dr. Gerbens recalls: “I knew what he had but I had a retina specialist take a look, and the diagnosis was “end stage, dry, age related macular degeneration.”

In 2004 a professional Hollywood writer, Jennifer Dornbush, happened to meet him and proposed to co-produce a documentary about his life and art. Armand agreed.

In September of 2005, Armand and Betty found themselves sitting in a packed house in Bytwerk Theater at Calvin College watching his story ARMAND, the documentary he had agreed to the previous year, being premiered. He was thrilled and resumed painting with even more determination.

This lasted only a short time as a few months later his eldest daughter Michele died, and in 2009 his beloved wife, Betty, passed away after 59 years of marriage. Shortly after her death Armand, no longer able to live alone, moved in with his daughter, René, and her husband Dave Ludema, who lovingly cared for him until a few months before he died. At eighty-nine, still painting in his chair and inspired to have his most recent work “In D Minor” accepted for Grand Rapids’ international art competition “Art Prize 2010,” he more than ever listened to the cadences of Beethoven’s sonatas, reminding himself that Beethoven composed some of his greatest works when he was deaf.

As his time was closing in he said, “I hope I can leave something that’s not just interesting or challenging but something that will give people a lift, instilling on the one hand joy and on the other hand reverence.” Armand carried on with reflective melancholy, hoping that while he was losing his sight, he would never lose his vision.

Still sketching on his sketch pad in the hospice facility, in April 2010, a month after turning ninety, he left his legacy to us.