Are you a fan of American folk art?
If so, you may know the artist whose passing we lament on December 13.
Need a hint? Take a look:
The sweetly simplistic style of Anna Mary Robertson Moses, better known to all as Grandma Moses, is nearly unmistakable. And her subject matter is as dear to this farmgirl’s heart as that of Laura Ingalls Wilder.
A picture speaks a thousand words, as the saying goes, and Grandma Moses proved it to be true. With the clarity of her almost childlike imagery, she preserved the rural arts of maple sugaring, soap-making, haying, quilting, and Apple Butter Making (below), to name a few.
She once said, “I’ll get an inspiration and start painting; then I’ll forget everything, everything except how things used to be and how to paint it so people will know how we used to live.”
“In person, Grandma Moses charmed wherever she went,” read her obituary in the New York Times. “A tiny, lively woman with mischievous gray eyes and a quick wit, she could be sharp-tongued with a sycophant and stern with an errant grandchild. Cheerful, as a cricket, even in her last years, she continued to be keenly observant of all that went on around her. Until her last birthday, September 7, she rarely failed to do a little painting every day.”
Talk about an inspiration!
Perhaps what fascinates me most about the iconic Grandma Moses, though, is the fact that she didn’t begin painting until she was 76 years old!
She took up a paint brush, she said, because she could no longer wield her embroidery needle as a result of arthritis. “She had been too busy all her life to bear the thought of being idle,” reported the Times.
Grandma Moses died on this day in 1961 at the ripe ol’ age of 101.
To learn more about her and enjoy a bountiful sampling of her paintings, I recommend the out-of-print book Grandma Moses by Otto Kallir, the renowned art dealer who helped popularize Moses’ work. It even includes a summary of her life, handwritten in her own words.