Sunday, May 20, 2012

Mary Chilton Gray (1888-1969)

Marie L. Chilton Gray, better known as Mary Chilton Gray, was born on November 22, 1888, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Her mother, Georgette P. Gray, was a social worker and superintendent at the Indianapolis Home for Friendless Women. She also worked at the Indianapolis Orphans Asylum and the Indiana Industrial Home for the Blind. Mary Chilton Gray studied off and on at the Herron School of Art between 1902 and 1911. Only thirteen years old in the spring of 1902, she was one of the first students at Herron. Among the other artists of note in that inaugural class were William Merle Allison, Fanny L. Burgheim, Harry Carlisle, Helen Eaton Jacoby, and Tempe Tice. The instructors were William Forsyth and Otto Stark.

Mary Chilton Gray was a painter active in Indianapolis as late as 1930. She exhibited in the Hoosier Salon in 1931 and 1933 and lived in Taos, New Mexico, for ten years as part of an artist's colony that at various times included Georgia O'Keeffe, Ansel Adams, Nicolai Fechin, and D.H. Lawrence. The height of her career came in Denver where she worked for the Colorado Museum of Natural History and the Denver Art Museum as a muralist and illustrator. Her books include three from the Denver Museum of Natural History Popular Series: Fossils: A Story of Rocks and Their Record of Prehistoric Life by Harvey C. Markman (No. 3), Ancient Man in North America by H(annah) M(arie) Wormington (No. 4), and Prehistoric Indians of the Southwest, also by H.M. Wormington (No. 7). You can see photographs of Mary Chilton Gray on the website of the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, here. The photographs show the artist alone, with staff members, and--of special interest--preparing dinosaur murals at the museum. Mary Chilton Gray was married to Robert J. Mendenhall, a commercial artist. She died in Denver on November 9, 1969, at age eighty.

"The Shadow Taos Pueblo," a watercolor by Mary Chilton Gray.
Three illustrations of Southwestern Indian dress and dance.
The cover of Fossils by Harvey C. Markman, with a cover design and illustration by Mary Chilton Gray. Photographs of her murals appear inside.
Finally, a floral still life from about 1942.
Text and captions copyright 2012 Terence E. Hanley

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Lottie Lyons Grow (1884-1981)

Lotta Lyons Grow, nicknamed "Lottie," was born on July 22, 1884, in Hymera, a small town in Sullivan County, Indiana. Her father was a farmer, her mother a homemaker. Lottie graduated from Central Normal College in Danville, Indiana, in 1904 and taught high school in Hymera for five years. She also attended the Herron School of Art and Marian College, both in Indianapolis, and the St. Louis Art Institute. In 1910 Lottie married Walter Smith Grow (1880-?), an osteopathic physician, and afterwards lived in Indianapolis. In 1911, a month after their daughter Bernadine was born, the Grows set off for South America, returning in 1912. Tragedy struck the Grow family in 1932 when Bernadine, a student in Chicago, died at age twenty. I don't wonder that biographical details are missing from the life of Lottie Lyons Grow for the following half decade.

From 1937 to 1944, Lottie wrote a column for Indiana Club Women, and from 1938 to 1946 for Art Digest. She also contributed to News Week. She is supposed to have been the first in Indiana to give art programs on radio and television. During World War II, she served in hospitals in the Pacific Theater and promoted art therapy for wounded servicemen. Like so many Hoosier artists, Lottie painted and sketched in the hills of Brown County south of Indianapolis, where she kept a studio. She also exhibited in the Hoosier Salon. A painter and graphic artist, Lottie created landscapes, floral paintings, and etchings. She also authored three books, at least one of which she illustrated herself. They were: Cameos of Deer-Lick in Brown County Hills (1957), Over the Split-Rail Fence (1971, illustrated by the author), and Beckoning Trails (1979).

Lottie Lyons Grow lived for nearly a century and passed away on November 2, 1981, in Wabash, Indiana. She was ninety-seven years old.

Three works by Indiana artist Lottie Lyons Grow (1884-1981).
Text and captions copyright 2012 Terence E. Hanley