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 Arlene Hooker Fay  (1937 - 2001)

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Lived/Active: Montana      Known for: portrait and Indian figure painting

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Ad Code: 3
Arlene Hooker Fay
from Auction House Records.
Many Feathers
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following, courtesy of Mary Scriver, is from the Great Falls Tribune, Friday August 10, 2001:

Arlene Hooker Fay was born in Great Falls on Nov. 21, 1933, to William and
Esther Hooker.  She lived her first five years on a farm outside Highwood,
before moving to Great Falls.  Arlene contracted polio in August, 1948, just before her sophomore year and was confined to a wheelchair ever since. She graduated from Great Falls High School in 1951, taking classes on the first floor, as there was no elevator.

She worked as a medical secretary for a year and for two years as a secretary with the child welfare division of the Cascade County Welfare office, while painting portraits evenings and weekends.

Arlene married Thomas M. Fay on Sept. 17, 1955, while he was stationed in Montana serving in the Air Force.  He was transferred to Sacramento for a year and a half after which they returned to Montana.  After the birth of their second child, they moved to Bozeman where they lived for four years while Tom went to college.  She took on various jobs (baby-sitting, telephone solicitation, sewing and alterations, and painting children's portraits.)

Their third child was born in Cut Bank where they lived for two years while Tom taught high school in Browning.  Then they moved into Browning for two years and to Conrad for three years, where she continued her painting, wrote a weekly article for the newspaper, and gave piano lessons.  Tom taught for a year in Jordan and then worked for Consolidated Freightways in Great Falls from 1971 until his retirement in 1995.  During that time Arlene's art career progressed and she has had many articles in the Tribune, other Montana newspapers and national art magazines.

Unable to volunteer in the community, she donated much art to be sold for various charities including BASH (Building a Scholastic Heritage) for the College of Great Falls, the Gift of Life, Big Brothers and Sisters, St. Thomas Children's Home, the C.M. Russell Museum, the Ad Club for their scholarship program and food bank drive, and which helped get the Crimestoppers program started in Montana.

Her paintings always made near top dollar at various auctions in the Northwest as did her quick draws.  She won "Best of Show" awards at every major Northwest auction, including the C.M. Russell Auction which she exhibited in every year except the first year.  A review in Southwest Art magazine of a book published on all the art auctions in the Northwest said it was obvious that A. Hooker Fay, Ace Powell and C.M. Russell were the artists most accepted into the Northwest auctions.

Her humor was renowned, and she was sought after for roasts for charities
and seminars.  She also was famous for her "Hookerisms" (many times she was referred to as the Erma Bombeck of the art world).

In recent years she had experienced pain and rapidly increasing weakness from post-polio syndrome.

Arlene is survived by her husband Tom, daughter Lori of Great Falls, sons Tom Jr. of Missoula, William and daughter-in-law Mary Beth of Colorado Springs, one grandson, Cory of Great Falls, and two sisters, Connie Cordera of Gig Harbor, WA, and Caryl Ward of Great Falls.  A brother, William, has died.

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following is from Mary Scriver, wife of artist Bob Scriver:

I'm sad to have to tell you that this artist died this week (August 2001).  She has been a highly skilled pastel artist specializing in children and mothers, particularly Blackfeet, for many decades here in Montana, and was often a star and award winner at the C.M. Russell Auction and other shows.

Crippled by polio during her girlhood on a Montana ranch, this beautiful blonde woman nevertheless married, had children, and raised them from her wheelchair.

She was an award-winning member of the Northwest Rendezvous Group, a three-time People's Choice winner at the C.M. Russell Auction, and a Best of Show winner at the same event.

A second note from Mary Scriver:

I just got back to Valier from her funeral in Great Falls.  She had planned her funeral and left the directions to her minister, even designating who should speak.  Her special concern was to make sure everyone understood why she committed suicide.  It was post-polio syndrome and would have taken her back to total paralysis plus a lot of pain.  She didn't say much about the burden on her family, but her husband has clearly aged a lot -- a nursing home would have been the next step and it would have stripped the family of its savings.

Anyway, her parting shot was that after her death she would either be able to dance and ride a horse again (she had been a very physical girl until age 14 when the polio hit -- so much so that she could dance on the top edge of the wooden fence around their yard) and run across the prairie --or she would be seating in the eternal smoking section. (She was always trying to quit smoking!)

Most striking was the fact that this was a strong vital woman who had designated a half-dozen other strong vital women to speak at her funeral.  The minister was a long-time male friend and another long-time male friend, an extraordinary person! played a wooden flute while beating the time with a bell anklet.

She was a memorable person and a fine artist.

This biography from the Archives of AskART:
Arlene had a sister, Carol Hooker.  Arlene visited the polio center in Warm Springs, Georgia for treatments and while there made friends with a local family, last name Ward.  She became good friends with Render Ward, his wife Katherine and his brother Floyd.  When Floyd met Arlene's sister Carol there was quite an attraction and the two were later married.  Arlene spent time with Katherine in her home and decided to do a piece of art especially for Katherine.  Katherine always decorated her house and yards in an oriental theme so Arlene created a portrait of an oriental gentleman, perhaps a monk.  It is believed to be oil pastels. The detail is amazing and the fact that is not her usual subject theme is very special.

Information provided by George M. Byrd

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