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 Genevieve Goth Graf  (1890 - 1961)

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Lived/Active: Indiana      Known for: floral still-life painting, teacher

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Ad Code: 3
Genevieve Goth Graf
from Auction House Records.
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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
A longtime teacher in the Indianapolis schools, Genevieve Graf took up painting when she and her sister, well-known artist Marie Goth, were spending time at their cabin in Brown County, Indiana.  Saying later that she pursued painting as a hobby in her early 30s, Genevieve studied with her sister, Carl Graf and Varoldo Joseph Cariani.  With these artists, she spent much time hiking through the foliage of the Brown County countryside, which was serving as inspiration to many painters, especially ones pursuing plein-air painting and Impressionism.  Often these treks of Genevieve's and her companions ended with dinner gatherings at Cariani's place, and she and Carl Graf, a permanent resident of Brown County, developed an attraction for each other.  He had built a home out of native stone near Nashville, the major community of Brown County.

During the summers, they lived in this place, which they called Lone Tree Ridge, and the couple became very popular among local residents and visitors.  They lived in Indianapolis during the winters in Genevieve's family home, and she taught at Indianapolis Public School No. 7.   Although, she spent increasing time painting floral still lifes, she devoted much effort to domestic duties, something she found tedious and all too familiar as she had managed the Goth family household earlier because her mother had poor health.

For nearly a decade Genevieve Goth juggled teaching and household chores with painting, and finally had courage enough to submit her artwork for exhibition.  In 1937, her floral paintings were exhibited at the Hoosier Salon, along with her husband's landscapes, and within two years, she, age 49, was invited to have a solo exhibition at an Indianapolis gallery.  Her husband so loved her work that he requested that at least one of them be marked 'not for sale'.  She received good reviews from the critics, and later the same year, had her work included in a Brown County painters' exhibition.  A reviewer for the Indianapolis Star, April 2, 1939, praised her handling of texture and color and wrote that she was "fast coming to the front as a still-life painter." (102)

In 1947, Carl Graf died from influenza.  By that time, she had a distinctive reputation for her painting, having participated in numerous exhibitions and received many awards and positive reviews from critics.  However, she suffered greatly with the loss of her husband, and left Indianapolis to live in Nashville with her sister, Marie.  However, she continued to teach in Indianapolis, commuting until 1956 when she retired.

In Nashville, she spent much time taking care of household chores so that her sister was free to paint, although she also continued painting herself.  She often walked the three miles to the home she had shared with Carl Graf or was driven there by Cariani, who was living in a cabin on Marie Graf's land.

Genevieve Graf died on December 21, 1961.  She had collapsed the day before in the stove-heated kitchen of the place she had first shared with Carl Graf, having returned there to bake some holiday cookies.  Cariani found her there, unconscious, and took her to the Franklin Hospital where she died.

Looking back on her career, a museum curator opined that she was a good painter but could have been much better if she had devoted more time to the easel and less effort to being a caregiver to her family.

Judith Vale Newton and Carol Ann Weiss, Skirting the Issue, pp.97-102

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