Ad Code: 4
from Auction House Records.
"Best of the Earth Cannot Be Told"
Artwork images are copyright of the artist or assignee
|Biography from Selker Fine Art:|
|Chicago artist and illustrator Mary Gehr was locally and nationally
renowned for her positive influence on her community, on the art world,
and in the sphere of children’s illustrating.|
Gehr was born in
Chicago around 1910. She attended Highland Park High School and
Smith College before leaving school to pursue a love of dancing.
She toured as an ingénue with the Chicago Opera Ballet for four years,
spent a summer with the Schubert Light Opera Company, and worked with
the Page-Stone Ballet Company for three years. Upon the death of
her father, Gehr quit dance and theater and returned to Chicago to work
in advertising. To aid her in her job, she began attending school
at the Art Institute of Chicago. She realized immediately that
she wanted to pursue art and children’s illustration as a full-time
career. Painting studies with Paul Weighardt and lithography
studies with Max Kahn were extremely important to her development as an
Over her long and fruitful career, Gehr had more than
fifty one-woman shows, most in the Midwest, San Francisco area, and
Greece. She traveled for years at a time, gathering materials and
techniques that deeply influenced her art. During the time
between the late forties and early seventies, she illustrated more than
two dozen books, most published in Chicago.
Gehr passed away in
November 1997. She was 87 years old. She left behind
extensive private and public collections of her art and children’s
illustrations. She also left many of her personal papers,
sketches, and artwork to the Newberry Library in Chicago.
Gehr, much of her public and private life were one and the same.
She was well known for many of the activities that she engaged in when
she was not painting, drawing, or illustrating. The most
important of these was probably the gardens that she designed and
maintained at her home.
Gehr won several awards and much
recognition for her garden at her home in the Old Town neighborhood of
Chicago, including Chicago’s Citywide Garden Contest for two
years. For a number of years, her home and garden were on many
area gardening association tours. She was featured in the Chicago Tribune and the Chicago Sun Times
on multiple occasions, often sharing her opinions on good gardening
books and practice, design, garden shows, and her own garden, which she
thought of as a work in progress.
A lively social life also
straddled her public and private worlds. Gehr and her husband,
studio owner Bert Ray, entertained a great deal and were friends with
many well known Chicagoans. The two were often pictured in the
society pages, with popular studio owners, politicians, and even the
former Chicago mayor, Richard M. Daley. Dozens of letters in the
Newberry collection illustrate how popular and sought after invitations
to parties thrown by the Ray’s were.
The Dominican University website http://domin.dom.edu/students/hubeeliz/753/MaryGehrBiography.html
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