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 Mara McAfee  (1929 - 1984)

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Lived/Active: New York/California      Known for: illustrator, portrait, genre

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This biography from the Archives of AskART:
The following is submitted by Peter L, Bustetter, first cousin of Mara McAfee.

Mara McAfee 1929 - 1984

Born in Beverly Hills, California, Mara McAfee attended local schools through third year of high school. She graduated in 1947 from Wichita High School in Wichita, Kansas and then attended the University of Minnesota 1947 - 1949. From 1950 to 1955, she was a film and stage actress, dancer in Las Vegas and on the Borscht Belt circuit. She trained in Los Angeles at the Chouinard Art Institute, and then moved to New York in 1955 and studied at the Art Students League with Frank Mason. She also studied in Italy.

Her early Pop Art was part of the exhibit, "Pop Goes the Easel" that included artists, Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Wayne Thiebaud, and Jim Dine.

She was known for illustrations and portraiture and did book cover illustrations for Pocket Books, Fawcett Publications, Popular Library, Avon, Berkeley, and Random House. Her magazine illustrations were featured in Redbook, Playboy, Oui, Good Housekeeping, MS., Esquire, Viva, Parade, American Journal of Nursing, and National Lampoon.

She was a member of the Society of Illustrators, New York, and she was represented by agent Jeff Lavaty, New York and the Uptown Gallery, New York.

Publications featuring her work include the Society of Illustrators annual Illustrators, editions numbered 19 through 26. 1981 Pocket Books, a division of Simon & Schuster published "The Art of Mara McAfee", which featured 25 of her illustrations.

She had an untimely death in 1984. At that time she resided at 345 E 86th Street New York but came to California to be with her family over the 1983 Christmas holidays. She died in Century City Hospital in Los Angeles in January of 1984 after an eight-year fight against a very aggressive cancer. Her best work was done during this period and few people knew of her illness.

Her work is in the collections of The Society of Illustrators, Houston Museum of Contemporary Art, Oakland Art Museum and Albright Knox Museum.
An illustrator whose realist style was similar to that of Norman Rockwell, Mara McAfee, however, was a painter of irreverent subjects who often made fun of people and their lives in the present.

Her first illustrations were for "Playboy" magazine. She was also a talented portraitist and exhibited her portraits at the Society of Illustrators. Her work won awards from the New York Art Directors Club, the American Institute of Graphic Arts, and the Society of Publication Designers.

Walt Reed, "The Illustrator in America, 1860-2000"

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