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An example of work by Ruth Appeldoorn Mead
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|This biography from the Archives of AskART:|
|RUTH APPELDOORN MEAD|
Known for Coastal Scenes, Flower Arrangements
Without Ruth Mead there would be no Martha’s Vineyard Art Association
or Old Sculpin Gallery today! Ruth and her family began summering
on the Vineyard in 1927 as part of a family tradition. In 1933
Ruth and several friends began painting together in front of a rented
shack on the Edgartown harbor, across from the boat-building shop of
Manuel Swartz Roberts. In 1934 they founded the Martha’s Vineyard Art
Association. They had no thoughts of selling their work; they
just wanted to paint together and learn from each other.
"If you can paint in watercolor, you can paint," she would say. Ruth
painted in a semi-abstract style in watercolors and oils. Her
favorite themes were sail-filled harbors, scenes of Gay Head, and
arrangements of flowers grown in her own garden. She did her
first painting at 12, graduated from the Art Institute of Chicago, and
earned her Masters Degree at the University of Chicago.
During her long career, she taught for 36 years in the Illinois public
schools, conducted children’s classes at the Martha's Vineyard Art
Association from its beginning, and studied with Joseph Albers and Hans
Hofmann. As part of the early years of abstraction in America she
also painted with Vaclav Vytlacil and Francis Chapin. She often
said contemporary and realistic art belong together. "Learning to
appreciate distortion is like learning to appreciate olives and clams."
In 1953, Manuel Swartz decided he had had enough of boat building and
offered to sell his distinctive building to the Art Association. By
this time Ruth and her group had outgrown another studio on North Water
Street, and she and her friends raised several thousand dollars to buy
the building. Manuel kindly lowered his price so the Association could
afford it. In 1954, the Martha’s Vineyard Art Association incorporated
and bought the building we know as the Old Sculpin Gallery. It was named after Manuel, the "old sculpin" whose
endearing nickname was that of a worthless fish caught in the waters
off the Vineyard.
Ruth Mead’s teaching, lively paintings, and her vision and leadership
set a high standard for the arts on the Vineyard that continues with
the work of the Martha's Vineyard Art Association today.
Art Institute of Chicago
University of Chicago
Studied with Joseph Albers and Hans Hofmann
Illinois public schools (36 years!)
Martha’s Vineyard Art Association
- From the Old Scuplin Gallery, Edgertown Mass.
Submitted January 2006 by Scott Wilder, Art Collector and Researcher, specializing in Midwestern artists
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