More from Mt. Carmel

The following images were sent to me by the Sisters of Charity. The photographs are not good quality.

Polar Bear

The title is mine. It came without one. When I posted this on my Facebook for family and friends to see, many people thought they saw a bear. I can agree with that interpretation. What do you think? I do think at the very least, it is an animal. The animal appears to be splayed out- perhaps in turmoil. Orange is not a color usually associated with the arctic or its natural habitat. Perhaps it has stumbled into a fire…the charcoal grey and black are like a web, fence or entrapment.

Fire and ice.

I assume this was painted in the mid to late 1960s. It appears to be acrylic, and like most others of this time period, are in large, square format, unframed.

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I’ve hit the jackpot with Craiglist!

Always follow your hunches!  When I found out my aunt had produced all this artwork 50 years ago, I had no idea how I might begin tracking it all down. On a lark, I posted an add in the Dubuqe Iowa category of Craiglist and I got a hit! A good one!

After a few emails back and forth a very nice lady (who shall remain nameless until I get her permission) told me her dad had a painting by a nun, acquired around 1966. She confirmed it was large and very modern. A few days later, I got an email saying, “It’s by her!”

I mean, what are the chances of that?!?! I feel my aunt is guiding me in this quest. This is a blessing beyond words.

I’ll post an image as soon as she sends one to me, and if they give me permission to post it. It is after all, their painting, not mine.  But I am so excited to actually connect with a real human being- someone who has a part of my aunt with them.  How cool is this? I am just thrilled beyond words! Stay tuned!

 

Do you have a painting by a nun?

Gee, you might and not even know it! If you live in Iowa, particularly Dubuque Iowa, and are an art aficionado with a modern painting on your wall, you just might!

For my family’s benefit, I’ve been posting what I am finding on Flickr. This gallery is public. Until I get this blog tweaked the way I want, you can view the whole shebang here and get a sense of her oeuvre, or what I know of it, as of March, 2011.

I am reaching out to the Word Wide Web, trying to track down watercolors, sketches, pen and inks, oils and acrylics that my aunt, Sister Mary James Ann, B.V.M. painted in the 1940s through 1970s. Her earlier work started off modern traditional, and typically religious in subject, her later work was much more modern abstract and secular, or so it would appear.

Some of the titles I am looking for are referenced in the article below written in Feb. 1960:

Pioneer Angelus (large mural) religious
Mont St. Michaels (oil) religious
Candles of Chartres (oil) religious
Night-West Berlin (ink) secular

European Sketches
Article in Feb. 1960 referencing above listed work

Ecce Homo 1953

I recently got a copy of my aunt’s CV, submitted to West Valley College for employment, and the CV references where some of her work is placed in permanent collection.  I immediately sent out inquiries, and the first to return an answer was the Sioux City Art Center, who shared this award wining watercolor my aunt painted and exhibited in 1953.

Ecce Homo, 1953

Below is the kind email I received from Todd Behrens, curator. I am so grateful and indebted for this information:

Ms. Walfred,
Your aunt’s painting remains part of the Sioux City Art Center’s permanent collection. Attached is a reasonably decent jpg of Ecce Homo. We do indeed list Sister Mary James, Ann, B.V.M. as the First Prize Winner of the 9th Annual Iowa Watercolor Show in 1953, which came with a $100 prize. This exhibition opened at the Sioux City Art Center on November 5 and included 40 paintings by 28 different artists. After it was exhibited at the Sioux City Art Center, it appears that the show continued to Sanford Museum in Cherokee, Cedar Falls Art Gallery, the Woman’s Club of Hampton, Dubuque Art Association, Grinnell College, Younkers in Des Moines, Memorial Union in Ames and the Blandon Memorial Gallery in Fort Dodge.
Ecce Homo measures 28.5 x 21 inches and is the only work by your aunt that was included in the 1953 watercolor exhibition and the only work by her in our collection. It is not dated, but we assume it was created in 1953 (all entries had to have been created between 1951 and 1953). Her work was purchased by funds donated by the Sioux City Woman’s Club, which helped organize the exhibition.
During this time, she is continually listed as “Sister Mary James Ann, B.V.M.” This includes promotional material for her one person exhibition at the Sioux City Art Center, which occurred October 14 through November 6, 1954. A small article in a local paper on her show, with no author listed, written during the exhibition, “Paintings of Nun in Exhibition at Art Center here,” includes the following:
Sister Ann has exhibited widely in Iowa shows and her work also has appeared in national exhibitions. Her honors include first prizes in watercolor in the Northeast Iowa Artists’ show at Cedar Falls and the Iowa watercolor show in Sioux City in 1953.
Her work is marked with boldness of color, simplicity of form and richness of idea. The casual observer may find himself puzzled with the extreme stylistic variations in her work which typify the experimental approach used by many leading painters of today. Sister Ann expresses herself by new means discovered by herself alone.
Her most noteworthy examples are found in the watercolor medium. Two strong paintings, similar in subject matter, represent her interest in transparent watercolor. A small painting entitled Fruit, and a larger one entitled Juicy Fruit are fine examples of her remarkable control of wet transparent watercolor worked in a brilliant medium.
Excellent in designed structure is her whimsical Campus Corner. More academic than many in the show is her Composition, a realistic work, strong in design and painted in casein.
Many of her paintings in the show contain either definite religious ideas or possess a spiritual quality akin to her religious beliefs. The large casein, The Christ, is an excellent example of a complete statement made possible by a minimum of detail.
This exhibition was on view simultaneously with the 10th Annual Iowa Watercolor Show, for which your aunt served as one of the jurors.
Thanks very much for the curriculum vitae. It will be a helpful addition to our artist file.
Todd Behrens, Curator