Beyond 40 Achievers

Beyond 40 Achiever: Mary “Grandma” Moses

If you took an art class in school, then chances are you’ve heard about Grandma Moses. Anna Mary Robertson Moses, known to many in Greenwich as “Mary,” took up the paintbrush at age 78 when arthritis kept her from embroidery.

I had always wanted to paint,
I just didn’t have time until I was 78.

We know much about her primitive style but I want to share about the woman herself.

Born in September 1860, she began working for neighbors at age 12. At 27, she wed one of her father’s hired hands and they become tenant farmers in Virginia. Mary gave birth to ten children; five died as infants.

She became a widow at 67 and turned her eastern New York farm over to her youngest son and his wife while she stayed on, helping where she could.

Her paintings were first displayed at the local drugstore (it’s about starting!) and after two years, art collector Louis Caldor came through town on holiday. He bought all the paintings, then sought out Grandma Moses to buy more. So remember, it only takes one moment to change your world. If you are taking action on a dream, keep going! You never know who may wander by.

Then for another year, Caldor tried to drum up interest in her work and find gallery space for her. Owners were worried about her age. Caldor finally persuaded Otto Kallir to give her chance. The exhibition – “What a Farm Wife Painted” – was an overwhelming success. The next two decades, Grandma Moses was known and loved. In 1946, sixteen million Grandma Moses Christmas cards sold. In 1953, Time magazine featured her on its cover. In 1955, at age 95, she appeared on the TV show “See It Live!” with Edward R. Murrow.

She passed a few months after her 101st due to hardening of the arteries. Her doctor said, “She just wore out.”

A strange thing is memory, and hope; one looks backward, and the other forward; one is of today, the other of tomorrow. Memory is history recorded in our brain, memory is a painter, it paints pictures of the past and of the day.

A farm girl from eastern new York lived from the onset of the Civil War to the beginning of the Civil Rights Movement and sold a painting in 2006 for $1.2 million. You never know what legacy you may leave so don’t worry about that. Just paint.

I look back on my life like a good day’s work, it was done and I feel satisfied with it. I was happy and contented, I knew nothing better and made the best out of what life offered. And life is what we make it, always has been, always will be.

[vcex_button url=”” title=”Visit Site” style=”graphical” align=”left” color=”#fa8363″ size=”small” target=”_blank” rel=”none”]Many painting and her schoolhouse are at the Bennington Museum[/vcex_button]

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