This week's Sepia Saturday post focuses on another of my wife Robin's relatives, Mary Wealthy Kimball (1876-1969), or as she was later known, Mary "Nammie" Morris.
Quotes are from newspaper articles (publication unknown). Apologies for the look of this week's illustrations, they're all photographs of photocopies of photographs!
'"All of my children were grown, and there I was in Deer Lodge with my husband, with nothing much to do but sit in the apartment and stare out the window at Mt. Powell... I saw the mountain and right then decided to paint it.'"
|Glacier Park, Montana|
'Mrs. Morris bought paint and brushes, ripped up some pasteboard boxes to use as canvas, and began to paint. Four months later she returned to Great Falls with a good stack of paintings.'
|El Capitan, Yosemite|
|Near Great Falls, Montana|
'She was a little skeptical as to the artistic value of her work until she discovered the man who had packed her furniture had made off with about half of them.'
|Missouri River, Great Falls Montana|
Following this episode, she studied under a local teacher, and every winter from 1937 to 1946 traveled to California to work with Jack Wilkinson Smith, "a landscape artist and close friend of Charles Russell."
'Smith...gave her Russell's corner of the studio...to work in, when he discovered she had also known Russell.'
'"My mother was an artist," she explained, "and when I was little I used to walk around paint so much I just absorbed it."'
'"Every minute I don't paint, I feel time is lost. I used to play cards and go to parties a lot. But not anymore. If you want to paint, you have to give up things."'
'Mrs. Morris painted 8 hours a day 7 days a week for many years but on doctor's advice has cut this down to about 3 hours a day. "I get all wrapped up in my painting," she said, "and to quit is about like pulling teeth." Her favorite subjects are mountain scenes, though she has a weakness for barns and other farm buildings. But mainly she prefers scenes that are overwhelming. Pictures of cows in the pasture, and the like, are not for her.'
Sometime in the 1930s, her first grandchild, John Martin Morris, dubbed Mary "Nammie" and the name stuck. Her family "never knew exactly when she was going [to paint], as she packed for weeks. Then one morning we would find a note on the breakfast table saying, 'Gone to California.' "
Mary was born in Crawfordsville, Indiana. Sometime before 1893, her father Joseph Freeman Kimball bought a cooperage, but soon went broke in the "panic of '93." The family then moved to St. Louis, where she eventually met her husband Martin Luther Morris.
Mary was one of the founding members of the Women's Republican Club in Great Falls, Montanam where she had moved in 1909. She was also instrumental in organizing some of the city's first PTAs (parent-teacher associations) and the first baby clinic.
'She would much rather paint for men than women. Men select as picture because they want to sit back with their pipe and look at it. Women always have to try to match the picture to the color scheme of a room.'