Molly spent the winter putting the finishing touches on her new biography: The Flower Diary of Mary Hiester Reid: in Which a Painter Paints Her Marriage. The manuscript is with her agent, Alexa Stark.
This extraordinary 19th-century Canadian-American artist managed both a marriage and a painting career, sojourning in Paris and Spain, painting in the Catskills, and settling in Toronto. Fabulously productive, she showed at all the major Expositions during her lifetime (1854-1921). On her deathbed, she willed her husband to her younger rival painter friend.
How did this woman fly under the social radar and still produce hundreds of sumptuous still life and landscape paintings? And how come we don’t know about her? She kept minute logs of the titles and prices of her work–and wrote jaunty travel pieces–but there’s not a single page of a written journal.
Instead, the paintings become a hidden visual diary of her life, full of triumphs and compromises–lots of them.
The Flower Diary of Mary Hiester Reid unfolds the subjects of these paintings in triangles of three roses, three trees, three vases, three trajectories, ever recombining with Mary, her husband, the painter and architect George Reid, and her friend-rival who became his second wife, the painter and printmaker Mary Evelyn Wrinch.
Even in the 21st century it isn’t easy to be a married artist. We all need our role models for how–and how not–to do it. The Flower Diary of Mary Hiester Reid is a tale of then for our lives of now.
Molly’s Events begin again with March at the 92 St Y and April at the West Chester Poetry Conference.