I live in a very rural part of the country, a place that is close to Vermont and has all the poverty and none of the charm, well at least not that cleaned up New England kind of charm. Having lived on both sides of the state border, I prefer it here. It feels more real. And it seems, I am not alone. Quite a few artists have spent time in and around Washington County, New York.
Elizabeth Murray used to live here (part time), first in Salem and later in Granville. I didn’t know her, but I did get to meet her at a gathering at the house of another artist, Harry Orlyk. Turns out we both spent some time at Mills College. These coincidences interest me because I do feel that there are these personal vortexes, places where people of your tribe congregate. Living as I do in a town of 800 people, it is remarkable that I meet anyone, but something drew me here, and I can’t help but think that other artists found their way here for the same reason. As Murray proves, we don’t all paint farms.
About Elizabeth Murray excerpted from Wikipedia:
Elizabeth Murray was born in Chicago, Illinois, United States. Murray graduated from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 1958-1962. She earned her Master of Fine Arts degree from Mills College in 1964. As a student, she was influenced by painters ranging from Cezanne to Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns.
In 1967, Murray moved to New York, and first exhibited in 1971 in the Whitney Museum of American Art Annual Exhibition. One of her first mature works included “Children Meeting,” 1978 (now in the permanent collection of the Whitney Museum, New York), an oil on canvas painting evoking human characteristics, personalities, or pure feeling through an interaction of non-figurative shapes, colour and lines. She is particularly noted for her shaped canvas paintings.
In 2006, her 40-year career was honored at New York City’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA). The retrospective was widely praised, with the New York Times noting that by the end of the exhibition, “You’re left with the sense of an artist in the flush of her authority and still digging deep.” As of 2008, Murray is only one of four women artists to have had a retrospective at the MoMA (the other three are Louise Bourgeois (in 1982), Lee Krasner (in 1984), and Helen Frankenthaler (in 1989)).
In 2007, Murray died of lung cancer. In her obituary, the New York Times wrote that Murray “reshaped Modernist abstraction into a high-spirited, cartoon-based, language of form whose subjects included domestic life, relationships and the nature of painting itself…”