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Picturing a World

Mary Nimmo Moran

I love it when (a) I find a new woman artist; (b) a picture widens my imaginary world; or (c) there's an overlap between my stories via an illustration. This etching by Mary Nimmo Moran shows me a possibility in the New York City that Jeanette visits when she goes to her Aunt Maude in Where the Light Falls. Since it seems to be up a hill, it may also illustrate a view Mattie might have up in Morningside Heights in "Anonymity"—although by 1908, the farm would likely have vanished. Best of all, I have learned that Mary Nimmo Moran was a female artist who was actually encouraged in her work by the artist husband who had been her teacher. Three cheers!

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Urban energy

As I said in last Thursday’s post, Bellows' painting of a horse being brought under control conveys complex information and energy. It has attitude. It helps me imagine life in the city at the start of the 20th C. Can't you just feel how the cold, wet nastiness makes the frustrated driver’s task harder, the danger greater? The gaping child and other spectators are also reminders of the theatricality of life on the streets.

Jeanette is always conscious of her good fortune to be in beautiful Paris. Mattie is aware of the rawness and challenge of New York. What she finds in her city is power and newness, unending change and demand that she make herself over, make her life her own.

George Bellows was from Ohio. His eyes help me imagine how my Ohio character sees what is around her. For several more of his paintings of the city, click here.  Read More 
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