The Matron Saint of Christmas ArtistsChristmas summons up a host of beautiful images -nativities, Santas, greenery, carolers, even the hustle and bustle of gaily decorated department stores filled with harried last-minute shoppers. On a quieter note, it brings to mind the solemn stillness of deep, blue, snowy winter nights - silent nights. It brings to mind lovely New England snowscapes, of busy little New Hampshire villages teeming with children, playing in the snow, sled-riding, skating, and the musical jingle bells on a one-horse open sleigh. It brings to mind Grandma Moses.
Anna Mary Robertson Moses was born in 1860 and survived to the ripe old age of 101. She lived in upstate New York and embroidered pictures with yarn until neuritis forced her to give up needlework in favour of painting. Her exposure as an artist was limited for many years to local county fairs where her paintings were displayed next to her canned preserves. She was discovered by collectors in the late 1930's, already well into her seventies, and though she painted her fun-filled interiors and busy rural landscapes depicting New England life in all seasons, it is her winter scenes that seem to make her the matron saint of Christmas artists.
Today the work of Grandma Moses can be seen most profusely in the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Center in Williamsburg, Virginia, set amongst the elegant splendour of the colonial capital of the state, which is especially beautiful during the Christmas season. Folk art, like Christmas, does not apply to a particular time period of long ago, but rather it is always present, and like the spirit of Christmas, warms us inside, bringing love, laughter, and life, as it can be...should be...and would be if we could all exude the same feelings of joyous simplicity during the rest of our numbered days on this earth. Enjoy Christmas today and make an early resolution to keep on enjoying it every day of the new year.
Contributed by Lane, Jim
25 December 1997