Can you name a well-known, contemporary female painter, other than popular artists Georgia O'Keeffe or Frida Kahlo?
If you can't, you are probably not alone.
When it comes to celebrity, artists generally tend to be a more obscure group than many other creative professionals. Their faces are not ones we necessarily recognize like movie actors, writers, politicians and other public figures.
Add to this, the fact that women, as a whole, have not historically faired very well in the visual arts.
Did you know, for instance, that less than 5% of the artworks in the collections of major art museums are by women?* At the Tate Modern, in the years 2000 and 2005, less than 2% of the solo shows were by woman.*
It is not all grim news. In the United States, the National Museum of Woman in the Arts is dedicated to promoting woman artists who have been over looked or under-acknowledged by other institutions. (There is no similar museum here in Canada. I am not sure about the situation internationally. Feel free to comment on this.)
Still, in the States at entry level female make 90 cents on the dollar for every dollar made by their male peers. The statistic gets even more grim for older female artists.* (I am not sure if there are any similar statistics for incomes in Canada or female artists internationally.)
Why have women artists faired so poorly? I don't think there is an easy answer. (Feel free to speculate on the reasonings on why female artists go unrecognized in the comment section.)
So, who are some of these female artists painting away in the trenches in relative obscurity?
Today, I am going to introduce you to one little known, local artist who has been painting for decades. She may never be an internationally recognized painter, but she has a dedication to her art that I, for one, cannot help but admire.
Welcome to Ferri lands. There are apples and paintings for sale here. It is an unorthodox combination, I know. Let me explain.
In 1933, Nazzareno and Celia Ferri immigrated to Canada from Italy and purchased a 10 acre farm near Brampton, Ontario. Their son, Mac bought his own 5 acre property down the road from his parent's farm. Here, Mac and his wife, Marie raised their children and established an apple farm.
When her children became older and more independent, Marie acted on her lifelong interest in art and drove into the city of Brampton to take lessons with several local painters. In the following years and even after her husband Mac passed, Marie has continued to paint and help manage the apple farm.
This October, Marie turned 90 years. Her health is good and her mind is still sharp as a tack. She still paints in her little studio whenever she can.
This is Marie's small, sunlit studio. On the left you can see the beginnings of her next painting. Generally, Marie finds inspiration in local scenes, which she photographs herself for reference.
The small village of Huttonville is depicted here.
Most people imagine that buying art is an expensive proposition, but that's not always true. Marie's paintings are artistic bargains, many of them being under $200.
This is a painting of the homestead of one of Huttonville's founding families
When we stopped in yesterday, Marie was outside, dressed in a warm coat, greeting visitors and selling apples. She always invites anyone interested into her little gallery to see her paintings for sale.
I have one such painting in my living room.
This past weekend pretty much marks the end of the apple season here. We bought a big bag of Empire apples from Marie.
Apple crisp and vanilla ice cream topped with toasted pecans and a drizzle of carmel sauce.
When we got home, I made some apple crisp.
The orchard in the late day sun.
If I have the good fortune to live to a ripe old age of 90, I hope that I will still be painting like Marie!
Please join me in wishing Marie a belated, happy 90th birthday.
*Statistic from the New Britain Museum of Art
* Statistic from an interview with CBC's Jian Ghomeshi, speaking with artist Judy Chicago. Hear the interview by clicking the link.
* Statistic also from an interview with CBC's Jian Ghomeshi, speaking with artist Judy Chicago. Hear the interview by clicking the link.
I am also going to link to Lisa Gordon's Creative Exchange. There are always amazing photographs to be found on Lisa's blog, so check them out by clicking the link.
I am also going to link to Tina's Tuesday's Around the World. To take a glimpse into other blogger's Tuesday's, please click the link.