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      Virtual - The Influence of Rockland's Mary Mowbray-Clarke in West Nyack

      • Virtual - The Influence of Rockland's Mary Mowbray-Clarke Photo #1
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      May 28, 2020

      Thursday   8:00 PM - 9:00 PM

      27 S. Greenbush Rd.
      West Nyack, New York 10994

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      Virtual - The Influence of Rockland's Mary Mowbray-Clarke

      This lecture, by art-historian Justin Duerr, will give an overview of the multi-faceted artist and counter-cultural maven Mary Mowbray-Clarke, her life’s-work and her social circles and will include dozens of unseen letters, photographs, artworks and diary excerpts.

      Mary Mowbray-Clarke (1874 - 1962) was a Rockland County woman whose influence on art and culture was vast and profound, though usually undertaken "behind the scenes," and therefore often neglected or omitted in official histories.

      Born Mary Horgan, she came from a large working-class Irish Catholic Nyack family. Enrolling in classes at the Art Students League in 1890, when she was only 16, Mary was one of the few female alumna of the League to have found work as a professional illustrator, drawing battleships for the Boston Herald during the Spanish-American War. She met Jamaican-born British sculptor John Mowbray-Clarke while teaching art at the Finch School on the Upper East Side in 1904. They married in 1907 and in 1908 purchased a farm in Rockland County which they named "The Brocken.”

      The Brocken quickly became a nexus for creative visitors, with Mary and John creating a very informal "art colony" inspired by the philosophies of artist/socialist William Morris and the anarchist intellectual Peter Kropotkin, among others.

      In 1913 Mary and John were centrally involved in the planning and execution of the 1913 "Armory Show" which introduced the United States to the advanced and "shocking" Modernist artwork from Europe - and some from America.

      From 1916 – 1927, Mary and her author friend Madge Janison operated a bookshop in New York called Sunwise Turn. The shop sold the most “advanced” literature as well as hosting author’s readings, art exhibits, and musical performances. A 21 year old volunteer intern named Peggy Guggenheim was inspired to begin collecting art
      through Mary's mentorship, describing Mary as "a sort of goddess" in her memoir. The shop also launched the career of artist Charles Burchfield. It was through the bookshop that Many influenced many artists to move to Rockland’s new informal art colony.

      After the closure of the shop in 1927, Mary reinvented herself as a landscape architect. Beginning in December 1933 she became the only woman to head a major WPA landscaping project, overseeing a crew of bricklayers, masons and laborers to create Dutch Gardens, which still stands in New City, located behind the County Courthouse.

      Upon Mary's death in 1962 thousands of papers in her archive, which were variously squirreled away in crawl spaces and crannies at the Brocken and the adjacent studio, began to drift away to the four corners of the earth. Some were burned, some were salvaged and placed in academic archives, some were saved by family or neighbors, and some were left to decay. The research for Duerr’s Mowbray-Clarke biography, which will likely need to be a multiple volume set, draws upon all of these sources.

      Please join us as Duerr shares this fascinating and previously unseen archival history.

      To register visit:
      Zoom information will be sent to you by email upon registration. To ensure you can join on time, please use the zoom link to register at least a few minutes before start time.

      About Justin Duerr : Self-taught artist, musician and art-historical researcher. Mr. Duerr’s artwork has been featured in gallery and museum exhibits across the US, and he has toured as a musician throughout most of the continental US. His research work can be seen in the documentary film, Resurrect Dead: the Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles, which won the award for best director at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival and has had a wide release in art-house theaters and on online streaming platforms. His first book, The Temple of Silence: Forgotten Works and Worlds of Herbert Crowley, was published by Beehive Books. Justin is currently researching and writing a biography/art book centered on multi-faceted artist and counter-cultural maven Mary Mowbray-Clarke.

      Cost: Payment required - 10.00

      Categories: Art Galleries & Exhibits

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