That little voice in my head is talking to me again, “Your 65, too old to start a blog.” “Nobody is interested in what you have to say anyway.” You know the voice I am talking about. That little guy, self-doubt, that hangs out between our ears. The voice so many of us have paid way too much attention to. If this blog is to deliver just one message it would be: DON’T LISTEN!
Be like Anna Mary Robertson 1860-1961. Anna grew up in a small town in Upstate New York. She spent most of her early life as hired help, working on other people’s farms. In her early twenties she moved to Virginia where there was more work. While on one of those jobs she met and eventually married her husband Thomas Moses. Anna and Thomas had ten children, sadly only 5 survived infancy. After about 20 years working in Virginia, the family moved back near Annas home in New York where they bought a farm of their own. In 1927 tragedy visited Anna again when her husband was stuck down by a heart attack at age 67. With the help of her son she continued to work the farm until 1936. She then moved in with her daughter apparently to live out her life in quiet retirement. Not Anna, at 76 years old she was just getting started.
Since she was a child Anna had an interest in art. When she moved into her daughter’s home, she began to take her passion seriously. Her paintings drew upon her experiences and surroundings. The style would be described as “primitive” or “American Folk.” Having several completed canvases, they were put on sale in a drugstore window in Hoosick Falls NY not far from home. As fortune would have it a local art collector by the name of Louis Caldor was passing through and bought several of Annas paintings, for $3 to $5 each. Caldor made Anna’s talents known to his art connections in New York City.
Anna’s name was out there. She was invited to The Big City where her paintings were included in a show for unknown artists at The Museum of Modern Art. Her first solo exhibition, “What a Farm Wife Painted,” opened in 1940 at Galerie St. Etienne, on 57th St. also in NYC. Her work eventually, having gained international acclaim, toured throughout North America and Europe.
The artist of course is the American icon better known as Grandma Moses. She is a person who led a life far from the limelight. I wonder what it was that moved her to put her work on display in that drugstore window? Was there a little voice telling her; “Anna, nobody will buy these paintings?” If there was, the world is a better place that she did not listen. In 1950 The National Press Club named Anna one of Americas 5 most newsworthy women. At the age of 88 Mademoiselle Magazine named her “Young Woman of the Year.” Proof that age is just a number. On September 7, 1960, her 100th birthday, Nelson Rockefeller Governor of New York declared it “Grandma Moses Day.” She was also recognized by President Truman and received a host of other awards. In 2006 her painting “Sugaring Off” sold for $1.2 million.
Anna Mary Robertson Moses when she was deep into her seventies, showed the world what she was capable of. She took a chance and put her talents on display for all to see. She has shown us that great things are possible when we follow a passion. It is not my contention that we will all be rewarded or recognized as she was. What I do suspect is that once we have made the effort and do the things that we always dreamed; our souls will become more content. From her 1952 autobiography Anna says “…life is what you make it, always has been, always will be.” Anna died on December 13, 1961 at the age of 101.