Louise Upton Brumback (1872-1929)

Louise Upton Brumback (1872-1929)

As a young woman, Louise Upton Brumback was greatly influenced by William Merritt Chase while attending his Summer Art School in Shinnecock, Long Island.  Inspired to pursue a career in the fine arts, she exhibited for the first time in 1915, after settling into a home in Kansas City, Missouri, and was awarded the Moore Prize given to artists of Kansas City.  She would eventually participate in eleven annual exhibitions at the National Academy of Design from 1905 until 1920, and would also show at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, the Corcoran Gallery of Art and the Society of Independent Artists.  She became a member of the National Association of Women Painters and Sculptors, the National Arts Club and the New York Society of Women Artists.

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Brumback spent many summers painting in Gloucester, Massachusetts, and also made several painting trips to California.  She eventually made a more permanent move east and divided her time between New York City and Gloucester, where she and her husband purchased 10 acres of land. During her summer stays on the coast, she played an important role in the small war going on in between conservative and more adventurous artists. After Gallery-on-the-Moors in Gloucester ceased exhibiting art, local artists formed what is now the North Shore Arts Association in 1922. The group purchased a building on Reed’s Wharf (still in use today), which was closer to the burgeoning tourist market. The NSAA followed the policies of the Gallery-on-the-Moors, including the most contentious practice, juried art exhibitions. Championing exhibitions that were open to all and an equal chance for all, a second group of artists met at Grace Horne’s more avant-garde gallery and formed the Gloucester Society of Artists.[1] Brumback was elected president, and the art committee included Stuart Davis and Alice Beach Winter, former residents of the “Red Cottage.”  Brumback’s years of involvement in Gloucester’s dedicated artist colony and her many paintings of the town’s harbors and beaches attest to the contagious appeal of the North Shore landscape. A 1922 review of her work at the Mrs. Albert Sterner Gallery in New York attests to her talent: “Mrs. Brumback sees her handsome world with a direct vision and no nonsense in her mind. She works for those things that may be grasped by a clear intelligence, and where sentiment is introduced it is the sentiment of the morning on a day washed by early rain. No mists, no fogs, no blinding midday sun, nothing to interfere with clarity. It is very little wonder that her work appeals to the American Public.”[2]

[1] James O’Gorman, “Parnassas on Ledge Road, The Life and Times of East Gloucester’s Gallery-on-the-Moors,” in Crews and O’Gorman, The Red Cottage, (Cape Ann Historical Association, 1992, unpaginated.)

[2] The New York Times, April 16, 1922. 

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