Remembering Chatham Murray and Her Art
Works of the late, beloved Athenian and painter Chatham Murray will be on display at the ATHICA@Ciné gallery from September 1 to October 25, 2021. Curated and coordinated by her friends Charles Warnock, Juana Gnecco, and Anne Sears, this memorial exhibition features a group of paintings in the private collections of Murray’s Athens Community.
Curator Warnock reports that he “[has] selected paintings from a large range of time to represent Murray’s entire art career.” The retrospective includes 14 paintings spanning six decades: from the sixties as a student at Lamar Dodd School of Art, her formative time living in New York City in between earning BFA and MFA degrees at UGA, and through all her years living in Athens, deeply rooted in community, working from her studio on Barrow Street. A number of pieces in the exhibition illustrate Murray’s love of home and table, inspired by the beauty she found in her everyday life. Favorite subject matter included the bounty of the garden and home interiors and exteriors, the latter inspired, perhaps by her daily walks
Warnock further shares that some of the collectors included stories about the paintings. “Two remarkable examples tell us about the impact that Chatham’s work was already having during her time in art school. On the one hand, we learn that ‘Nude’ was declared by Chatham’s classmate and art professor at Southern Miss, Jim Meade, as the best painting to come out of the UGA Art Department during his and Chatham’s years attending art school. On the other hand. ‘An Antique Kitchen’ is a wonderful still life that, according to the collector, Lamar Dodd regarded as one of the best paintings ever made in his undergraduate classes. These and other early paintings in the retrospective display Chatham’s keen sense of light and color, which remained an integral part of her work throughout her life. She was a beloved, energetic participant in our community, who loved Athens and found (and brought) beauty everywhere she went.”
More About Catharine Chatham Murray: A Brief Biography by Pete McCommons
We celebrate the life of Catharine Chatham Murray. Chatham loved her friends unconditionally, but her love was not blind. If your shirt was off a shade for a good match with your pants, she’d hoot. She couldn’t help it. She was a painter. There was no such thing as “close.” That yellow was either just exactly the right color for that highlight on that bowl in her painting, or it didn’t work. She demanded perfection from herself, and she expected it from everybody. She made you live at your best, even though you knew she’d still love you when you fell short. She turned her uncompromising eye on the world and expected justice, and she fought to make it happen. When something needed doing, she did it. When people needed helping, she helped them, even though her own means were slender. You didn’t need to wonder where you stood with her, because she was as frank and direct with her friends as with her foes. She was as Southern as we come—charming and friendly and helpful, from an old and distinguished family, loving her home and her friends and enjoying entertaining and being entertained—but no-nonsense when it was time to act: Get food to somebody; sit up with a sick friend; put a roof on the house; walk the dogs; put paint down. Hers was a do-it-yourself life, and she succeeded spectacularly—doing it not only for herself but for her friends, her family and her town. Her spirit lifted ours and still does.