Thursday, September 18, 2014

A Dluth Master Comes Home: Gene Ritchie Monohan at The Red Herring

Poet/entrepreneur Bob Monohan and I have more than one thing in common. But one that is the highlight of today's blog is that both our grandmothers enjoyed painting. Mine, however, was just a dabbler, whereas Gene Ritchie Monohan was an artist of exceptional skill who had the privilege of being able to immerse herself in the burgeoning, vibrant 1950's New York art scene.

During last Friday's art crawl I eventually made my way over to The Red Herring to take in the late Ms. Monohan's works which are on display there through November 2.

Genevieve Mae was born in Duluth to Arthur C. Ritchie, an electrical engineer, and Jeanette M. Daily, a homemaker. Growingup in West Duluth she attended and graduated from Denfeld High School in 1926. After two years at a state teacher's college she transferred to the U of MN in Minneapolis where she married George Monohan, a fellow student. After her husband completed his R.O.T.C. course work the family lived in various locations like army families to. Though Gene focused on her family during that time she still pursued her interest in art and eventually completed a Master of Art Degree in 1942. When her husband retired from the army in 1953 they moved to New York City where she was able to connect with the art community there.

The works in this exhibition include more than a dozen oil paintings on stretched canvas which have been assembled from the personal collections of the Monohan family. There are also sketches, prints and more. It's apparent that she brings a warmth to the work so that the pieces aren't just technically executed but convey a feeling intimacy between her and her subject matter.

One of the pictures that is especially fun is the 1984 painting of her grandchildren, including young Bob. The kids were 9, 7 and 5. Cute kids.

The Red Herring has already begun to make its mark as a music venue, connected as Bob Monohan is to the music scene through his Chaperone Records. With this exhibit he's making a statement that it can also be a serious art venue as well.

Recommended: Find an excuse to check it out.

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