An Appreciation of Mothers and of My Mom

Here's to the mothers who are artists.

And to the mothers who raise healthy, informed artists who make the world a better place.

To My Mom

Who had almost no interest in or contact with art, but who nurtured it in me (and her father).

Who encouraged me when I drew that first cardinal and blue jay in oil pastels and thought they were masterpieces.

Visiting Enid Oklahoma | Art Biz Success
With Barbara Pannage Stanfield on a visit to Romy Owens's Under Her Wings was the Universe in Enid, OK. Romy and I discussed this public art project on episode 76 of The Art Biz.
One of my first oil paintings was my 4' stuffed panda, Emily. The back is signed Aly S age 8.

Who signed me up for oil painting lessons when I was about 8 years old.

Who found every extracurricular art lesson available in Oklahoma City and paid for me to go.

Who framed my art, gave it as gifts, and even kept that ratty ashtray on the end table long after smoking was acceptable or mushrooms as decoration were fashionable.

Who hung my paintings, stored my large life drawings, and stuck dried flowers in that coiled vase that had an accident in the kiln.

Who still argues with me when I tell her it's okay to get rid of some of that stuff now. She knows I'd plan a bonfire if she gave it to me.

(Update 2024: She finally let me throw out the life drawings from undergrad.)

Who didn't flinch when I declared an art history major.

Who stuck by me when I went to grad school for, again, art history.

Who traveled to Eastern Tennessee with me so I could write a review of a show; to Lawrence, Kansas so I could see a dance performance; to Houston with me to visit the Rothko Chapel; and to Ohio to listen to a keynote I gave to an artist group.

Who threw a 30th birthday party for me at an art gallery, invited 100 of my closest and lifelong friends, and who installed 30 years of my art, with Dad's help, throughout the space.

Who attended all of the openings for the exhibitions I curated at the museum.

Who dug weeds at the museum when our budget was so small that we couldn't afford groundskeepers.

Who is forgiven for not taking me to museums as a child because she didn't want me to misbehave in public. (She was probably right.)

Who worried for me when I quit my museum job, sold my belongings, packed up a U-Haul, and moved to Denver.

Here's to you, Mom.

And to all of the other amazing mothers who will read this. You have a huge job just being a responsible parent. I commend you for also nurturing your life as an artist.

Happy Mother's Day!


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This post was first published May 11, 2014 and has been updated with original comments intact.

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7 thoughts on “An Appreciation of Mothers and of My Mom”

  1. Wow, your mother really was incredible support to you, as mothers should be 🙂 You did an awesome job, Mrs Barbara!
    I wish my mom was as supportive of my art and career choices, but we’re learning to accept each other as we are today.
    Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms reading this!

  2. Hi Alyson,
    I loved this tribute to your mother — it’s wonderful. She sounds like an amazing and dedicated woman. I was lucky that my mother loved art history and certainly knew more than I ever will about the art of the Italian Renaissance and Medieval art, her areas of interest. She travelled extensively, especially in Italy, and could tell you about the paintings and sculptures and where they were in so many cities. I thought of her when I was in The Cloisters in New York City on Sunday — she probably had been there, and would have loved it.
    No wonder you are so understanding with artists, you are one! I long suspected that. Happy Belated Mother’s Day. The internet was iffy and slow in our hotel.
    XOXOXOXO Barbara

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