Mary Yerkes

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Artist Details

  • Mary
  • Agnes
  • Yerkes
  • Yerkes
  • Archibald Nelson Offley; married 1917; Navy Commander
  • Mary Yerkes Offley (1918-1933)
  • August 9, 1886
  • Chicago, Illinois
  • November 8, 1989
  • San Mateo, California
  • 405 Iowa, Oak Park, Illinois

    circa 1912: 108 Wesley Avenue, Oak Park, Illinois

    1913-1919: 6437 Iowa St., Oak Park, Illinois; this house designed by John S. Van Bergen, included an art studio for her and built-in frames on first floor for her mural paintings

    1915: 450 Iowa St., Oak Park, Illinois

    San Diego, California

    Vallejo, California

    Long Beach, California

    circa 1941-1989: San Mateo, California
  • Oak Park, Illinois

    Chicago, Illinois

    San Mateo, California
  • Painter-Oil, Photographer, Watercolorist, Weaver
  • 1906: graduated Oak Park High School, Oak Park, Illinois
    1906-1908: studied art history and decorative design, Rockford College, Rockford, Illinois
    1908-?: School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
    1908-?: Academy of Fine Art, Chicago, Illinois
    student of Wellington Reynolds
    student of John W. Norton
    Student of Walter Marshall Clute
    Academy of Fine Arts
  • American West, especially National Parks
  • Array
  •  circa 1910-1915: Annual Exhibition of Work by Artists of Chicago and Vicinity, The Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois

    circa 1910-1915: Annual Exhibition of American Water Color Society, Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois

    1912: Annual Exhibition of Work by Artists of Chicago and Vicinity, Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois; Matilda in the Garden, oil

    1912: Annual Exhibition of Water Colors, Pastels and Miniatures by American Artists, Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois; The Northern Moon, watercolor

    1913: Annual Exhibition of Water Colors, Pastels and Miniatures by American Artists, Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois; Dorothy, pastel; An Indian Maid, pastel

    1914: Annual Exhibition of Water Colors, Pastels and Miniatures by American Artists, Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois; The Knoll, watercolor

    1915: Annual Exhibition of Water Colors, Pastels and Miniatures by American Artists, Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois; Grandmother’s Wedding Gown, pastel; Mother, pastel; Our Old Apple Tree, pastel

    October 23- November 6, 1915: Grable’s Art Store, Oak Park, Illinois [solo]; Afternoon in Estes Park, oil; Grandmother’s Wedding Gown; Mount Zephyr, watercolor; Our Old Apple Tree, pastel; Sunshine

    November, 1916: Paintings by Mary Agnes Yerkes, Rockford Art Guild, Rockford, Illinois
  • private owner, Las Vegas, Nevada
  • Kovinick, Phil and, Marian Yoshiki Kovinick. An Encyclopedia of Women
  • taught at Academy of Fine Arts, Chicago, Illinois

    carved furniture

    hooked rugs
  • Wikipedia page
  • Mary Agnes Yerkes was born in Oak Park, llinois on August 9th, 1886. Her parents, Charles Sherman Yerkes and Mary Greenlees Yerkes, had moved to their N. Grove Ave. home a few years earlier from Ohio. She was the third child of four siblings; Reuben Archibald, Alice Agnew, and Charles Greenlees. Mary Agnes graduated from Oak Park and River Forest High School in 1906, and became an accomplished local artist. She studied at the Rockford College, the Academy of Fine Arts (where she also taught) and the Chicago Art Institute, had special painting instruction under Wellington Reynolds, John W. Norton and Walter Marshall Clute, and participated in numerous exhibitions, including the exhibits of Chicago artists and of the American Water Color Society at the Art Institute from 1912-1915.1

    Mary Agnes also had a two-week showing at Grable’s art store on Oak Park Avenue during October, 1915, about which a Chicago critic wrote: “Miss Yerkes’ work shows remarkable versatility in both subject and medium, and she is unusually successful in doing many things well. The pictures are in oil and pastel and watercolor, and their subjects range from figures to landscape and still life, and from the daintiest spring to drifting winter snows. Through all of her pictures, however, runs the same gift of clear, joyous, exquisite color. She will be very famous some day for her sense of color, and also for her rare gift of imagination.” 2

    Her father died in 1908. Shortly thereafter, her mother commissioned a house from architect John S. Van Bergen, a protégé of Frank Lloyd Wright, in 1913. The “Mary Greenlees Residence” is an Oak Park Preservation Trust award recipient. The home was specifically designed with an upstairs art studio for Mary Agnes. Records at the Art Institute and listings within Oak Park directories show Mary Agnes living at this 450 Iowa address from 1913-1919. Her mother lived with Mary Agnes until the end.

    In 1917, she married Navy Commander Archibald Offley and had one child, Mary Yerkes Offley, born in 1918 and died at the age of 15. The married life of a navel officer found them transferred to several ports on the West Coast; San Diego, Vallejo and Long Beach, CA. among others. They finally took up permanent residence in San Mateo, CA. around 1941 where she lived till her death in 1989 at a grand old age of 103.

    Mary Agnes spent all of her adult life painting. Her professional desires as a painter were crushed with the onset of the Great Depression, as were many other artists. She still found personal solace, and with California as a base, she took frequent trips to paint her favorite subject matter, our national parks. She traveled and camped the entire American West. From Tucson to Alberta, Canada and from Yosemite Valley to Santa Fe, she found passion in nature, the love of art and its process. She painted, carved furniture, hooked rugs of her own design, and wove fabric on her loom for her own clothes and accessories. The body of work that has now been presented was from her own walls. To her these paintings represented fond memories and as a result never dispersed. They are now her legacy, as one of the great women painters of the American West.

    1Todd Ellis, Researcher, 2001, Wright Plus 2001 Project, “Mary Greenlees Residence”

    2Oak Leaves, Oct 23, 1915

    By Craig H. Yerkes, grandnephew of Mary Agnes Yerkes