Mary Wicker

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Artist Details

  • Mary
  • Hackney
  • Mae Wicker
  • Wicker
  • Charles Gustavus Wicker, Jr. (?-February 9, 1909 Florida); married December 27, 1893; they shared a love of people, books, art, music, nature and animals ; died in a sailing accident, saving 4 companions his father was a land developer; early defender of preserving Chicago’s lakefront for public recreation; developed Wicker Park neighborhood with mix of large and small parcels to accommodate mansions and worker houses; donated land for the park in Wicker Park (first such privately donated park land?)
  • son who died in infancy Walter (July 19, 1898-?) “Bobs”
  • November 10, 1868 or 1864 or 1863 or 1874
  • Aurora, Illinois
  • September 3, 1942
  • Providence, Rhode Island
  • 1893-?: farm in Indiana

    after mother died, moved to Chicago and lived with brother Walter

    1906-1907: Paris, France

    1922-1923: 141 E. Ontario St., Chicago, Illinois
  • Chicago, Illinois
  • Delaware Place, Chicago, Illinois
  • Painter-Oil, Sculptor, Watercolorist
  • East Aurora High School, Aurora, Illinois
    studied with Howard  Bagg and with Wells M. Sawyer in Aurora, Illinois
    School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois
    Académie Julian, Paris, France; Student of Jean Paul Laurens
    Bruges, Belgium
    Student of Brangwyn in England
    Student of Charles Hawthorne, Robert Henri, Horsep Pushman, Leon Gaspard, George Brown
    Student of sculptor Stanislaus Szukalski
  • honeymooned in Guadalajara, Vera Cruz, and Orizaba, Mexico; painted studies of chapels

    summers in Bay View, Michigan; painted watercolor landscapes and still lifes

    1906-1907: Paris, France; departed Chicago March 26, 1906; Bruges, Belgium

    1907-?: with husband, Holland, North Africa, Spain
  • Array
  • January 1919: The Arts Club of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois; Ben-Rin, Tribeman of North Morocco

    1923: Annual Exhibition of American Oil Paintings and Sculpture, Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois

    1924, 1928: Annual Exhibition of Works by Chicago and Vicinity Artists, Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois

    1925: 13th Annual Exhibition, Allied Artists of America, New York, New York

    1928: Woman's World Fair, Chicago, Illinois; In Corsica

    1928: Illinois Women's Athletic Club, Chicago, Illinois; Intérieur des Cloître

    1928: Arts Club of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois; In a Man’s Garden; Rugged Old Corsica

    1928, 1930: The Arts Club of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois

    Hoosier Salon, Indiana

    1929: Association of Chicago Painters and Sculptors exhibition, Chicago Galleries, Chicago, Illinois; Brittany Sardine Fleet Drying Their Blue Sails

    1929: National Academy of Design, New York, New York; Opus II—Brahams, bronze

    1929: American Federation of the Arts Traveling Exhibition

    1930: Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

    National Arts Club, New York, New York

    1930: Arts Club, Chicago, Illinois; My Balcony in Corsica

    1932: Flower Show by Chicago Artists, Diana Court, Chicago, Illinois

    1990: A Taste for Elegance: American Artists Seek European Style, Louisiana Arts and Science Center, Baton Rouge, Louisiana

    October 1997: National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, D.C.; The Arab, oil on canvas

    September 15-November 26, 2006: The Paintings of Mary Hacker Wicker, Midwestern Impressionist, 1868-1942, Aurora Public Art Commission, Aurora, Illinois

    Professional Members of the Art Club, Chicago, Illinois
  • Nancy Wicker

    Aurora Historical Society, Aurora, Illinois

    Chicago History Museum, Chicago, Illinois

    City of Aurora, Aurora, Illinois
  • Fedders, Kristin U. “Mary Hackney Wicker: Midwestern Impressionist.” Lake Forest College, 1999. Mansbach, Jodi Lox, "Mary Hackney Wicker," in Schultz, Rima Lunin and Adele Hast, eds. Women Building Chicago 1790-1990: a Biographical Dictionary. Bloomington, IN: University of Indiana, “Rediscovering American Art,” Exhibit 104, May/June 1981.  
  • American Artists Professional League

    The Arts Club of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois

    Association of Chicago Painters and Sculptors, Chicago, Illinois

    Hoosier Salon, Indiana

    National Arts Club
  • 1882: an Illinois State Contest

    1923: Honorable Mention, Annual Exhibition of American Oil Paintings and Sculpture, Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois

    1924: Rogers Park Woman's Club Prize, Annual Exhibition of Works by Chicago and Vicinity Artists, Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois; Intérieur des Cloîtres

    1924: Englewood Women's Club prize, Annual Exhibition of Works by Chicago and Vicinity Artists, Art Institute of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois; Intérieur des Cloîtres


    2006: Fox Valley Arts Hall of Fame inductee
  • Chicago History Museum, Chicago, Illinois
  • see essay by Rena Church on this website
  • MARY HACKNEY WICKER -- MEMORIES By Nancy D. Wicker-Eilan

    My paternal grandmother, Mary Hackney Wicker, was a painter. My maternal grandmother was a couture-level dressmaker for herself and her daughter. Put simply, good mothers, good "homemakers," brave women (each lost one child in infancy and early childhood), and they both excelled in their additional genetic (?) talents.

    Mary Hackney (known as "Mae") was raised by parents who recognized and aided her artistic talent all through her childhood. She won an award for her painting in an Illinois state contest at age 14. She married a young man, Charles Gustavus Wicker, Jr., in the 1890s who not only respected her remarkable gift, but encouraged her to the point of helping to finance, along with her brother, her studies in Paris. She went to the Julian School in 1906-07, which was the only school in Europe at that time that accepted women students. She took her seven-year old son, my father, with her, found a school for him, a flat in Paris, and without a single word of French in her fine Midwest vocabulary, began studies at Julian where she is listed in that year's catalogue as "painter-sculptor."

    The family photos show them together, with their dog, sitting at a tea table, dog on chair, dog large enough to be almost eye-to-eye with his owners, and another with her husband and his sister, Caroline, holding one of her paintings. His attitude is one of respect and admiration. What a wonderful, supportive second family she joined! I cannot imagine her later success would have been possible without their backing.

    My relationship with her spanned two entirely separate worlds; one consisted of the standard Sunday lunches, along with my great-aunt Caroline at our home in Chicago. Great-aunt Caroline was not always present as all 4'10'' under 100 lbs of her might be travelling. She went on an archaeological trip to Tibet and another to India in the early 1900s. She also went to China, and lastly and later, to the more traditional European countries. They conformed, if such a word can be used, to family Sunday lunches. My mother and father had very busy careers in Chicago radio. Sunday was the only day we could eat with the whole small family.

    The other was the treasured and magical afternoons at her studio on Delaware Place, Chicago, where I went with our dog, Irish terrier "Mike" and some household employee. The studio was a child's dream (if art is primary). The floors were stacked with paintings, two – three deep, leaning against the walls. The overall aroma was a sublime mixture of oil paints and turpentine. I took my appointed place on a foot-stool with some sort of drawing set-up, crayons, pencils and paper, at her left side, while she painted. Oil paints and canvas were artists' tools. I was a beginner and started with beginner's equipment – a very important lesson in the undertaking. Begin something you don't know with familiar tools. As I do not remember a time I was not drawing something, At some spontaneous moment we would take "breaks" and have all the forbidden foods, cocoa, Fanny Farmer's marshmallows dipped in chocolate. Nuts for "Mike". And finally a reluctant parting as I went home for reality – dinner and homework.

    She was beautiful and elegant; when working, remote but kindly and supportive. Whenever I was in an art class, later on, and asked by a fellow student to comment on their work, I tried, politely to refuse by saying – "no one other that a knowledgeable teacher should comment on your work." I never did. I realize now it's undoubtedly because she never said anything more to me than one would say to any child – "..that's fine – keep it up." It is the only way an artist can grow. If one doesn't learn to develop and exercise their own capacity to observe, watch and put down on paper what they see, (and hope it will be better next time) they cannot be artists.

    My grandmother was certainly the main reason I felt it was all right to want to be an artist, and to work hard at developing whatever talent I might have. I cannot conceive of my life without art, music, and friends who did unconventional things. Going to Paris alone with a small child in 1906 was certainly not conventional. It took incredible courage and what she viewed in her journal as an imperative and sometimes "awful ambition." She held the traditional view of art and women of the time, and yet pursued her dream – so much more difficult than for my generation. She never re-married after her husband died in a sailing accident, he had rescued four companions first, and succumbed to exhaustion. My father was 9 years old. She painted only sporadically after that until my father graduated from college, knowing that her 9 year old son needed his one remaining parent more than she needed to paint. Once he graduated and married, almost simultaneously, she went back to work and painted and exhibited almost until her death. She was recognized and praised in her lifetime and received attention, respect, admiration of and awards for her work. She had the painter's "flaw" in that she would sometimes ask for a painting back, after it had been sold, so that she could improve upon it. I don't know what owner's reaction was to that, but I suspect they complied, secretly believing that all artists are somewhat mad and should be treated gently.

    With two generations of "working women" as an example, I had a path cleared for me that many women of talent did not. My family came first, in all my decisions, but I did not ignore my other self in the interims. It is almost entirely due to my grandmother's example to know that we can do more than the traditional family privileges and obligations. It is incumbent on us to try – and very good luck to all who venture forth –

    whatever the field.