Treadwell, Grace A. (1893-1989)
Grace Treadwell was born in 1893 in West Chop, Massachusetts. She studied art at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the Art Students’ League in New York, and the Grand Chaumiere in Paris. She was a member of the Pen and Brush Club of New York City and the National Association of Women Artists (NAWA). She served as president of the latter from 1946-1949. The years that she worked for the Federal Arts Project are unknown as is the art produced. The Connecticut State Library owns one of her WPA paintings.
In 1947, as president of NAWA, Treadwell was involved in a cause celeb involving an “indecent” sculpture. Just before the NAWA exhibition was to open at the National Academy of Design in New York, Treadwell announced that she had ordered the prize winning aluminum sculpture, Lovers, removed from the exhibit. She gave as her reason that the director of the Academy had heard complaints that the work was “indecent.” Treadwell further justified her action by saying that she had removed one piece in order to prevent the Academy from closing the exhibit. Of course, members of the Association came to the aid of the sculptor, Mitzi Solomon (later Mitzi Solomon Cunliffe). Solomon herself resigned and others followed. Treadwell had to defend her actions before a meeting of NAWA. The director of the Academy issued a statement disavowing any attempt by his organization to censor the exhibit. Eventually all agreed that the sculpture should be returned, Solomon and the others rejoined NAWA, and Treadwell stayed on until the end of her term in 1949. Treadwell died in 1989.
Sources: Who Was Who in American Art , p. 629; Social Security Death Index; New York Times: Howard Devree, A Gallery-Goer’s Week,” May 7, 1933; “In the New York Area,” September 22, 1935; “Show in Brooklyn of Humor in Art,” November 22, 1935; “Art Exhibit Opens Today,” November 15, 1942; “Art by Palencia To Be Displayed,” March 30, 1944; “53rd Show Opened by Women Artists,” April 24, 1945; “Pen and Brush Winners,” January 7, 1946; “Allenbrook Painting Will Be Shown Here,” March 15, 1946; Sanka Knox, “Lovers, Prize Winning Sculpture, Barred From Academy Art Show,” April 26, 1947; “3D Sculptor Quits Over Banned Work,” April 28, 1947; “Ban on Sculpture Comes Up Tonight,” April 30, 1947; “Women Artists End LoversStatue Row,” May 1, 1947; Edward Alden Jewell, “Art and Censorship,” May 4, 1947; “Unloved Lovers,” Time Magazine, May 5, 1947, atwww.time.com/time/printout/0,8816,793667,00.html, “17 Art Prizes Given,” September 27, 1949; “263 Works of Art Seen in Exhibition,” November 11, 1950; “Women Show Art in Many Mediums,” January 31, 1953; “Variety of Styles and Displays at Galleries,” March 11, 1956; “Abbott Treadwell Jr.,” November 25, 1960.
Works of Art Listed in CT Archives’ database from Grace Treadwell: