Frederic Remington Art Museum • Aug. 26-Nov. 4, 2001 • Ruth Connell: A Life in Flowers

Ruth Connell:
A Life in Flowers

Ruth Connell has lived most of her life on the family estate outside Spencerville, Ontario, Canada. Her mother died in 1916 when she was born, leaving Connell an only child. She was raised by her father and his sister, Lillian. A devoted aunt and amateur painter, "Auntie" encouraged young Connell to copy pictures from magazines and praised her progress. After high school, Connell attended the Ottawa Ladies College in Ottawa, Ontario for three years in the 1930s, where she studied art and music. The first year Connell was uninspired by her teacher, but the second year brought a new teacher, Georgie Reid. Reid provided valued instruction, an artistic dialogue, and a friendship that continued long after Connell left school.

Ruth married a distant cousin, Earl Connell in 1940. He worked for Swift Foods as a chemist, first in Chicago then Atlanta. The couple's four children, Sarah Jane, Hally, Norah, and Martin began arriving in 1942. In 1946, the family moved to Connell's family home in Spencerville. Here, the Connells pursued all manner of farming, from mushrooms to pheasants to pigs. At one point, they had 16,000 turkeys to be sold "table-ready." Connell suspended her painting during these decades that the children were at home and the farm demanded much of her time. She returned to painting in 1969.

Connell has painted easily 400 paintings. She has rarely exhibited them, but has sold quite a few, informally. This year her eyesight has deteriorated, preventing her from returning to her studio this summer.