Local Vineyard landscape artist Mary S. French, née Stokes, died on June 29, 2020, at 92 after a long illness.
Born in Vermont, and raised on the East Coast, Mary had a deep love for her family and the beauty of the natural world: “I find the world to be a fascinating and beautiful place to be: filled with varied colors, shapes, and space. I must try — to my limits — to capture as much as I can, for as long as I am here.”
Formed in early childhood, her love of art and literature followed her throughout her school years. She graduated with a degree in art and English literature from Skidmore College. It was at Skidmore that she met George M. (“Jim”) French Jr., who would later become her husband.
Her long ties to Martha’s Vineyard began as the result of her Stokes grandparents living part of each year at their home in Lambert’s Cove. Mary lived on the Island year-round with her late sister Ellen Stokes and their parents from 1942 until her marriage in 1950.
Soon after their marriage, Mary and George moved to Colorado when he was called back from the reserves to serve with the 10th Mountain Division during the Korean War. It was in Colorado that her daughter Ellen, and son Mark were born. After Jim’s military service ended, the couple decided to remain in Colorado. During this time, Mary continued to hone her artistic skills.
After a move to Albuquerque, N.M., in 1965, Mary began exhibiting her artwork and studying with well-known artists from the Southwest. A prizewinner, Mary appeared regularly in juried shows in New Mexico, Colorado, and Arizona.
In 1967, Mary moved with her family to Denver, Colo., and continued to pursue her art career. Here she exhibited her work, juried art shows, and became a founding member and later president of the Gaylord South Gallery. At that time, her preferred mediums were watercolors and oil, but she came to love the versatility of landscape painting in acrylic.
When her husband retired, the two made the move to live permanently year-round in the Vineyard family home in Lambert’s Cove. She became a member of the Copley Society of Boston, and held the distinction of the society’s title: Copley Artist. Her work has been shown at the Featherstone Center for the Arts, Old Sculpin Gallery, Field Gallery, Granary Gallery, and the former Red Barn Emporium, as well as galleries on Nantucket and in Wellfleet.
Predeceased by her husband George M. and son Mark French, she is survived by her daughter, Ellen Bunch, and son-in-law Doyle, as well as her grandchildren: Brian Bunch and his wife Ginny, and granddaughter Amanda and her husband Jesse Cordova.