Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Vanessa Helder, #artist, my mother's mentor

and today's #sol17 post topic. Until this lighthouse painting showed up on New Deal of the Day, WPA art and history blog, I was torn between an ongoing Manor drama (better later with camera and more leisure) and new Manor pictures, here and here.

"Alki Point Lighthouse," a watercolor painting by Z. Vanessa Helder (1904-1968), created while she was in a New Deal art programs, ca. 1935-1938. See Wikipedia biography. Image courtesy of the Smithsonian American Art Museum.

This painting, or rather the artist, holds special interest for me. My mother took art lessons with her at the Spokane Art Center. More than that, Vanessa Helder was her mentor -- and I was named for her.  

Portrait of Z. Vanessa Helder by Leonid Fink,
ca. 1940. Courtesy Martin-Zambito Fine Art,
Archive of Northwest Artists
Some years back, I ran searches on Vanessa Helder but did not turn up as much as I did today in less than half the time. My mother talked about her often, told me how much the mentoring meant to her. I met Vanessa Helder once. Now her art is having a revival. This is like meeting her all over again -- and being a young girl listening to my mother speak of her and painting.

I could continue with anecdotes, but this is it with words for now so I can spend time with memories and pictures. Time enough later for more words. In the meantime, I leave you with links -- many rich in images. Today's recommended slice topic is nature. Surely landscapes are close enough.


  1. How wonderful!
    I love this..."This is like meeting her all over again -- and being a young girl listening to my mother speak of her and painting."

    1. Thanks, that thought struck me just as I was closing. My other unexpected takeaway was about not just the importance of mentoring but how mentoring develops future mentors, ever paying forward. The satisfaction of mentoring encourages mentors to keep on and the well mentored become mentors.