Department of Art


Margaret Grimes

1943 – 2020
Professor of Art, 1980 – 2012

It is with deep sadness that we announce the passing of Margaret Grimes. Professor of Art at Western Connecticut State University, she taught for thirty-two years before retiring in 2012. She was awarded the Henry Barnard Foundation Distinguished Lectureship award in 1990 and in 1992 received a lifetime appointment as a Connecticut State University Professor, a distinguished professor award. She also initiated the Master of Fine Arts in Visual Arts program, which she coordinated from 2000 to 2012. The MFA was one of only three MFA programs in painting in Connecticut.

Margaret’s work has been exhibited widely in museums and galleries both regionally and nationally, including one person shows at Fischbach Gallery, Green Mountain Gallery, Weir Farm National Trust, the National Academy of Sciences as well as numerous colleges and universities. She has also had solo shows at Blue Mountain Gallery in New York City since 1980. Her work has been included in many group shows, including the National Academy of Design, NYC; Denise Bibro Fine Art Gallery, NYC; the Chautauqua Institution; the Philbrook Museum of Art in Tulsa, OK; the Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, FL; the Davenport Museum, Davenport, IA; the Center for Contemporary Arts, Wilmington DE; the Newport Art Museum, Newport, RI; the Rahr-West Art Museum in Manitowoc, WI; the Reading Museum, Reading, PA; the Queens Museum of Art, NYC; the Provincetown Art Museum in Provincetown, MA; and the Woodmere Art Museum in Philadelphia, PA.

Margaret’s work has been discussed and reviewed in a number of publications, among them: Art in America, Art New England, The Hartford Courant, The Boston Globe, The New Haven Register, Art Critical, Gallery & Studio, and Art Scope. Her paintings have also been included and discussed in several books on American landscape painting including, Green Woods and Crystal Waters: The American Landscape Tradition, by John Arthur, The Artist in the American Landscape, by John Driscoll, Paintings of New England, by Carl Little and Fractals: the Patterns of Chaos, by John Briggs. Her biography is listed in Who’s Who in America and Who’s Who in American Art. She is a member of the National Academy of Design, where she was awarded the Benjamin Altman prize in 2004. She continued to receive awards throughout her career, including her most recent in 2019, The Hassam, Speicher, Betts, and Symons Purchase Award from The American Academy of Arts and Letters for her painting, Baldwin Hill Road, February 2010.

In a review by Jennifer Samet for the exhibition Margaret Grimes, A Retrospective, at WCSU in 2013, Samet writes, “Margaret Grimes’s paintings are about vastness, not just the all-encompassing kind, but also vastness at the molecular or cellular level. She paints the individual leaf and the entire screen of the forest.” She continues, “The patterns the roots form are not exactly grids, but they nonetheless imply matrixes because they play with our desire to find patterns and regularity in the midst of chaos. In this sense, they are about the sublime, the beauty that is at the edge of our grasp.”

Margaret studied at Washington University in St Louis, Governors State University in Illinois, and in a workshop at Notre Dame with Alice Neel. She received her BA from Governors State in 1972 and an MA in 1975. In 1980 she received an MFA from the University of Pennsylvania, where she studied with Neil Welliver.

Margaret Grimes was a prolific, powerhouse artist, working up until her health began to fail in 2019. “In art school, we were told to look at nature as if we were seeing it for the first time. Now we look at it as if we were seeing it for the last time, hence the need to meticulously observe. I desire to find the abstract in the natural, and, by close observation of the intensity of individual moments, approach the transcendent.” (Margaret Grimes)