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Grandma Moses Day

Today we celebrate Grandma Moses, who was born as Anna Mary Robertson on today's date in 1860, in Greenwich, New York. In 1960, Governor Nelson Rockefeller proclaimed Grandma Moses Day to take place on September 7, on Grandma Moses's 100th birthday. He once again proclaimed the day the following year, for her 101st birthday.

Robertson, who gained the last name Moses after marrying Thomas Moses in 1887, began dabbling a bit with painting in her late fifties. But it wasn't until about the age of 76 that she really picked up paintbrushes, after she could no longer properly hold embroidery needles on account of her arthritis. She was self-taught, and painted in a primitive style, depicting things she was familiar with, focusing on peaceful scenes, rural life, and farm work.

She began selling her paintings for $10 each at a local drugstore. One day, in 1938, art collector Louis Caldor came in and bought all of her paintings, which led to the launch of her career. The following year, her paintings were shown at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City and began being sold throughout North America and Europe. Anna Mary Robertson Moses became Grandma Moses. In 1946, her paintings began being used on Christmas cards, bringing her to a wider audience. She won the Women's National Press Club Award in 1949; she accepted her award in Washington, D.C., and also met President Harry S. Truman there.

Grandma Moses painted more than 1000 paintings—perhaps closer to 1,500 of them. She died at the age of 101, on December 13, 1961, in Hoosick Falls, New York. She once said, "Painting's not important. The important thing is keeping busy." Today we celebrate her art, as well as her spirit of staying active until late in life.

How to Observe Grandma Moses Day

You could celebrate the day by seeing some original copies of Grandma Moses's paintings at Bennington Museum in Vermont, or at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, the Art Institute of Chicago, or the Phillips Collection in Washington, D.C. If you can't make it to a museum, you could view some copies of Grandma Moses's paintings online. Why not bring some Grandma Moses into your own home by purchasing some prints of her work? You also could pick up a copy of her memoir, My Life's History. Above all, today may be a day to remember that it is not too late to try something new no matter how old you are. Take up painting, learn how to sail, try a new sport, or take up a new hobby. The possibilities are endless for trying something new and staying active!

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