Wildflowers of the Upper Midwest:
An Exhibition of Paintings
Lydia E. Curtis
Lydia E. Curtis (1886—1973)
Lydia was the second of four daughters born to Fred and Sophia Krueger. She grew up on a farm southwest of Charles City, Iowa. Her older sister wrote the following about life on their farm:
The nearby timber was an ideal locale for little girls to grow up and learn to know birds, flowers and trees. Our parents knew and loved wildlife. Our father was a born naturalist. No plant, stone, tree or bird escaped his notice. A tramp through the woods was fun, and we always learned something new from his knowledge about nature. In the spring, we strolled along the creek into the woods where bloodroots, bluebells, Dutchmen breeches and violets grew in profusion. Sometimes, we picked flowers until we could carry no more. Our mother patiently untangled our armfuls, and showed how they must be put into water. She told us not to pick so many because some must be leftfor seed....
Lydia’s father recognized she had artistic talents. He arranged private lessons while she was still in her teens. After graduating from Charles City High School, she received a bachelor’s degree at Highland Park College in Des Moines. She married James Hubert Curtis in 1910. As she raised five children, she self‐developed further her painting styles, using watercolors and oils.
At age 72 in 1958, she began a 15 year project to paint in watercolors the wildflowers indigenous to the upper Midwest. Over 13 years, she produced about 250 plates of different wildflower species. At age 85, she felt she no longer could “do justice to the beauty of the wildflowers” due to failing vision, and an unsteady hand. She continued to research each subject, and created narratives on their lore.
This exhibition is presented by Lydia’s family of surviving daughter and 13 grandchildren. The paintings were created by Lydia between 1958 and 1971.
The exhibition represents 30 examples of her portfolio, arrayed by season. Notes, where provided, are based on information gleaned from the Minnesota Wildflowers website:
New Month, New Exhibit!
Every month CCAC hosts a new artist. Here are some images from past exhibits. Most of the artists are regional.