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Edith Carlson O'Rourke

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Edith Carlson O'Rourke Artist "I was conceived in Paris, France and born in Brainerd, Minnesota on January 4, 1923." So began the eventful and accomplished life of Artist Edith Carlson O'Rourke who died in Salt Lake City on May 21 at her home following a short illness. She was well known in the arts community. Her work was shown often at the University of Utah and has been represented by the Phillips Gallery. She had maintained a studio-loft in New York for many years, but it was the quality of desert light in New Mexico that inspired much of the large body of her work: acrylic painting, crayon and charcoal drawing, color, black and white, very large to miniature. Over the years her work sold steadily among private collections and corporations. Galleries in the East, Southwest and the West Coast represented her elegant "abstract luminism" paintings and carefully balanced drawings. Her work was exhibited in 2006 at the Weisman Art Museum, University of Minnesota, her home state. Carlson was the wife of writer Frank O'Rourke. They moved about the United States, from California to Maine to Florida, and to Mexico and Switzerland. In Taos, New Mexico, Carlson herself was writing until encouraged to paint by artist Emil Bisttrams's "traditional teaching of art that is no longer given." In San Francisco later, the work of Paul Klee became her teacher, and she was able to show her own drawings for the first time at Gump's Gallery and Feingarten where some were then sold. But she remained closely involved with writing, devoted to the editing and promotion of O'Rourke's work. He was to produce in his lifetime more than 60 novels, including The Far Mountains, a highly praised historical novel of the Southwest. Of his baseball stories, mysteries and westerns, many have been in print for decades, and three were produced as motion pictures in the '60's. Before his death in 1990 Carlson had taken over as his agent, and had notable success in the posthumous publication and printing of his celebrated entertainment for children, Burton and Stanley, about two marabou storks from Kenya blown by a tornado 7000 miles to a quiet Nebraska town, and how they got back home again. The Michael Berry Gallery, 163 East 300 South, Salt Lake City will open a special exhibit of works by Edith Carlson from July 20 through August 11, 2007. Edith's colleagues wish to thank the Huntsman Cancer Hospital, doctors and staff, Sandi Martin, R.N. and neighbors, Carol Sontag and Lynette Frank, who assisted her in the last months of her life.
Published in Deseret News from July 21 to July 22, 2007
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