Phyllis M. Avedon

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This week, the world lost a beautiful soul, accomplished painter and most importantly, loving Mom and Nana. Annapolis artist Phyllis M. Avedon, 90, died peacefully in her sleep on Dec. 27th. Born in 1926 in Evanston, IL, Phyllis was the oldest of three sisters, daughter of Laura and Phillip Moe. The Moes raised the family in Southern CA where they flourished despite the Great Depression. Phyllis lived a charmed life, full of love, adventure and travel. She was a classmate of Norma Jean Baker's in 6th-grade math (yep, that's Marilyn Monroe) but also shared the stories of darker days when Japanese classmates and friends were taken away to internment camps at the beginning of WW II. The daughter of an architect and a schoolteacher, Phyllis attended Los Angeles Art Center College of Design and at 19 eloped to Las Vegas with Robert M. Avedon and wed at the Little Church of the West. They were married nearly 65 years before his passing in 2010. Phyllis' early art and writing talents landed her the job of in-house artist and circulation manager for the then-fledgling Motor Trend Magazine in Los Angeles. She even graced the cover of the very first issue. Bob and Phyl had a ranch in the San Fernando Valley where they raised Australian Silky Terriers, a breed new to the USA at the time. In 1957, adventurous and more than brave, the young couple moved, Silky Terriers and all, to San Juan, Puerto Rico, where they raised their 3 children. Traveling the West Indies, they were avid sailors and kept a sloop docked in St. Thomas. The Avedons and their dachshunds were well-known VI and BVI sailors. They also built a getaway on a working tobacco farm high in the mountains of Barranquitas, PR, where they kept a small herd of Shetland ponies, to the delight of their kids and classmates who enjoyed many field trips there back in the 1960's. Once the Avedon kids were in school full-time, Phyllis jumped back into painting at Liga de Estudiantes de Arte de San Juan, honing her craft as a landscape artist. Her true gift though was the ability to capture the very essence of every person she ever painted, a talent she developed even further as a portraitist and long-time Artist-in-Residence at Maryland Hall in Annapolis when the family moved to MD from New Canaan, CT, where they lived briefly after PR. In CT she was a member of the Silvermine Guild of Artists and studied with the late impressionist Henry Hensche at the Cape School of Art in Provincetown, MA. She was past president of the Maryland Society of Portrait Painters, founding member of Maryland Hall's Drawing and Painting Cooperative and coordinator of its Friday Portrait Group and founding member of the National Museum of Women in the Arts. She was also honored to be chosen as a registered copyist at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, DC. Her portraits, landscapes, abstract paintings and still lifes in oil and pastel are in collections throughout the US and Europe. Before settling into her Annapolis art studio, Phyllis was an editor for The Office of Technology Assessment on Capitol Hill and a columnist for The Montgomery Co. Sentinel. She edited best-selling books on color and style for Acropolis Books and put her experience to paper as a long-time breast cancer survivor, editing the book "I Flunked My Mammogram." She did the Washington Post crossword in pen every Sunday and inevitably found typos on menus everywhere she ate! Phyllis wore many hats during her full and busy lifetime but her favorite was as Nana to her eight grandchildren. She is survived by daughter Valerie Gardiner of Severna Park and her children Laura and John; son Gregg Avedon (Arnold) and his children Heather and James, and son Rob Avedon (Coral Gables, FL) and his children Kathryn, Brett, Brooke and Robbie. She is also survived by daughter-in-law Kerrin Smith (Severna Park), sisters Marilyn Stader (Malibu, CA) and Connie Cotton (Richardson, TX), loving caregivers Cindy Quaster and Pat Bowling, as well many beloved cousins, nieces and nephews. A celebration of her long and well-lived life will take place next spring when the azaleas are in bloom and the sun is shining brightly. Vaya con Dios, Phyllis, Mom, Nana. We know you are up in heaven fixing the typos on God's paperwork, befriending the angels and painting up a storm. They are lucky to have you!

Published in The Capital Gazette on Dec. 29, 2016
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