Oil painting by Asheville area artist Mary Filiss

LH015: Mary Filiss – Finally Happily Painting and Quilting in Retirement

Portrait, original oil painting by Asheville area artist Mary Filiss
Portrait, original oil painting by Asheville area artist Mary Filiss

Mary Filiss is a painter and quilter living in Marshall, North Carolina.  She attended art school, Cooper Union College in NYC,  and upon graduation, Mary and her husband shared studio space in the same neighborhood as some of the rising stars of the period’s art scene.

Life happened, and after many adventures and years of raising children, Mary is finally returning to her art in her retirement years.

I will let her tell her own story, though, as it is too good to spoil by giving you many of the details here!

This is another one of the original interviews I conducted; in fact, this one was held purely as practice for me and not intended for release.  Mary is a close neighbor of mine, so one day in January 2016, when we were both stormed-in on the same hill, she agreed for me to come over and pass some of that snowy day by chatting about her art.  I learned an awful lot about my neighbor!

Months later, I listened to the recording, realized how much I loved the interview, and sought Mary’s permission to air it.  I was a little concerned about some of the more personal things Mary had revealed, though, so I brought the recording to her house and we listened together, to make sure she was ok to go live with her story.  Mary graciously agreed for me to release this interview.   Her only concern is, she isn’t quite sure she fits in with the company of the other great artists who have been guests on the Local Hearted Podcast.

I have no doubt that you will find Mary’s story every bit as interesting as some of the more well-known artists I have talked with.  I know I did!  And it was mentioned, but I want to highlight, that Mary and her husband came to Madison County, NC to raise a family in 1973, living among neighbors whose roots in these mountains all went back many generations.   Mary’s family lived a rugged farming life in the far reaches of the countryside, the type of lifestyle Tim Barnwell was researching and photographing (although he did not photograph her family).

Mary Filiss, Marshall, NC artist
Mary Filiss, Marshall, NC artist

To connect with Mary and see more of her work:

  • SCROLL down!  Mary does not have a website, so the photos on this blog are the only place online to see her work
  • visit the Laurel River Store, which carries quilts and aprons made by Mary

Highlights of this interview include:

  • Why Mary stopped painting for how many years??
  • Which art form she used to satisfy her need for creating with color during the period she wasn’t painting
  • Mary discussing her training and her influences and what purpose her art serves in her life now
  • The story Mary tells of a woman in Columbia who showed how much she valued her own work when Mary’s husband tried to purchase a handwoven poncho from her

Local artists mentioned during this episode:

Other artists mentioned during this episode:

  • Franz Kline
  • Jasper Johns
  • Robert Rauschenberg
  • Willem deKooning
  • Pierre Bonnard
  • Edouard Vuillard
  • Henri Matisse
  • David Hockney

Other examples of Mary’s work (with a huge thank you to Nan Sherry for photographing the art):

Oil painting by Asheville area artist Mary Filiss
Oil painting by Asheville area artist Mary Filiss
Portrait of artist's son, original oil painting by Asheville area artist Mary Filiss
Portrait of artist’s son, original oil painting by Asheville area artist Mary Filiss
Original oil painting by Mary Filiss
Original oil painting by Mary Filiss
Family Portrait by artist Mary Filiss
Family Portrait by artist Mary Filiss

 

Art Quilt by Asheville area artist Mary Filiss
Art Quilt by Asheville area artist Mary Filiss
Landscape Quilt by Asheville area artist Mary Filiss
Landscape Quilt by Asheville area artist Mary Filiss
Original quilt by Asheville area artist Mary Filiss
Original quilt by Asheville area artist Mary Filiss
Plein air landscape, oil painting by Asheivlle area artist Mary Filiss
Plein air landscape, oil painting by Asheivlle area artist Mary Filiss
Zinnia oil painting by Asheville area artist Mary Filiss
Zinnia oil painting by Asheville area artist Mary Filiss
Iris Oil painting by Asheville area artist Mary Filiss
Iris Oil painting by Asheville area artist Mary Filiss
Lily oil painting by Asheville area artist Mary Filiss
Lily oil painting by Asheville area artist Mary Filiss

 

 

 

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8 thoughts on “LH015: Mary Filiss – Finally Happily Painting and Quilting in Retirement

  1. Your interview accompanied me on the bus from Jerusalem to home. I really enjoyed the podcast, one of your best. I really connected and found her artwork inspirational and she could/should show on web and galleries.

    • Carol, that is such a wonderful comment. I am thrilled to hear that this one one of your favorite interviews, and I am sure Mary will be happily surprised to hear, too 🙂 I love the image of Mary’s words accompanying you on the bus…so far from here… Thanks for listening!

  2. There is something so intimate and personal about a hand-made quilt.
    I fondly remember my maternal grandmother’s visits. She spent most of the time sewing. I loved the rhythmic sound of her scissors which had a unique deep woody sound as she snipped along the table upon which the fabric rested. I am glad you valued your beautiful quilts too much to sell, Mary. They will be cherished by family for many generations to come.
    Thanks Meredith for sharing another fascinating WNC artist!

    • Erik, thanks for sharing your memory of your grandmother’s visits. I appreciate your understanding how much goes into the quilts and will pass your supportive words on to Mary. So glad you enjoyed the interview!

  3. Wonderful interview! I enjoyed hearing Mary speak so candidly about her life experiences. Her talents are many. Everything she does seems to reflect a joyous passion for life. The painter in me loves Mary’s quilts. But I can’t wait to see more of her rich and colorful paintings!

    • Thanks for taking the time to comment, Dixie, and I’m really glad you enjoyed the interview. Yes, her paintings are really something aren’t they? I love how free she is with her brushstrokes and colors. I’ll make sure she knows you want to see more of her work!

  4. I loved this interview and hearing about Mary’s eclectic life. Her work is beautiful and I so agree with other comments that she should be showing her work somewhere. Loved the show.

    • Thank you, Sharon, I will pass along your comment to Mary. I appreciate your listening and so happy you like Mary’s work! I’m sorry it took awhile to respond to your comment–got hit by a bunch of spam I had to wade through and then got to your comment 🙂 Thanks again for listening!

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