After years of study Kate Freeman Clark's professional career lasted only 14 years
Kate Freeman Clark began studying to be a proper lady at the Gardner Institute in New York in 1891. Following her graduation in 1893, she and her mother went to the World Columbian Exposition in Chicago where Kate was introduced to the world of painting that was to consume her life for the next 30 years.
Following their return to New York, Kate enrolled in the Art Students League, beginning with John Henry Twachtman's class in drawing and progressing to Irving Ramsey Wiles' class in watercolors. Another instructor in the school, William Merritt Chase, was her teacher in still life painting. This would begin her association and mentorship that would last until Chase's death in 1916.
These three instructors had traveled and studied extensively in Europe until 1878 when Chase began teaching at the newly formed Art Students League and set up a studio on 10th Street in New York. On further travels in Europe Chase encountered the plein aire style of French Impressionism.
Chase became a proponent of Impressionism and organized a Foreign Exhibition in Boston which showed for the first time in America the paintings of Edouard Manet, Camille Pissaro, Claude Monet, Pierre Auguste Renoir and Alfred Sisley.
In the spring of 1895 Kate enrolled in Wiles' plein air summer class at Peconic on Long Island where Wiles had a permanent studio. In the fall, she enrolled in Chase's School of Art which later became the New York School of Art. In the summer, Chase was teaching in his Shinnecock School of Art on Long Island where Kate studied for six consecutive summers.
In 1902 Chase taught his final summer class at Shinnecock and began taking students abroad each summer while Kate remained in New York during winters and painting during the summers on Long Island and resort areas in Connecticut and Vermont.
Ten years after she began studying in art school and painting on Long Island, Kate Freeman Clark landed her first professional exhibition at the National Academy of Design in New York.
That first showing was followed by successive invitations and exhibitions:
1905 – One of her paintings was accepted at the Boston Art Club and she was invited to submit work to the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts in Philadelphia.
1906 – She showed two paintings in the Corcoran School of Art in Washington, D.C. She was invited to show work at Osborne Wesfield corporate headquarters in New York and corresponded with Macbeth Galleries in New York about a possible exhibition and sale of her paintings.
1907 – Clark shows one more painting at Corcoran. She is invited to show at the Calfonte Hotel on the Boardwalk in Atlantic City but her paintings were rejected at the Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh.
1908 – Clark's work is accepted by the Carnegie Institute.
1909 – Clark is invited to submit work at the New York School of Art.
1910 – Clark's "Entrance to the Orchard" is accepted at the Buffalo Fine Arts Museum. Two others are shown at the Ledavese's Gallery in Spokane, Washington.
1915 - Clark exhibits eight paintings in a one-man show at Braus Gallery in New York. Her "Summer Afternoon" enters the collection of the Brooks Memorial Art Gallery in Memphis. Her "Climbers" was selected for a juried show at the Panama-Pacific Exhibition in San Francisco where Chase showed 32 paintings at an exhibition in a room devoted solely to his work.
1918 – Clark stages a one-man show at the Men's Club of New York City, her final exhibition.
1919 – After Chase died in 1916, her grandmother died in in 1919, Clark briefly reenters the Art Students League.
1923 – After her mother died a year earlier, Clark joined 91 former Chase students in donating a bust of their mentor Chase to be placed at New York University. She stored her accumulated paintings in the Lincoln Warehouse in New York and moved back to Holly Springs, unable to resume her painting career.
After 34 years assuming the role as a Southern lady, Kate Freeman Clark died in 1957. leaving to her hometown the Walthall family home and the paintings she left stored in New York, and funds to construct a museum to house them.
The Kate Freeman Art Gallery opened in 1963.