Mym Tuma 1940 —


Love of art and boundless energy mark Mym Tuma's career.

Born in Berwyn, Illinois, Mym Tuma aka Marilynn Thuma, majored in art, completing her undergraduate work at Northwestern University in Evanston Illinois. She then moved to Chicago where she worked at the architectural firm of Perkins & Wills, to finance her future graduate studies in art at Stanford University, in California and finally at NYU where she was awarded two painting scholarships that allowed her to spend a certain amount of time on both coasts.

The words of Wright 'hovered' over the Chicago architectural community: THINK SHAPE, COLOR, PATTERN, AND TEXTURE, and effected young Mym strongly. In that era, Architecture and Frank Lloyd Wright,were synonymous in Chicago. It was while working in Chicago that Mym Tuma's passionate fascination for 'land formations', crystallized.

New Yorker's experience Frank Lloyd Wright when they view Wright's masterpiece, The Solomon R Guggenheim Museum.  Hamptonites feel the impact of Wright when they see the seductive homes designed by Norman Jaffe, that grace the area. Cherished by many as Norman Jaffe's ‘magnum opus,' is the Jewish Center of the Hamptons, at 44 Woods Lane, East Hampton NY.

Wright's admonition to his disciples: "think shape, color, pattern, and texture" have informed Mym Tuma's works throughout her career.

Mym Tuma was attracted to Georgia O'Keeffe's work. It was only after completing her master's degree at Stanford University in California that Mym Tuma reached out to Georgia O'Keeffe. Mym Tuma's ‘outreach' was in the form of a large sketch of a bulls skull drawn on a sheet of newspaper.  She enclosed it with a poem written by her friend and driving companion, when they set out to visit the Southwest together.  Along with the sketch and the poem, was a simple request: "When can I come out and visit you?" The parcel was simply addressed to "Georgia O'Keeffe, General Delivery, Abiquiu NM". Ms.O'Keeffe responded positively! "Yes, do come. Thanks for your page!". That was in 1964. "My visits to Georgia O'Keeffe continued until summer 1972."

Mym Tuma's biography is truly facinating,inspiring,and unique.

Georgia O'Keeffe was a true friend and a genuine patron to Mym Tuma. Occasionally buying works outright and on other occasions offering to pay some expenses when she surmised from their correspondence that Mym was financially ‘pressed'. Perhaps most important, was arranging to show a work of Mym Tuma's to one of her major collectors, Joseph Hirshhorn. Then there were the gifts.  In all, O'Keeffe gifted young Mym several of her hand made dresses and gave Mym objects that simply fascinated her.  All the letters are included in Mym Tuma's published collection of O'Keeffe letters, which along with her remarkable biography, are currently available.

After that first meeting Mym drove south into Mexico, where living would be far more affordable. She well recalled Wright's admonition to his disciples: think shape, color, pattern, and texture.  There, Mym, was able to further her interest in landforms by situating herself in a blessed area of Mexico formed from primal volcanic activity, Lake Chapala, Mexico. It was there she first experimented with three-dimensional works.

Over the next years, Mym and Georgia maintained active contact, frequently sharing their thoughts in their letters and almost yearly Mym would drive the 2,500 mile round trip to share experiences with her friend. When Mym visited, she brought with her some of her newest works to share with O'Keeffe. Together they enjoyed their shared vision of art, and life.

In all, Georgia O'Keefe purchased several works from Mym over the years. On one particular visit, she was interested in one of Mym's three dimensional works, and removed a Brancusi from her wall and installed Mym's Moonseed 1969. She told Mym that she was expecting her ‘patron' in a few weeks and asked her to leave the work for her to show her friend and eminent collector, Joseph Hirshhorn, saying encouragingly, "he might buy it". And, so he did. The work, Moonseed, 1969, 41x30x9 inches, is in the permanent collection of the Hirshhorn Museum, Washington DC.

Mym Tuma and Georgia O'Keeffe, last met in 1971.  Mym recalls their last meeting vividly. The Trout was playing, O'Keeffe told Mym that, "she had a young man who could 'make the clay speak', that she was looking forward to working with him. The young man was Juan Hamilton, a potter.

An exhibit of Mym Tuma's work hung in Edens Gallery Nov. 6-30, 1987 during Columbia College's "Georgia O'Keeffe Centennial Celebration." Tuma had first met O'Keeffe in 1964 and during the following decade the two artists had discovered several common interests, including an enthusiasm for each other's art. This is shown from the various handwritten letters between O'Keeffe and Tuma which can be found on Some examples of her work are in the permanent collection of The Hirshhorn Museum, in Washington, DC.

Mym then moved to the East End of Long Island where the light remains the glorious 'Painter's Light" that had inspired Thomas Moran, Childe Hassam and William Merritt Chase among others, in the 19th Century; Willem de Kooning, Jackson Pollock, Balcolm Greene, Perl Fine and Lee Krasner in the 20th Century, and Ross Bleckner, Eric Fischl and countless others to come in the 21st Century. In the early 1990's she recalls, I met Henry Geldzahler, the first curator of American Contemporary Art, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and upon retirement from the Metropolitan Museum of Art, became Curator of the DIA Foundation in Bridgehampton NY when he relocated to the Hamptons permanently. Mym glowed when she recalled, that Henry Geldzahler clearly responded to my work and in 1992, curated an exhibition of my pastels at Clayton Liberatore Gallery in Bridgehampton NY.

Her art conveys an understanding of universal structures in living things and how the process of conserving energy creates order. In 2005, Tuma authored "Radiant Energy, Light In My Pastel Paintings". The work is listed in Who's Who In America 2006, her previous books include poetry in "Awakening The Spirit", "The Blue Planet" Series, and essays on the creative process in "The Shell Theory of the Sculptured Paintings", and most collected by O'Keeffe scholars and American Art enthusiasts, "O'Keeffe & Me: Abstracts of Our Letters".

Tuma's emphasis on organic forms and their structural and mathematical underpinnings tie her to the artistic category of an organic minimalist. Her work is unique in the way she creates shaped forms that exist in three dimensional space, namely what Tuma calls her sculptured painting. Her artistic approach, has been predominantly influenced by oceanic and coastal forms. Forms such as beach pebbles, sand, sprouting seeds, and spiraling shell forms.

Tuma is a charter member of the National Museum of Women In The Arts, She exhibits her unique synthesis of sculptured paintings at Janet Lehr Fine Arts, East Hampton NY.

Mym Tuma's works will be exhibited by Janet Lehr Fine Arts, at The Hamptons Art and Design Fair, Bridgehampton NY July 5-7,2019 at booth #313. where she will speak beginning at 2pm Saturday July 6, 2019.





An important source for modern and contemporary American & European Art in East Hampton, New York & worldwide, Janet Lehr Fine Arts' spectacular wide-ranging inventory consists of unique paintings, drawings, large & small scale sculpture, monotypes, prints and photographs  by Ansel Adams, Milton Avery, Richard Avedon, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Romare Bearden, Fernando Botero, Cartier-Bresson, Marc Chagall, Alvin Langdon Coburn, Willem De Kooning, Richard Diebenkorn, Thomas Eakins, Childe Hassam, David Hockney, Winslow Homer, Wolf Kahn, Jeff Koons, Fernand Leger, Roy Lichtenstein, Man Ray, Thomas Moran, Henry Matisse, Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock, Robert Rauschenberg, Mark Rothko, Cindy Sherman, Charles Sheeler, Bert Stern, Alfred Stieglitz, Andy Warhol, Carleton E Watkins, Tom Wesselmann and Andrew Wyeth.

To bookmark Janet Lehr Fine Arts Gallery website:

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