Every Artist Has a Story

Mary Ronin. She may not be a household name, but in New York City in the 1940's, 1950's and 1960's she was making waves. Mary Ronin was born to a horse trainer father and a housewife mother in Illinois. She attended art school at Omaha University. In 1938, Mary moved to New York City and found work in the advertising art department at Bloomingdale's. As she stated, "I drew everything they sold. Pots, pans, shoes, furniture - everything." After Bloomingdale's, Ronin moved on to Young and Rubicam to become one of the first female art directors in New York. For anyone who has spent a summer in New York City, you know it can be an especially hot and unpleasant place. Taking advantage of her social stature, Ms. Ronin was a frequent visitor Fire Island, specifically Cherry Grove. Cherry Grove was a secret place for 'women who loved women' as the understanding of, or even the term lesbian, were not uttered in public. The Arts Project of Cherry Grove provided a venue that was unheard-of for lesbian and straight women residents. Mary Ronin, considered quite the beauty, appeared in the "Cherry Grove Follies of 1949". Among Ronin’s admirers in the Grove was Patricia Highsmith, lesbian author of Strangers on a Train and The Price of Salt. After seven years at Young and Rubicam, Ronin took a sabbatical year in France in 1952, retiring in 1953 to freelance. Mary would later set up a home and studio in Connecticut. It was there that she died in 1992.

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