This is Frank Stanley Herring's painting of Mickey Coe (Mildred McKinney, Hickory Museum of Art's founder Paul Whitener’s future wife) and her sisters. From left to right, with approximate ages: Thelma Anne McKinney (15), Ida Jones McKinney (17), and Mildred Missouri McKinney (14).
Pat Turner, daughter of the fourth McKinney sister, Edith, who was 12 at the time of the painting and had brown hair and eyes, reminisced about her mother, “She must have been devastated to be left out.”
“Frank Stanley Herring and his wife, Frances, took a room at the [Mitchell County, NC] Switzerland Inn in the late 1920s. He was an artist who lived [and worked] in New York City. … [The owners of the Inn] Ida and her brother Heriot had become friends with my grandparents, Fons and Jane Buchanan McKinney. Their friendship naturally led to a friendship with the Herrings. … Frank began to paint portraits of my family. The first was a life sized oil of Fons’ and Jane’s daughters. These three McKinney girls were blonde with blue eyes.” Article from the Mitchell News-Journal, September 8th, 2010.
Frank Stanley Herring was born in Pennsylvania, and established himself as a painter in New York City after having studied art in Chicago. Shortly after marrying in the early 1920’s, Herring began teaching at the Grand Central Art School in the winters while spending summers in North Carolina. It was here that he met Paul Whitener in 1934, being introduced by Mickey who of course by then knew them both. Paul became Herring's only painting student (Paul talked him into it).
In 1946 Herring and his wife helped establish the Burnsville Painting Classes. Located in the old Mount Mitchell's Boys camp in Burnsville, N.C., the school grew to national recognition over a 20 year period, continuing until 1966 when Herring died.
Herring became known primarily for his water color portraits of blacks in the South. His paintings have been exhibited in the Art Institute of Chicago and the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, among others, as well as of course at Hickory Museum of Art.
Post by Karin Borei, HMA Project Coordinator, writer and editor as needed, and HMA blogger since our blog's inception in March 2015.