Local artist Genevra Sloan passed away Nov. 11, 2009, at Moscow Good Samaritan Village, where she had lived since 2003. Genevra was involved with the local arts community as a painter and print-maker for 50 years, ever since she and her husband, Bill, and their two daughters, Genevra Jr. and Dana, moved to Moscow in 1955 from Chicago.
Genevra was born Genevra Olene Lorish on Aug. 8, 1924, on Chicago's south side. The daughter of a real estate executive and a piano teacher, she was first exposed to art through her father, an amateur artist who often took her along on his landscape-painting expeditions.
In 1940, Genevra met Bill Sloan, who had moved with his family to Chicago from Kansas City, Mo. In the fall of that year, Bill left for college to study architecture. The following year Genevra enrolled at the University of Chicago, where she received a degree in art history in 1945. In 1946, she and Bill were married. They moved to Troy, N.Y., where Bill completed his degree in architecture at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, while Genevra worked as an illustrator for the New York Chamber of Commerce and taught art at the Emma Willard School for girls.
In 1948, the couple returned to Chicago, where their daughters were born. In 1955, Bill was hired as a professor of architecture at the University of Idaho. They bought a turn-of-the-century house on B Street in the old Fort Russell neighborhood of Moscow, and as Bill settled into teaching, Genevra began taking painting classes at the university with professors Mary Kirkwood and Alf Dunn. In 1959, Bill was accepted to Yale graduate school. They moved to Guildford, Conn., outside of New Haven, and Genevra commuted once or twice a week to New York City to take painting classes at The Art Students League. It was there that she became interested in abstract expressionism, and later attended a summer painting workshop in Woodstock, N.Y. One of her paintings from the workshop was selected to be in the 1961 Allied American Artists Annual show in New York.
After returning to Moscow, Genevra continued painting and entering art shows, exhibiting locally and as far away as San Francisco, Denver and New York. She kept a studio above Bjorkland's Hardware on Main Street, where she painted every day. From 1965 to 1967, she obtained her graduate degree in fine art from UI. In the mid- to late-1960s, Genevra became interested in print making. She began with multi-color-silk screens and etchings, and in the early '70s she began carving woodblock prints. She also began to teach painting and drawing in the fine arts department at UI, substituting for professors on leave. For a decade, teaching and her connection to the university through the graduate art studio became a part of her life that she clearly enjoyed. Genevra continued making art through the '80s and '90s. In 1991, she was recognized by the Idaho Commission on the Arts, receiving one of three fellowships sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts.
When Bill died in November 2003, she moved to Moscow Good Samaritan Village, at which point she retired from making art. However, her work was displayed in 2007 in a two-person show along with the work of her good friend and fellow artist, Jennifer Rod, at the Above the Rim Gallery on Main Street in Moscow. During her lifetime Genevra's work was exhibited in many regional and national shows, including one-person shows at the University of Montana, the Spokane Arts Center, The Columbia Basin College, Lewis-Clark State College, and the University of Idaho Prichard Gallery.
There will be a showing of her artwork at the Prichard Art Gallery, 414 S. Main St. in Moscow, today through Sunday, with an open reception from 5 to 9 p.m. Friday. A celebration of her life in a memorial service will be conducted at 1 p.m. Saturday at the Unitarian Universalist Church of the Palouse, 420 E. Second St. in Moscow. Preceding the memorial service at 12:15 p.m., there will be a public procession featuring The Peace Band from the corner of North Adams and B streets to the church. All are welcome to join us.