Mary Whyte Captures the Spirit of America in Her Large-scale Figurative Watercolors

407.246.4278, ext. 4860

Images sent: Photograph: Mary Whyte by Jack Alterman Artworks: “Aspen Leaf,” 2014, watercolor on paper and “Graffiti,” 2008, watercolor on paper; both on loan from Coleman Fine Art.

  • Mary Whyte: A Portrait of Us
    October 16th, 2015 through January 3rd, 2016
    Watercolor artist Mary Whyte also is a teacher and author whose figurative paintings have earned national recognition. A resident of Johns Island, S.C., Whyte garners much of her inspiration from the Gullah descendants of coastal Carolina slaves. Her portraits are included in numerous corporate, private, university and museum collections and have been featured in a variety of national and international publications. Her work can be found at Coleman Fine Art in Charleston, S.C., where her husband, Smith Coleman, makes gilded and hand-carved frames.
  • Join us for the opening reception with Mary Whyte as our special guest Friday, October 16th, from 6 to 8 p.m., $5, MMAA members free.
  • The following day, Mary Whyte will lead tours through her exhibition. Saturday, October 17th, 11 a.m. and 3:30 p.m., included with admission, MMAA members free.

In Mary Whyte’s new exhibition at The Mennello Museum of American Art, the spirit of our country is presented in the artist’s provocative watercolors of everyday people. Using broad washes of vibrant watercolor coupled with focused areas of intricate detail, Whyte brings to life the expression, perseverance and character of a nation’s citizenry. From Whyte’s paintings of her African-American neighbors in South Carolina to her depictions of weathered farmers and laborers of the Midwest, the artist tells the story of an American people that is contemporary, candid and often moving.

Mary Whyte: A Portrait of Us is the final exhibition in the museum’s yearlong “Storytellers of the South: Voices of Women” series of exhibitions.

When Whyte’s paintings are exhibited together, the viewer is offered a rare glimpse into the artist’s private world. Here are the folks Whyte has met along the way and has gotten to know. The result is the feeling that we have ventured into a family reunion, and are surrounded by faces that feel familiar to us. We are drawn in, and become witness to not only to our universal commonality, but also to the life and work of an accomplished artist.

Whyte’s paintings have earned international recognition and are held in numerous private, corporate and museum collections. She is the author of several books, including Working South, Down Bohicket Road and Painting Portraits and Figures in Watercolor. In 2013 the biography of her life and work by Martha Severens, More Than a Likeness: The Enduring Art of Mary Whyte was published by University of South Carolina Press.

Interviews with Mary Whyte are available through Coleman Fine Art, 79 Church St., Charleston, SC, 29401 (843) 853-7000.

Owned and operated by the City of Orlando, The Mennello Museum of American Art endeavors to preserve, exhibit and interpret the museum’s outstanding permanent collection of paintings by Earl Cunningham. The museum also seeks to enrich the public through special exhibitions, publications and programs that celebrate other outstanding traditional and contemporary American artists.

The Mennello Museum is located in Loch Haven Cultural Park, at 900 E. Princeton St., Orlando, FL, 32803. Museum hours are 10:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday, noon- 4:30 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $5 adults, $4 seniors, $1 students with ID, $1 children ages 6-18, free to children ages 5 and younger, free to active military with ID. Follow the museum on Twitter and Facebook. Museum information: (407) 246-4278. Website:

The “Storytellers of the South: Voices of Women” series of exhibitions are sponsored by the City of Orlando and The Friends of the Mennello Museum of American Art with funding from Orange County Government through the Arts & Cultural Affairs Program. The Mennello Museum is supported by United Arts of Central Florida, host of centralflorida and the collaborative Campaign for the Arts.