Peggy Palmer Burrows

Maiden Name: 
Palmer
Variant Names: 
Peggy Palmer
Peggy Burrows
Children: 
8
Birth Date: 
1905
Birth Place: 
Ottawa, IL
Death Date: 
1979
Death Place: 
San Mateo, CA
Residences/Studios: 
North Sheridan Road, Chicago
Ottawa, Illinois
Active In: 
Chicago
Medium: 
Drawing
Illustration
Painting
Painting - Watercolor
Exhibitions: 
Annual Exhibition of Works by Chicago and Vicinity Artists, AIC, 1949
Drake Hotel exhibition with Mary White Palmer, Chicago, 1937
Findlay Galleries, Chicago
"Xmas Stocking" exhibit with Gertrude Abercrombie and Julia Thecla, Chicago, 1952
Theobald Galleries, Michigan Avenue, Chicago, 1938
Memberships: 
All-Illinois Society of Fine Artists
Collections: 
The Arts Club, Chicago
Other Occupations: 
Newspaper Columnist, San Francisco, CA
Biography: 
From the IWA Archives

Peggy Palmer, as she liked to be called, was described as a "luscious wit," by Chicago art critic C. J. Bulliet in a 1948 review of her exhibit at Chicago's Findlay Galleries. She "pok(es) fun at her friends, at the old masters and particularly at herself. . . . She is the mother of [eight] children, none above middle teens, and two or three of them already beginning to show talent derived from Peggy. There is a little wall set aside for these youngsters at Findlay's."1

Creative talent runs in Palmer's family. Her mother, Mary White Palmer, was a painter of miniatures and still lifes. The two exhibited their work together at the Drake Hotel in Chicago in 1937.

A decade later, at Christmas time, Palmer built a "model town" in the basement of her three-and-one-half-story home on north Sheridan Road in Chicago. The artist found treasures at secondhand stores and constructed the village as a play area for her children. The Ottawa, Illinois, newspaper featured her creation, describing the fire station (complete with a fire truck and firefighter helmets), gas station ("located just off the highway, which was painted gray on the dark green floor"), well-stocked grocery store (with a checkout counter), soda bar, and various living units.2

At night when her children were asleep or during the day when they were in school, Palmer worked on creative projects, her painting, and a children's page she wrote for a magazine. Her art shows in Chicago galleries and at the Art Institute were numerous and enjoyed by critics and spectators.

She said she wanted to paint formal portraits, but she didn't know enough about anatomy. Besides, as she admitted to a reporter, it didn't seem to matter whether she was trying to be serious in her writing (her first job was as a columnist for a San Francisco newspaper) or with her painting--the results were usually funny.3

Notes

1. Art Magazine, December 15, 1948, 23-27.

2. "Mother of Eight Builds 'Model' Town in Basement," Ottawa Citizen, January 18, 1947.

3. Genevieve Flavin, "Mother of Eight Paints, Writes, and Travels," Chicago Daily Tribune, June 25, 1950.