Sally Michel Avery American, 1902-2003


Sally Michel was born in 1902. Knowing as young as five years old that she wanted to be an artist, she enrolled in the Art Students League in New York City directly after completing high school. In 1924 she traveled to East Gloucester, Massachusetts to spend the summer painting. There she met Milton Avery (1893-1965) whom she married just two years later. For forty years until Milton Avery's passing in 1965, the two resided in a modest top floor apartment at 294 West 11th Street in New York City and painted side-by-side in their living room. While Milton was alive, Sally assumed the role of bread winner, promoter of her husband's career, mother to their daughter March who was born in 1932, and general maintainer of the household. In order to support the family Sally worked as an illustrator for Macy's, The New York Times under the "Child and Home" column, various children's books and other publications. Consequently Sally found little time to paint herself except during extended summer vacations when as a family they would often travel throughout New England, Canada, Mexico, and Europe with their close friends and fellow artists Mark Rothko, Adolph Gottlieb, and Barnett Newman. Still and all there was a mutual respect between Sally and Milton that lasted throughout their marriage due in large part to Sally's strength of character, unflagging optimism, and faith in Milton's art. It was not until the 1940's that Sally had time to paint when her daughter went to school, and Milton's paintings began to sell modestly. Although many of her works were of very high quality, Sally never attempted to show or to sell any of them. She steadfastly and consistently subjugated her work and career to that of her husband as she continued to play the role of staunch defender and manager of her husband's art and legacy.  In the 1950's when her daughter went off to college, Sally slowly found support for her work. She became a resident at the Yaddo Art Colony and at the MacDowell Art Colony. She even had a show at the Provincetown Art Gallery and shared billing with her husband at the Rudolph Gallery in Florida. Yet even after Milton's death in 1965 Sally continued to promote his work and to be evasive, almost dismissive, of any discussion of her personal works. Sally Michel Avery died on January 9, 2003 at the age of 100.




Art Students League, New York

Woodstock Art Colony


New York City Center Gallery, New York City, 1950

Woodstock Art Center, Woodstock, New York, 1950

Sid Deutsch Gallery, New York City, 1950

Village Art Center, New York City, 1957 First Prize - Oils

Village Art Center, New York City, 1958 Second Prize - Oils

Paul Kessler Gallery, Provincetown, Massachusetts, 1965-1967

Jarvis Gallery, Woodstock, New York, 1969

New Britain Museum of Art, New Britain, Connecticut, 1970

Galerie du Jonelle, Palm Springs, California, 1973

Henry Fox Gallery, 1975-1983

Waverly Gallery, New York, 1981 (solo)

Ulster County Council for the Arts, Kingston, New York, 1982 (solo)

Allentown Museum of Art, Allentown, Pennsylvania, 1984

Kleinert Gallery, Woodstock, New York, 1985 (solo)

Childs Gallery, Boston and New York, 1986-1988, "A Century of Women Artists", 1989

Corcoran Gallery, Washington, D.C., "Seventy Five American Masters", 1987

University of Iowa Museum of Art, 1987 (retrospective)

Wallace Wentworth Gallery, Washington, D.C., 1988 (solo)

Art in the Ambassador's Residence, Manila, 1988

Bell Gallery, Woodstock, New York, 1988 (solo)

Mekler Gallery, Los Angeles, California, 1989 (retrospective)

David Barnett Gallery, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, 1989 (solo)

Rudolph Gallery, Coral Gables, Florida, 1989

Knoxville Museum of Art, Tennessee, "Woman's Art Journal Tenth Year Celebration", 1989

Fresno Art Museum, California 1990 (retrospective)

Knoedler Gallery, New York, 2003

Katharina Rich Perlow Gallery, New York, 2003


Museums and Public Collections

Corcoran Gallery, Washington, D.C.

Fresno Art Museum, California

Grinnell College

Holyoke Museum, Holyoke, Massachusetts

Housatonic Community College Museum of Art, Bridgeport, Connecticut

Israel Museum

Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City

National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, D.C.

New Britain Museum of Art, New Britain, Connecticut

University of Iowa Museum of Art, Iowa City, Iowa

Wadsworth Athenaeum, Hartford, Connecticut

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