Gladys Edgerly Bates (1896-2003)
Mystic Museum of Art Permanent Collection
Donated by Otto E. Liebig
Gladys Edgerly Bates was born in Hopewell, New Jersey in 1896. She was educated at home by her father Webster Edgerly, a college professor, but enrolled at the Corcoran School of Art to study watercolor painting at the age of 13. In 1916 she entered the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, where she discovered sculpture, and—on a scholarship trip to Rome in 1921—met her fellow student and future husband, Earl Kenneth Bates.
In 1924 they discovered and purchased the Burrows Homestead (presumed to be the oldest standing house in Mystic, built in 1729), and set about the considerable task of restoring the property. Stone Croft, as they named it, was spacious enough to raise three sons and provide one studio upstairs for Ken and one on the ground floor for Gladys. It became a gathering place for the growing colony of Mystic artists, who not only discussed ideas and techniques, but also the need for a permanent gallery in which to hold exhibitions.
Gladys and Ken were among those most instrumental in the acquisition of the Museum’s current site (the former town dump) and in the building of the original Mystic Art Association gallery in 1931. Gladys decorated dozens of cakes not only for the opening tea, but for many that followed. Gladys and Ken also organized lectures and concerts to complement exhibitions—stories remain of the struggle to transport Gladys’s piano from Stone Croft’s living room to the gallery and back for each musical event.
Gladys was an award-winning artist, a member of the National Sculpture Society, the National Association of Women Artists, the Connecticut Academy of Fine Arts, and an early champion of the Mystic Art Association. Her work is represented in the permanent collections of the Pennsylvania Academy for the Fine Arts, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Mystic Museum of Art.