m  a  r  k    e  r  i  c  k  s  o  n    p  a  i  n  t  i  n  g  s

f  a  m  i  l  y    a  r  t

My grandmother, Blanche Rose (Nathan) Hesslein, in Greenwich Village (NYC) standing at the outdoor painting exhibition in Washington Square Park. She and my mother Bernice (Hesslein) Erickson's paintings are displayed.

They both spent considerable time in and around Washington Square and often painted outdoors in the lush park with trees swaying and birds flying in the middle of that public square in Manhattan.

In the 1930s and 1940s they had a painting studio there. MacDougal was a favorite location for their entire lives. I visit whenever I am in the city. I can feel their spirits there.

MacDougal Alley is a dead-end off MacDougal Street, south of West 8th Street. The Alley was established in 1883 to house stables for the townhouses located there at the time, some are still standing. From 1949 to 1950 the Abstract Expressionist painter Jackson Pollock lived at number 9 on the alley. Poet Edward A. Robinson and sculptor Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney, founder of the Whitney Museum also lived along the alley. MacDougal Alley is one of the final Manhattan streets lit by gas lamps.

The alley and street were named for Scottish-born Alexander McDougall (1732-1786), an original Son of Liberty who was imprisoned in 1770 for writing a pamphlet denouncing restrictions the British had placed on trade in the colonies.

He received so many visitors that his jailers had to make an appointment list. During the Revolutionary War he rose to major general, later represented New York State in the Continental Congress, became a state senator and was the first president of the Bank of New York.

Blanche Hesslein
MacDougal Alley - Greenwich Village NYC 1940
oil on canvas

MacDougal Alley - Greenwich Village

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