Remembering artists Boots and Polly

Courtesy photo
Kennett Township has lost two great artists, Mary Clark Keyser, left, and Marion Guthrie.
Courtesy photo Kennett Township has lost two great artists, Mary Clark Keyser, left, and Marion Guthrie.

I was startled recently to discover that apparently many Kennett area residents were unaware that two of the outstanding local artists had died. One was Mary Clark Keyser, known as “Boots” and the other was Marion Boyle Guthrie known as “Polly.” The two were very good friends, award winning artists and well known in the art community and in Kennett, partly through their dedication for decades to the Kennett Township Historical Commission, for which they were honored by the historical commission at their last meeting.

“Boots” had a license as a ham radio operator, was a licensed pilot, an accomplished pianist and was the first female veterinarian in Delaware in 1944, being the only woman student in a class of 50 followed by a private practice of 20 years. Her striking oil paintings in abstract Expressionist style received many awards over four decades, including a Best in Show at the Kennedy Center, and covers for Delaware Trust Company calendars. She was known for her paintings of animals.

Watercolorist “Polly” Marion Guthrie became well known for her paintings of stone barns. A meticulous painter, Polly traveled frequently with her husband, Warrington, to Amish country where she studied barns and the occupants and the Eastern Shore, where she had a love affair with boats and the life style of the watermen. An active member the National Organization of Pen Women, she used her organizational skills from her job as bookkeeper in the family business, Guthrie Spawn Co., to organize many large arts projects that widened the arts community for Pen Women. She also took many offices including state branch president and state president of Pen Women. Exhibited widely, her paintings are in public and private collections nationally and abroad. Along with her art career, as a member of the Kennett Township Historical Commission she always did the art work for showcase in the assembly room at the township building and the artwork for their posters and announcements. “Polly” was a member and guide at the Brandywine River Museum of Art, a member of the Center of the Creative Arts, Pennsylvania Society of Watercolor Painters, the Chester County Art Association and The Studio Group in Wilmington. She is listed in World Who’s Who of Women Directory of International Biography and Artists/USA and is missed by many.


The second annual Beet Beethoven 5K Run/ 1 Mile Walk to benefit the Kennett Symphony will be held at Radley Run Country Club on Thursday, July 17 at 6:30 p.m. It is $25 pre-registration by July 14, $30 thereafter. As the runners take off for their 5K Race, the music of Beethoven’s 5th Symphony will begin and run for the 32 minutes it takes to play it. Beethoven himself will also be in the race, identified by his out of date clothes and wild hair style. The race was a lot of fun last year, and I can’t run..



Good Heavens! It’s almost the Fourth of July, and that means fireworks at Longwood. There will be a fountain show with the fireworks show at 9:15 p.m. Tickets are limited and include all day admission to the gardens The gardens close at 6 p.m. to everyone except Fireworks and Fountains ticketholders. You may reserve a space in the viewing area after 3 p.m. You may bring a folding chair or rent one for $5 while supplies last. The music will be American favorites including “The Stars and Stripes,” “Victory at Sea,” “Armed Forces Medley,” “The Colonel Bogey March” and “The National Anthem.”


The Brandywine River Museum of Art is offering art lessons for children with weekly classes. The classes include Outdoor Adventure Drawing for age 8 to 11. Artstagram for ages 12 to 15 and five workshops for ages 3 to 10. To register contact the education office at 610-388-8382.


The Brandywiners, who bring us those fun productions of loved musicals at gorgeous Longwood Gardens, will present “Annie” this summer on July 24, 25, 26 and 31 and Aug. 1 and 2. The heartwarming story of the orphan and her dog who find a forever home with a millionaire during the Great Depression is well known. The show has such favorite songs as “The Sun Will Come Out Tomorrow” and “It’s a Hard Knocks Life.”

Tickets are $30 for adults, $25 for students ages 13 to 21 and $15 for ages 12 and under. There is a $2 mailing fee or $1 will call fee. Send payment to “Annie” Tickets, The Brandywiners, Ltd. PO Box 248, Montchanin, DE. 19710. To order by phone call 302-478-3355 or 800-338-6965. For more information go online a


The Chadds Ford Historical will be making patriotic crafts for kids age 3 and up on every fourth Saturday of the month at the Barn Visitor’s Center. Activities include making flags, star mobile, salt dough ornaments and fish tail bracelets using lucets. Please call the office at 610-388-7376 to register so they will have enough supplies on hand.


The Brandywine River Museum of Art has a new exhibit that will go through the summer. They have an exhibit done by students from the Chester Charter School of the Arts on view in the museum’s lower level. The museum serves more than 6,000 students from kindergarten through grade 12 through its


An art show by the members of the Newark Art Alliance, Market East Plaza, 276 East Main Street, Suite 102, Newark, will open on July 1, with a reception on July 11, 6 to 8:00 p.m. The show will run through July 26.


The 17th annual “Sounds Under the Stars” series by presented by PECO will begin Friday, June 27, with “The Dead Fest,” a Grateful Dead tribute featuring more than 20 musicians from various bands. The gates at the BVA, Route 842 (1760 Unionville-Wawaset Road., three miles east of Unionville) will open at 5 p.m. with the concert at 6 p.m. All proceeds benefit the BVA’s watershed education and conservation programs.

Advance tickets are $10 per person or $20 per person day of event. Children 12 and under are free.

The weekly free concerts will begin on Thursday evenings, from July 3 through – Aug. 14 and cover a wide range of music types. Bring your lawn chair or blanket and pack a picnic. For information or tickets go to www.brandywinewatershed.irg.


Winterthur continues its lovely “Music Along the Bank” concerts with Buffalo Chip & the Plainsmen this Friday, June 27, from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Led by singer/guitarist Chip Porter members of local band Montana Wildaxe will show their wide acoustic styles the include bluegrass, folk, country, Americana, rock and blues. Bring a lawn chair, a picnic or perhaps a blanket. $5 per member, $15 per nonmember.


Mark Unruh and Friends will perform at the Anson B. Nixon Park on Wednesday, July 2, at 7 p.m., rain or shine. This local multi- instrumentalist in Americana Roots and Bluegrass has become well known and respected nationally in the business. Bring a blanket, a picnic and a lawn chair. A light supper is available from the Kennett Square Inn. The musicians on July 9 will be The Melton Brothers.


Arrival From Sweden brings “The Music of ABBA” to the DuPont Theatre for one performance only; on Sunday, July 13, at 7 p.m. Tickets may be purchased at 302-656-4401 starting at $40. ABBA is Sweden’s biggest music export ever, with more than 370 million records sold plus the Broadway musical production and movie “Mamma Mia.” Although their 11-year tenure ended as a group in 1982, their music continues on.


”How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying” at Walnut Street Theatre, 825 Walnut St., Philadelphia. This musical comedy runs through July 14 with such hits as “The Brotherhood of Man” and “I Believe in You.”

For tickets call – 215-574-3550.


Last week I wrote with great enthusiasm about the touring show of award winning show “Evita,” written by Alfred Lloyd Webber and Tim Rice that was coming to Philadelphia. I had seen the original show around 1978, had loved it and paid very close attention to the production, as I had grown up in Argentina under the rule of the Perons and had seen them any times. In the touring production they are singing the same songs and telling the same true story of Eva and Juan Peron, but what a difference. In the original show the tale was told tongue-in-cheek with fun bits interspersed in this true sordid story of greed, cancer and death. There were also many thousands who were truly distraught at the death of their beloved Evita. In the original production the soldiers in their bright uniforms marched in a spritely manner, in quick step, while in the new show drably clad soldiers marched heavily not doing anything interesting. There were dancers doing the tango, invented in Argentina, but it was done with showgirl lifts, not as it is really danced.

This many years later, the world is no longer riveted on the shenanigans of the Perons as prostitute Evita became the beloved idol of the people as she and her husband bankrupted once wealthy Argentina. To add to the dreary stage set, the lighting was consistently dim, apparently with a fog machine added. The costumes were drab. This downer of a show must have affected other people in the audience as quite a few were absent for the second act.

The only saving grace was Josh Young as Che, who interprets Evita’s actions with humor, disbelief and astonishment with what is truly an amazing voice and all the charm the real Evita possessed. That is another problem: the casting. Evita herself (Caroline Bowman) does not have the steely charm of the real Evita that is necessary in the part.

By now the show has left town. Sorry to have given you a bad steer.

Stink Bugs

The infestation of stink bugs does not seem to be as heavy as last year but my dear daughter-in-law who lives in Michigan sent me the latest method for stink bug eradication. It seems there are several commercial stink bug traps o the market but researchers at Virginia Tech have tested them and found the best solution is a simple homemade trap. You use light to lure the bugs to the trap and what is the best trap to have? Would you believe a pan of soapy water? It killed fourteen times as many bugs as the commercial traps. And that’s my housekeeping tip for the day.

Caryl Huffaker lives in Kennett Township.