By LINDA MICHAEL
A notable local artist, Phebe Burnham, celebrated her 100th birthday this year, but her birthday party had to be cancelled because of the Covid-19 epidemic. However, Phebe’s friends and family wouldn’t let the day go uncelebrated. On her birthday, a colorful drive-by parade was followed by a family lunch. Even the County of San Diego Board of Supervisors honored Phebe by proclaiming July 24 as Phebe Burnham Day in San Diego County. The Foothills Art Association joins in celebrating Phebe’s birthday by honoring her as the Foothills’ Featured Artist for the month of September.
Known for her colorful, often whimsical paintings, Phebe uses a variety of media and has developed a technique using gouache paint, pastels, and India ink to achieve dramatic contrasts of light and dark. Loving to travel, Phebe’s vibrant paintings often depict images she captured with her camera on her many trips. One of her favorite destinations was Oaxaca, Mexico and it is the subject of many of her paintings. Phebe taught art at the college level and, for ten years, had a successful jewelry business, Eyeglass Arte, creating decoupage miniature reproductions of famous paintings on eyeglass lenses which were sold in museum gift shops nationwide.
Phebe was born in 1920 in New Bedford, Massachusetts. Her parents encouraged her interest in art. Her grandmother, also an artist, painted seascapes and landscapes and was an inspiration to young Phebe. She received degrees from the Swain School of Design and the Columbia University School of Painting and Sculpture. She also studied with the Art Students League.
With all her activities, Phebe still has found time to participate in the El Cajon Arts and Culture Commission. She has been a member of the Foothills Art Association since 1953. The Foothills Art Association is proud to honor Phebe Burnham and her lifetime accomplishments.
Phebe’s artwork will be featured on the Foothills website during the month of September. To view her artwork, as well as the artwork of other local artists, visit the Foothills Art Association website at: foothillsartassociation.com under the “Featured Artist” section.
— Linda Michael is editorial assistant of Footnotes, the monthly newsletter of the Foothills Art Association.