Frances Newbury Roddy

"If I were to paint the colors I see in this sunset, no one would believe me.”

History of the Competition

In years past, Concord Art Association sponsored several competitions, often times based on a theme. About the time of Frances Roddy’s death, our Art Committee, chaired by George Nick, felt that to ensure participation by both emerging and professional artists that we needed to award more substantial prizes. The idea of honoring his mother in this manner resonated with Gibbs Roddy and The Frances N. Roddy Open Competition was born. We are grateful to the Roddy family for allowing us to continue to honor Frances by providing opportuities for other artists. Her memory not only lives on in the hearts of her many friends and family but has become woven into the fabric of Concord Art Association.

Frances Newbury Roddy was born in the small town of Belgrade, Montana, on November 13, 1914. Despite having a superstitious bent, she always claimed that Friday the 13th was her lucky day. The Belgrade Company, at which her father, Egbert, had worked for many years, went bankrupt during the Great Depression. Frances’ parents moved to Yellowstone National Park where her father found new employment. Meanwhile, Egbert’s first cousin, Edith Morse Robb of Concord, invited Frances to come east to live with her and attend Concord Academy.

Frances arrived in Concord in 1931 with only one formal dress in her trunk. At the time, Edith Robb was widowed and living alone on Monument Street. Her husband, Russell, had died in 1927, five years after having served as one of the founding board members of the Concord Art Association. Frances lived with Edith Robb for a number of years, during which time Edith was an active benefactor of the Art Association. Despite its auspicious Grand Opening in 1923, at which time its walls boasted the works of Claude Monet, John Singer Sargent, Mary Cassat, and Childe Hassam, the Art Association struggled during the Great Depression. Mrs. Robb’s commitment to its success left an indelible impression on Frances, who often remarked that it was, along with Concord's Trinity Episcopal Church, her most dear community organization.

Frances married Gilbert Roddy in 1942 and thereafter settled permanently in Concord. Her interest in art blossomed, prompting Frances to take oil painting lessons in the 1950s from local artist, Loring Coleman, who in later years became one of the Art Association’s most beloved members. During the 1960s, Frances explored sculpting in wood, during which time she greatly admired the work of local Art Association sculptress, Mary Ogden Abbott. During the 1970s and the early 1980s, Frances enjoyed sculpting in alabaster and bronze under the direction of Peter Abate at the deCordova Museum in Lincoln. She exhibited her sculpture in various shows in Concord and Boston, and was elected to the Copley Society, the country's oldest art association. However, by the late 1980s, her artistic interests turned almost exclusively to the medium of watercolor.

For the next 20 years, Frances enjoyed participating in watercolor workshops around the world, and taking watercolor classes from her longtime Association friend, Marjorie Young. With Marge’s support, Frances became fascinated with color. She particularly enjoyed watching sunsets and often remarked, “If I painted the colors I see right now, no one would believe what I put down on paper.” Nevertheless, she never hesitated to do so, and developed a deep fascination with color during her later artistic years.

Frances truly loved the Concord Art Association. In particular, she cherished the friendships she made with fellow artists through the many classes and exhibits in which she participated. She was very proud of being one of the Association’s Distinguished Artists. Frances enjoyed attending the Art Association’s frequent openings because of the quality and diversity of the works shown. She was especially fond of the photographs of her close friend and member, Alice Moulton. In short, Frances found the people and dynamism of the Art Association invigorating. Concord Art Association was a central, and wonderful, aspect of her life in Concord.


Gibbs Roddy, son