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Kyra Markham

 Kyra Markham at work
Kyra Markham at work
Kyra Markham Gaither, (1891-1967) was a remarkably talented woman. How she directly became a friend of Robert Strong Woodward I do not know, but there was definitely a kindred spirit there. Elsewhere on the website I have written about The West Halifax House, an old house located on the Jacksonville Stage Road going east out of West Halifax. He painted this old house from all directions and made many beautiful oil paintings and chalk drawings of it. Down a side street just before getting to this house lived Kyra Markham and her partner, David Gaither. I do not think that they were ever married. Those were the days when this sort of arrangement was just beginning to be socially acceptable. In fact, they were known to the neighbors as "the original hippies." Probably RSW learned about her living nearby and stopped in to see her as a fellow artist. Their friendship lasted for the remainder of their lives.

Both RSW and Kyra were active members of the Southern Vermont Artists Association and both contributed works to the annual exhibition held each summer at Manchester, Vermont. It was a yearly routine for me to drive RSW in the big Packard, loaded with 4 or 5 oil paintings, mostly all done in Southern Vermont and in the Manchester area, to Manchester for the exhibition. Along the way we would drive through West Halifax to pick up additional paintings, lithographs or sculptures from Kyra Markham to take up to the exhibition.

 In 1935 Kyra portrayed herself as Lady Macbeth in the self portrait
In 1935 Kyra portrayed herself as
Lady Macbeth in a self portrait
She and David, a tall large man, lived in an unkempt little green house, overgrown with small trees, just down the road from the Halifax House. There was no running water and the kitchen sink, undrained, was situated in the middle of the kitchen. All the other rooms in the house were crammed to the ceilings with lithograph materials, paintings, and various art supplies.

Born in Chicago in 1891, Kyra began as a stage and movie actress until in the 1930s when she took up studies at the Art Students League in New York and then began creating lithographs, mostly connected with theater life. In her early years she wrote a series of "poetic dramas," and she became a very talented actress. She became involved with Theodore Dreiser, a writer much older than she, and lived with him in New York's Greenwich Village. She later left him and became a part of the Provincetown Playhouse and subsequently moved to West Halifax to live with David Gaither.

 Lithograph by Kyra Markham: 'and he said.'
Lithograph by Kyra Markham: "and he said."
In 1950 Kyra presented to me and my wife, Barbara, for a wedding present, a framed lithograph showing three nurses apparently discussing their personal lives leaning over a hospital bed table titled "...and he said.". It hung over my nurse, Donna Hall's desk, in my medical office for 40 years. I loved this piece of art work and had many, many, comments on it from my patients over the years.

 A miniature sculpture done by Kyra Markham
A miniature sculpture done by Kyra Markham
Kyra was a member of the National Association of Women Artists, the Southern Vermont Artists Association, and the Deerfield Artists Association and she exhibited at all of them.

She and David were frequent guests at the RSW "Studio Suppers" over the many years I worked for him.

She died in 1967.

For more information on Kyra Markham, please read her Wikipedia biography here.