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Margaret Lefranc and Betty Anglin

Betty Anglin [1], an award-winning watercolor painter who taught in Hampton and Newport News, Virginia, at Christopher Newport University (CNU), the Peninsula Fine Arts Center (PFAC), The Charles Taylor Arts Center, and CNU’s Life Long Learners, collaborated with Michael Preble, Program Director and Curator of the PFAC to produce An American Original: Margaret Lefranc—50 Years of Watercolors, which accompanied the 2009 American Watercolor Society International Exhibition [2] from November 2009 to July 2010 including its showing at the St. George Museum, Utah. Betty Anglin’s watercolors are recognized by the Virginia Watercolor Society, showings in the High Museum of Art in Atlanta; The Parthenon in Nashville, Tennessee; the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, and the Chrysler Museum in Norfolk. CNU awarded Anglin the title of Professor Emerita when she retired in 2012 after forty years.  She served as director of the Department of Fine Art and Art History at CNU as well as the Director of the Falk Gallery of Art during the early years of the department. She is listed in Who’s Who of American Art, Leading Female Artists of the Twentieth Century, and has artworks in private and corporate collections through the country. One of her last exhibitions in 2012, A Path Taken, featured a catalogue and twenty-two watercolors shown in the Paul and Rosemary Trible Library in Anglin’s honor in the gallery CNU opened.


During many lunches, Betty shared parts of her life story with friend Sandra McKenzie [3]. “I began teaching art in my home when I was in my twenties and when I had a husband and two children. I would hold clothesline shows in my home for the parents of my students to come to see what they’d been working on in each of their classes.” 


A Rose in Oaxaca (1956) is a watercolor by Margaret Lefranc. In an interview about Lefranc’s watercolors, “Anglin sees many…qualities…in art which she singles out as pioneering…It’s a very strong way to work. It’s not the usual feminine way to apply color. She went way beyond anything that had been done in watercolor up to that point…Margaret was in constant search of what she wanted to do,” [4] which was much like Anglin’s mindset. In the same newspaper review, Mark St. John Erickson wrote, “Slashing Calligraphic lines define…with a few smart, well-placed strokes, while she [Lefranc] wrings all she can from a few rose buds with brilliant burst of color…the rose in the vase…transforms their subjects with an abstract eye and a near-Expressionist brush [5]. She did some exceptional work in subjects that were fresh and different.” [6] Michael Preble stated, “These paintings hardly have anything to do with Mexico. But they show that her Modernist sensibility—even Abstract Expressionist sensibility—has finally overtaken her traditional sensibility.” [7] He added, “Several qualities about Lefranc’s work are noteworthy and lend to her sense of ‘originality.’ While new and revolutionary modernist tendencies captured the art headlines of the day, Lefranc took many of their principles and spirit, especially the cubists, colorists and expressionists, and incorporated them into her vision of a more familiar tradition of portraiture and landscape painting. This fusion of styles and traditions gives her work a unique sensibility.”

Treasures from the Past is a 2014 watercolor by Betty L. Anglin. Thoroughly knowledgeable about Anglin’s art, James Warwick Jones paid tribute during Anglin’s memorial, “Her signature medium was watercolor which she expressed in several ways. In addition to the traditional watercolor, Anglin also had a highly personal technique (she would never tell anyone how she did it) that was similar to the Batik resist. Additionally, during class she would demonstrate painting techniques on a small sheet of watercolor paper…eventually they were cut or torn and collaged into the design of larger mixed media paintings. In addition, a direction of her work was totally abstract…energetic, loosely painted with strong shapes, movement, color and pattern.” [8]


Paul Trible, CNU President said, “Betty…brought beauty into our world and enriched the lives of thousands of students and members of our community.” [9] James Warwick Jones, who was in the enviable position of being a longtime colleague and a former student of Betty’s, said, “Anglin had the rare combination of being both an outstanding artist and a natural teacher of her craft.” [10] 

[1] Betty Lockhart Anglin (1937–2018).

[2] Part of PFAC’s Artful Holidays sponsored by the Coliseum Business Improvement District, Dr.  Glenn H. Shepard, the City of Newport News, Newport News Arts Commission, Virginia Commission for the Arts and the national Endowment for the Arts

[3] Sandra McKenzie, President of the Margaret Lefranc Art Foundation.

[4] Betty Anglin interview by Mark St. John Erickson, A Brush with Greatness, Good Life, Arts, Daily Press, Sunday, November 15, 2009.

[5] Mark St. John Erickson, A Brush with Greatness, Good Life, Arts, Daily Press, Sunday, November 15, 2009.

[6] Michael Preble, email correspondence January 31, 2019 to Sandra McKenzie.

[7] Mark St. John Erickson, Daily Press, Op cit.

[8] A Tribute by James Warwick Jones, Memorial of Betty Anglin, May 22, 2019.

[9] Mike Holtzclaw, Famed Local Artist Betty Anglin Dies at Age 82, Local News, Daily Press, Sunday, May 19, 2018.

[10] Ibid.

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