Timeline

Born

December 12, 1892

Minnie Eva Jones was born on December 12, 1892 in Long Creek, Pender County, North Carolina.

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Moved to Wilmington, NC

February 12, 1893

Moved to Wilmington, NC

After Evans was only two months old, she and her mother moved to Wilmington, North Carolina to live with Evans’ grandmother, Mary Croom Jones in 1893.  

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Rachel Williams leaves Wilmington

September 21, 1898

Great-grandmother Rachel Williams left Wilmington for New York City after racial riots broke out.  

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Minnie Moves to Wrightsville Sound

January 1, 1903

Mary Croom Jones, Ella and Minnie Jones moved to Wrightsville Sound near Wilmington. Minnie Jones was in the sixth grade and loved learning history, particularly about “Greeks, Trojans and things like that.” That year she had to drop out of school because her family could not afford the clothes to keep her in school. She began to work as a sounder, gathering oysters and clams and selling them door-to-door for $2.50 a week. She loved this work

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Minnie meets Julius

January 1, 1908

  Minnie Jones met her future husband, Julius Evans. Minnie Jones was only sixteen years old and Julius was 19 years old. In order to marry legally she would have to be eighteen and he twenty-one so they falsified their age on their marriage certificate. After marriage Minnie Evans quit harvesting shellfish and became a full-time housewife.

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The birth of her son

January 1, 1910

Birth of first living son, Elisha Dyer. (One other son died previously at birth.)

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Member of St Matthew A.M.E Church

January 1, 1910

From 1910 to 1987 Evans was a member of St. Matthew A.M.E. Church and was sometimes called upon to offer prayers and speak to the congregation, as well as to other congregations. She also attended Pilgrim’s Rest Baptist Church.

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Birth of David Barnes Evans

January 1, 1913

The second of three sons.

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Birth of George Sheldon Evans

January 1, 1915

Birth of George Sheldon Evans. All three sons’ names inspired by Julius’s employer, Pembroke Jones after millionaires with whom Jones hunted.

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Employed at Pembroke Park

January 1, 1916

From 1916 to 1918 Minnie Evans was employed as a domestic at Pembroke Park, home of Mr. and Mrs. Pembroke Jones. She continued to work for the Joneses when they moved to Airlie Gardens. She worked nearly 30 years as a domestic in the service of Jones and when he died, worked for Mrs. Jones’s second husband, Henry Walters, son of the founder of Baltimore’s Walters Art Museum. Her exposure to fine art in these two homes can be assumed.

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Good Friday

January 1, 1935

Good Friday, Evans made her first two drawings, My Very First and My second, ink on paper. She was writing her grocery list when, she recounted, spontaneously began drawing designs. She stored them in a magazine.

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Finding inspiration for her drawings

January 1, 1940

So the story goes, Evans was cleaning house and built a bonfire to burn debris. As she threw magazines into a bonfire, her two drawings from 1935 fell to the ground. The memory and experience of seeing the drawings again compelled her to draw again. She started with crayon, pencil and ink. She continued to create artwork until the end of her life.

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First Oil Painting

January 1, 1943

First paintings executed in oil.

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Began Work at Airlie Gardens

January 1, 1948

The artist began working as a gatekeeper at Airlie Gardens after its purchase by W.A. Corbett. She worked daily from march-September each year and was paid $10 a week. She would eventually sell her drawings and paintings from the gatehouse, where admissions were taken.

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Signing artwork

January 1, 1950

Evans began producing more oil paintings. The chronology of works from the 1940s and 1950s is often inexact as she did not begin dating work until the 1960s, at which time she dated earlier works to the best of her memory. A number of works probably from the late 1950s were signed under the artist’s direction by her granddaughter, whom Evans felt had a more attractive handwriting than her own.

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Airlie Oak

January 1, 1954

Airlie Oak

Minnie Evans lived most of her life in North Carolina. At seventeen, she found work as a gatekeeper in the lush gardens of a coastal estate, Airlie-on-Sound, which became a public park in 1949. Evans felt inspired by God to celebrate his resplendent creations with art. In free moments, she drew or painted floral scenes with goddess-like figures in their midst. In Airlie Oak, Evans honored an immense 400-year-old tree at Airlie; a live oak…

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Julius Evans dies

January 1, 1956

First Exhibtion

January 1, 1961

First exhibition in North Carolina at Little Gallery which may have been in the Raleigh area.

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Nina Howell Starr

January 1, 1962

Nina Howell Starr (Am. 1903-2000), a photography student at Florida state University and self-proclaimed “folk art hound,” was shown photographs of Minnie Evans’s work by a friend. In black and white, she enlarged the images in her darkroom. The graphic strength of the marks compelled Starr to travel to Wilmington to meet Minnie Evans. A close friendship developed which lasted until Evans’s death. Starr wrote and lectured extensively about the artist, promoted and organized exhibitions of her work, taped interviews with the artist from 1962-1973, archived letters and documents on Evans and was largely responsible for the art world’s discovery of her. As Evans referred to her, “This is Mrs. Starr, president of my pictures in New York.”

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First New York Exhibtion

January 1, 1966

First New York exhibition, The Lost World of Minnie Evans, April 17 – 24, Church of the Epiphany and St. Clement’s Episcopal Church, May 22. Starr arranged for Evans to attend her NY exhibitions. She took her to the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Impressed by the introduction to larger scale paintings, Evans began collaging her earlier drawings onto larger supports, adding in-painting and adding new images to them.

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Untitled, 1966

January 1, 1966

Untitled, 1966

Untitled (Face Surrounded by Angels, Birds, and White Winged Creature), 1966 Wax crayon, graphite, and oil on paper Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Bruce B. Cameron, 1988.1.4

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Design Made at Airlie Gardens

January 1, 1967

Design Made at Airlie Gardens

During her time working at Airlie Gardens, Evans felt inspired by God to celebrate his resplendent creations with art. In free moments, she drew or painted floral scenes with goddess-like figures in their midst.

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Honored for Awards

January 1, 1968

The Wilmington Chapter of Links, Inc., the national service organization of African-American women, honored her with the Local Citizen Award and a testimonial luncheon. Through Starr’s friendship with Dorothea Silverman, Director, The Art Image Gallery, New York, Evans had two solo exhibitions at The Art Image Gallery. Review in Newsweek magazine brings national attention to Evans.

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Meets Jo Kallenborn

January 1, 1968

Jo Kallenborn, free-lance writer and resident of Wilmington, NC went to Airlie Gardens to meet the artist. They maintained a close friendship until Evans’s death in 1987.Kallenborn visited the artist on average twice a week, bringing her art supplies and acting as her personal correspondent, answering mail sent to her from admirers, exhibition…

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Untitled, 1968

January 1, 1968

Untitled, 1968

Untitled (Three Faces Divided by Two Sunrises over water), 1968 — Oil paint, ink and graphite on canvas board — Claude Howell Endowment for the purchase of North Carolina Art, 2000.7

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Untitled Painting

February 3, 1970

Untitled Painting

Head Flanked by Angels above Sunset

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Group Exibition

January 1, 1972

Group exhibition, Landscapes, Penthouse, Museum of Modern art, New York. Two-person exhibition, Minnie Evans and Nina Howell Starr, Paintings and Photographs, Balloo Gallery, All Souls Church, west Brattleboro, Vermont.

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Retired

January 1, 1974

Due to failing health, the artist retired from Airlie Gardens. She continued her artwork.

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Solo Exhibition

January 1, 1975

Solo exhibition, Minnie Evans, guest curated by Nina Howell Starr, Whitney Museum of American art.

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Evans and her mother moved back to Wilmington

January 1, 1978

Evans and her mother moved back to Wilmington to live with her youngest son, George and his family.

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Ella Jones died

January 1, 1981

Ella Jones died at age 102 (1879-1981). Minnie Evans made her last work of art, a scrapbook chronicling her artistic career, as a gift to her children.

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The Angel That Stands By Me

January 1, 1983

Light-Saraf Films, San Francisco, CA, with a grant from the NEA produced the documentary film, The Angel That Stands By Me: Minnie Evans’s Paintings (28.5 minutes).

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Evans moves into Grotegen Nursing Home

January 1, 1984

Solo exhibition, Heavenly Visions

January 1, 1986

Solo exhibition, Heavenly Visions: The Art of Minnie Evans, North Carolina Museum of Art, curated by Mitchell Kahan. It traveled to venues in NC, including St. John’s Museum of Art, Wilmington, NC June 27 – August 30. In Wilmington, this was the last exhibition the artist saw of her work.

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Minnie Evans Dies

December 16, 1987

Solo and Group Exhibition

January 1, 2019

Solo exhibition, Paintings by Minnie Evans, St. John’s Art Gallery, Wilmington, NC Solo exhibition at Portal Gallery, London. Group exhibition, Painting and Sculpture Today – 1970, at Indianapolis Museum of Art traveling to Toledo Ohio and Wichita, Kansas. Group exhibition, Twentieth Century Folk Art, Museum of American Folk Art, New York.

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