Geographic Connection to Pennsylvania: Ridgway, Elk County
McCloskey, a painter and author whose work was shown in the Carnegie Museum in Pittsburgh, detailed her life in Potpourri: An Autobiography (1966).
Born on May 25, 1904, to machinist Fredrick and Ada LonCoske, Eunice McCloskey is most recognized for her work as both a poet and painter. She was married to Lewis F. McCloskey (an appliance man) on January 9, 1932 and together they had one daughter, Eunice Marie McCloskey Minteer. After attending Columbia University for just one year, McCloskey began writing and painting professionally. She has over 4,000 paintings and 17 books published, and has become known as the “Grandma Moses of Pennsylvania.” McCloskey died in August, 1983, in Ridgway, Pennsylvania.
Artist Eunice McCloskey was born Eunice LonCoske on May 25, 1904, in Ridgway, Pennsylvania, to Fredrick and Ada LonCoske. From a very young age, Eunice found herself drawn to art and literature. During middle and high school, she spent her days drawing all over her textbooks. In her early 20s, McCloskey was hit by a train at a car crossing, and spent the following two years learning to walk again.
After attending Columbia University in New York for just one year, McCloskey came home engaged to Lewis F. McCloskey, an appliance man. They wed on January 9, 1932, and together had one child, Eunice Marie McCloskey Minteer (Mimi). Aside from writing and painting, McCloskey enjoyed traveling, preserving Victorian homes, collecting antiques, community projects, and people. According to her daughter Mimi, McCloskey was well-known in her home town for talking to everyone, even strangers, as if they were her dearest friends. In fact, McCloskey herself has said, “I am a people-lover. There is no more fascinating subject than the study of man.” Eunice McCloskey always felt a deep connection with her hometown. She felt that she could only produce valuable art and poems in Ridgeway, Pennsylvania, because she was so inspired by the rich landscapes and the beauty of the townspeople. “I can’t paint anywhere else but here,” McCloskey has said. “It’s the only place I get that emotion, very deep…”
In her lifetime, McCloskey was awarded three national poetry awards. She was also awarded the National League of American Pen Women, Associated Artists prizes (1950, 1953), the Henry Posner Prize (1953) and the Aime Jackson Short Prize for water color (1956). She was also a member of the International Institute of Arts and Letters, the Professional and Executive Hall of Fame, National League of American Pen Women, Associated Artists of Pittsburgh (director), the Pennsylvania Federation for Women, the Philadelphia Art Alliance, and Delta Kappa Gamma.
For her collected book of poetry entitled Symbols of My Life (1970), reviewer August Derleth says, “Eunice LonCoske’s poetry is indigenous to Pennsylvania, specifically Ridgway, which is part of that great state no more than three miles square, out of which have come not only her poetry but also her paintings, her novels, and other creative work. Few poets have sturdier roots. Her versus are personal and mature, reflecting her experience against a well-loved background, and mirroring that background, as well.”
After her death in August 1983, McCloskey became known as “the Grandma Moses of Pennsylvania,” because she produced over 4,000 paintings and 17 published books in her lifetime. She is known as the great American folk artists of Pennsylvania.
Coal Dust and Crystals. New York: H. Harrison, 1939.
Strange Alchemy. New York: Driftwood Press, 1940.
The Heart Knows This. New York: Driftwood Press, 1944.
This Is the Hour. New York: Decker Press, 1948.
The Golden Hill. New York: Humphries, 1952.
So Dear to My Heart. New York: Humphries, 1964.
Potpourri: An Autobiography. Philadelphia: Dorrance, 1966.
Symbols of My Life. Philadelphia: Dorrance, 1970.
Shana, O Shana. Philadelphia: Dorrance, 1973.
“Eunice (Loncoske) McCloskey.” The Gale Literary Database: Contemporary Authors Online. 2007. 16 Feb. 2007. <http://www.galenet.com>.
Written by Victoria Schwoebel, Spring 2007; updated 2018