Rowena Fischer Meeks Abdy Biography

Rowena Fischer Meeks Abdy




Painter and illustrator Rowena Fischer Meeks Abdy was born in Vienna, Austria to John and Anna Fischer Meeks on 24 April 1887. The family lived in numerous European cities prior to their move to San Francisco in 1898. Her early education was at St. Margaret's School for Girls in San Mateo, California. For the academic year 1904-05, she studied at California School of Design (later to become the San Francisco Art Institute) under Arthur Mathews. 

Meeks married the writer Harry Bennett Abdy in Monterey, California on 9 October 1910 and they built their first home in Monterey. Two years later they built a new home and studio in the hills above the colony of Monterey. During her time in Monterey, Rowena studied with Armin Hansen. In 1917, she and Harry moved to San Diego but by 1926, she had returned to San Francisco where her home and studio were located on Russian Hill. 
For her media she favored oil, watercolor, and charcoal. Her enchantment with California's history and early Spanish heritage motivated her drawings and paintings, and she converted her large sedan into a mobile studio that allowed her to travel California and sketch in comfort and privacy. 

In 1919, her work was exhibited at the Helgesen Galleries in San Francisco. In 1926, Abdy was in a group exhibition at the Claremont Gallery in Berkeley, California. That same year she became one the charter members of the Club Beaux Arts, a co-operative gallery in San Francisco. Albert M. Bender, prominent art patron in San Francisco, donated her watercolor The Robert Louis Stevenson House in Monterey to the Palace of the Legion of Honor in San Francisco in 1928. In following years, her work was shown at the Courvoisier Gallery and the Valdespino Gallery in San Francisco, and in 1936 an exhibit of her drawings and watercolors was featured at the Delphic Galleries in New York City.

Abdy was a member of and showed with the San Francisco Art Association, the Carmel Art Association, and the California Water Color Society. Her work is in the collection of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Mill College Art Gallery, and the Seattle Art Museum. Rowena Fischer Meeks Abdy died in San Francisco on 18 August 1945.