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Mary Ann Connelly, an artist who founded Paint Onancock, a plein-air painting and photography event, dies

Mary Ann Connelly worked in acrylics and painted portraits and still lifes.
Mary Ann Connelly worked in acrylics and painted portraits and still lifes.

Mary Ann Connelly, a Locust Point artist who established an art gallery on the Eastern Shore of Virginia and was the founder of Paint Onancock, a plein-air painting and photography event, died Thursday at Good Samaritan Hospital. She was 70.

The former Mary Ann Mudd, the first born of seven siblings, was the daughter of John Edward Mudd, a partner in the law firm of Mudd, Harrison and Burch, and his wife, Alice Maureen O’Toole Mudd, was born in Towson and spent her early years on Murdock Road in Rodgers Forge, before moving with her family to an ”old Victorian house with a big wraparound porch on West Joppa Road in Towson,” said a daughter, Kelly Connelly of Charles Village.

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Mrs. Connelly was a descendant of Dr. Samuel A. Mudd, the Charles County physician who treated John Wilkes Booth after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. Dr. Mudd was later imprisoned at Dry Totugas, Florida, until being pardoned in 1869 by President Andrew Johnson.

Mrs. Connelly attended Notre Dame Preparatory School and graduated in 1969 from Towson High School. The next year, she went to work as an administrative assistant at Alex. Brown & Sons in Towson.

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While working for the investment bank, she met J. Michael Connelly Jr., who later became a partner at Alex. Brown & Sons. The couple fell in love and married in 1971.

“They had planned to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary this Saturday but she passed away two days prior,” her daughter said.

From the early 1970s until 1997, the couple lived in Roland Park and Poplar Hill where they raised their seven children. In 1997, they moved to the former home of poet Ogden Nash at 4300 Rugby Road in Guilford, where she lived until 2009.

In 2002, Mrs. Connelly opened the home to U.S. Post Office officials for the unveiling of the Ogden Nash 37-cent stamp that honored the celebrated poet and Broadway lyricist.

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In 1992, she and her husband purchased a second home in Onancock, on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. A painter of still-lifes and portraits who worked in acrylics, Mrs. Connelly opened the Red Queen Gallery there in 2007 with the mission “to give the best artists a place to display their work and a place for our patrons to discover and enjoy that work.”

Two years later, she established Paint Onancock, a plein-air painting and photography event that “culminated each year with a group show at her gallery,” her daughtersaid.

In the months leading up to the October event, she took “great delight in seeing painters and photographers all around town making their work,” her daughter said.

She celebrated the 10th anniversary of the event in 2019 but wasn’t able to hold it in 2018 due to multiple illnesses that had her hospital-bound for most of the year. In 2017, she lost sight in one eye, but that did not deter her from being a voracious reader.

In addition to her own work as a painter, she was an accomplished photographer. In later years, she became a most prolific digital artist, and each day, she shared one of her works, which she called Queenie’s Queenies, family members said, with family members and friends by computer.

The name Queenie was one she selected for her grandchildren to call her, her daughter said.

When she was in her early 60s, Mrs. Connelly took up knitting and loved making scarves, hats, and blankets for friends and family.

When her youngest children were older, she studied grant writing at Goucher College and later worked as a grant writer for The Catholic High School of Baltimore and Towson Catholic that resulted in successfully securing funds for the schools.

A seasoned traveler who preferred traveling by car, train and steamship, Mrs. Connelly and her husband enjoyed several trans-Atlantic voyages aboard Cunard Lines Queen Mary II.

After taking her first trip to Ireland in the early 1980s, she became entranced by Irish culture and began studying Gaelic, the traditional language of Ireland, and fell under the spell of Irish music.

Another pastime was Words with Friends online, a Scrabble-like game, at which she was a whiz and a formidable opponent. This was before the “smart phone-era, and it wasn’t unusual for her to have more than 20 games going at a time,” her daughter said.

The couple had another vacation home in Longboat Key, Florida, where they enjoyed spending time with family and friends, and even though later in life she was a wheelchair user, she was still able to get in the home’s pool.

In recent years, the couple lived at Silo Point in Locust Point where she enjoyed watching ships and boats come in and out of the harbor, July 4 fireworks and observing ospreys.

She was a communicant of Immaculate Conception Roman Catholic Church in Towson, where a Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 10 a.m. Wednesday.

In addition to her husband and daughter, Mrs. Connelly is survived by four sons, Kevin Connelly of Roland Park, Dan Connelly of Locust Point, Joseph Connelly of Riverdale and Tim Connelly of Denver; another daughter, Meggie Connelly of Locust Point; a brother, Dan Mudd of Burbank, California; two sisters, Patricia Bitting of Catonsville and Amy Ciarlo of Timonium; and five grandchildren.

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