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Two State Historical Markers “Sallie Blount Mahood” & “Helen McGehee” To Be Dedicated in Lynchburg

Published March 23, 2021

Sallie B. Mahood was a painter and matriarch of a family of artists that included her granddaughter, Helen McGehee, an acclaimed dancer, choreographer and teacher

 The marker texts are reproduced below

Contact: Randy Jones, DHR Randy.jones@dhr.virginia.gov 540-578-3031 Two state historical markers issued by the Virginia Department of Historic Resources will be dedicated this Friday that recall Sallie B. Mahood, an accomplished painter, one-time Lynchburg resident and matriarch of a family of artists including granddaughter Helen McGehee, an internationally acclaimed dancer, who will also be highlighted with a marker. The markers will be dedicated during a ceremony beginning at 3 p.m., March 26, at the signs location at the former residence of Helen McGehee, located at 2907 Rivermont Avenue, in Lynchburg. The ceremony is open to the public and attendees must observe state mandates for covid pandemic protocols for wearing masks and practicing social distancing, as specified in Gov. Ralph Northam’s Third Amendment to Executive Order No. 72, effective March 1, 2021. Event speakers will include Beau Wright, vice mayor of Lynchburg; S. Allen Chambers Jr., past president of the Virginia Historic Review Board; Sallie Mahood Craig, a Mahood family member; Heidi James, who will discuss the E.C. Glass Art Collection; Kathy Kinsey, a McGehee family member; Betty Harris, a former student of Helen McGehee; Pam Risenhoover of Randolph College, and Ted Delaney, director of the Lynchburg Museum System. Sallie B. Mahood (1864-1953) painted landscapes and portraits and moved to Lynchburg as a young adult. She studied with prominent artists in New York and Paris. Her works are in the collections of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, the Virginia Museum of History and Culture, as well as educational institutions across the state, according to the marker. Sallie Mahood’s daughter Helen Mahood McGehee also had a career as an artist, as did Mahood’s mother, Julia Morrison Blount. Helen McGehee (1921-2020) earned international acclaim as a dancer, choreographer, and teacher. She was a leading performer in the Martha Graham Dance Company from the 1940s until 1970. As a faculty member, she co-founded the Dance Division at the Juilliard School, where she taught for more than 30 years. After 1978, she lived in Lynchburg with her husband, the Colombian-American artist known as Umaña. The two markers were approved for manufacture and installation in September 2020 by the Virginia Board of Historic Resources, which has authority to designate new state historical markers. The sponsors have covered the costs of manufacturing the markers. Virginia’s historical highway marker program, which began in 1927 with the installation of the first historical markers along U.S. Route 1, is considered the oldest such program in the nation. Currently there are more than 2,600 official state markers, most maintained by the Virginia Department of Transportation, and by local partners in jurisdictions outside of VDOT’s authority such as Lynchburg. [PLEASE NOTE: DHR markers are erected not to “honor” their subjects but rather to educate and inform the public about a person, place, or event of regional, state, or national importance. In this regard, markers are not memorials.] Text of marker: Sallie Blount Mahood (1864-1953) Sallie Mahood, painter of landscapes and portraits for half a century, moved to Lynchburg as a young adult. She studied with prominent artists in Martha’s Vineyard, New York, and Paris and was frequently commissioned to paint portraits of notable Virginians. Her works are in the collections of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Virginia Museum of History and Culture, and the Supreme Court of Virginia, as well as educational institutions across the state. Mahood’s mother, Julia Morrison Blount (1831-1877), and her daughter, Helen Mahood McGehee (1892-1980), also had careers as artists. Her granddaughter, internationally known dancer Helen McGehee, lived here at 2907 Rivermont Ave. Helen McGehee (1921-2020) Helen McGehee was an internationally acclaimed dancer, choreographer, and teacher. From the 1940s until 1970, she was a leading performer in the Martha Graham Dance Company, which revolutionized American modern dance. Having studied Greek and Latin at Randolph-Macon Woman’s College, she used her knowledge of Greek mythology to originate iconic roles in the Graham repertory and to design costumes for Graham and for her own company. A founding member of the Dance Division faculty at the Juilliard School, she taught there for more than 30 years. After 1978, she lived here at 2907 Rivermont Ave. with her husband, the Colombian-American artist known as Umaña (1908-1994).
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