Leuty McGuffey Manahan’s “Cutting Ice” folk art painting (photo courtesy of Meander Auctions)
Ohio Life

Ohio Finds: Leuty McGuffey Manahan’s ‘Cutting Ice’

This folk art painting created by the artist in 1950 depicts frosty work from winters past.

At parties and social gatherings, one might lament how difficult breaking the ice is, but a hundred years ago, the idea of cutting ice evoked a more literal meaning. On the bitterest winter days, rural families would saw thick pond ice into sections and store it for later use.

Artist Leuty McGuffey Manahan, sometimes referred to as Ohio’s Grandma Moses, captured her memories of this work in her 1950 painting, “Cutting Ice.” Manahan was born in 1889 in McGuffey, Ohio, and is best known for her folk art depicting rural early 20th-century life. Her work received significant attention, being displayed in numerous exhibitions, some as far away as New York, but throughout her life, Manahan refused all offers to sell her collection of over 80 works.

While much of Manahan’s work appears naive, it contains a sly humor tempered with nostalgic warmth. Her “memory paintings,” like this one, speak to the value of Manahan’s art and its role in preserving firsthand accounts of the daily chores, challenges and celebrations of the quiet, rural Midwestern life that was rapidly fading by the time she picked up her paintbrush. 

Sold: $1,850

Hollie Davis is a co-owner of 
Meander Auctions in Whipple, Ohio. meanderauctions.com