Cicely Aikman was born in the western, desert mountain country of El Paso, Texas in 1923. Her life there until the age of six, school years afterwards in Los Angeles, bare high mountains, long desert vistas, and the pounding surf of the Pacific Ocean all left indelible impressions. Reading the biography of artist Rosa Bonheur in elementary school, was a formative experience that shaped Aikman’s awareness that women can be successful artists.
She went to high school in Washington D.C. and then entered the University of Chicago. Between 1942 and 1946 while attending the Art Students’ League in New York City, she studied with Morris Kanter. Aikman reflects; “This was a serious art education -our only regret as students was that due to World War II, we could not go to Europe, in particular to Paris to see firsthand the works of Picasso and Matisse.”
In the forties and fifties, Aikman painted winters in New York City, and summers at Provincetown and later in Maine. While continuing to paint, she raised her son, Paul Breslin, Jr, and held down odd jobs to earn enough money to live on. Aikman showed in galleries in New York City including The Artists’ Gallery, Green Mountain Gallery, Blue Mountain Gallery, Pyramid Gallery, and Westbeth Gallery.
After moving to Maine in 1973 with her second husband and painter Fred F. Scherer, Aikman painted full time and enjoyed the less frenetic pace of exhibiting in Maine. With a group of fellow artists, she helped form the Waldoboro Gallery, a cooperative in Waldoboro, Maine.
From 1990 to the present, Aikman has been a member of The Caldbeck Gallery in Rockland, Maine. Her work has also been shown in numerous galleries and museums including the Maine Coast Artists, Round Top Center for the Arts, The Portland Museum, and The Farnsworth Museum.
In 2005, Aikman and Scherer moved to Brattleboro, Vermont where she concentrated on writing as well as continuing to exhibit her work there at the Brattleboro Museum & Art Center, the West Village Meeting House, and the Crowell Gallery. On December 6, 2013, Cicely Aikman died just eleven days after Fred.
Snow – Cicely Aikman
Vermont, late January, a cold bleak frozen world
Nasty snow flakes tumble out of the sky
Going down to 3 below tonight
Since our first snow in late November
The ground frozen, ice hard, impenetrable
White, white, white
Accented by a scattering of deep purple tree trunks
Scraggly spruce boughs, pale ochre grass stalks
Two fauns play chase me over the snow
Now dozing on a patch of dried leaves and grass
My heart lies smothered in my breast
Huddling in the warmth of my down jacket
Oh, for Washington D.C. in March
Lemon forsythias bloom, pastel tulips pop up
Cherry blossoms dance in the wind
The beating of my heart loosens, expands.