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  • Betty Dortch Russell McMath
  • Untitled, Landscape
  • 1960
  • Oil on canvas
  • 12.5 x 10.5 inches
  • Historic Arkansas Museum Collection

Betty Dortch Russell McMath grew up in Little Rock, Arkansas during the 1920s. After graduating from Central High School in 1938, she studied art under the direction of Adrian Brewer and Fern Edie Knecht. McMath then entered Hendrix College, where she took art courses with Louis and Elsie Freund.

McMath soon rose to prominence for her portraiture. During her seven-decade career. she painted portraits for dozens or Arkansas citizens, including Pulitzer Prize recipient John Gould Fletcher, Little Rock activist Adolphine Fletcher Terry, and U.S. District Judge Henry Woods.

McMath also produced portraits of five Arkansas governors, including Orval Faubus, Winthrop Rockefeller, and Sid McMath, who later became her second husband. Though her paintings are execute primarily in a realist style, each work includes a touch of whimsy, especially when depicting a young subject.

McMath taught painting, figure drawing, and art appreciation courses at the Arkansas Arts Center for thirty years. During this time, she helped start the center’s Artmobile project and children’s educational programs. McMath was also an active member of the Aesthetic Club, the Mid-Southern Watercolorists, and the Arkansas Artist Registry. In 2004, she received the Arkansas Arts Council’s Governor’s Award for Individual Artists.