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By the Way: Celebrating a noble sport and a brother gone too soon


Artist Kate Quinn Wright simply painted what she loved — and it won her the Bucks County Herald Award in memory of Joseph T. Wingert, founding publisher, at the 94th Juried Art Show at Phillips Mill.

Receiving the award for her handsome oil painting was a joyful occasion at a familiar place for the artist. When her Philadelphia family had reason to celebrate — and that was often — they traveled to Bucks County to the Inn at Phillips Mill, just across the road from the annual art show, she explained.

But her joy at the moment she was notified she had won the award was also tainted with sadness. The figure in “Fall Rowing on the Schuylkill,” Kate’s prize-winning oil painting, is her brother, Michael Patrick Quinn, a champion rower who died suddenly in February. He was 61.

A Temple grad and a world-class rower, he competed on the national stage during the 1980s as a member of the U.S. National team and rowed in the Henley Royal Regatta. A trial lawyer, he later coached rowing at St. Joseph’s Prep.

In Kate’s painting, the rower, the waters of the Schuylkill and the Strawberry Mansion Bridge are bathed in the golden glow of memory. It represents to Kate the years — and the family culture, really — when her brother was “a fixture on the river.” She called the famous Boathouse Row “the site of a vibrant rowing community.”

Kate rowed, too, but not competitively. One of five rollicking siblings in a close-knit Catholic family, Kate was the only girl. She was particularly close to Michael and Peter, the brothers nearest to her in age, and both of whom have died.

“I miss them,” she said.

In the painting, she has captured their privileged childhood and athletic adolescence — Catholic schools, Catholic colleges, a comfortable home, the Schuylkill River and its powerful draw. She said, “Rowing was part of our growing up, part of our social life. We all knew each other. The Schuylkill was given its name, Hidden River, by the Dutch settlers but to Philadelphia rowers it’s home.”

“The painting was a difficult struggle for me but I can finally call it finished,” Kate admitted. “I was hoping to portray the physically explosive nature of the sport by showing the vantage point of the coxswain in an eight during a race (one of the hardest acts of endurance.) I have a deep respect for the sport. I have a great respect for those who commit to this noble sport.”

Kate, a graduate of Moore College of Art, studied at Parsons School of Design in Paris. She has also taken life-drawing and portrait-drawing classes at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, where she is a member of the Women’s Committee, an interest she shares with her friend, Durham Township artist Johanna Chehi.

A businesswoman as well as an artist, Kate also was owner and co-creative director for 15 years of Carestio & Quinn Marketing/Communications, a full-service marketing firm in Philadelphia.

Kate, who considers herself “a contemporary realist painter” draws artistic inspiration from Thomas Eakins and Winslow Homer. She said they were among “the great artists, draftsmen, painters and printmakers of the 19th Century.” She does not copy them; her work is more a reaction to them, she explained. Her paintings of watery scenes — river, ocean, beach — are formidable. She works in oils and charcoal and is a printmaker as well.

She said, “Figurative narrative art is what challenges me most. The figure and the face are my favorite subject matters because to me they represent the ultimate composition in nature — the figure in landscape, the figure in the interior, the portrait in landscape — they are all genres I am continuously pursuing.”

The art of still life is also a favorite. She said, “I typically use a few items against a strong horizon line.” That line is evident in much of her work, particularly in the ocean and river scenes.

Her love for drawing, she said, “is the foundation that inspires my painting style.”

Kate, who has five children, is a busy woman. She also works for her husband’s law firm.

“I married Mr. Wright,” she said with a grin.

Custom-sized prints of the artist’s work are available at

She’s also on Instagram at @katewright_fineart.

Kathryn Finegan Clark is a freelance writer who lives in Durham Township. She can be reached at

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