Mayme Leonetti, Tampa. Oil on canvas, 24 by 30 inches, signed lower right Mayme Leonetti.
Raised and educated in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Mayme Sellers was executive secretary of the Association of Oklahoma Artists from 1935 to 1938. A poet as well as an artist, her poem The Good Earth was adopted by schools in Oklahoma as the state poem. In 1938, now a student at the Art Students’ League in New York City, Sellers met Charles Leonetti, a director at the League who was teaching there and in New York City schools. They were married in 1939 and moved to Tampa in 1945.
After the war, when the Tampa Little Theater produced the hit comedy Harvey, Mayme Leonetti painted the portrait of Elwood P. Dowd with his companion Harvey for the play’s backdrop. Leonetti was president of the Tampa Art Institute from 1946 to 1948 and a leader of Tampa’s Florida Fine Arts Guild, sponsoring over 140 local art exhibits a year.
With a forty-year career teaching art in Tampa, at her own studio, and for the Tampa Recreation Department, Leonetti is quoted in The Tampa Times (April 6, 1966) “As an artist I feel I’m bottled up with the ability to pass on what I’ve learned…the crowning point of my life. It I never do anything else for the rest of my life, I feel I have accomplished something.”
Her artist husband, Major Charles Leonetti (USAF), a former president of the New York’s Art Students’ League, died in 1994. Leonetti continued to paint and lecture on art in Tampa until health issues intervened. She died in Tampa in 1996.
Mayme Leonetti, Tampa. Polynesian Musicians. Oil on canvas, 24 by 30 inches, signed on back of canvas, Polynesian Musicians by Mayme Leonetti 4011 Santiago.
Born: August 25, 1899, West Plains, Missouri. Died: February 8, 1996, Tampa. Education: Art Students League with George Bridgeman and Robert Brackman; Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center; with Ernest Lawson and Boardman Robertson. Membership: Association of Oklahoma Artists; National League of American Pen Women; Southern States Art League; Clearwater Art Museum; Students’ Art Club, Tampa; Tampa Art Institute; Florida Federation of Art; Florida Gulf Coast Artist Group. Exhibits: Biltmore Hotel, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, mezzanine, paintings by Charles Leonetti and Mayme Sellers, August 1941; Tampa Art Institute, Tampa YWCA, January 1945, paintings of Mayme Sellers Leonetti and Charles Leonetti; Clearwater Art Museum, Florida Gulf Coast Artist Group, 4th Annual, exhibit toured the state, 1944-1945; Tampa Art Institute, Tampa Y.W.C.A. lobby, May 24, 1945; Dixie Art Colony, Montgomery, Alabama, August 1945; Florida Gulf Coast Group, 4th Annual Exhibition, nationwide circuit, July 1945-May 1946, Still Life; Tampa Art Institute, Municipal Auditorium, October 1945; Florida Federation of Art, 19th Annual Exhibit, Miami Beach, December 1945, Fruit and Pitcher; Florida Federation of Art, 1946 Annual; Clearwater Art Museum, October 1946, with husband Charles Leonetti; Florida Gulf Coast Group, Clearwater Art Museum, 5th Annual, nationwide circuit, July 1946-May 1947, oil, Spanish Poet; Argent Galleries, New York City, one man exhibit, October 1947; Florida Southern College, art gallery, December 1947, one man exhibit of still-life, portrait and landscape paintings in oil; Students’ Art Club, Tampa Municipal Auditorium Gallery, February 1948; Art Club of St. Petersburg, February 1951, joint exhibit with husband; National League of American Pen Women, January 1954, 2nd prize; Ybor City Chamber of Commerce, January 1927, Pan American exhibit of her students’ work; Beaux Arts Gallery, Pinellas Park, May 1969, paintings of Florida, southern Europe and Grand Teton National Park; Students Art Club, at Federated Clubs Building, April 1971; Federated Clubs Building, Horatio Street, Tampa, July-August 1971; Students’ Art Club at Federated Clubs Gallery, January 1972, one man exhibit of watercolors; Beaux Arts Gallery, Pinellas Park, December 1973; Tampa Veterans Hospital, August 1974.