At the tender age of 12, Maria’s family (Busalacchi) hastily left their beloved home in Italy to escape the threatening consequences of Fascism in Italy to begin a new life in Brookline, MA.
There was early evidence of unusually high potential in both her interests, that of art and the piano. But in spite of the difficulties of coping with a new language and customs, her music teacher, fortunately, being of Italian descent herself, soon realized these talents and became Maria’s staunchest supporter, blessed with an enduring, deep friendship. She became a second American mother who would smooth all of life’s bumps that a teenager normally experiences, such as a first date, general social etiquette, etc. There were numerous times when Maria’s nervous and puzzled parents had to be reassured that all is well, which her teacher did. This was the same guardian angel who encouraged her budding artist to attend the Museum School of Art, for four years while completing high school.
So it was quite natural that upon finishing high school, Maria attended the prestigious Vesper George School of Art in Boston, where her skills in fashion illustration and painting soon became evident –oils, watercolors, pastels, or really any medium met her attention.
By the time school stint was over, she had already begun to become increasingly active on the outside with freelancing newspaper ads for specialty stores such as Lord & Taylor, Saks Fifth Avenue, Peck & Peck, etc.
Graduation from Vesper George was a total triumph, topped off by the thrill of having been chosen to receive a scholarship of further study in oil painting with the late Henry Hensche, of Provincetown. Hensche himself, was at his peak of success at this time, wherein the post-Impressionists were the toast of painting.
Maria turned out to be exactly the pupil for the trend toward palette knife painting, which was to eventually delight teacher Hensche to no end. Henry was never noted for being pleased, but Maria often made his day.
Provincetown was a truly pivotal time, since it helped polish her natural skills and prepared her for a new phase of activity-that of becoming a most successful fashion illustrator in Boston, along with continuing to broaden her plein air painting endeavors with the inevitable shows, etc. The new adventure of marriage and four new possible prodigies intervened, of course, meaning a period of divided efforts, until the brood left the nest.
Her next and most satisfying experience came as the member of the faculty of the New England School of Fashion, where she helped complete the cycle of learn and teach with a new generation of hopefuls. Her boundless enthusiasm and energy, plus her guardian angel relationships were in turn providing the necessary ingredients for the success of others. She was a “Mrs. Chips” to be sure.
In these examples of her work, it cannot help but be evident that here is an artist of self-assurance, with a lust for life. There is a love for spontaneity, sometimes quite brash, and even a mischievous touch of irreverence for form-all adding up to a delightful experience.
I’m so glad she was my wife.
– Robert W. Lesieur
( 1924 – 1982 )
Maria A. Lesieur
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