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Ann Rice O'Hanlon & The Memorial Hall Mural: Ann Rice O'Hanlon Biography

Family Background

Ann L. Rice was born June 21, 1908 in Ashland, KY. She was the daughter and oldest child of Salem J. and Mathilde Weigner Rice.  Salem J. Rice was a lawyer who was born in Kentucky. His wife Mathilde was born in New York. Prior to their marriage, Salem Rice had been a school teacher in Mason County, KY, where his family was located. Salem and Mathilde were married in Alameda County, CA, on May 4, 1907, and the couple moved to Kentucky where Ann Rice was born in 1908. The family then moved to California where Ann's sister, Dee Rice, was born in Berkeley.  The family returned to Lexington, KY, where Ann's three brothers were born.

Ann Rice's sister Dee married Cliff Amyx, who was chair of the University of Kentucky College of Fine Arts.  Dee and Cliff Amyx were the parents of Tanya Amyx, the wife of Kentucky author, poet, and activist Wendell Berry.  Wendell Berry wrote a newspaper editorial about the Memorial Hall mural.


Berry, W. (2015, December 1). Is forgetting history the purpose of higher education? - Censors of the flagship [Letter to the editor]. Lexington Herald-Leader, p. 9A.

{The sources listed below are online in the Ancestry Library Edition database at the University of Kentucky Libraries.}

Index to Marriage Licenses and Certificates, No. 12, Alameda County, P. R., Record #240

1900 U.S. Federal Census

1910 U.S. Federal Census

1920 U.S. Federal Census

1940 U.S. Federal Census

Ann Rice O'Hanlon's Memorial Hall 1934 Mural

Video by KYARTPOTTERY available on YouTube.

Ann Rice O'Hanlon and The Mural

Ann Rice O'Hanlon attended grade school and high school in Lexington, KY. She went on to college and was a 1932 graduate of the University of Kentucky, where she majored in art. She did two years of post-graduate work at the California School of Fine Arts [now the San Francisco Art Institute]. Ann met Dick O'Hanlon while in California and the two were married. The couple came to Kentucky in 1933, and in her oral history interview, Ann says that she and her husband "about starved" their first year in Lexington.  She credits U.S. President Roosevelt as the person who instigated the hiring of artists in each major city of all states to create art.  The works of art came under the Public Works of Art Project (PWAP).  Ann O'Hanlon and artist Frank Long were chosen to do artwork in Lexington on the University of Kentucky campus: Frank Long's mural is in the King Library Building; Ann O'Hanlon's mural is in the Memorial Hall Building.

The chairman of the UK Art Department, Edward Rannells, invited Ann O'Hanlon to do a fresco, the first in Kentucky.  The subject of her work was the historical events around Lexington. The wall in Memorial Hall, 40 feet wide x 8 feet tall, was thought to be the right location. Ann O'Hanlon chose to use a scheme of interwoven continuous events in time. The fresco was completed in 1934, and that night Ann and Dick O'Hanlon quietly drove out of town.  Ann was unsure of her work, but returned a year later and decided the mural "wasn't too bad." She returned to Lexington again in 1986 to discuss The Mural.


(1986, March 2). "Art of the 30's." Lexington Herald-Leader, p. D1.

Fowler, H. W (1988). "Ann O'Hanlon's Kentucky Mural," The Kentucky Review, vol. 8, no. 1, pp. 57-68.

"The Ann O'Hanlon Story."  Website at the Ann O'Hanlon Center for the Arts, Mill Valley, CA.

"Oral History Interview with Ann Rice O'Hanlon, 1964 July 8."  Website at the Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institute. Interview conducted by Mary McChesney in Mill Valley, CA. Also present were Richard O'Hanlon and Robert McChesney. Full transcript online.