A Special Gift From a Family Steeped in Art and Medicine

March 11, 2015
muralskeating

Two murals by artist Mary Aubrey Keating are donated to the historic Robert B. Green Campus, where her husband once cared for patients

It was a marriage of art and medicine.

Mary Aubrey Keating, an opera singer and San Antonio native who later enjoyed success as a painter, fell in love and married Dr. Peter McCall Keating, a pioneering orthopedic surgeon who practiced at the old Robert B. Green Memorial Hospital. The year was 1921.

The murals, titled “Three Hispanic Ladies” and “Three Musicians.”“They were a wonderful combination,” said their daughter, Aubrey Keating Carter. “He was a great appreciator of art and supporter of my mother.”

That marriage of art and medicine continues. On March 12, two murals painted by Ms. Keating in the 1930s will be donated by her family to University Health System’s historic Robert B. Green Campus.

Mrs. Keating — whose subject matter embraced life in San Antonio and throughout Latin America — studied art in Mexico in the early 1930s, rubbing elbows with famed muralists Diego Rivera and José Clemente Orozco. During World War II, Dr. Keating oversaw medical operations in the Panama Canal Zone, bringing his family along, and Mrs. Keating drew further inspiration from life and culture in Central America.

Today her work can be seen in art galleries in San Antonio and across the country. Her murals are displayed at the former Kelly Air Force Base, the Bright Shawl and the San Antonio Conservation Society.

“She just loved everything about Hispanic culture,” said Mrs. Carter, who taught Spanish for 35 years at Milton Academy in Massachusetts, and wrote four children’s books. “She loved the colors, she loved the beauty, the gentleness, the passion. She just fell in love with it.”

The murals, titled “Three Hispanic Ladies” and “Three Musicians,” were painted using oil wash on canvas. They each measure six feet long and about four feet wide. Mrs. Carter said her mother’s two canvasses have been rolled up and stored in her closet for some time.

Mrs. Keating passed away in 1953. Dr. Keating, who went on to head the Warm Springs Foundation in Gonzales, died six years later.

Mrs. Carter said she and her surviving brother, Peter M. Keating of Culver City, Calif., were happy to donate the pieces to the Robert B. Green, where they used to play outside as children while their father performed surgery inside.

“That’s where Daddy saw so many of his patients, and I thought that that would be the place that both of them would want them to go,” she said.

The murals will complement the more than 300 original works of art and design enhancements at the Robert B. Green Campus, and more than 1,200 at University Hospital, that were collected over the course of three years for University Health System’s Salud-Arte: Art of Healing program.

The goal of that program is to use art to inspire healing and hope, and to provide patients, visitors and staff with a warm and welcoming environment. The program is led by San Antonio art curator Allison Hays, owner of the Olana Group. Hays worked closely with the project’s Design Enhancement Public Art Committee to assemble the art collection at both facilities.