|Having no immediate family, she was unable to leave her small New York midtown apartment. In 1998, a volunteer from United-Neighbors-of-the-East-Side, which works with New York City’s elderly “shut-ins”, was visiting with Springford and learned about a storage room in Chelsea that held her life’s work. They visited the room and found more than 40 years worth of paintings and drawings covered in plastic and a decades worth of dust since the room was last opened. The volunteer brought samples of Springford’s work to Gary Snyder, an art dealer known for his revisionist exhibitions of historically rooted art and artists. Snyder immediately recognized its importance and began the process of cleaning, restoring, and showing her work. Snyder’s first exhibition of Springford’s work in 1998 was nearly sold out before its opening.
When Vivian Springford died in 2003, Gary Snyder presented a memorial show that was well received. Doug McClemont reviewed the exhibition for Artnews, ending with: “…The influences of artists such as Georgia O’Keeffe and Sam Francis are difficult not to notice, but Springford’s experiments with making acrylics behave like watercolors were original and skillful, and the results convey a rare sense of magic.”
Grace Glueck reviewed the show in The New York Times: “Her strong sense of color is tempered by an Asian feeling for delicate, calligraphic line, seen in works of the 1960s. These exuberant linear scribblings and doodlings, stained and painted on paper or canvas, are enhanced and sometimes almost overcome by areas of black paint, worked onto the surface by stain, brushing or other means.
As the history of Abstract Expressionism continues to be explored and defined, Vivian Springford is emerging as an important figure, who developed a sophisticated and original stain style of painting.