b. Chicago, 1921–d. Chicago, 2001
Molly Potkin was born and raised in Chicago, where her father, Louis, was a tailor and actor on the Yiddish stage in the city, and her mother, Rose Lerner, was a Russian immigrant who made hats.
Early on, after being taught basic drawing skills by a Wicker Park neighbor, Potkin found a passion for art. She earned a degree at the School of the Art Institute (SAIC), acquiring the skills that led to her career as a commercial artist. Her first job was drawing fashion ads, initially for several retail companies and then for the Sun-Times. She subsequently created MollyCues, a puzzle page for children that ran in the Chicago Sun-Times during the 1950s and 1960s; and contributed to Highlights magazine for children. While she socialized with celebrities such as Jerry Lewis and Danny Thomas and other members of Chicago's theater crowd at Fritzel's restaurant in the Loop, Potkin’s lifelong devotion was to her mother and two aunts, whom she cared for in their later years.
Her drawings of 1930s Chicago, such as Afternoon in the Park, Saturday Night—No Date, Untitled (Party scene 1), and Untitled (Party scene 2), reflect her early interest in fashion and adept hand in capturing the glamour of everyday life in the modern city.
Judy Friedman (Potkin's cousin), conversation with the author, July 28, 2011.
"Molly Potkin, 80" [Obituary]. Chicago Tribune, December 24, 2001.
Artist image: Courtesy of Judy Friedman.