May Ames was born in Cleveland in 1863 and graduated from the Cleveland School of Art in 1900. She received additional artistic training at the Cleveland Art Club and the Rhode Island School of Design. Ames was a teacher of art history and anatomy at the Cleveland School of Art for eighteen years. She was a founder of the Women’s Art Club in Cleveland as well as a member of the National Association of Women Painters and Sculptors. Her landscape paintings were very popular and showed the range of her development as an artist. The earliest paintings demonstrate a style influenced by the Barbizon School, while those that are done at a later period show the effect of her travels in Europe, especially Italy, as her work became more Impressionistic. Although Ames painted still lifes and portraits, she preferred landscape, especially sunlit scenes of abundant nature in spring and summer. She was particularly attracted to the picturesque views of the small towns and woods around Cleveland.
A frequent exhibitor in Cleveland May Shows, Ames continued to exhibit in the Cleveland area at the Korner & Wood Gallery, the Women’s Art Club of Cleveland, the Little Lindner Gallery and the Lakewood Public Library. Ames also exhibited her work in national exhibits in New York, Washington DC, Philadelphia and Detroit.
Shearer, Christine Fowler, Breaking With Tradition: Ohio Women Painters, 1870-1950. Exhibition catalogue published by the Massillon Museum in 2005.
Other sources include clipping files from the Cleveland Museum of Art and the catalog Transformations in Cleveland Art, 1796-1946. William H. Robinson and David Steinburg, authors. Published by the Cleveland Museum of Art in 1996.