SEDGWICK — When Holly Meade was going through chemotherapy for breast cancer, she did what she did best —illustrate her response to the experience.
Her linoleum-block print of red gladiolas bursting from a vase was intended to encourage others who were sick and raise funds for Maine artists struggling to pay for their medical needs.
Meade died June 28 at Blue Hill Memorial Hospital. She was 56.
“It’s so hard to believe,” said Karin Wilkes, who sells the poster “Healing” through her Courthouse Gallery Fine Art in Ellsworth.
Wilkes and her husband, Michael, have carried Meade’s woodblock prints since they first became aware of the artist’s work in 2007.
Wilkes said Meade delivered prints to the gallery three weeks ago.
“I had no idea she was not doing well,” she said Monday. “I thought she was on the mend. She was happy and energetic and healthy looking when she stopped in.”
Meade was prolific as well as talented.
She worked in many mediums over her career, among them drawing, painting, basket-making and fabric design, but began focusing on woodblock prints in 2002.
Meade illustrated nearly 30 children’s books, a number of which received significant awards.
“HUSH! A Thai Lullaby” written by Minfong Ho garnered a Caldecott Honor and “John Willy and Freddy McGee” won the Charlotte Zolotow Award for Creative Writing.
Her lively rooster was chosen from scores of entries in the highly competitive poster contest for the 2010 Common Ground Country Fair in Unity.
Wilkes said one of Meade’s prints of men harvesting ice from a river was acquired by the Portland Museum of Art.
“There is nobody like her making prints that I know of in the state of Maine with her wit, her sense of humor and her imagery,” Wilkes said. “Her prints will live on as part of the collection of Maine artists of note for years to come.”
The Schooner Gallery in Milbridge is featuring Meade’s work until July 28.
Co-curator Sarah Brandon said she had invited Meade to exhibit at the Schooner Gallery a few years ago, but she wasn’t available until this summer.
The two last spring exchanged e-mails and Meade dropped off her work in May, never mentioning that she had had a relapse.
Brandon said she has been collecting postcards of Meade’s work for years.
“Her work is really wonderful,” Brandon said. “She really captures the essence of whatever creature she is drawing or carving.”
“We have really enjoyed her work,” she added. “We were delighted to have it for this show. It’s just so sad, the timing of all of this.”