Mae Wechsler Jurow, 97, an abstract painter who along with her husband established a fund at the Library of Congress to feature the harpsichord in chamber music, died of heart disease July 22 at Sibley Memorial Hospital. She lived in Chevy Chase.
As a young woman, the Brooklyn, N.Y., native worked as an assistant to Elliot Cohen, founder of Commentary magazine. She always referred to the intellectual and political discourse from contributors, such as literary critic Lionel Trilling and political philosopher Hannah Arendt, as her "college education," said her nephew Richard Wechsler of Los Angeles.
In 1929, while on her honeymoon in Paris, exposure to the works of Picasso and other cubist painters sparked in her a passion for the visual arts. Encounters there with Wanda Landowska, the legendary Bach keyboard interpreter, stoked her interest in the harpsichord.
Mrs. Jurow and her husband, Irving, moved to Washington in 1942. Two years later, she enrolled in the Corcoran College of Art and Design. She described herself as an absolute beginner who had "never held a piece of charcoal or a pencil," yet at the end of her first term, she was awarded a $25 prize for best first-year student, her nephew said.
As she matured as an artist, Mrs. Jurow's geometric abstract canvasses garnered many other awards and were included in a number of exhibitions such as the Corcoran Biennale. She was the first recipient of the Corcoran's John Nolan Ronsheim Memorial Award.
In 1980, Mrs. Jurow and her husband established a fund at the Library of Congress for an annual concert featuring the harpsichord, as well as an endowment to support the Southeastern Historical Keyboard Society's International Harpsichord Competition. Over the years, the couple contributed to many causes, including scholarships at New York University, Harvard Law School and the College of William and Mary. After her husband's death in 1998, Mrs. Jurow provided philanthropic support to the Virginia Shakespeare Festival, the Master Chorale of Washington, the Hebrew Home of Greater Washington and WETA public television.
Remembering the inspiration she received from winning an award when she was a beginning art student, Mrs. Jurow endowed a scholarship fund in 1994 at the Corcoran for sophomore students.
She also maintained a commitment to the College of Arts and Science of New York University, helping with the lecture series established by her late husband and establishing the Herman J. Wechsler Award for Study and Travel in the Fine Arts in honor of her brother, an art dealer.
In 2002, Mrs. Jurow was presented with a Distinguished Alumna Award from the Corcoran College of Art and Design, which cited her support of and "enlightened generosity" toward young and emerging artists.
In the last years of her life, Mrs. Jurow had to give up working with oil paints but continued to produce drawings that reflected her fascination with motion, space and the most advanced theories about the nature and structure of the cosmos.
She leaves no immediate survivors.