Geneva was born in Commerce, Missouri, a Mississippi river town that merited its name in the steamship era. The family moved up to St. Louis when she was two, and she grew up in the Central West End. G was graduated from Marquette School and then attended Central High : destroyed in the tornado of 1927. Although that meant commuting to another school, her class apparently retained its identity.
G was already recognized for her art in high school. Her yearbook entry reads, "In Central they are an essential part - Geneva Abbott and her art." She was selected to make a drawing for the yearbook of what St. Louis would be in future; see the Psychic Artist section below!
After being graduated from Central in the January Class of 1933 - early, at 16 - she studied Commercial Art at Hadley Vocational School for two and a half years ("one of the finest, most elaborate, and most luxurious vocational schools for whites," recalls Judge Theodore McMillian). She took evening classes in Fine Arts at Washington University. She then worked nine years in commercial art and advertising for the International Shoe Company.
Geneva and her two sisters attended Giddings-Boyle Presbyterian Church, where G enjoyed being in the youth group, responsible for putting out the weekly church bulletin. That is where she met Donald Patterson, whom she wed in 1939.
Geneva became active in the Society of Independent Artists of St. Louis while she worked to qualify for the Artists' Section of the St. Louis Artists' Guild, which she was invited to join in 1957. After leaving International Shoe, Geneva had turned her efforts entirely to fine arts. G was a valued officer of the clubs and societies she joined; she kept good minutes, good accounts, and ran meetings according to Roberts' Rules of Order in a very businesslike way. She always showed initiative in fostering new art events, to give more artists the opportunity to show, and to involve the community, and to encourage high standards in art. While she worked hard for many art fairs, juried shows were her personal preference. She organized and served as juror on outdoor art exhibitions, and was active with the Ruth Kelso Renfrow Club, the Monday Club, and the Craft Alliance Gallery.
Geneva was always an active artist, interested in experimentation and in expanding her range of skills and techniques. She participated in many professional workshops, such as: enameling, with Kenneth Bates in Gatlinburg; watercolor with George Post at Mendocino, with Tony Couch in Georgia, and with Millard Sheets, Jade Fon, and Jane Burnham at Asilomar. She studied oil painting under Val Vogel, enameling with Dorothy Farley, and portraiture with Fred Carpenter and with Virginia Schlueter.
One of the ways Geneva contributed to her community was to offer portrait sketches at school and church fairs. Many parents were delighted to get a charming portrait at the very modest cost these fund-raisers asked for. She also offered occasional art workshops and demonstrations to schools, children's camps, and scouting groups.
For many years, G and Don enjoyed the annual costume ball held by the Society of Independent Artists, always booking a table or more with non-artist friends who liked to join in the fun at the Chase.
G and her husband Don both loved to travel, and took several trips each year, providing scenes and inspiration for many paintings. They were also avid bridge players, and participated in many duplicate bridge tournaments. A life master, Geneva sometimes held the highest rank in her state.
Geneva and Don relocated to Hilton Head Island in 1980 when he retired. There, she served on the board of the Hilton Head Art League and was president of the Friends of the Library. She got art exhibits started at the library and continued to be the organizer for many years. She participated yearly in the island's charity auction Evening of the Arts, and was a member of the Beaufort Art Association and the Sea Pines Community Center. On Hilton Head, she held a solo and a two-artist exhibition, and showed annually with the Low Country Artists. Geneva attended Spring Made Beach watercolor workshops as well as workshops on the island. While in St. Louis, GG's work was accepted into all the juried exhibitions she entered, but once in SC, most of the exhibitions were non-competitive. She did, however, receive many commissions which kept her as active for private clients as she was for the group shows.
In 2002, Geneva and Don moved to Vero Beach, Florida. The move from Hilton Head took quite a toll on Geneva, who had wanted to pack up her own studio. After arriving in Vero, she suffered from shingles for months. She was never up to joining the artist commununity in Florida, and had no studio to work in. During summer visits to Pat in Virginia, Geneva could make use of a studio set up, and produced some more watercolors, a few small oils, and some sketches. Then, having broken her hip in the early hours of her 93rd birthday, Geneva agreed after being discharged from rehab to return to Virginia with Pat. Don followed in May, and the move became permanent. G did not show art in Virginia, but some of her paintings have been sold to people who have viewed them at Heaven Scent B&B.
Geneva's works are in many private collections - and anyone who can supply a photograph of her work, for this site, is asked to do so.
Geneva passed away peacefully at home with Pat and Don on March 19, 2011, a month after her 95th birthday. Don lived on (with Pat) to July 2012; Don and G had celebrated 71 years of marriage together.