Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Olinka Hrdy: Abstract Painter and Muralist

Olinka Hrdy
Olinka Hrdy exemplifies the female artist who was not only well-known during her lifetime, but worked extensively and was respected by major artists and architects of the day. She was a risk-taker and an artist who worked in a genre that was not mainstream in her native Oklahoma. Hrdy's star has, unfortunately, faded into near obscurity.

Olinka Hrdy is one of Oklahoma's first modern artists. She was born in 1902 near a small Czechoslovakian settlement in Prague, Oklahoma, fifty-three miles east of Oklahoma City. She considered herself a 'soddy,' that is one who was born and grew up in a sod house, a successor to the log cabin found during frontier settlement in Canada and the United States. Olinka, Czech for "Olive," was of Czechoslovakian descent. After her parents divorced, she and her mother worked a large Indian lease which is land owned by Native Americans but leased to whites for agriculture. They tilled several hundred acres on their own. She remained there until she left to attend the University of Oklahoma.

Hrdy was a talented crafts woman and earned additional money throughout high school doing embroidery, a traditional Czech art. With only fifty dollars to see her through the entirety of her schooling at the University of Oklahoma, she originally enrolled in the domestic art department, but within weeks was doing so well that she was made a student instructor. Since Hrdy became bored in a craft with which she already excelled, she decided to enroll in the art department the following year. When her instructors found that she had no funds to buy supplies or clothing and recognizing her talent, they arranged for her to work on a mural in one of their offices based on a poem entitled, "Maker of Dreams." 

Olinka Hrdy
Development of the Body
Oklahoma City University Law School
South Wall
Although Hrdy wanted to continue her studies, lack of money was a critical issue. Befriended by the faculty, another of her professors arranged again for her to work on painting a series of twenty doors measuring two by sixteen feet at the state dormitories for women at the campus of the university which covered her room and board for the year. The doors were eventually removed and relocated to a museum in Tulsa Oklahoma.

Hrdy produced murals for architect Bruce Goff's Riverside Studio in Tulsa. Goff designed the studio for his music teacher and commissioned Hrdy, a student at the University of Oklahoma,to create murals for the walls. The murals signified various forms of music: primitive, vocal, piano, symphonic, choral, string, and modern. Five feet wide and 13 feet long, the paintings decorated the studio’s recital hall, situated above the air vents and running the length of the wall until they met the ceiling. As you can see from the above image, the murals were an experiment in composition and color.
Olinka Hrdy
Painting a mural in Goff's Studio
Tulsa, Oklahoma
Architect and artist Frank Lloyd Wright was also a fan of her work and he invited her to paint murals in Taliesin East in Spring Green, Wisconsin.

A prolific artist from the 1920s to the 1960s, Hrdy is not particularly well-known in the art world today.  Few of her sketches, small paintings, and graphic design work remain, and most are held in collections by the Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art in Norman, Oklahoma. Olinka Hrdy enjoyed a few years of acclaim before fading her renown faded. She worked as an industrial designer after World War II, diagramming blueprints for radios and radio cabinets, waste baskets, clothes hampers, and even the interior of a private airplane, but she has received little historical recognition for her work. A retrospective of her work was mounted three years ago at the Fred Jones Jr. Museum in Norman which exposed new generations to the beauty of her style. 
Catalogue for Hrdy Oklahoma Moderne Exhibition
Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art
ca. 2013
University of Oklahoma, Norman Oklahoma
In addition, Hrdy didn’t sell much work during her lifetime. The market in which she worked didn’t support her style of art, and much of it was considered decoration, rather than fine art. Her gender and being from Oklahoma also seemed to create obstacles in her work. Hrdy and Goff collaborated again in 1930 when Goff was asked to redesign the interior Tulsa’s unattractive and outdated Convention Hall—the historic structure now known as the Brady Theater. Goff asked Hrdy to design a 50-foot long asbestos fire curtain for the stage and a mural for the entrance. Both of these works have either disappeared or been destroyed, but, at the time, they solidified Hrdy’s understanding of abstraction and her position as a modern artist.
“That type of abstract art in the 1920s and ’30s was not going to play well in places like Oklahoma, nor even in Chicago, and L.A., and she spent the majority of her career in California. It isn’t until the post-WWII period that the type of abstraction she’s producing has an audience in those areas states Mark White, curator of Norman, Oklahoma's Fred Jones Jr.'s Museum of Art. 
Olinka Hrdy
Good Earth
ca. 1938
11 3/4 x 16.5 inches
Illinois State Museum Collection
The fact that Hrdy has lagged in scholarly attention has hurt her reputation as well-yet, she was innovative, creative, and forward-thinking in terms of her art and design. An in-depth exploration of her life and work will certainly expose how important the work she created, especially during her years in Oklahoma, really is.
Olinka Hrdy passed away at the age of 85 years old. She spent the last twenty years of her life back in Prague, Oklahoma, enjoying local celebrity status but creating little artwork. Tragically, few pieces of her work remain, or have yet to be brought forward if it is in the hands of private collectors, that Hrdy seems to be an enigma-waiting to be rediscovered.
Olinka HrdyDevelopment of the Mind Mural
Oklahoma City University Law School
North Wall
Olinka Hrdy
Deep Sea Magic
ca. 1939
Long Beach School District

Oral History with Olinka Hrdy, 1965, Betty Hoag, interviewer, Smithsonian Archives of American Art, http://www.aaa.si.edu/collections/interviews/oral-history-interview-olinka-hrdy-12581, retrieved 9/1/16.
This Land, Lost Olinka, Holly Wall,  http://thislandpress.com/2011/09/20/lost-olinka/, retrieved 9/2/16.
Splurge Magazine, OKC, http://splurgeokc.com/olinka-hrdy/, retrieved 9/6/2016.
Design Matters, https://fsb-ae-blog.com/2014/09/16/divergent-view-3/, retrieved 9/6/16
Fred Jones Jr. Museum of Art, Norman Oklahoma, http://www.ou.edu/content/fjjma/visit.html

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Evelyn J. Cameron: Rugged Outdoors-woman and Photographer

Evelyn J. Cameron
ca. 1921
Terry, Montana Website
Evelyn J. Cameron was a pioneer photographer and rancher who lived in eastern Montana during the early years of the twentieth century. An rancher and rugged outdoors-woman, Cameron photographed documentary images and portraits of life, acquaintances, and family near her ranch from 1894 until her death .A witness to the end of the open range and the height of the railroad, her photographs are a highlight of Western photography and a window into life in the West during that period. 

Evelyn J. Cameron
Heading Flax
ca. 1913
Terry, Montana Website
Evelyn Jephson Flower was born August 26, 1868, near Streatham, England. The Flower family was tied to England's elite--her half brother Cyril Flower became Lord Battersea in 1892. Ewen Somerled Cameron was born in 1854 in Scotland, to a genteel, but penniless family. Evelyn married Ewen in the fall of 1889 and they spent their honeymoon in Montana. The couple relocated to the state in 1893 to breed and train polo ponies which, unfortunately, was an unsuccessful venture. She and her husband were part of small British group of colonists looking to prosper from ranch life. Cameron enjoyed the rugged Western lifestyle and its demands. Her chores included milking cows, churning butter, cooking meals, raising pet coyotes and wolves, laundry, and gardening (a potato harvest would weigh in at 2000 pounds). She broke horses, went on two-month hunting trips in the winter, butchered game, and pursued photography. 

Evelyn J. Cameron
Ewen Cameron with pet wolves
ca. 1908
In addition to the polo pony business, Ewen Cameron was interested in Montana wildlife, especially birds. He became a noted ornithologist, published several articles in various British science magazines and spent many years on a book describing birds of the western United States. Evelyn Cameron photographed wildlife and birds in addition to illustrating her husband's articles on birding and outdoor life. She photographed the badlands and bluffs of eastern Montana, but is best known for her straightforward and authentic views of ranch life. 
Evelyn J. Cameron with wolf pup
Montana Historical Society
Photography helped to relieve some of the loneliness of living on the plains. It provided much needed income, allowed Evelyn to work with Ewen on his wildlife studies and provided an opportunity for meeting and learning about her neighbors. Her photographs captured the experiences of men and women on the plains of Eastern Montana in starkly vivid and candid terms. Cowboys, women, ranchers, farmers, children, itinerant workers, sheep herders, and the stark landscape all found their way into her photos. Her work was carried in magazines throughout the country. 

Evelyn J. Cameron
1928 Diary Page
Montana Memory Project
Cameron kept a series of diaries (35 in total) that chronicle her daily life including the books she read, chores, lists of letters both written and received, local and national events, photographs taken, social activities,verbatim copies of special letters, and weather. The diaries also include minutiae that reveal not only the fabric of her own life but that of many women living in eastern Montana at the time.  For example, her diaries include bits of information such as the number of eggs gathered and chickens killed per month; notes on the amount of butter she churned; methods of skinning a coyote and  breaking a horse; accounts of money made from her photos and garden produce; lists of supplies; and Evelyn’s favorite poems and quotes. 
Evelyn J. Cameron
ca. n.d.
Terry, Montana Website
In 1914, Ewen became ill and had to be taken to Pasadena, California, to receive treatment for cancer. He died the following year and was buried in California. Evelyn, contrary to the requests of her family, returned to Fallon to run the ranch by herself where she continued her photography for the remainder of her life. She died in 1928 at age 60 following an operation for appendicitis. Evelyn Cameron is buried in Terry, Montana.

Opportunties to see more of Evelyn J. Cameron's work can be found at the Prairie County Museum and Evelyn Cameron Gallery, 101 S. Logan Ave., Terry, MT and the Evelyn Cameron Heritage Center, 204 Laundre Ave., Terry, MT 

Montana Memory Project, Evelyn Cameron Diaries, http://cdm15018.contentdm.oclc.org/cdm/landingpage/collection/p16013coll11, retrieved June 30, 2016.
Terry, Montana, http://visitterrymt.com/website/EvelynCameronStory.htm, retrieved June 30, 2016.
Archives West: Orbis Cascade Alliance, Evelyn J. Cameron and Ewen S. Cameron Papers, 1893-1929, http://archiveswest.orbiscascade.org/ark:/80444/xv71834, retrieved June 30, 2016.

Monday, June 6, 2016

The Brutons: Sisters in Art

The Bruton Sisters, Artists
Imogen Cunningham
ca 1930
Gelatin silver print
Imogen Cunningham Trust
Margaret, Helen, and Esther Bruton, San Francisco Bay Area natives, lived and worked together at home, in an old-fashioned decidedly female "refuge" with an attic studio. They exhibited together, and frequently collaborated on projects. Their modernism was a combination of tradition, innovation, and experiment that enabled them to cross boundaries with style. The sisters worked in nearly every medium: easel painting and murals, mosaics both large and small, ceramics, etchings, woodcuts, and linoleum block prints.

It isn't possible to write about one without including the others as they singly and collectively contributed to the cultural life in the Bay Area .

Margaret Bruton, the eldest daughter, is often known for her landscapes, figures, graphics and murals. Although her family had lived in San Francisco, California, Margaret was born in 1894 in Brooklyn, New York, where her mother had relatives. When she was two months old, Margaret returned to California with her mother where she and her sisters Helen and Esther attended public high school. As a young girl, Margaret showed artistic talent, which prompted her art education in 1913. She began her studies at the Mark Hopkins Institute of Art in San Francisco where she learned under Frank Van Sloun. At the age of twelve she won a prize for her artwork and later earned a scholarship that enabled her to study at the Art Students League in New York City. She studied with Frank Vincent Dumond and Robert Henri.
Margaret remained in New York for four years, returning to California in 1918. Bruton worked at Letterman Hospital in San Francisco for two years until the end of the war after which she traveled south of the city to Monterey, California where she attended open-air sketching classes with Armin Hansen. By 1924, her entire family relocated to Monterey. In 1923 Bruton won a prize for a painting she exhibited at the Los Angeles Museum. In 1925 Margaret and her sisters traveled to Europe to study art and she remained in Paris, France to study at the Academie de la Grand Chaumiere for a year. When she returned to California she gave her first solo-exhibition at the Beaux Arts Gallery in San Francisco (1926). 
Margaret Bruton
Barns on Cass Street 
ca 1925
Oil on canvas
38 x 44 inches
Monterey Museum of Art
When the Beaux Arts show traveled to Bullock's Wilshire gallery in Los Angeles the following year, the critic Arthur Miller praised the women separately and as a group. "The showing consists of paintings and drawings by Margaret, decorative scenes in silver and gold, wood engravins and drypoints by Eshter and wood-block prints by Helen, and its immediate impression is on the score of the intelligence, order and clarity of style displayed in the work of each..."
Margaret Bruton
The Harmonica
ca 1930-35
Oil on canvas
40 x 34 1/2  inches
Collection of Teresa and Eric Del Piero
During 1929 she spent time in New Mexico for inspiration, discovered Native American art which led to painting Indian portraits and exhibited her works when she returned to California. She took frequent sketching trips with her mother and sisters to Nevada and Mexico. Margaret often exhibited with the California Society of Etchers, the Club Beaux Arts, the San Francisco Society of Women Artists and the San Francisco Art Association. Margaret Bruton died in California in 1983.
Bruton Sisters
Peacemaker's Mural, Court of Pacifica
ca 1939-40
Golden Gate International Exhibition
(California World's Fair)
(Anne) Esther Bruton
Esther Bruton is best known as a skilled muralist, and for her ability to work with wood and paint. Born in Alameda, California in 1896. After attending a local public high school Esther joined her older sister Margaret in New York City. From 1917 to 1918 she studied under George Bridgeman at the Art Students League in New York. She studied commercial art at the New York School of Fine and Applied Arts. After her studies she took a position as an advertising illustrator at Lord and Taylor department store in New York.
After her return to the family home in Alameda, she worked for the prestigious I. Magnin department store as a fashion illustrator over the next seven years, while also traveling periodically with her family. In 1924 Esther spent four months in Tahiti where she lived with a friend in a grass-hut. She headed for Europe in 1925 with her sisters where they took classes in Paris at the Studio de la Grande Chaumiere. Esther ultimately gave up her job as a commercial artist in 1929 to concentrate on her Fine Art. On another trip with her family to Taos, New Mexico she sketched the Pueblo. When the family returned, Esther and her sisters gave a joint exhibition at the Beaux Arts Gallery in San Francisco in 1929. During the 1930s she continued to show her work within California where she gained critical praise and earned awards.
Esther Bruton
Art in Action
ca Mid twentieth century
Dry point
4.4  x 3.1  inches
de Young Museum, San Francisco, California
Each sister had unique talents and Esther’s was her ability to work with wood and paint. She made painted screens and was a skilled muralist. One of her commissions included the circus-theme murals in the cocktail lounge at the Fairmount Hotel in San Francisco. Esther was selected chairman of the jury for the fifty-seventh Annual Exhibition of the San Francisco Art Association at the San Francisco Museum of Art in 1937. She remained an active member of the California Society of Etchers and also the San Francisco Art Association in her later years.
Helen Bruton had intended to be a sculptor but turned instead to woodblock printing and engraving. She later became known for her mosaic murals. Born and raised in Alameda, California, Helen attended the University of California, Berkeley where she majored in Art.
During World War I, she worked with her sisters in occupational therapy at the Letterman Hospital in San Francisco. In 1920 she moved to New York to take classes at the Art Students League for one year under sculptors Sterling Calder and Leo Lentelli. She joined her sisters in Europe to study art, mainly in Paris.
Returning home, Helen became interested in California-Spanish architecture. She was commissioned by tile producer McBean and Company to create mosaic panels for the Mudd Memorial Library at the University of Southern California. In 1929 Helen and her mother, along with sisters Margaret and Esther, traveled to New Mexico where all three young women painted and sketched. When they returned they held a joint exhibition at the Beaux Arts Gallery in San Francisco. Helen also exhibited at the California Society of Etchers and the Progressive California Painters in 1934. She later worked with her sister Margaret on a WPA project for the Fleishacker Park in San Francisco. The sisters designed and implemented the two mosaic panels that were the first tile mosaics to be done in San Francisco by local artists. Helen later received a commission from the University of California Berkeley to create mosaic panels to adorn the University Art Gallery (1936).
Florence Swift and Helen Bruton 
Left: Music and Painting - Right: Sculpture and Dance
ca 1936
Mosaics-Byzantine Style
18  x 10 feet 
UC Berkeley Old Art Gallery
Helen Bruton died in Monterey, California in 1985.
The following murals created by the Margaret, Esther, and Helen, on the Mother’s Building at the San Francisco Zoo were projects for the WPA. 
Bruton Sisters
ca 1934
San Francisco Zoo
Detail of St. Francis Mosaic,
ca 1934
San Francisco Zoo
Individually and collectively, these three artists created a tremendous body of work that was dynamic and experimental, unconventional and intelligent. Their work remains an important contribution to the fabric of the San Francisco Bay Area .

Sources_________________________________________________________Phil Kovinick and Marian Yoshiki Kovinick, An Encyclopedia of Women Artists of the American West, University of Texas Press, Austin, 1998, p. 34.Marian Wardle, ed., American Women Modernists, The Legacy of Robert Henri, 1910-1945, Rutgers University Press, New Jersey, London, 2005, pages, 47-51.WPA Murals.com, The Bruton Sisters, http://www.wpamurals.com/bruton.htm, retrieved June 6, 2016. askart.com, The Bruton Sisters, Bruton Sisters WPA Mural at the San Francisco Zoo, http://www.artandarchitecture-sf.com/bruton-sisters-wpa-mural-at-the-san-francisco-zoo.html, retrieved June 6, 2016.Helen Bruton's Tile Murals at the Golden West Hotel, http://www.artandarchitecture-sf.com/tag/tile-art, retrieved June 6, 2016. 

Friday, May 27, 2016

Laura van Pappelendam: Prolific Painter and Educator

Laura van Pappelendam

Laura Peternellie van Pappelendam was an educator and an artist. She was dedicated to ensuring that the study of art become a legitimate component of liberal arts curriculum.

van Pappelendam grew up in Keokuk, Iowa. Following her graduation from the local high school in 1902, she attended classes at the Art Institute of Chicago from 1904 until her graduation in 1909. She continued her education and won honorable mentions along the way in 1910, 1911, 1912, and 1917 until she earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Art Education in 1926.

Pappelendam had a nearly life-long association with the Art Institute of Chicago, first as student, artist and then, as an instructor there for fifty years. Van Pappelendam earned a doctorate in 1929 from the University of Chicago, where she helped establish both the Department of Art in 1924 and the Renaissance Club, and then taught in the University Department of Art part time from 1919 to 1948.

Laura van Pappelendam
ca. 1925
24 x 20 inches
Oil on canvas
Oak Park Art League
During the 1920s, van Pappelendam began to spend her summers painting in New Mexico. The west offered women an escape from the prevailing societal assumptions that they were delicate creatures with fragile mental and physical constitutions. The opportunity to travel, to explore, and to adapt to a new environment had a great deal of appeal and empowered women in their personal and professional lives. Traveling by car during the summer of 1920, van Pappelendam wrote, " I was wild about these camping/painting trips. Generally my younger brother went with me. We camped in all kinds of conditions and places. Snakes have come up in tent rooms when we camped over their holes...There is no better way to see the landscape than to be sleeping out."

Laura van Pappelendam
Weeding the Garden
ca. n.d.
30 x 24 inches
Oil on canvas
Her other western expeditions included visits to Colorado, California and Santa Fe which she used as a base for visits to Arizona, Utah, and Nevada. A prolific artist, her works included impressionistic views of everyday life in the region as well as landscapes and flower studies.

Laura van Pappelendam
Around the Birdhouse
ca. 1942-44
29 x 36.5 inches
Oil on canvas, mounted on board
Laura van Pappelendam's exhibition history was immense. She participated in more than 250 while teaching at the Art Institute of Chicago, the City Art Museum, St. Louis, Women Painters of America, Wichita, Kansas, the Sesquicentennial International Exhibition in Philadelphia, Women's International Exhibition, Detroit, Carnegie Institute, Pittsburgh and the Whitney Museum of American Art, Riverside Museum, and Academy of Allied Arts, all in New York among others. van Pappelendam enjoyed an extended solo show at the U.S. Embassy Residence in Dublin from 1957 to 1962.
Laura van Pappelendam
Anne on the Patio
ca. 1960
Oil on canvas
For additional paintings, see Laura's work on Flicker posted by her great nephew, Ben McLeod: https://www.flickr.com/photos/benmcleod/sets/2922/

An Encyclopedia of Women Artists of the American West, Phil Kovinick and Marian Yoshiki-Kovinick, University of Texas Press, 1998, pages 316-317
Independent Spirits: Women Painters of the American West, Patricia Trenton, ed., University of California Press, 1995, pages 156, 164, 171, 172.
Laura van Pappelendam's Paintings, http://www.auntlauraspaintings.com/, retrieved May 27, 2016.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Ruth Joy Hopkins: Painting "the bigness of it all"

Ruth Joy Hopkins (1891-1973) grew up in Fremont, Nebraska and began sketching as a young girl. While she was just in her teens, Ruth taught and painted regionally in a variety of towns in the state. She did not gain recognition for her work until years later, after she married painter Linton Hopkins in 1913 and settled in Casper, Wyoming in 1918. Ruth continued to work as an artist in the interim while raising a family, and in 1931 and 32, she attended the Broadmoor Art Academy in Colorado Springs. Soon after, she joined the art community in Casper and remained an important figure in the cultural life of Wyoming.
Ruth Joy Hopkins
Mountain Cabinn.d.
5 1/2 x 7 1/2 inches
Ruth Joy Hopkins
Church of the Transfigurationn.d.
Mixed Media
9 1/2 x 7 3/4 inches
As a child and teen, Ruth was interested in and created scenes of Nebraska. As a full-time resident of Casper until her husband's retirement in the early 1950s, she focused on the beauty of Wyoming. As she and her husband were both artists, they focused on themes in there and indicated an interested in "painting the story of Wyoming: the mountains, the sky, the sheep and sheep wagons, the bigness of it all." She produced canvases of Wyoming's landscapes, ranches, wildflowers, historic structures including a "Forts of Wyoming" series. Ruth also painted pioneer figures such as Jim Baker, Father Pierre DeSmet, and Captain Benjamin de Bonneville in her "Trail Blazer series. Her studies of Native Americans were distinctive as one, Arapaho Camp-Wyoming, hung at the National Association of Women Painters and Sculptors (NAWPS) in New York.

Ruth Joy Hopkins
Portrait of Caspar Collinsn.d.
Oil on canvas
Ruth Joy Hopkins
Mountain Cabinn.d.
5 x 4 inches
Hopkins and her husband spent summers from 1934 until the mid-1950s sketching in Mexico and, in 1956, she studied art at the Escuela Belle Artes in Morelia there. Three years later, she and Linton hung their work, paintings of Mexico at the Casper Fine Arts Club. Ruth exhibited widely at such galleries and museums as the Argent Galleries in New York, Joslyn Memorial Museum in Omaha, NE, the Wyoming State Fair, Casper and Midland colleges, and the Governor's Exhibition in Omaha. One-person shows include the Wyoming Art Association and University of Wyoming in Laramie and the Denver Art Museum.

Ruth Joy Hopkins
Goose Egg Ranchn.d.
5 1/2 x 7 1/2 inches
Work created during her last years spent in Fremont is seen in the collections of Holdredge Museum, Nebraska, Wyoming State Capitol, Cheyenne, Fort Casper Museum, Wyoming, and Kansas State College, Pittsburg.

An Encyclopedia of Women Artists of the American West, Phil Kovinick and Marian Yoshiki-Kovinick, University of Texas Press, Austin, 1998, p. 148.
The Oregon Trail Crossing: Western Art for your Lodge, http://www.oregontrailcrossing.com/Western_Art.html, retrieved April 20, 2016.
The WPA Guide to Wyoming, The Cowboy State, Federal Writers Project, 1940, no page number.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Mary H. Teasdel: Prolific Artist but...Where is Her Work?

Mary H. Teasdel
One of the most frustrating aspects of doing the research and writing a blog about early American female artists is the lack images available of their work. Mary Teasdel is the perfect example of a well-known, respected artist who studied abroad, exhibited in both Europe and the United States, and whose work hangs in museums and in the state capitol in Utah, her home state. Locating more than just a few of her pieces, however, is nearly impossible. I present to you a fascinating, driven artist with just a few examples of her work.

Mary Teasdel, daughter of a successful merchant, was born and grew up in Salt Lake City. An important and active impressionist painter, she was one of the first women from Utah to study in Paris. 
Teasdel took music lessons, was provided the best schooling available, and lived in a large and comfortable home in Salt Lake City. She attended the University of Deseret from 1882 until 1886 where she studied under painter, George Ottinger. At the age of 23, Teasdel graduated with honors and continued her studies with painter, J. T. Harwood. Teasdel, along with her friend Cora Cooper, traveled to New York to study drawing and painting at the National Academy of Design. 

Mary H. Teasdel
ca. 1922
Oil on academy board
9 x 11.75 inchesUtah Museum of Fine Arts
Upon her return home to Utah, she found her family had fallen on severe financial times which appeared to prevent Mary's dream of becoming a professional artist. However with the money she had saved and an inheritance from one of her brothers, Mary was able to travel to Paris to study art. Early in 1899, Teasdel and two close artist friends, Lara Rawlins (later Chairman) and May Jennings (later Farlow), studied in France for three years where William Benjamin-Constant, Jules Simon, and James Whistler were her instructors. She also spent summers sketching and painting in Normandy.
Mary H. Teasdel
A Summer Bouquet
ca. n.d.
21 x 17.5 inches
Teasdel's work was exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1899—the first woman and second Utah artist to receive this honor. She exhibited at the International French Exhibition in 1900. When she returned again to Utah in 1902, she was immediately appointed by Governor Wells to the governing board of the Utah Art Institute, and became involved in a number of statewide and Salt Lake City cultural activities. Teasdel was an art instructor in the Salt Lake City school system as well as in her private studio within her residence.
Mary H. Teasdel
Mother and Child
ca. 1920
Oil on canvas
30.5 x 24.5 inches
State Fine Arts Collection, Salt Lake City, Utah
In 1920, Teasdel lived briefly in Carmel California before moving to Los Angeles the following year. During her years in Los Angeles and, until her death, she was active with the California Art Club and the Women Painters of the West. In addition, she frequented the Monterrey Peninsula and sketched in other scenic spots around our beautiful state.
Mary H. Teasdel
ca. n.d.
Oil on canvas
30.5 x 24.5 inchesJ. Willard Marriott Library, University of Utah
Teasdel, known as Utah's Mary Cassatt, was one of the most interesting and talented Utah artists ever to study in Paris. As Robert Olpin, Utah Art Historian commented, “she was a more flamboyant brush handler than (her instructor) J.T. Harwood. A subtle colorist she would in fact demonstrate an increased love of the “painterly approach“ in many later landscape and still life scenes. Also a portraitist, Teasdel was proficient in oils, watercolor, and pastels. Her artistic eye was often combined with her other skills within interior design and eventually, she became the designer of several residential locations accentuated by her own painted work. Teasdel's inclination toward the decorative arts frequently inspired her choice of attitude toward the pictorial subject matter she treated.
Mary H. Teasdel
Untitled Seascape
ca. n.d.
7 x 10 inchesUtah Museum of Fine Arts
In 1908, Teasdel received the top prize at the Utah State Fair, a first for a woman. She won other local awards during the following years and displayed works at the Springville Museum of Art in Utah and the annual exhibition in Heyburn, Idaho. She had a one-woman exhibition at the Gallery of Alice Horne in Salt Lake City in 1932. Her work hands in the Smithfield Library, Museum of Art, the State Capitol, the University of Utah and the Utah State Institute of Fine Arts.
Mary H. Teasdel, Springville Museum of Art, http://www.springvilleartmuseum.org/collections/browse.html?x=artist&artist_id=643 (retrieved March 16, 2016.
Deseret News, Art Historian Robert S. Olpin Dies, http://www.deseretnews.com/article/635159268/Art-historian-Robert-S-Olpin-dies.html?pg=all, (retrieved March 17, 2016).
Utah Artists Project: J. Willard Marriott Library, Mary H. Teasdel, http://www.lib.utah.edu/collections/utah-artists/UAP-Mary-Teasdel.php, (retrieved March 17, 2016).
An Encyclopedia of Women Artists of the American West, Phil Kovinick and Marian Yoshiki- Kovinick, University of Texas Press, Austin,1998, p. 298-299. 

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Blanche Chloe Grant: Painter, Muralist, and Historian

Olive Rush, Blanche C. Grant, and Edith Pennewill in Howard Pyle's Studio
ca 1911
New York, New York
Blanche Chloe Grant was Born in Leavenworth Kansas and grew up in Indianapolis. She graduated from Indianapolis High School, where her father was principal, and went on to attend Vassar College in New York. Grant did not take any art classes at Vassar due to her parent's stern Victorian attitudes. Determined to be an artist, later, while living in Bridegwater and Tauton, Massachusetts, Grant studied with Francis Mortimer Lamb, then went on to the School of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts (1906-1908), followed by study at PAFA, the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, Philadelphia. Her study at the Art Students League in New York with Howard Pyle and Frank Noyes resulted in her association as an artist in Pyle's circle working in Wilmington, Delaware and, by 1914, she was working as a magazine illustrator and landscape painter. She established a studio in New York.

Blanche Chloe Grant
Indian Tales, Taos
ca 1922
Oil on canvas
In 1916, Grant accepted an associate professorship in the art department of the University of Nebraska, Lincoln and held the position until 1920 with a short break as a YMCA secretary in Le Mans, France. During a vacation, Grant traveled to New Mexico and fell in love with the art colony Taos. She decided to stay and became one of the community's most active members. In 1922, Grant served as editor of the Taos Valley News and in time became a leading historian and ethnologist of the region. She lectured often and wrote several important books on Taos including When Trails Were New: The Story of Taos, 1934. 

Blanche Chloe Grant
ca 1934
Southwest Heritage Series
Sunstone Press
Reluctant to share information with strangers and determined to maintain their traditional way of life, the Taos Indians chose not to speak with strangers about their culture. They were willing to communicate with people they knew and trusted to properly share their stories and Grant was one. She assured the Taos Indians that the written word would be a source of information for their descendants and a permanent accounting of their lives for future generations.

Blanche Chloe Grant
ca 1925 (original)
Southwest Heritage Series
Rio Grande Press
<i>Taos Indian with Bowl</i>
Oil on canvas
18 x 22 inches
Signed: lower right
Blanche Chloe GrantTaos Indian with Bowl
ca n.d.
Oil on canvas
18 x 22 inches
Grant was active in Taos as a painter, muralist, and etcher and was also a member of the local art association. She painted portraits of Kit Carson, the frontier scout, and Lewis A. Garrand, Taos pioneer and author. She also painted Native Americans, pueblo life, New Mexico landscapes and exhibited widely.
Treadway Gallery Fine Paintings sales leader
Blanche Chloe Grant
Touch-Me-Not Mountain, Ute Park, New Mexico
ca 1928
Oil on board
20 x 16 inches
Blanch Chloe Grant
Oil on canvas
24 1/4 x 33 inches

Her work can be found in the collections of the County Courthouse and Harwood Foundation in Taos and in the Southwest Museum in Los Angeles. 

An Encyclopedia of Women Artists of the American West, Phil Kovinick and Marian Yoshiki-Kovinick, University of Texas Press, Austin, 1998, p. 116.
AskArt, http://www.askart.com/artist/Blanche_Chloe_Grant/5811/Blanche_Chloe_Grant.aspx, retrieved February 4, 2016.
Zaplin-Lampert Gallery, http://www.zaplinlampert.com/category/blanche-chloe-grant.html, retrieved February 4, 2016.
artnet, http://www.artnet.com/artists/blanche-chloe-grant/indian-tales-taos-SK1C1N5HHl-IZHdSoImxlQ2, retrieved February 4, 2016.