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.
Etching
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.
Etching
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.
Watercolor
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.

Sources__________________________________________________________________________
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.

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