Editor's note: The directory titled "Arizona Women Artists Active Before 1945: Painters, Sculptors, Potters, Printmakers, Illustrators, Quilters" was published in Resource Library in January, 2016, and amended with Ms. Dunbier's essay in August 2017 with permission of the author. If you have questions or comments regarding the directory or essay, please contact Lonnie Pierson Dunbier at ldunbier@mac.com.


Arizona Women Artists Active Before 1945: Painters, Sculptors, Potters, Printmakers, Illustrators, Quilters

By Lonnie Pierson Dunbier



Writing biographical stories about early women Arizona artists is my 'shout out' to females whose creative skills and ability to cope in challenging circumstances define much of the unique fine art culture of Arizona's late 20th and early 21st centuries. My first exposure to Arizona art was in the early 1990s when I, a native of Nebraska, married Roger Dunbier and moved to Scottsdale. There I joined Roger in his project of building a database of American artists, that in 2000 after his death in 1998, became the website of askART.com. I, supported by much factual data, set out to make obvious that they are deserving of much enhanced 'name values.'

Several people have been of major help beginning with Ron Gerba in 1992. Art scholar, appraiser and antique dealer from Prescott, he loaned me his 'stack' of 3 X 5 cards labeled Artists in Arizona Before 1940. Each had the artist's name, indicator of male or female, and informational notes. Most were visitors to Arizona and surprise ---there were about as many females as males! Through Ron, I met Fran Elliott of Sedona, who was building a regional collection focused on paintings and pottery by early Arizona women. I spent a lot of time with Fran at her home looking at and discussing her art collection and also copying data from exhibition records she had of early Arizona State Fairs and of the Arizona Arts and Crafts Exhibitions. And Fran introduced me to Betsy Fahlman, researcher, ASU professor, and, in my opinion, the most readable writer and best of speakers about early Arizona artists, especially women. In 2012, Fran, Betsy, and I worked together to create the publication Arizona's Pioneering Women Artists: Impressions of the Grand Canyon State. Composed of Betsy's essay, my artist list with thumbnail bios, and images of Fran's artwork, it accompanied the 2012 exhibition, "Fran and Ed Elliott Collection," at the Museum of Northern Arizona in Flagstaff in 2012.

Meanwhile, in my early days in Arizona, my husband Roger and I began a friendship with John Hazeltine and his wife Barbara, which I have continued since Roger's death. John is the creator of Traditional Fine Arts Organization, and its Resource Library has published writing by both me and Roger, including in 2016 my Directory of Women Artists Active in Arizona Before 1945. The listing of names with brief descriptions is a tribute to the many women artists who worked creatively before World War II in Arizona, then a unique, geographically challenging part of the American West. In a variety of media they made images of its people and the land with its 'cactus and coyotes.' To these women who were born there or arrived by train, cars, horseback or on foot, we say, thank you. You are a big part of the foundation on which we build.

And now, at John's 'arm twisting' request, I supplement my Directory of Women Artists Active in Arizona Before 1945 with the following essay. (Left: Image of front dust jacket for "Arizona's Pioneering Women Artists - Impressions of the Grand Canyon State," by Lonnie Pierson Dunbier, editor, Betsy Fahlman, Museum of Northern Arizona (2012), image courtesy of Amazon.  Also see Arizona's Pioneering Women Artists)


(To view information on artists in the Directory of Women Artists Active in Arizona Before 1945 please link to these pages: A-B C-D E-G H-K L-M N-Q R-S T-V W-Z. Source code abbreviations in the Directory are here.)




The number of names on my Directory totals 536, but actual count is 457, which is reflective of changes and "add-ons," usually through marriage. An example, albeit unusual, is the name trail through the marriages of landscape painter Nell Rhodes Bickel McCoy (1883-1965). Married first when she was 17 to a husband whose name is unknown, the marriage was annulled by her father. Her second marriage was to ----- Strahan, who worked for the National Parks Service. This union ended in divorce. A succession of marriages followed: Clarence Elwood McCoy (3); Walter J Bickel (4); Clarence Elwood McCoy (again, 5) Walter J Bickel (again 6) and last Clarence Elwood McCoy (7 again!). (askART, ancestry.com)

Women who lived most of their lives in Arizona totaled 141, with sixty-four born in Arizona. Seventy-nine were residents only of California. From other states, New York with 32 had the highest number of visitors. Others were from New Mexico, 29; Illinois, 28, Texas, 14; Colorado, 12, and Nebraska, 12. Interesting is that New York, the state farthest from Arizona, had the highest number of visitors after California, Arizona's closest 'neighbor'. Other states were represented but with much smaller numbers of visitors. Relative to highest art school attendance among the total group, fifty-five women had been enrolled at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, forty-seven at the Art Students League in New York City, eighteen at The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and twelve at the Boston Museum School.

Centenarians and centenarians 'plus' were Grace Chapella (1874-1980) and Rose Williams (1915-2015) of Arizona; Dorothea Tanning (1910-2012) from New York; and Mary Agnes Yerkes (1886-1989) from California.

Of the sixty-four Arizona-born women, thirty-two were Anglo and the others were Native American. Although the Federal Census of 1890 indicated that 365 native women were potters, only a small number have been cited by Anglo historians. Earliest born was White Corn Nampeyo (1830-1909?) and latest born were Helen Naha and Otellie Pasiyava Loloma. They had the same birth and death dates of 1922-1993. All three of these women lived on the Hopi Reservation about eighty miles northeast of Flagstaff. White Corn's heritage was of the Tewa people, who since 1702 had co-existed with the Hopis. White Corn also had historical significance because she was the mother and teacher of Nampeyo the Old Lady, (1857/58-1942), who is now regarded as the most famous of the Hopi Reservation potters.

Grace Chapella, (1874-1980), also known as White Squash Blossom, lived 107 years, the longest of any of the women on this Arizona list. Part of the Hopi-Tewa community and known for distinct white pottery, she was a next-door neighbor and pottery student of Nampeyo the Old Lady. Grace also received orders throughout the United States, especially from restaurants, for her sets of salt and pepper shakers. A lady of 'firsts', she was part of the 'first' group of Hopi-Tewa students to attend government school, which she did in 1883; her house was the 'first' private or non-government house in her community; in 1955, she became the 'first' person to have running water in a private home at the Reservation; she was the 'first' person in her community to have a piano; and "in 1927, she became the 'first' person from Hopi Pueblo to fly in an airplane, going from the Grand Canyon to Long Beach for a pottery demonstration." (Adobe Gallery, Web)

Rose Williams (1915-2015), also a centenarian, was a Navajo Indian who lived at the Shonto/Cow area on the Arizona side of the Reservation. Unlike most of the Navajo women who did weaving, she dedicated herself to reviving traditions of Navajo pottery. Speaking only Navajo and left as a widow with fifteen children, she "lived alone, surrounded by family in the middle of nowhere with a small herd of sheep and goats and some reservation cats." (askART). However, she earned money from commercial sales through the Wheelright Museum in Santa Fe, where she occasionally did pottery demonstrations. Today her work is in the Smithsonian.

Among Arizona-born Caucasian women artists who remained in Arizona were Emma Andres, Ina Moore and Margaret Rigden. Emma Andres, (1902-1988) was a lifetime resident of Prescott. Active primarily from the 1930s to 1950s, "she was a self-taught painter and specialized in miniature desert landscapes. She remains better known, however, for her quilting, a skill she learned from her mother, Anna Andres, and something she worked on while keeping company with her father in his Prescott cigar store. Original quilts by Andres include her 1938 Arizona Commemorative Quilt, which featured the Great Seal of Arizona and her Out Where the West Begins, a pictorial embroidered and appliqued quilt. Both won ribbons at the Arizona State Fair in 1940. Anders also won a merit award for her entry in the Sears Quilt Contest at the 1933-1934 Century of Progress World's Fair in Chicago." (askART, Jean Carlton and Ron Gerba) Ina Moore (1920-) spent her childhood in the mining and cattle area of Mayer near Prescott, and later was on the staff of the Phoenix Art Museum. Margaret Rigden, (1917-2014) also from Yavapai County, married a rancher, John Rigden, and juggling ranch-wife duties with her art interests, took painting lessons from her artist mother-in-law, Ada Rigden (1886-1962) and also spent time in Tucson as an art student at the University of Arizona.

Some 'white' women artists born before 1850 had 'rigorous' introductions to that Arizona when it was a territory. Mollie Fly (1847-1925), whose full maiden name was Mary Edith Goodrich, made history in Arizona as its first well-known woman photographer, something recognized by her election to the Arizona Hall of Fame. In 1879, she moved with her husband Camillus Sidney Fly to Tombstone and established a twelve-room boarding house and photography studio at 312 Fremont Street. While her husband traveled including taking the only known photographs of the surrender of Geronimo, Mollie ran the businesses. Camillus died from alcoholism in Bisbee in 1901, and she continued running the Tombstone Gallery for another eleven years. In 1912, she donated negatives of her and her husband's work to the Smithsonian in Washington DC., and moved to Los Angeles where she died in 1925. Of her it was written: "Mollie Fly was a gentle woman in rough times, a quiet woman doing a man's job in a pioneer environment---as usual." (askART, Arizona Hall of Fame).

Helen Henderson Chain (1849-1892), resident of Colorado and nicknamed "Trot" for her love of travel, was a painter who not only depicted many mountain landscapes but climbed them "clad in petticoats, long skirts and corset." (askART, History Net). She explored Arizona Territory, and is recorded as one of the first women to sketch the Grand Canyon on location, which she did in 1883. This was two years after Phoenix was incorporated, and one year after the Atlantic and Pacific Railroad was completed through Winslow, which opened doors to the Indian reservations and the Grand Canyon.

Dorothy Kent (1888-1981), a New York painter and musician and sister of artist Rockwell Kent, traveled in 1916 with a group sponsored by the Rocky Mountain Camp Company of Santa Fe. On horseback, they went straight west on the 36th parallel from Espinosa, New Mexico to Canon del Muerto on the Navajo Reservation near Chinle in Arizona. Much of the trail, in and out of canyons, was treacherous, across slick rock. And speaking of treacherous, Frances Davis Whittemore, (1857-1951), niece of Grand Canyon explorer John Wesley Powell, traveled sometimes with him in Arizona to sketch artifacts when he was Director of the U.S. Geological Survey from 1881 to 1894. Frances told her daughter that "On one occasion Uncle Wes arranged for Frances to draw the entrance of a cliff dwelling from a bo's'n's chair, which was suspended for that purpose at just right height and proper angle" over the Canyon. (Dawdy, Volume II)

Lillian Wilhelm Smith (1882-1971), one of the 'biggest names' among early women Arizona artists, later told of her first trip to Arizona, arriving in Flagstaff in April 1913 with her cousin-in-law and author Zane Gray for whom she was doing illustrations for his book, The Rainbow Trail. She and Gray and others of their small traveling party got off the Santa Fe Railroad for land travel to get farther north. Of this seven-day trip, she said: "I was initiated into my life in this blessed land by a four-hundred-mile horseback trip accompanied by a chuck wagon with supplies. . . .Our dear old guide, Al Doyle, who showed me how to ride like a cowboy. . .showed me a place at the end of the day where I could paint, and try and oh how I tried -- sometimes to the point of tears to interpret the divine beauty of those sunsets." Lillian remained fifty years in Arizona, which included two marriages, the running of a trading post in Tuba City, and a bed and breakfast in Sedona. As an artist, she did many landscape and Indian portrait paintings and created commercial porcelain designs with Indian motifs for the Goldwater Department stores of Prescott and Phoenix.

As indicated by these stories much of the early Arizona travel for women was by horseback. However, automobile travel around the territory had begun about 1910 with a road across the northern part of the state that was later incorporated into Highway 66. But there were no concrete or asphalt roads, and only the best had crushed gravel. However, in 1919 a four-million-dollar bond issue was enacted for Maricopa County including environs of Phoenix for concrete paving of 283 miles of county roads.

Taking advantage of these improvements was Mary Yerkes (1886-1989), her young daughter and husband Archibald Offley, from California, where he was a Navy Commander. A plein-air painter, photographer, and art teacher originally from Oak Park, Illinois, she was anxious to paint the Arizona scenery. The family traveled on many weekends in a modified 1920s Buick equipped with canvas sling beds, and storage pockets. Among her subjects were the Grand Canyon and Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument. Another traveler by automobile was Texan Berla Emeree (1899-1948), fearless, adventurous, and highly independent. In her car, she often camped out. In 1934 on one of those car trips, she 'bought' gas by trading paintings, but trying to do this near Prescott, she got lost and had to be rescued.

Gradually roads were much improved, but not enough that the family of Grace Hemingway (1872-1951) ceased to worry in 1932 when she at age 56, having just learned to drive, left her home in Oak Park, Illinois and headed to Arizona by herself. Of this trip, Grace made it obvious she was not inhibited by rules of the road. She wrote: "I worked in comfort. I framed the picture in the front windshield, banking the car or maneuvering to left or right to get and artistic grouping." (Lyons) And then sounding as though it was all professionally planned, she went onto describe how she moved to the back seat with her canvas, brushes and easel." However, what she did not say was that she was terrified of bugs and snakes, detested the bright sun and felt safer in the back seat of her car painting than out on the ground while she painted desert scenes." (Lyons) At that time, Grace, was newly widowed and was the mother of six children including future well-known author Ernest Hemingway. In Chicago, she was quite professional about her painting. She established a well-appointed home studio, studied at the School of the Art Institute, and took lessons from local artists Leon Kroll, Karl Buehr and Pauline Palmer. Eventually she exhibited her artwork in more than 30 venues, and including her Arizona paintings as visual images, gave lectures on the "Great Southwest."

One of the reasons that so many women artists from Chicago went to Arizona in those early years was the convenience created by the Santa Fe Railroad in 1900 with a direct route from Dearborn Station in downtown Chicago to California. From this line, which went through northern Arizona, a rail connection could be taken south to Phoenix or north to the Grand Canyon. Dulah Evans (Krehbiel) (1875-1951) was one of the early and possibly the first woman artist to make that trip from Dearborn Station, which she did in 1900 with her Chicago art dealer sister, Mayetta Evans. Then five years later, Dulah returned to Arizona as one of many Santa Fe Railroad artists sponsored with all expenses paid. This arrangement was in exchange for the artist's donation of art images, which could be used for tourist promotional items such as for dramatic scenery paintings, posters, flyers, guidebooks, etc. In 1903, Bertha Dressler Peyton (1871-1947) from Chicago traveled with this agreement on the Santa Fe Railroad. She painted desert landscapes and the Grand Canyon. With a personal invitation from Winfield Scott, she also went south to visit his new settlement of Orangedale, later named Scottsdale, but originally named for Scott's vast orange tree orchards. Other women selected by the Santa Fe Railroad to create commercial art in exchange for free transportation were Jessie Botke (1883-1971) from Chicago; Alice Cleaver (1870-1944) from Nebraska; Blanche Cole (1869-1956) from Colorado and California; Lyla Harcoff (1883-1956) from Illinois and California.

An interesting art project destination reversal by the Santa Fe Railroad occurred in 1910 when Railroad personnel, aware that Nampeyo of Hano (the Old Lady) had a reputation far beyond Arizona, transported her to Chicago with her husband Lesso, and their sixteen-year old daughter, Nellie Douma Nampeyo (1896-1978). The purpose was to set up an exhibit at the Chicago Coliseum so the Nampeyo women could demonstrate pottery making at the United States Land and Irrigation Exposition. They were housed in a specially constructed adobe looking building, and with their hand work reinforced the Exposition theme that people close to the land could be productive with materials of the land. Success of the appearance of the Nampeyo family was made obvious when they were the only exposition participants singled out in the Chicago Tribune review (Kramer 107)

Coming west for one's health because of the dry climate was a big reason many Americans became temporary and sometimes permanent residents of Arizona. Margaret Sanger (1879-1966) from New York was one of these people. She was nationally known for her efforts related to women's health, especially birth control, but her first visit to Arizona, which was in 1934, was to Tucson with her son who was suffering lung problems. In 1937, to recuperate from her surgery and a broken arm, she returned to the same area, settling north of the city in the Santa Catalina foothills. During this time, she took up watercolor painting, especially of desert landscapes, and she also took many art classes. She grew so attached to Arizona and to her relaxed schedule of painting combined with socializing that in the early 1950s, she moved permanently to Tucson, where she died in 1966.

"For her health," Jessie Benton Steese Evans, (1866-1954) age forty-seven, arrived in 1913, and not only was rejuvenated, but reversed her attitudes about Arizona, which she hated upon first impressions and then decided it was "more beautiful than in any place I have been." (askART, Jessie Benton Evans). She was from Chicago, had sophisticated art education including a graduation certificate from the School of the Art Institute, and studies with William Merritt Chase. She spoke five languages, and wealthy from her marriage to businessman Denver Evans, she spent much of her adult life in Europe, New York City or Cape Cod. Usually she travelled alone or with her only son, Robert. When her health needed attention, she with her husband purchased land between Phoenix and Scottsdale, on the southwest face of Camelback Mountain. In the 1990s this property became part of the Phoenician Hotel complex. Used to circulating among 'important people,' and finding her new surroundings lacking in this regard, she hosted 'big named' persons from Chicago such as Grand Opera star, John McCormack, and well-known author John Galsworthy. She gave lavish, often raucous parties. However, Jessie was also a serious minded-person much dedicated to her painting and to finding exhibitions opportunities for herself and others. In this regard, she was a forceful member of the Women's Club of Phoenix, which sponsored the early State Fair art exhibition activities. In 1925, Jessie chaired the State Fair Art Jury.

In those early days, the Arizona State Fair was the major venue for women artists, whose dedication ranged from amateur and occasional painter to nearly full time. The first opportunity, as stated above, was provided by the Women's Club of Phoenix, which "commenced an annual art show in 1915." (Fahlman 7) Of the 457 women in this listing, 212 were participants in the Arizona State Fair. Most of the entrants were from Arizona and the second largest group being from California. But others such as Susan Barse Miller (1875-1935) and Ida Curtis (1860-1959) were from Massachusetts; Sybil Huntington (1870-1973) from Nevada; Laura Ladd (1863-1943) from Pennsylvania, and Viola Patterson (1898-1984) from Washington State. As an exhibitor of paintings, Viola was unique as most of the painters worked in naturalist or semi-realist style, but she was an Abstract Expressionist. Eda Sterchi (1885-1969) from Olney, Illinois, exhibited batik and metal works in the 1920 Fair. Apparently, she attracted special attention for non-conformity as someone described her as "the first woman among her peers to cut her hair in a bob, the first to get divorced, and the first to smoke cigarettes." (askART, Illinois Women Project)

Entrants also came from many parts of Arizona such as still-life painter Kathleen Steven (1895-1984), who ran a grocery store in Bisbee, Effie Lee Carmack, (1886-1974), landscape painter and early settler in Winslow; and Evelyn Stokoe (b. 1904), operator of a beauty salon in Phoenix. Also from Phoenix was Inez Billington (early 20th) who in 1927 exhibited a painting Happy Moments. She ran businesses in Phoenix called Unique Tailoring and Unique Gown Shop. Louise Ruth Norton (1888-1941) from Tucson exhibited Pima Indian subjects in the 1928 and 1929 State Fairs. Also from Tucson was Stella Roca (1879-1954), who exhibited in five State Fairs and who with Louise Norton was one of the founders of the Tucson Art Association. Nineteen of the Arizona women State Fair participants listed their first names as Mrs., followed either by the first and last name of their husbands or his initials. Mrs. Edwin Bates in 1920 exhibited ceramics; Mrs. J.A. Greaves fromWinslow submitted portraits and landscapes, and Mrs. F.C. Bemis, a photographer, submitted photos from her tent gallery in Globe.

Visiting Indian reservations was an activity of many non-Arizona female artists. Margaret Magill Hodge (1863-1935) from Washington DC did watercolor and pen and ink illustrations of archaeological digs, and when she was a teenager, she accompanied her brother-in-law Frank Cushing and her sister Emily to the Zuni Reservation in northern Arizona. They remained there several years, leaving in 1884. Two years later, Margaret returned to the Southwest from 1886-1889 as part of the Hemenway Archaeological Expedition, which excavated ruins in both Arizona and New Mexico. (Kovinick) An early female visitor to the Navajo Reservation was Adelaide Hickok (1887-1987) from California. For a year beginning 1912 as the wife of civil engineer Clifton Hickok, she lived on the Navajo Reservation where she made a numbers Navajo drawings and photographs. Blanche Dougan Cole, (1869-1956), painter, sculptor, teacher and illustrator lived in 1898 among the Moqui Pueblo Indians near the Painted Desert in northeastern Arizona. She was one of the female artist sponsored by the Santa Fe Railroad.

Kate Cory (1861-1958) is arguably the best known and most pioneering non-Indian female living among Arizona Indians. In New York, she had met painter Louis Akin, who had been living with the Hopi. His stories of these people with gentle ways, block-like adobe homes, and intriguing ceremonies persuaded her to move to the reservation where he invited her to become part of an art colony he was establishing. She traveled on the Santa Fe Railroad, was surprised that no one met her in Flagstaff, but found a driver and took a wagon ride to the Reservation. No artist colony was organized, but she became so enamored with the people and the culture she stayed for seven years (1905-1912). During this time, she did many paintings and photographs, which became valuable documentations, and trusting her as a member of the community, they allowed her to record their ceremonies and rituals. She was invited to "become a member of the tribe, but she graciously declined." (askART, Blue Coyote Gallery). She lived the remainder of her life in Prescott.

On the Navajo Reservation, the Hubbell Trading Post, was established at Ganado, Arizona on the Navajo Reservation by John Lorenzo Hubbell in 1878, ten years after the Navajos were released from U.S. imposed exile. J.L. Hubbell and his family lived there and were so welcoming that the Post became a 'not-to-miss' gathering place for people of Indian, Spanish and Anglo-American heritage including many female artists. Some of these women were in residence, especially Navajos, who made rugs, pottery and other crafts, which were popular with tourists. Bertha Mable Little 1880-1940), a teacher at the Mission School of Ganado in the early 1900s, painted miniature rugs with Navajo designs, which were marketed at the Trading Post. Cornelia Davis (1868-1920) became a close friend of the Hubbells, and sent them a painting, Three Moqui Maidens, which is in the Hubbell family collections and is one of the few in that collection by women artists. She was from Ohio, a co-founder of the Museum of Northern Arizona and had exchanged her painting for purchases at the Post. Lillian West Tobey (1879-1926), known for metal and leather work, married artist Maynard Dixon in 1905, and the couple from California honeymooned for several weeks at the Hubbell Trading Post. They were there when a nine-day Navajo ceremony was held with three-thousand Navajos in the encampment. Good friends and frequent guests of the Hubbells were Marian Kavanaugh Wachtel (1874-1954) and her husband Elmer Wachtel. Famous California painters, they traveled Arizona in a "specially artist-equipped motor car." (askART, Hughes)

Sadie Adams (1905-1995) worked at the Hubbell Trading Post as a Hopi-Tewa potter along with other girls from the Hopi Reservation. Her hallmark was a flower on the bottom of her pots, and she became so admired from the attention she got at the trading post as well as her home on the Third Mesa that Dr. Harold Colton commissioned her to create a set of decorated tiles for the walls at the entrance of the Museum of Northern Arizona. Colton, a zoologist and scientist with his painter and sculptor wife Mary-Russell Colton (1889-1971) had a close association with J.L. Hubbell. They arrived at his trading post in 1913, and from there explored Navajo and Hopi country including Canyon de Chelly with an itinerary planned by Hubbell. "That trip was reportedly a contributing factor in the Colton's move a few years later from the east coast to Flagstaff, Arizona where they co-founded the Museum of Northern Arizona." (Blue 167-168) Mary Colton served as the Museum's Curator of Art and Ethnology, and also was a founder of the annual Arizona Artists Art and Crafts Exhibition, which from 1929 to 1936 facilitated sales for all Arizona artists. Fifty-nine women from this study of early Arizona women artists exhibited work at one or more of those shows.

Unlike Mary and Harold Colton, who came to Arizona with each finding an immediate niche for their talents, some women artists came primarily from other parts of the country to accompany male companions who were there for reasons related to employment and/or mental and physical health. Dorothea Tanning (1910-2012) joined husband Max Ernst in Sedona, where they, seeking tranquility away from New York City, built a home and painted together in the early 1940s. Nanette Calder (1866-1960) spent 1905 to 1906 in Oracle with her sculptor husband Alexander Calder, who needed clear, dry air for his lungs. Agnes Cox (1891-1976) also assisting with health recovery was with the first of her five husbands in Tucson from 1918 to 1921.Via Walling Draper (1892-1968) moved to Tucson in 1917 with husband William Draper, who had taken a job as a Laboratory Technician. Margaret Carlstedt (1885-1975) followed her U.S. Army husband Henry Jones to Bisbee in 1918, and then to Douglas. Also in Douglas at that time was Jessie Petty (1886-1974), landscape painter married to an Army officer. Mary Carmack (1886-1974) in the early 1900s moved with husband Henry Carmack to Winslow, from where he worked on the Navajo Reservation. Mrs. Ross Chittenden (1890-) lived in Prescott with her husband, who was a water pumper for the Prescott Steam Rail Road. Nebraska born Stella Roca (1878-1954) settled in Tucson as wife of Mexican copper mine owner Lauturo Roca, after the couple had been driven off his mining land by political turmoil. In 1895, Margaret Hodge (1863-1935) spent much time at the First Mesa of the Hopi Reservation doing colored drawings of vessels excavated during a Bureau of American Ethnology project overseen by her husband Frederick Hodge. Marylka Modjeska (1893-1966) moved to Tucson in 1920 as wife of Sidney Pattison, Chair of the University of Arizona English Department. From 1885 to 1889, Henrietta Housh, (1855-1919) landscape painter and teacher, spent the first years of her marriage to William Harvey Housh on a ranch 75 miles west of Phoenix.

In big contrast to Henrietta and William Housh and other early Arizona cattle ranch couples who lived in relative isolation were some ranch owners of thirty to forty years later such as Ethel and John Wack and Helen and Jack Frye. Ethel Barksdale Dupont Wack (1869-1954), an academic portrait painter, had a pilot's license as did her husband John Wack, and they often flew over from Santa Barbara to their cattle and race-horse spread, the Yolo Ranch in Yavapai County, Arizona. She, from one of America's wealthiest families, the DuPonts, had sophisticated art education in New York including training from Cecilia Beaux. Her husband also had money and social credentials as he was the son of Alexander Wack, a nationally known artist and founder of Field and Stream Magazine.

Like the Wack's, Helen Virginia Varner Vanderbilt Frye (1908-1979) and her husband Jack Frye each had a pilot's license. She was a painter, sculptor and fashion designer much helped along financially by marriages to two wealthy men, Cornelius Vanderbilt, Jr. and Jack Frye, co-founder with Howard Hughes of Trans World Airlines. The place where Helen and Jack felt most at ease and where they often hosted friends was their 700-acre ranch called Deer Lick near Sedona. Telegramming on July 28, 1942 about their impending arrival for one of their big social events, Helen sent this message to the ranch manager: "My housekeeper and secretary driving to ranch should arrive Friday evening or Saturday. Do not bother to clean house but please turn on refrigerator and have stove filled. Mr. Frye and I and Butler expect to arrive soon after. Best regards, Helen Frye." Seeing such a communication, can you imagine the responses of Henrietta Housh, Margaret Rigden or Mollie Fly or Lillian Wilhem Smith or................



Adobe Gallery, Santa Fe, Specializing in Pueblo Pottery and Native American Paintings, Alexander Anthony, Owner.

askART.com, Artist Biographies

Blair, Mary Ellen and Laurence Blair, The Legacy of a Master Potter: Nampeyo and Her Descendants, Tucson: Treasure Chest Books, 1999

Blue Coyote Gallery, Cave Creek Arizona, Gary Fillmore, Owner. Features regional Southwest art.

Blue, Martha, The Life and Times of J.L. Hubbell, Walnut, California, KIVA Publishing, 2000

Broder, Patricia Janis, Earth Songs, Moon Dreams, Paintings by American Indian Women, New York: St. Martin's Press, 1999

Dawdy, Doris Ostrander, Artists of the American West: A Biographical Dictionary of Artists Born Before 1900, Three Volumes, Athens: Swallow Press, 1985

Evans, Jessie Benton Gray, Interviews with Lonnie Dunbier, 2008-2010

Fahlman, Betsy and Lonnie Pierson Dunbier, Arizona's Pioneering Women Artists: Impressions of the Grand Canyon State, Flagstaff: Museum of Northern Arizona, 2013

Hughes, Edan Milton, Artists in California 1786-1940, Third Edition, Volumes One and Two, Sacramento: Crocker Art Museum, 2002

Kovinick Phil and Marian Yoshiki-Kovinick, An Encyclopedia of Women Artists of the American West, Austin: University of Texas Press, 1998

Kramer, Barbara, Nampeyo and her Pottery, Albuquerque, University of New Mexico Press, 1996

Lyons, Channy, Founder of Illinois Women Art Project, biographer of Grace Hemingway, Interview with Lonnie Dunbier, November 9, 2013.

Mangum, Richard K. and Sherry G., One Woman's West: The Life of Mary-Russell Ferrell Colton, Flagstaff: Museum of Northern Arizona and Northland Publishing, 1997

Poling-Kempes, Lesley, Ghost Ranch, Tucson: The University of Arizona Press, 2005.

Schaaf, Gregory, Hopi-Tewa Pottery: 500 Artist Biographies, ca. 1800-present, Santa Fe: CIAC Press, 1998



About the author

Lonnie Pierson Dunbier is an art professional with special interest in life stories of early women artists 'all across America.' Her Directory of Women Artists Active in Arizona Before 1945 reflects this dedication. Another related project, still ongoing, is titled Their Place, Their Time: Women Artists in Nebraska, 1820s to 1940s. Begun in 2014, it is in partnership with the Museum of Nebraska Art in Kearney with plans for a comprehensive book and related exhibitions.

Lonnie's commitment to art began in the 1970s in Lincoln, Nebraska, where she raised her family, earned an MA Degree from the University of Nebraska, and began many years as a Docent at the Sheldon Museum of Art. She also served several terms on the Museum's Board of Directors, and as Historian, wrote the centennial history, Sheldon Sampler: A Century of Patronage. In 1987, she was a founder of the Sheldon Museum Statewide Touring Art Exhibition Program, and shortly after joined the Museum staff as that program's administrator. During this time, she was scriptwriter and researcher for the Nebraska Educational Television Network's award-winning series, The Picture Show, television spots featuring works of art in the museum collection. Two years later, she did the same type of project for the Museum of Nebraska Art.

In 1991, Lonnie Pierson, having been widowed several years earlier, married Roger Dunbier, and moved to his hometown of Scottsdale, Arizona. Together with programmer Charles Lefebvre, they created the database, which in partnership with George Collins in 2000 became AskART.com. Roger died in 1998, but Lonnie continues dedication to that website, which now has records for several hundred thousands artists. From 2000 to 2008, she served as Research Director, and then assumed a more 'relaxed' role of adding biographies and serving as Registrar. For nine years, 1992-2001, she was a docent at the Phoenix Art Museum, and chaired the docent research program. In Arizona, she also worked closely with Fran Elliott from Sedona, who collected work by women artists in pre World War II Arizona, and with Ron Gerba, art historian from Prescott, who contributed many names for the beginnings of this documentation of Women Artists Active in Arizona Before 1945.


Resource Library editor's note:

The Directory of Women Artists Active in Arizona Before 1945 was initially published by Resource Library on January 30, 2016 with permission of Lonnie Pierson Dunbier.

Readers may also enjoy:

For more biographical information on selected artists referenced in this directory please see TFAO's America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists.

Visit the Table of Contents for Resource Library for thousands of articles and essays on American art.

© Copyright 2016-17 Traditional Fine Arts Organization, Inc., an Arizona nonprofit corporation. All rights reserved.