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Imprinting the South: Works on Paper from the Collection of Lynn Barstis Williams and Stephen J. Goldfarb


In October, 2009 the Georgia Museum of Art forwarded to Resource Library the news release and the original object labels for the exhibition Imprinting the South: Works on Paper from the Collection of Lynn Barstis Williams and Stephen J. Goldfarb held at the Georgia Museum of Art July 21 through September 16, 2007. From etchings to relief prints, lithographs and a few serigraphs, this exhibition primarily focused on Southern subjects from the 1920s to the 1940s with some prints from the etching revival period of the 1880s as well as some works from the contemporary era.

A former Auburn University library faculty member, Lynn Williams began collecting these images for her research. Her interest in this genre began at a print fair in Atlanta where she saw a lithograph by George Biddle.

After buying a lithograph by James Routh, Cotton Farm, she interviewed the artist about his printmaking. Williams became curious to see how many other artists viewed the South, and Routh suggested artists for Williams to explore and interview. Stephen Goldfarb eventually joined her in collecting prints and interviewing the artists about their experiences.

Williams and Goldfarb have made an effort to acquire prints exposing both positive and critical views of the South. The beauty of the South is demonstrated in this exhibition through scenes of landscape, architecture, worship and entertainment, while the critical perspective focuses mainly on race. Charleston, S.C., and New Orleans, L.A., are highlighted because of the distinct architectural characteristics of both cities. Some of the artists included are Robert Gwathmey, Alfred Hutty, Elizabeth O'Neill Verner and W. R. Locke.

Williams authored a book titled, Imprinting the South: Southern Printmakers and their Images of the Region, the 1920s-1940s, which was published by the University of Alabama.

William U. Eiland, director of the Georgia Museum of Art, was responsible for the in-house curator duties for Imprinting the South: Works on Paper from the Collection of Lynn Barstis Williams and Stephen J. Goldfarb.

The exhibition has been on tour at the Jule Collins Smith Museum of Fine Art from May 24, 2008 through August 23, 2008. and at the Paul and Lulu Hilliard University Art Museum from September 19 to December 31, 2009.


Object labels for the exhibition at Georgia Museum of Art

**Antoinette Rhett (1894-1964)
(Trumpet Vine and Bee), n.d.
Hand-colored etching
A founding member of the Charleston Etchers' Club, Antoinette Rhett moved in an artistic circle led by artist Alice Ravenel Huger Smith (1876-1958), who took an interest in the design of Japanese woodcuts, which a cousin of Smith's had collected and brought to Charleston. Among them were the bird and flower prints of the genre which the Japanese refer to as kach?-ga. Scholars of the Charleston Renaissance, of which Martha Severens is the most prominent, assert that Rhett's asymmetrical compositions with plants and insects reflect Japanese design, and one can note similarities with the bird and flower prints by such artists as Ando Hiroshige (1797-1858). The blooms that descend on the picture space from above and diagonally with a bee hovering nearby in mid-air impart a sense of instability and imminence as two low flowers of the trumpet vine await pollination by a bee.
** Ella Sophonisba Hergesheimer (1873-1943)
"A Southern Magnolia," ca. 1939
Though born and reared in Pennsylvania, Sophonisba Hergesheimer settled in Nashville in 1905 and remained there for the rest of her life. Her interest in flowers as a subject may be due to the fact that her parents established a conservatory or greenhouse when she was growing up. She made a number of traditional still-life compositions featuring the magnolia, a flower often associated with Southern women. In this lithograph, a large, showy white bloom with its leaves splayed out is coupled with a dark, plain, utilitarian stoneware jug in the background. The juxtaposition suggests a balance of basic oppositions in life: beauty with plainness, transience with durability, work with pleasure. The fact that the plain jug sits behind the bloom suggests that transient beauty or pleasure should be based on firmer qualities.
** Thomas Moran (1837-1926)
(Morning on the St. Johns, Florida), 1881 or 1886
Better known as a landscape painter of the American West, Thomas Moran was one of a small number of northeastern American artists who made etchings of Florida during the early etching revival period of the 1880s. Although the plate is dated 1881, scholarship points to a date of 1886 because the etching is based on a painting of the same subject from that year. Moran etches a panoramic view of the St. Johns River which reflects a vista that was likely sketched from a boat in the center of the river. Such distant, expansive views were typical of nineteenth-century prints but less frequent in the first half of the twentieth century. With a delicate touch, Moran infuses the scene with gentle calm through a low horizon line of water ripples extending over most of the lower picture space. Scholars note the similarity to Moran's views of Venice, but a line of palm trees on the right reflected in the water grounds the scene in the Southern United States.
** Celia Cregor Reid (1895-1956)
Shrimp Boats. St Augustine. Florida, n.d.
In 1926, two years after she married, Celia Cregor Reid moved to St. Augustine when her husband accepted a position with the Florida East Coast Railroad. She became a prominent member of the local St. Augustine artists' association (which changed its name several times in the course of its history) with which she often exhibited her woodcuts. Along with her interests in the local historic architecture, she also featured the native fishing industry in her work, especially shrimp boats, as we see here. Many small figures work among the maze of parallel masts and their shadows in this scene of two boats docked before what is probably a shrimp processing plant.
Paul Feldhaus (1926-2005)
Tugs, 1950s­60s
Linoleum cut
Paul Feldhaus began making prints while in graduate school at Bradley University (Peoria, Illinois), where he earned a masters degree in 1952. After graduating he taught art Spring Hill College in Mobile, Alabama, where he remained until 1971, when he took a teaching position at California State University, Chico. While in Mobile, Feldhaus often went to the waterfront to sketch. The lithograph and linocut shown here resulted from sketches of Alabama's coast, according to the artist's wife. Composed of horizontals and verticals emphasized by strong lines, Tugs evokes the flat seascapes of the bayou while the sweeping lines of the lithograph Waterfront suggest the motion of sails and fishing nets.
Paul Feldhaus (1926-2005)
Waterfront, 1950s­60s
** Walter Ronald Locke (1883-1949)
"Anclote Light" Fla, n.d.
Etching, edition: 250
W. R. Locke described himself as a naturalist who loved trees, which almost always appear in the foreground of his compositions and are rendered with consummate skill for realistic detail. In Anclote Light, the wrought-iron lighthouse that operated from 1887 to 1952 on three-mile-long Anclote Key on the west coast of Florida competes with the palm in the foreground for attention, towering in the center background above the trees. It appears as a man-made sentinel, watching the land as well as serving as a beacon for ships at sea. The two huts in the background, which housed the lighthouse keeper, his assistant, and their families, are no longer extant, but the lighthouse remains.
*Walter Ronald Locke (1883-1949)
Windswept Palms, Fla, n.d.
Although he was born in Winchester, Massachusetts, where he lived until around 1910, W.R. Locke spent twelve years in the Pacific Northwest working as a lumberjack, before moving South for his health in his later years. He established a home and studio on the Florida west coast at the mouth of the Anclote River near Tarpon Springs, while his summers were spent in "the New England hill country," where exactly he never made clear. Locke learned etching from Alfred Hutty, one of Charleston's most important printmakers. The beach scene in Windswept Palms may reflect the area near Tarpon Springs or it may be a composite view that Locke created from viewing a number of Florida beaches. His mastery of the etching medium allowed him to isolate a single group of palms against an expanse of pristine, white beach to create a romantic image of a Florida devoid of human presence. The group of palms branching out from a common base stand alone, their fronds buffeted by winds that move dark clouds on a slight diagonal in a variegated sky.
* Victoria Hutson Huntley (1900-1971)
Evening, the Everglades, 1949
Born and reared in the environs of New York City , Victoria Hutson Huntley studied at the Art Students League and the New York School of Fine Arts. She took up lithography in 1930, learning the technical process from master printer George Miller. In 1946 she moved with her husband to Orlando, Florida. The following year, she received a grant from the National Institute of Arts and Letters to study the bird life of the Everglades. From her sketches she made numerous lithographs, two of which are shown here. Evening, the Everglades offers a distant, panoramic view of the lowland swamp as backdrop for birds in various positions in relation to the water. Two Great Egrets in the lower left attract the eye due to value contrast, and several herons and a white ibis fly into the variegated sky. In the Everglades/Detail/Cuthbert Rookery presents an unusual, close-up view of a major nesting place for birds within the Everglades National Park. Perched on an odd-shaped tree in the foreground are three white herons almost at ground level. In a nest in the background toward the upper left are what are probably white ibis, which are smaller than egrets and have curved bills.
** Victoria Hutson Huntley (1900-1971)
In the Everglades /Detail/ Cuthbert Rookery, 1948
Benjamin Miller (1877-1964)
Pine Trees, Georgia, 1927
Born in Cincinnati, Benjamin Miller attended the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he earned a BS in electrical engineering in 1901. After working briefly as an engineer in San Francisco, he decided to follow his artistic inclinations and returned home to study at the Cincinnati Art Academy. A year spent in Europe (1919) introduced him to modernist artistic movements there, which turned him toward the expressive potential of the black-and-white woodcut. Pine Trees, Georgia is an anomaly in his work, as he was essentially an expressionist who focused on the human figure, often in biblical scenes, and crafted a few views of Italy. Nevertheless this woodcut shows Miller's talent for eliciting striking contrasts in simple silhouetted forms on white or white on black-here, in a swamp setting, the thin stumps of trunks in the background contrast with three healthy trees at various stages of growth in the foreground, reminding the viewer that death is lurking in the background of all life
* Ella Fillmore Lillie (1884-1972)
Siamese Oak, Sea Island, ca. 1949
Born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, where she attended the Minneapolis School of Fine Arts, Ella Fillmore Lillie moved on to study art at other schools and eventually established a studio in Danby, Vermont. She took up lithography in 1938 and made a small group of lithographs of the Georgia Coastal islands-St. Simons in particular. The fine texture of the lithographs suggests she used very finely grained Bavarian limestone. A Siamese Oak is not a variety of oak, but rather the title Lillie gave to the oddity of two oaks which have grown together like Siamese twins. A delicate spread of light falls on the two conjoined trunks, nicely highlighting the odd natural formation against darker vegetation in the background. The resulting exotic image attains almost a surreal, otherworldly quality.
** Hale Woodruff (1900-1980)
Georgia Woodland, n.d.
Linoleum cut
Hale Woodruff began studying at the John Herron Art Institute in Indianapolis in 1920 and withdrew several years later due to lack of financial resources. In 1926, he won the first bronze medal from the Harmon Foundation, a monetary reward he used, with other funds, to travel to Paris, where he remained until 1931.In that year, he accepted an offer to establish an art department at Atlanta University, which he headed until 1943, when he left for a position at New York University. During his Atlanta years he made relief prints, primarily in linoleum, of his Georgia surroundings. Some of these prints reflect a modernist influence in their orientation toward simplified, abstract forms. Georgia Woodland, for example, is aligned on a rigid horizontal­vertical axis. Though the scene is apparently somewhat swampy, what prevails are rigid verticals of dense pine trees and pointed foliage in the right foreground, suggesting a barrier to human penetration of the natural environment.
** Lamar Baker (1908-1994)
Memory of Okefenokee Swamp, ca. 1940
Lamar Baker became good friends with James Routh when they studied at the Art Students League from 1936-1940, probably because they were both from Atlanta. Using funds provided by a Rosenwald Grant, (stipends established by Sears & Roebuck founder Julius J. Rosenwald) which Routh received in 1940, he and Baker drove to the Okefenokee Swamp, where they rented a small, flat-bottomed boat to explore the swamp. Baker depicts the swamp from a high perspective to encompass the extent of the lowland water with tall trees, dripping with moss. How he could have attained such a high distant perspective in a lowland area is not clear, so it may be a scene he fabricated from his memory of the trip. This scene shows that Baker made traditionally realistic compositions as well as symbolic montage arrangements as in his Cotton Series in which he depicts the problems of cotton cultivation and manufacture in the South.
* James Routh (b. 1918)
Erosion, ca.1940
Both Buell Whitehead and James Routh depict soil erosion in the South in their lithographs. Born in a small fishing community near Panama City, Florida, Whitehead grew up on a farm near Fort Myers. He entered the University of Florida in 1938 and finished his studies for a BFA in1945, after serving in the military during World War II. The problem of soil erosion in the South, which began in the colonial era, became acute during the 1930s and 1940s. Both Routh and Whitehead picture gully erosion that has different visual effects. Routh shows this erosion over a large area, creating a strange, rippled surface over the hilly earth, which the figures in the scene examine, dressed up almost as if they were visitors to the area. The scene represents what Routh viewed in south Georgia, where he traveled on a Rosenwald Grant. Whitehead focuses gully erosion as a deep trench or crevice worn in a steep hill, resulting in water collecting on a dirt road seen in the foreground. A signpost points the way to Dothan, situating the scene in southeast Alabama.
** Buell Whitehead (1919-1994)
Alabama Road, 1946
Michael Crouse (b. 1949)
Last Light Over Cotton Country, 1998
Color lithograph
Michael Crouse was born and raised in Michigan; he received his BFA from the Atlanta College of Art and his MFA from the University of Michigan. From 1980 to 2005 he taught printmaking at the University of Alabama at Huntsville and is now an emeritus professor running an independent print studio in Paducah, Kentucky. During his years in Huntsville, Crouse became conscious of the development going on around the city, as new construction extending suburbia was (and still is) destroying much of the natural environment there as elsewhere. He brings construction forms very close to the viewer in the foreground of the picture plane against a background of bare landscape bathed in intense light. The wood structure in the central foreground suggests an X nullifying the landscape. For such variegated luminous effects, Crouse frequently used as many as nine different stones, each for a different color.
Michael Crouse (b. 1949)
Paradise Lost, Thomas Cole's Nightmare, 2001
Color lithograph
Considered the father of the Hudson River School of painters in the early nineteenth century, Thomas Cole (1801-1848) cherished America's pristine natural environment and found transcendent beauty in nature. In Crouse's lithograph, housing construction in contemporary America nearly obliterates the natural world that Cole worshipped, represented by the trees in the background. Crouse brings the partially-built, frame structure of an unfinished house close to the viewer in the foreground so that it monopolizes the picture space, leaving only a small segment of open space through which we can view green trees in the background.
** Mabel Dwight (1875-1955)
(Grave Yard, New Orleans), 1929
Born in Cincinnati, Mabel Dwight lived some of her early years in New Orleans, where her family moved in the 1880s and remained until ca. 1893. In 1928, she returned to the city, sketched some of its sights, and made three lithographs from some her sketches after returning to her home in New York. Like other artists and photographers, Dwight was evidently impressed by New Orleans's graveyards, which have some tombs above ground; however, but in this scene she emphasizes aggressive nature. Animals and trees mock human desires to be remembered after death, as they take over the scene, using it to nurture their own livelihood. Instead of flowers decorating a gravestone, we see sheep nuzzling up beside one, while in the right background, another sheep nurses her young. A dense veil of moss hangs from oaks, while a tree in the back left grows atop a tomb which has partially shed its concrete surface
** Richard Zoellner (1908-2003)
Smokey [sic] Mountains, ca. 1943
Richard Zoellner grew up in Cincinnati, where he had a studio from 1933 to 1942.. Joining the military in 1942, he was assigned to the Regional Studies Division of the Tennessee Valley Authority near Knoxville, where he worked on the Manhattan Project. During his spare moments he sketched his first Southern subjects from surrounding imagery for a few lithographs. Smokey [sic] Mountains is typical of the panoramic views he chose for his early prints. Like other artists who depicted mountain views, Zoellner uses a high perspective to sweep through a valley in a conventional zigzag pattern in which a lone barn sits; however, the barn as subject was rather rare in prints of the South. Artists may have thought them too conventional and ordinary to devote artistic efforts to them during this period.
* Harrison Cady (1877-1970)
Lonesome Gap, ca. 1939
Drypoint, edition: 100
A newspaper illustrator from Gardner, Massachusetts, Harrison Cady spent a good deal of time in the Great Smoky Mountains, which he depicted for a number of etchings. In an interview for American Prize Prints of the Twentieth Century (1949) in which this drypoint is reproduced, Cady stated that he had always had "a great deal of interest in the mountaineers and in their simple ways of life; as well as in the mountains, the untouched forests, and the rushing mountain streams among which they live." Lonesome Gap presents the rough terrain of mountain territory in jagged forms. In the center we see, to quote Cady in the same source, "a scrawny mountaineer on his scrawny mule going over a scrawny bridge." The scene evokes the poverty of the region and its precarious way of life with a touch of whimsy that extends to the figure smoking a pipe while he jogs along, a tiny silhouette against the looming mountains.
* Leon Pescheret (1892-1961)
"Beyond Roarin' Fork, Gatlinburg, Tenn," n.d.
Color etching and aquatint
Born in London, Pescheret immigrated to the United States in 1910, settling first in Chicago. He traveled back to Europe to learn the technique of one-plate color etching and later made his home in Whitewater, Wisconsin, where he set up a print studio. Pescheret was an inveterate traveler and probably spent time in the Smoky Mountains considering that he depicted a number of scenes of the area. Here, we see a typical cabin with a sloping roof over a porch and a shed in front. The scenario suggests that for women the small home is a place of work as a female figure attends to a loom in the corner of the porch, both woman and loom barely visible, while a man and dog sit idle.
Leo Meissner (1895-1977)
Star Ridge, No(rth) Car(olina), 1954
Wood engraving, edition: 38/50
Born in Detroit, Leo Meissner studied at the Detroit Institute of Arts and the Art Students League in New York and subsequently worked in New York as art editor for Motor Boating Magazine from 1927 to 1950. Beginning his printmaking career in the early 1920s with linoleum cuts, he switched to wood engravings, the medium for which he is known, during the 1930s. After he retired in 1950, he made several wood engravings of the South. Star Ridge, No[rth] Car[olina] depicts a scattering of architectural structures in a valley. Star Ridge may refer either to the mountain range or the settlement at its foot; it is not a well-known place as it does not appear in geographic reference sources. The viewpoint is from an adjacent mountain range showing the automobile age come to the mountain South, although a suggestion of figure and mule drawn plow appears to the left reflecting an area in transition between modernism and old-world ways. The artist uses the detail a wood engraving allows and a high mountain viewpoint to depict varied terrain with a strong sense of visual texture over the land area.
*Chauncey Ryder (1869-1949)
Beyond the Law, n.d.
Chauncey Ryder hailed from New England but settled in New York. He traveled widely, and his drypoints of Tennessee and North Carolina mountain views point to exploration of that region. According to his daughter, this small drypoint is of the South. It is somewhat unusual in that the viewpoint is relatively low, placed at the cabin level, looking up toward the mountains in the background. The title implies remoteness from civilization that the imagery of the lone cabin reinforces. Together they suggest the isolation and individualism that mountain life usually involved in the South. Neither objects of daily use nor occupants are in view though the cabin does not appear to be abandoned.
** Clare Leighton (1898-1989)
Po' White Cabin, ca. 1941
Wood engraving
By the time she came to the United States from England in 1939, Clare Leighton was a highly regarded illustrator. Born in London, she studied drawing and painting at the Brighton School of Art and the Slade School in London. However only by enrolling in a course at the Central School did she learn wood engraving, the medium in which she achieved distinction.Soon after her arrival in the United States, Leighton contracted with Macmillan for a book presenting her impressions of the South. Po' White Cabin appeared in the resulting book, Southern Harvest (1942). The print illustrates her encounter with an Alabama family, and the text makes it clear that Leighton was drawn to the wife and specifically to her burden of raising a large family, though the engraving shows a woman standing on the porch with only one child in hand. The cabin appears to be in the dogtrot style sitting on rock pilings.
Anthony Buchta (1897-1967)
"Sharecropper's Cottage in the Delta"-Miss., n.d.
Aquatint with etching
Anthony Buchta was born and grew up in Iowa. He came to Chicago in 1916 to study at the Chicago Academy of Fine Art and the Art Institute of Chicago. Throughout his career, he often painted in Brown County, Indiana, where he died. This is the only print of the South by Buchta the collectors, Williams and Goldfarb, have come across. His aquatint of a sharecropper's cabin presents an unusual rear view, focusing on poultry in the backyard, which was usually a sideline activity of farm women to supply both eggs and meat for their kitchen as well as extra cash. Both the size of the sturdy cabin and the presence of so many fowl indicates that this is a relatively prosperous household.
* James Turnbull (1909-1976)
"Southern Democracy," 1940
Born in St. Louis, James Turnbull prepared for a career in journalism at the University of Missouri, then switched gears to study art at the St. Louis School of Fine Art and then at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts. Turnbull made a number of lithographs of the South around 1940 that suggest a trip through the region that was marked by less-than-flattering views. Southern Democracy is one of the most trenchant examples, with a title that becomes ironic in light of its imagery. The identical small cabins lined up on either side of a dirt road on a desolate hillside-perhaps miners' housing-imply that democracy or a political voice of the common people is lacking in the South or conditions would be better. The coarse texture in broad areas of tone, probably from coarse limestone used for the lithograph stone, suggests the rudeness of the environment.
**Julius John Lankes (1884-1960)
Virginia Farmhouse, 1926.
J. J. Lankes can be considered the prime exponent of the artistic revival of the traditional woodcut in the South He was born and grew up in Buffalo, New York, where he first studied art by correspondence, then at the Buffalo Art Students League. While working as a foreman in the drafting room of an arms factory in Buffalo during World War I, he taught himself to make woodcuts, discovering that a small gouge used to "checker gun stocks" could also used to incise a design in a section of an apple tree limb. In 1925 he moved to Hilton Village, a neighborhood in Newport News, Virginia. There he began to depict the local scenery with an emphasis on architecture, a project he continued until 1941. Virginia Farmhouse was modeled on a house situated on the James River. Lankes depicted the same house from a frontal view in another woodcut titled Massey's House that he included in his book Virginia Woodcuts (1929). This lateral view of the two-story farmhouse allowed him to include one-story, architectural extensions that indicate a degree of middle-class prosperity.
**Richard Coe (1904-1978)
View of Birmingham, n.d.
Etching, 2nd state [of two?]
Born and raised in Selma, Alabama, Richard Coe attended the University of Cincinnati, where he majored in architecture; he then moved on to the Museum of Fine Arts School in Boston, where he studied with Philip Hale followed by travel in Europe. In 1934, Coe settled in Birmingham and began to make numerous etchings of that city. In 1938 he moved to New York, where he lived for the rest of his life, working as a graphic designer for McCalls Magazine and teaching art. A number of Coe's etchings of Birmingham were from the high perspective of the surrounding mountains, as is the case here. In this impression of the second state, Coe obscures the right side of the architectural view with dark etched lines; the first state does not have these lines and shows more of the mundane architecture below the mountains. Both states use crosshatched lines in the sky to emphasize the polluted atmosphere above the city, due no doubt to the iron and steel industry.
** Ernest A. Pickup (1887-1970)
Afternoon on the Statehouse Nashville, ca. 1932
Wood engraving, edition: 44/50
Ernest Pickup spent much of his early life in Nashville, where he ran a commercial art business. When the Depression hit, his commissions for commercial work declined precipitously, so he took up relief printmaking, working in wood engraving to fill his idle hours. In Afternoon on the Statehouse, Nashville he depicts downtown Nashville in the early 1930s with its Greek Revival capitol designed by architect William Strickland in the background. Pickup's view juxtaposes the imposing capitol with humble houses below and in the foreground. In a memoir composed by his daughter, the artist explained, "Long before 'urban renewal' came to Nashville, Tennessee's lovely State House towered majestically above the shanties, dirty streets, and neglected area that lay at the foot of Capitol Hill."
* Mildred (Nungester) Wolfe (b. 1912)
Sunday Capitol Street, 1950s
Hand-colored linoleum cut
Reared in Decatur, Alabama, Mildred Nungester first studied printmaking at the Art Students League in the summer of 1938. After she married the artist Karl Wolfe in 1944, they settled in Jackson, Mississippi, and made their living as artists. She had to give up lithography, as she could not afford to purchase a press, and turned instead to . color linocuts like this one, because they did not require a press for printing. Sunday Capitol Street is a view of the capitol in Jackson from the center of the street. Through line and black shadows, Wolfe emphasizes the square building shapes to either side of the domed capitol. She extends the line of the triangular pediment to emphasize the triangular shape, one of the most stable for a composition. Horizontals prevail in the blue sky as well as in shadows on the street. With no human figures scurrying about in the scene, the resulting composition suggests the stability government brings to society and the relative calm of a Sunday when there are few people around such buildings.
** Samuel Chamberlain (1895-1975)
Governor's Palace, ca. 1938
Drypoint, edition: 60/100
A prime example of Georgian architecture, the colonial Governor's Palace was the seat of government for the colony of Virginia. Originally built in 1722 and destroyed by fire in 1781, the structure was rebuilt during the reconstruction of Williamsburg in the 1930s. In 1938, William Perry, the lead architect for the restoration project, commissioned Samuel Chamberlain, an expert New England printmaker who had studied architecture at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, to make prints of some of the restored buildings. Chamberlain produced eight drypoints, including this one, in an intaglio style that is meticulous in capturing sharply focused architectural forms and detail. The imposing palace rises in the background of the composition allowing Chamberlain to include the manicured garden in the foreground so the entire complex suggests the majesty of the colonial government and the order it brought to Virginia.
**Marian Acker (1906-1993)
40 Conception St/Old Mobile, ca. 1932
After studying art in Boston and Provincetown, Massachusetts, Marian Acker (later MacPherson) returned to her native Mobile and set up an etching studio next to her family home, the famed LeVert House. She recorded Mobile's historic architectural heritage in etchings and wrote about the architecture in two books illustrated by her etchings. 40 Conception St. is one of her best etchings, with branching, dark oaks in the foreground representing the natural world contrasting with the straight, white columns of the Palladian projecting double portico, which stands for human artistry. Acker wrote, in her book Etchings of Old Mobile (1932), that the house shed "a last warm glow of fragrant elegance on feverish scenes that scurry round her [the house's] feet." Such personifications, which were numerous in her prose about the buildings, indicate that she felt old buildings had souls, which she hoped her fellow Mobilians would appreciate and preserve. Unfortunately, in the case of this house, preservation efforts did not prevail as the house is no longer extant.
Leon Pescheret (1892-1961)
Down South, n.d.
Color etching
As an artist from England who later resided in Chicago and Wisconsin, Leon Pescheret was probably impressed with the ante-bellum mansions and lush vegetation in the South, subject of much of Southern lore. In Down South he captures an example of the white plantation mansion, at a distance through a foreground frame of moss-hung oak and bushes, probably azaleas, with deep pink blooms. One low limb partly obscures the view, suggesting that, to the outsider, as this artist from Wisconsin surely was, the true life of the mansion is remote, although the natural beauty that surrounds it is approachable.
Conrad Ross (b. 1931)
Noble Hall #2, 1992
Etching with aquatint and mezzotint, edition: 3/15
Conrad Ross, emeritus professor of art at Auburn University, sketched Noble Hall, the 1850s mansion near Auburn, Alabama, when it was undergoing renovation in the early 1990s. Ross later did the print as different panels because, he stated in an interview with the collector, the process of working the image on the plate was easier. By 1992 he produced two panels, both in intaglio, and in 1993 he added a central woodcut. Breaking the picture space into adjacent panels suggests the process of taking the house apart and putting it back together again. Lines in one section connect with lines in others to hold the composition together. This very close-up view of the mansion does not idealize it with surrounding luscious vegetation as is characteristic of prints of southern mansions in general. The dark background, presented in angular sections from mezzotint, adds contrast and suggests the dark past of a dwelling associated with slavery.
Laquita Thomson (b. 1947)
Through the Dogtrot/The Big House, 1994
The Big House is part of a series of seven screenprints or serigraphs Thomson has titled Through the Dogtrot because she conceives the gray frame around the color picture space as a dogtrot allowing her to comment on some Southern banalities. To make the serigraphs, she made a collage from borrowed images as well as her own photographs and drawings, then scanned and "posterized" the collages using Adobe Photoshop before screen printing them. The Big House harkens back to the myth of the Old South. Clouds in the forms of cotton bolls emphasize the reliance of the region on this crop. Cotton spilling from a slave-woven basket holds a peach, symbol of Southern womanhood for the artist. Males are represented by racehorses, "whose exertions were the primary sport of southern planters," the artist states in text she wrote as a flyer to explain the compositions. The horses pictured here were originally painted by Edward Troye, an artist who toured, painted, and lived for a time in antebellum Alabama.
*Ernest A. Pickup (1887-1970)
The Hermitage, n.d.
Wood engraving
Like other architectural printmakers who gravitated toward landmarks of Southern cities, Ernest Pickup turned toward landmarks in the city he called home, Nashville. On the outskirts of the city, the antebellum home of Andrew Jackson provided an obvious attraction as a subject for a print. In grounds and atmosphere, the setting Pickup gives the Hermitage sharply echoes its structure's rectangular geometry. Stark contrast between white and black horizontals in the structure of the composition heightens the glamour or dramatic intensity that usually adheres to the house of a celebrity. Naturalistic trees in full foliage break up the geometric grid Pickup creates in house and setting so the structure appears in an earthly realm and actually livable.
** Carl Hancock (1898-1966)
The Plantation House, 1937
Largely self-taught, Carl Hancock made his living as an artist in Little Rock, Arkansas. Because his wife was a schoolteacher, they spent summers in New Orleans and often traveled in the surrounding area, where he made sketches for etching. Here he depicts a well-known antebellum plantation house, Rosedown in St. Francisville, located in southeastern Louisiana, north of Baton Rouge. The moss hanging from surrounding oaks is so dense that it somewhat obscures the size of the two-story house and covers many of its architectural features. In black and white with many middle tones of gray, the mansion and surrounding vegetation have lost much of their famed allure and appear rather drab.
** Joseph Pennell (1857-1926)
(Madame John's Legacy), n.d.
One of the most frequently depicted houses in the French Quarter in New Orleans, Madame John's Legacy, built in 1789, acquired its name and fame from a story by George Washington Cable. The story, "Tite Poulette," recounts the saga of a man named John dying without wife or children, who leaves his estate to his mistress and her child. In 1882, Joseph Pennell, who produced a prodigious number of etchings and lithographs of sites in the United States and elsewhere, was sent to New Orleans on assignment from Harper's magazine to depict the houses associated with Cable's stories. This etching is an example of one of the few Southern scenes in prints made during the Etching Revival period and its small size is typical. Seen as it usually is at an angle, Pennell renders the house at sufficient range to include major architectural details of the expansive Creole cottage. Close inspection reveals a few small figures are in view on the sidewalk before the house, enlivening the scene.
** Morris Henry Hobbs (1892-1967)
Iron and Lace, 1943
Born in Rockford, Illinois Morris Henry Hobbs trained as an architect in Chicago. After service in World War I, followed by residence in Toledo, where he first studied etching with J. Ernest Dean (1871-1933), he returned to Chicago, where Ralph Fletcher Seymour (1876-1966) became his etching tutor. In 1938, Hobbs visited the French Quarter in New Orleans and decided to make it his home, devoting himself to rendering its historic structures to preserve their integrity. Here, he managed to capture the intricate cast-iron pattern of the balconies on the Labranche building at the corner of St. Peter and Royal Streets, one of the most frequently depicted views in the Quarter. He renders the corner at some distance and from a relatively low viewpoint. This kind of angled structure for an urban street scene, rendering a row of buildings into the distance through linear perspective with a clip of the corner of the buildings on the opposite side of the street in view, became fairly conventional in prints of the South, particularly of New Orleans with its narrow streets. Hobbs represents many small figures on the sidewalk showing that at least this part of the Quarter had a lively street life.
** Eugene Loving (1908-1971)
Iron Lace Balconies, Old New Orleans, n.d.
Etching, edition: 200
An etcher about whom little is known other than the fact that he came to New Orleans in the 1930s from Round Rock, Texas, and etched many views of French Quarter structures, Eugene Loving renders another view of the Labranche building, depicting the cast iron balconies fairly close-up and in considerable light in order to show shadows projected by the cast iron below the structures. Two figures in the scene represent the varied population of the quarter: a woman in traditional servant's dress, an attire frequently seen in New Orleans prints of the era, and a young man in casual, more contemporary dress. The two figures represent the varied population of the quarter.
** Clarence Millet (1897-1959)
Claiborne Court, n.d.
Hand-colored linoleum cut on brown paper
Clarence Millet was from Hahnsville, Louisiana, but settled in New Orleans after two years of study at the Art Students League. Millet was one of a small number of printmakers working in the French Quarter who pictured traditional architectural scenes in relief prints. Some of Millets were used to illustrate Stanley Clisby Arthur's Old New Orleans (1st edition, 1936). Such is the case with Claiborne Court, identified in the guidebook Old New Orleans as Courtyard of Maison Jacob at 628 Toulouse Street, where Millet opened his art gallery. Arthur acknowledges that tradition mysteriously associates the building with Governor Claiborne, as we see from the title of this impression. In the middle of the courtyard stands a woman in a long dress, presumably a servant, which is plausible as servants' quarters were often adjacent to courtyards. The flowers along the staircase railing and the potted plants on the second floor balcony indicate gentrification as courtyards before the post World War I restoration were often filled with trash and efforts were made to beautify them with plants.
** Herbert Alvin Sharpe (1910­-1982)
Toulouse Street Court, n.d.
Aquatint, edition: 100
H. Alvin Sharpe was born in southern Kentucky and lived in various parts of that state until the age of fourteen, when he joined the merchant marine. He spent the next seven years traveling the high seas and could have harbored in New Orleans at times, as he settled there to work as an artist in 1931. Without any training whatsoever, he taught himself the intaglio processes of etching and aquatint. In this aquatint, he emphasizes the "S" curves of an elegant interior stairway through varied areas of tone on the adjacent walls created by the aquatint process. Interior courtyard stairways were the only means of access to residences on the second floor of many French Quarter buildings, the first-floor entrances providing access to shops on the lower level. Sharpe creates an impression of elegant shabbiness through ragged edges on tonal areas that suggest deteriorating plaster. A narrow, lightly etched line in the background creates a delicate, elegant wrought-iron gate.
* Leon Pescheret (1892-1961)
New Orleans Patio, n.d.
Color etching
Wisconsin etcher Leon Pescheret practiced color etching a la poupée, placing all the colored inks he used on the same plate instead of printing one plate for each color. In this color etching, he gives the French Quarter courtyard added elegance by viewing it through the frame of double doors topped by a fan light, a feature of Federal architecture. Touches of warm blue on a door and greens in plants combined with subdued brown coloration add some richness to the setting. This may be a view of the patio of the Little Theater, founded in 1916, at 616 St. Peter Street. The stock figure of a servant in a long, aproned dress appears in the distance to add an old world flavor to the scene.
* Earl Horter (1881-1940)
(Kitchen, New Orleans), n.d.
Philadelphia artist Earl Horter, best known for his superb, traditional intaglio prints of cities, including New York and New Orleans, made a considerable number of prints depicting the French Quarter in varied intaglio styles. He excelled in aquatints and in these two examples, Horter uses this medium to render less-than-elegant areas of the city. In the work that depicts a kitchen, all the forms are diffused or in soft focus, as if the tones were smudged on with a finger and rubbed to create a sense of age and shabbiness. The kitchen appears to be a makeshift one in a large hall defined by the arch overhead and stairway in the background. The four figures suggest crowded conditions. In Backwater, New Orleans, Horter expertly renders water pooling on the street as though he brushed liquid rosin on the plate in the aquatint process. The water in the street suggests lowland New Orleans with its potential for flooding. In the background Horter offers a rare glimpse of the New Orleans harbor, its ship masts in the background.
Earl Horter (1881-1940)
Backwater, New Orleans, n.d.
* Aaron Bohrod (1907-1992)
(New Orleans Street), n.d.
According to Thomas Craven, in A Treasury of American Prints (1939), Wisconsin artist Aaron Bohrod made this New Orleans street scene from photographs he took on one of his trips to the city. The setting appears to be the Lower Garden District, which rarely appears in prints of the pre­World War II era. The three figures represent women at different stages of life and suggest a narrative of initiation to womanhood. The jaunty young girl facing the viewer in the foreground appears to be waiting for the streetcar. She wears a hat and holds a purse somewhat self consciously, as if these objects are symbols of her approaching maturity, since they are also carried by the two older women walking purposefully in the background. The placement of the two older women in relation to the girl represents the younger woman gaining gradual independence as she models herself on older members of her sex. The tall palm tree to the left gives the girl visual emphasis as its lower fronds seem to over-arch to protect her.
** Charles William Smith (1893-1987)
Charleston Window, 1933
Originally from the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia, Charles Smith later established a home base in Richmond, and even later served as head of the art department at the University of Virginia from 1946 to 1963. Smith spent the winter of 1933 in Charleston and made a considerable number of traditional woodcuts of the city, many of which he used in his book Old Charleston: Twenty-Four Woodcuts (1933). Though not titled on the print, Charleston Window was titled when it first appeared in 1933 in Colophon, a quarterly for book collectors that included original prints. Framing a scene through a window distances the viewer from that scene. In this woodcut Smith implies that the bustling street life of Charleston remained at some distance from him. In his room he could capture and focus on natural beauty and serenity represented by the flowers in the vase.
** Alfred Hutty (1877-1954)
Old St. Michaels [sic], 1928
Etching, edition: 75
Alfred Hutty first came to Charleston in 1921 and returned for winters for the rest of his life. His remark that he wired to his wife on first seeing the city, "Come quickly, have found heaven," has become legendary. St. Michael's was one of two eighteenth-century Episcopal churches in Charleston that have often provided subject matter for prints of that city. Hutty depicts the neoclassical façade of the building at an angle. In the foreground, a meandering branch laden with foliage leads to the lines of the triangular pediment and creates an impression of fruitful elegance associated with the church.
* Alfred Hutty (1877-1954)
(Gate of George Edwards House), n.d.
According to Samuel Gaillard Stoney in Charleston: Azaleas and Old Bricks (1939), when George Edwards ordered marble and ironwork from Italy for these gates, he wished the posts to appear to be made of live oak acorns, but marble cutters depicted pineapples instead, the conventional symbols of hospitality. The gates are unusual for their combination of wood construction with wrought-iron grill work. Hutty obscures the pineapple finials on the posts with a spray of foliage and creates near-perfect symmetry, from the upward sweep of the gates in the center to the negative space created by the overarching tree limb above-representing a moment of supreme, harmonious beauty and balance between the natural and architectural worlds.
Alfred Hutty (1877-1954)
Charleston Spires, n.d.
Etching with drypoint, edition: 75
Charleston Spires is a view of Church Street in Charleston with the church of St. Philip's in the background. Hutty depicts the street from a high viewpoint and adds his signature tree limb laden with foliage in the foreground, arching over much of the street. That limb leads down to a leaning tree at the edge of the street and to a small black figure sitting on a mule-yoked cart making its way down the road, evoking the Old South. The lines of buildings are softened by drypoint, and the white of the paper, free of any trace of ink, suggests full sunlight. All such elements create an ambiance of a mellow, warm, sunny South.
* Antoinette Rhett (1884-1964)
A Wall Gate, n.d.
Etching with drypoint
Antoinette Rhett studied etching under Alfred Hutty, and in this small drypoint she shows his influence in the tree limb that appears to meander over the architectural scene. The work shows that the ordinary, old architectural structures of Charleston, even when not grand or elaborate, could result in an impression of finesse and delicacy. Fuzzy drypoint lines in the architecture suggest wear from age. Rhett made prints until the mid-1930s when she gave up art to raise cocker spaniels, according to her friend and fellow member of the Charleston Etchers' Club, Selma Tharin Dotterer.
** Anna Heyward Taylor (1879-1956)
St Philips [sic] Church, 1934
Woodcut or linoleum
Originally from Columbia, South Carolina, Anna Heyward Taylor settled in Charleston in 1929 and began making relief prints of that city along with boldly designed botanical woodcuts, many of the latter from her world travel. St Philips [sic] Church is somewhat unusual in her Charleston oeuvre in that it does not include any people but presents a boldly designed view of the columned church portico from the graveyard and through its gate. That gate deserves the attention Taylor lavishes on it due to its bold semicircular design with embellishing swirls. With stark tonal contrast, the white-columned church becomes an emblem of light seen through the darkness of death represented by the black cemetery foreground.
** Elizabeth O'Neill Verner (1883-1979)
Ravenel Doorway, Charleston, n.d.
Built in 1796, the Daniel Ravenel House exemplifies a structure typical of Charleston, with the house turned sideways to the street to take advantage Charleston's long, narrow lots and exclude a gallery from public view. Verner focuses on the curtain wall door, one that leads into a courtyard instead of a room. The fanlight in that door is in the lower center of the composition and the center of interest through value contrast. The architecture associated with the door is enhanced by a balustrade around the projecting balcony, only the side of which we see. To enliven the architectural background Verner includes the figure of an African-American flower woman balancing a basket on her head and a male leaning against the gate, as she frequently does in her etchings; however, they remain peripheral to the architecture. A Charleston native who studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Verner rivaled Alfred Hutty in her celebration of Charleston scenes through etchings.
* Victoria Hutson Huntley (1900-1971)
(Charleston #2), 1949
Huntley probably traveled to Charleston around 1949 because two lithographs she is known to have made of that city are dated from that year. This lithograph shows the underside of the portico of the South Carolina Society Hall on Meeting Street in Charleston. Like Verner, in Ravenel Doorway, Charleston, Huntley depicts an African American flower woman outside an architecturally impressive entrance, but the resemblance ends there. Whereas Verner's focus (and that of most Charleston printmakers) is on the architecture or at least the ambiance of Old Charleston, Huntley's is on the old woman herself, dwarfed by the heaviness of an edifice that represents the South Carolina society from which she is excluded. At the time this print was made, a black woman would not likely even have been able to use the front entrance of such a building.
** Caroline Durieux (1896-1989)
In Memoriam, 1975
Electron print, edition 9/10
Caroline Durieux participated in the experimental printmaking movement of the post­World War II era through research she conducted as a faculty member at Louisiana State University. She collaborated with Dr. Harry Wheeler, a professor of plant pathology and husband of one of her printmaking students, in developing a new print process involving radioactive isotopes. In 1951, Wheeler, his wife, and Durieux began conducting experiments, applying Wheeler's research using radioactive isotopes in tagging fungi to drawing with an ink containing low-energy, radioactive isotopes. The process involved exposing the drawing to photographic paper to produce a replica. Repeated exposures allow a large number of identical prints to be produced, limited only by the life of the radioactive isotopes mixed with the ink. In 1957, the Wheelers and Durieux received a patent for their discovery, which they termed "electron printing."
In Memoriam, made decades later, is an electron print in which the background is distinguished by a rich velvety black that functions more as hue than value and sets the emotional tone for the subject. That subject, characterized as a Louisianan by her tignon headdress, must have been a woman for whom Durieux had considerable affection to fashion such a large portrait. The title suggests she has died, and Durieux is rendering her portrait as an expression of grief. The subject, seen very close-up, has a somber expression, suggesting the hardships she has borne.
* Georges Schreiber (1904-1977)
(The White House), 1945
Originally from Belgium, Georges Schreiber settled in New York, where he worked as a newspaper illustrator. From 1936 to 1939 he made three trips across the United States, eventually visiting all the then forty-eight states. This lithograph is based on a sketch of a grocery store on King Street in Charleston with the name "The White House" above the door, a names that makes the imagery resonate with symbolic significance. In another variation of the theme of the black figure outside the door, Schreiber presents a black man in formal attire outside the entrance of a dilapidated, abandoned shop that represents the entrance to white society. He has arrived in his best attire only to be shut out through white flight as a notice indicates that the owners have moved and left the building to deteriorate.
* Hale Woodruff (1900-1980)
Returning Home, ca. 1935
Linoleum cut
Sometimes referred to as Atlanta Street Scene, this linoleum cut depicts an African American neighborhood in Atlanta in the 1930s with rickety, loosely constructed houses, many perched precariously high on wood posts that were probably constructed this way to aid cooling or control flooding. Woodruff would have had occasion to view such a scene as an African-American when he headed the art department at Atlanta University from 1931 to 1943. Subtle tension prevails between the heavy figure of a woman and the condition of the sagging stairs attached to adjoining structures. The scenario suggests that the physical condition of African-American neighborhoods was hardly adequate to meet the needs of the varied population there.
* Richard Zoellner (1908-2003)
"Young Girl," 1945
Richard Zoellner came to Alabama in 1945, when he was hired to head the art department at the University of Alabama. He continued his work as a lithographer and took up other print media in order to teach them to his students. He also began to emphasize the human figure in his iconography.. As he stated in an oral interview with the collector, Lynn Williams, he began by depicting a young girl, the daughter of his maid, and extrapolated to focus on what he saw as the situation of blacks in the South. A very close-up view of the child's face and her large, soulful eyes express acquiescence, awe, and submission.
* Robert Gwathmey (1903-1988)
(Non Fiction), 1945
A native of Richmond, Virginia, who settled in the North and became associated with leftist circles, Robert Gwathmey is renowned for his colorful serigraphs, many of which are critical views of the South that often focus on race. Here, the critique turns on the juxtaposition of a child with angry mien entangled in barbed wire, superimposed on a stereotypical, picturesque portrayal of the African American as a minstrel strumming a guitar. Gwathmey's comments on Southern racism in a interview he had with Elizabeth McCausland for the April, 1946 issue of Magazine of Art illuminate this serigraph: "The fact remains, when I do go home in the summer, I'm always shocked by the omnipresence of the Negro, and the harsh treatment he receives, and the acute blind spots of my boyhood friends and associates. Their persistence in considering the Negro picturesque is a horrible sham." Nevertheless, taken by itself, the serigraph does not lambaste only the South for racism, but American society in general.
* Prentiss Taylor (1907-1991)
Christ in Alabama, 1932
Lithograph, edition: 45
Christ in Alabama is one of four lithographs Prentiss Taylor made in New York to illustrate three poems and a play by Langston Hughes for their book Scottsboro Limited. This book was sold to benefit the legal defense fund of the Scottsboro boys, the nine young black males accused of raping two white women on a train traveling from Chattanooga to Huntsville in 1931. Christ in Alabama illustrates Hughes's poem with the same title, which reads:
Christ is a nigger,
Beaten and black:
Oh, bare your back!
Mary is His mother:
Mammy of the South,
Silence your mouth.
God is His father:
White Master above
Grant Him your love.
Most holy bastard
Of the bleeding mouth,
Nigger Christ
On the cross
Of the South
Taylor illustrates the poem with simple images, two of which are of black figures that are almost silhouettes. The most striking of these is placed in the center, the black male on the cross representing the first stanza. On his left is the "Mammy of the South" in the second stanza, with cotton images to the right to represent the Southern locale. The tornado image in the background is more enigmatic. It possibly represents God as the "White Master above" or just the turmoil surrounding the entire case. The emotional tone of the entire lithograph is, like the poem, elegiac in response to threatened death by lynching.
**Harry Sternberg (1904-2001)
Southern Holiday, 1935
Born and raised in New York, where he taught at the Art Students League, Harry Sternberg was concerned with social issues. In a letter to Lynn Williams, Sternberg stated that the Scottsboro Case stimulated him to make this lithograph as well as the number of New York City newspaper articles he read about lynchings that took place in the South. Sternberg entered the lithograph in two New York exhibitions in 1935 that supported efforts to make lynching a federal crime by having artists raise public awareness by depicting its horrors. The title of the lithograph emphasizes that lynchings, more prevalent in the South than elsewhere and directed against black males more than any other population group, often supplied a form of morbid entertainment for whites. The pillars to which the figure is roped represent the crumbling pillars of Southern society, and the smokestacks in the background identify lynching with the industrial New South. The figure's castration points out that black male sexuality was a major underlying fear behind the racial caste system and African American oppression by whites. The lynched figure puts his finger on the steeple of a church, which implicates religion in the crime.
** George Biddle (1885-1973)
Alabama Code-"Our Girls Don't Sleep with Niggers," 1933
Lithograph, edition: 50
According to the catalogue raisonné of Biddle's prints, the Scottsboro Case was the stimulus for this piece of bitter satire about the racial attitudes of white Southerners. Some of the critical literature about the print hypothesizes that the figures represent the lead prosecutor in the case and one of the plaintiffs who accused the black youths of rape; however, they do not closely resemble those actors, and the generalized background, or lack of one, gives the imagery wider reference than to a single case. Scion of the eminent Biddle family of Philadelphia and a Harvard-educated lawyer, the artist submitted the print in 1935 to the NAACP's "An Art Exhibition Against Lynching" in New York, but organizer Walter White rejected it because he thought the iconography too ambiguous in regard to lynching. The caricatured figures symbolically represent a particular brand of Southern racism that entailed a pseudo-chivalric code directing white Southern males to protect Southern white women, presumed sexually pure, against supposedly sexually rapacious black males.
Harry Sternberg (1904-2001)
Strange Fruit, ca. 1991
Strange Fruit is part of an autobiographical woodcut series that Harry Sternberg made and published in 1991 and refers to Sternberg's concern with racial oppression in the South. The title refers to a song about Southern lynching ("Southern trees bear a strange fruit/Blood on the leaves and blood at the root") written by an English teacher in 1935 and popularized by Billie Holiday, who first recorded it in 1939. James Routh, who was a student of Sternberg's at the Art Students League, remembered that Sternberg often engaged him in arguments about his native South, Sternberg adopting the view that it would take a revolution to overturn the Jim Crow laws there.
Bernard Goss (1913-1965)
(Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.), ca. 1960
Bernard Goss was born in Sedalia, Missouri. After receiving his BA from the University of Iowa in 1935, he studied at the Art Institute of Chicago from 1935 to 1937, then helped found the Southside Community Art Center sponsored by Works Progress Administration. In an interview he gave for an article in Opportunity Magazine in 1940, Goss stated that he saw his art as an agent of social change. This linocut made decades later suggests that he continued that artistic orientation, as it was likely meant to spur African American to action for civil rights. The provenance, through oral testimony of a previous owner, indicates that he was depicting Martin Luther King. A line leads leftward from the figure's extended, elongated arm to a placard and supporters in the background. The strong contrast of white signs and narrowly spaced lines against black ground suggests the force and stridency of the movement, also expressed in King's angry face. Goss never marketed the small number of prints he made; he merely printed them now and then as gifts for friends and never bothered to sign them.
Charles Criner (b. 1945)
"Still I Rise," 2001
Lithograph, edition: 6/25
"Still I Rise" is the title of a poem by Maya Angelou that ends with the lines:
Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that's wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave
I am the dream and the hope of the slave
I rise
I rise
I rise.
Charles Criner embeds the theme of refusing to submit, retreat or cower in the personal context he knew from childhood experience: picking cotton. Most of the picture space is occupied by a couple and a child, presumably a small family, who appear to be unusually alone in the field, facing an implied threat. A man looks at the viewer defiantly and warily as if, from past experience, all who approach could be a source of danger, while the wide-eyed woman standing by him grasps her child protectively against her midriff and stares with anticipation but without cowering. The fact that the couple remain standing during the approach of possible threat implies the title "Still I Rise" and recall lines and imagery of the poem.
** James Routh (b. 1918)
Cotton Farm, ca. 1940
Born in New Orleans, James Routh grew up in Atlanta and studied at the Art Students League from 1936 to 1940, which included printmaking with Harry Sternberg and Will Barnet. After returning to Atlanta in 1940 but before joining the army, Routh often visted a lady friend in Henry County, just south of Atlanta. On one of those trips he saw the scene pictured in Cotton Farm and stopped by the road to sketch. The result was both the ink drawing and the lithograph later. Routh painstakingly represents each cotton plant and for the cotton pickers, depicts tiny, thin female figures with exaggerated bends at the waist to emphasize the hard work involved. Often, land owners insisted that every foot of their land be devoted to cotton production, and the scene seems to bear this out, as the cotton rows rhythmically sweep right up to the cabin atop the hillock.
* James Routh (b. 1918)
(Cotton Farm), ca. 1940
Ink wash drawing
Charles Criner (b. 1945)
Mama Jewelry (Picking Cotton), 2000.
Lithograph, edition: 4/20
Charles Criner was born in Athens, Texas and studied art at Texas Southern University. Several of his lithographs reflect his memories of working alongside his grandmother in east Texas cotton fields. Mama Jewelry is a portrait of Criner's grandmother picking cotton with her eyes closed, almost as if it were an automatic response to her environment. The pencil in her hair reflects her analytical approach to the job, one she loved, according to Criner. In a flyer which he gave out with the purchase of the lithograph, he writes, "Mama Jewelry could look at a field of cotton and determine just how far she would have to pick in order to have seventy-five pounds in her sack, a weight that she knew I could manage." His job was to drag the sack to a truck, where a man would assist him in weighing it. The pencil was given to him each time he took the cotton to be weighed so that young Criner could write down the cotton weight, which was totaled at the end of the day. In this way Mama Jewelry was certain to be paid for all that she had picked.
Mauzey, Meritt (1897-1973)
Volunteer Cotton, 2nd Year, 1940s
Lithograph, edition: 15
Born in Clifton, Texas, Merritt Mauzey worked with cotton through much of his life, and he made it a major subject of his prints after he took up lithography. Mauzey grew up on a cotton farm. After he married, he worked his own farm for some time but, as he had so much difficulty battling the weather and insect infestations, he eventually sold his land and moved to Sweetwater, Texas, where he worked as a clerk for a cotton company. In 1927, he moved to Dallas to take a position with a cotton exporter. Mauzey shows the fertility of the land in West Texas for cotton by depicting a large, hardy plant against a distant landscape. His title associates the imagery with vegetation that springs up naturally, without human effort, rather ironic in light of his own experience.
** Thomas Hart Benton (1889-1975)
Back from the Fields,
Lithograph, edition: 250
One of the best known artists to depict the South, Thomas Hart Benton traveled in the region in the 1930s and 1940s. Although most of his lithographs are of the upper South, his catalogue raisonné indicates that this is a Louisiana scene titled Back from the Fields, which shows "cotton pickers returning home after the last bags picked." A degree of melodrama pervades the scene of cotton farmers working under considerable strain. Two thin, male figures, awkwardly bowed under large cotton sacks, stagger toward a cabin in the background. They are positioned on the fingertips of an ominous, black-shadowed hand that suggests evil higher powers underlying their work. A warm tone in the paper's background suggests heat.
* Elizabeth O'Neil Verner (1883-1979)
Under the Oaks, n.d.
When she was left a widow with two children to support, Elizabeth Verner resolved to earn her living selling her etchings of Charleston and the surrounding countryside, which tended to reflect a positive view of the area. In this small etching she highlights the beauty of an intersecting pattern of large oak limbs, draped with moss, that frame a distant view of field labor performed, most likely, by African Americans. A thin branch laden with foliage leads the viewer's eye to the figures in the far distance, who stand easily with their hoes and do not seem to be under any strain from their labors.
Mildred Nungester (b. 1912)
(Waiting for the Gin), 1942
Mildred Nungester made a pencil sketch of this scene at a cotton gin only a few blocks from her family home in Decatur, Alabama. She also visited a mule yard nearby to study the anatomy of the animals so she could draw them accurately. Later she used the sketches to make a lithograph of the gin scene when she was at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center working on her MFA, which she received in 1944. Her lithograph shows a full range of tonal values and focuses on the two mules in the center of the composition, differentiated by the light that streams down on one from above. The African American men on the carts in relaxed positions show that cotton production often included time waiting ones turn to weigh or gin.
* Laquita Thomson (b. 1947)
Baler, 2002
Woodcut, edition: 8/13
Laquita Thomson received her BFA from Mississippi University for Women and her MFA in art from Auburn University. She is currently a faculty member in the art department at Freed-Hardeman University in Henderson, Tennessee. While living in Huntsville, Alabama, Thomson observed the mechanical cotton picker and baler in the fields of the Tennessee Valley that became models for the woodcuts on view here. Both are small and circular in form, as if they are viewed through a telescope by an outside observer. They are depicted in a lateral view to show the form of the mechanism, and with heavy, crude lines, suggesting the heaviness of the machinery. Line lines arching over each complete the circular design and emphasize he power and possibly the noise emanating from these large machines, which did so much to change southern agriculture
* Laquita Thomson (b. 1947)
Picker, 2002
Woodcut, edition: 8/20
** Robert Gwathmey (1903-1988)
(Tobacco Farmers), 1947
In 1944, Robert Gwathmey received a Rosenwald Grant, which he used to spend a summer on a tobacco farm near Rocky Mount, North Carolina. He worked in the field alongside black sharecroppers and made paintings and serigraphs from his sketches. If Elizabeth Verner's Under the Oaks distances us from the arduous effort of field labor, Gwathmey's serigraph brings us close up to it. Parallel lines interconnect figures at work creating a network defining angular shapes to suggest the intensity and harshness of the work. The arc and angles that form the bent back of the male figure in the foreground viewed from the rear and the woman bending to his left reinforce this impression. That central figure receives emphasis for the highly saturated, primary hues of blue and red in his clothing offset against more subdued colors of secondary figures and the background of sky and ground. The large tobacco plants in green splay with almost ferocious vigor underscoring the ardor necessary for their cultivation.
* James Fowler Cooper (1907-1968)
Tobacco Stringers, n.d.
Etching, restrike
As a native of South Carolina, James Fowler Cooper attended the University of South Carolina, where he studied art with South Carolina etcher Elizabeth White (1893-1976) and graduated in 1928. After further art training at the Art Students League, Cooper returned to South Carolina in 1930, and when his mother died in 1932, he took over the family farm in Williamson County, where he set up an etching studio. Cooper depicted a wide range of agricultural labor in his etchings, which are pictured in the book The Etchings of James Fowler Cooper: An Illustrated Catalog (1982) by Boyd Saunders. Saunders, a professor of art teaching printmaking at the University of South Carolina, worked together with Cooper's son to make restrikes of many of Fowler's prints since original editions were only of five. Tobacco Stringers reflects a time when children learned to help on the family farm at an early age. The setting appears to be an open tobacco shed, which frames the action in the foreground. The viewpoint from that location captures the effort the child is making to reach the level of the adult women on the porch..
** Georges Schreiber (1904-1977)
Evening in South Carolina, 1947
Georges Schreiber's lithographs of the South tend to show rural scenes. He frequently situates a large figure in the foreground against a broad, expansive landscape to suggest rural isolation. A number feature a white farmwoman in frontal or lateral view with suggestions of her hard lot. Evening in South Carolina, which gained its title from an accompanying painting of this lithography by Schreiber, is an elaboration on this iconography as we see a woman in the foreground with strong arms from her labor and an angry expression on her face. Schreiber adds dramatic tension by positioning the figure of a young, black male at the opposite end of the picture space and on a lower level looking away from the woman with a dreamy expression on his face. The resulting composition uses these figures in the multi-leveled setting to establish symbolic polarities of class, race, gender, age, and psychology in the rural South.
* Barbara Latham (1896-1989)
North Carolina Mountain Woman, n.d.
Wood engraving
In 1934, two northeastern artists, Howard Cook and his wife, Barbara Latham, set out on a trip through the South with the benefit of a Guggenheim grant Cook received to explore the region. One of their stops was the mountainous area near Spruce Pine, North Carolina where they stayed for seven weeks. North Carolina Mountain Woman was engraved after a drawing Cook made of a woman carding wool. Cook and Latham were interested in catching people at work in traditional crafts, as well as leisure activities. Latham's engraving is notable for the strong rhythm she establishes through emphatic, sweeping lines that evoke the landscape to the right of the figure and possibly reflect her movement in carding wool.
* William Kay "Kent" Hagerman (1893-1978)
Skidder Logging-Cypress Swamp, n.d.
Etching with blue tint in background
Kent Hagerman and his wife began visiting Lakeland, Florida, in 1933 and in 1936 made it their permanent home. As in his previous home, Denver, where he had established a commercial art business, Hagerman often made etchings for clients to publicize their business operations. An example is a series of etchings that pictured the production of cypress lumber for a company in Jacksonville in which this etching likely was included. Hagerman mischaracterized this scene in the title. Instead of skidder logging, which involves a four-wheeled machine that is driven around dragging logs, this view shows cable yarding. The vertical machine in the center is a yarder, or donkey, which in the early days ran on steam. Workers would run cables out into the swamp and pull big trees into the yarder, which usually ran on rails, so logs could then be sent to the mill by rail car. Hagerman shows a man to the right balanced on a log to emphasize the precariousness of the human labor involved in working with the powerful but dangerous machine.
Frank Hartley Anderson (1890-1947)
Bessemer Converters, ca. 1938
Wood engraving
Around 1938, Frank Hartley Anderson and his wife, Martha, spent six months in the mills of U.S. Steel in Birmingham to study the company's operations for a mural for the Fairfield, Alabama, post office that was sponsored by the New Deal Treasury Department program to provide murals for public buildings. They made sketches in pencil, oil, and pastel as studies, some of which Anderson probably used to make this wood engraving. The egg-shaped structure in the center of the composition is a Bessemer converter, which converts pig iron into steel. After iron is poured in through the top, a blast of air is blown through the bottom so that dangerous flames shoot out upwards. Anderson shows some of these flames in the background, implying that one converter must be hidden behind the other one. This wood engraving was one of six Anderson exhibited in a special show of wood engravings by artists in the Southern Printmakers Society at the Smithsonian Institution December 1940 to January 1941.
**Roderick MacKenzie (1865-1941)
Pouring Steel Into Molds, ca. 1932
Hand colored lithograph
Roderick MacKenzie was born in England but moved with his family to Mobile, Alabama, when he was seven years old. After years spent in India and Europe with his wife, he returned to Mobile in 1914. In the early 1920s, he received permission from the Tennessee Coast and Iron Company to enter the steel mill at Ensley near Birmingham to sketch its operations in pastels. In the early 1930s, MacKenzie made lithographs from his studies, although they are not exact reproductions of the pastels. Many of them, including this example, have a thin wash of water-based color over the image area, to suggest the heat of steel being poured from a huge ladle into molds The tonal gradation in gray that is fairly uniform throughout the composition suggests a film of dust pervading the atmosphere and ground. The size of the lithograph, relatively large for its era, gives a sense of the huge space in which this apparatus operates, and the small size of the men operating the machinery provides scale.
* James Turnbull (1909-1976)
(Chain Gang), 1940
Even before the publication of Robert Elliott Burns's autobiography I Am a Fugitive from a Georgia Chain Gang! (1932) and the subsequent movie, the South was notorious for its prison practices that often involved chaining prisoners together, a practice that was considered particularly cruel and degrading. Turnbull did not title this lithograph, but the striped uniforms of the workers mark them as prisoners, and the moss hanging from surrounding trees situates the scene in the South. No chains are visible, and Turnbull does not show any cruelty but this print relates to a similar scene in a painting by Turnbull titled Chain Gang. He does show the men working together well as a team of lumberjacks; their parallel stances help them carry out very heavy physical labor indicated by the large diameter of the tree trunk facing the viewer, which they appear to be attempting to move.
** Doris Alexander (1906­1995)
"Granite Quarry," 1949
Doris Alexander grew up in Mobile but moved with her husband to Columbia, South Carolina, in 1945. In the summers of 1944 and 1945 she studied lithography under Raphael Sabatini (1898-1985) at the Tyler School of Fine Arts of Temple University in Philadelphia. She bought a lithograph press and installed it in her home in a space barely large enough operate it, which she did herself, unusual for any artist, especially a woman as the standard lithographic press takes a good deal of upper body strength and the chemistry involved is complicated. "Granite Quarry" is one of her best compositions, with its pinwheel structure of large black, white, and gray cuts into the earth. Tiny figures of workers appear behind the quarry, but they are barely visible and insignificant in light of what appear to be strong forces in the earth in the foreground. This print won an award from the Alabama Art League in 1950.
John McCrady (1911­1965)
(bicycle riders), ca. 1947
This scene of bicycle riders in front of an oil refinery in Baton Rouge was part of a series of paintings and lithographs Standard Oil Company of New Jersey commissioned from John McCrady in 1947 to illustrate the company's Baton Rouge refinery. For safety purposes, bicycles were used as transportation within the grounds of the refinery instead of automobiles as there was the ever present problem of combusting the inflammable products of the refinery. The bicycles on which the figures ride seem small and fragile compared to the immensity of the tall refinery towers looming behind them as well as McCrady's signature dramatic sky in dark and light tones.
* Mildred Nungester (b. 1912)
Station, 1943
Even before gasoline rationing during World War II, long distance travel in the United States was mainly by train. Mildred Nungester often traveled by train between her home in Decatur, Alabama, and cities like New York and Colorado Springs, Colorado, where she went to study art. From train windows and in the stations where she spent hours waiting to board, she sketched to pass the time. Her lithograph Station is a composite view made from various sketches, most of them done in the Decatur train station. Epitomized by the nun in the center of the composition who is too engrossed in her newspaper to pay attention to those around her, the scene reflects the anonymity associated with modern urban life. Only the uninhibited child crouched on the bench sheds reserve to show interest in the other people waiting for the train.
* Frank Hartley Anderson (1890-1947)
Old Dray Stand, ca. 1932
Old Dray Stand appears to be one of Frank Hartley Anderson's earliest relief prints, as it appeared in the journal American Architect in December 1932 on a two-page spread with relief prints by three other artists. Anderson provided the title Negro Dray Stand on a Rainy Winter Day for the published reproduction and stated in the caption that the print "depicts a group of dilapidated wagons, skinny horses and mules and decrepit negroes awaiting a cartage job which may represent a whole day's earnings." With a scene that moves quickly from the foreground figures to the background through exaggerated linear perspective, the woodcut may depict a view of Birmingham hit especially hard by the Depression, although the forms are too generalized to be certain. The figures stand huddled together on the right away from their wagons and mules as if there was no hope of work. Strong simplified design in black and white silhouettes the figures and animal-drawn carts against the areas of white, especially that of the rain-slick pavement.
** Anne Goldthwaite (1869-1944)
(Street in Boguehomme), 1920
Born in Montgomery, Alabama, Anne Goldthwaite went to New York to study and learned etching at the National Academy of Design. After a sojourn in Paris before World War I, she returned to live and work in New York, teaching etching at the Art Students League. Most summers she returned home to Montgomery to visit family and friends and began depicting Southern scenes in her etchings in about 1920. Boguehomme was one of the African American neighborhoods in Montgomery in a hollow several blocks south of the capitol. Goldthwaite used to wander there to sketch and made both an etching and a painting of this scene that features people at work and rest. This etching exhibits her loose, sketch like style, which captured only the essentials of a scene that seems suffused with sunlight.
* * James Fowler Cooper (1907-1968)
Saturday Night, ca. 1938
Saturday Night was first exhibited in 1938 and was honored in 1939 by acceptance into the World's Fair exhibition, which resulted in its reproduction in the exhibition catalogue. Saturdays were market days in Southern towns, and farmers came to sell their produce, buy goods, and socialize. With their work done by sundown, they might devote the evening to talk, music, and play. In this distant, nocturnal view, Cooper renders a range of stance and gesture in a small crowd in front of a restaurant and storefront to convey a sense of the animation such a social gathering might engender. The guitar player on the left sets the tone of relaxation and leisure.
* Adolph Dehn (1895-1968)
Street Scene-Key West, 1942
Lithograph, edition: 30
Born in Waterville, Minnesota, Adolph Dehn studied at the Minneapolis School of Art and the Art Students League. Like many artists in the 1930s and 1940s, Dehn was itinerant; a trip to Key West provided images for three lithographs of Florida. Essentially a social satirist with a deft, fluid style that exaggerated human shapes, Dehn reveals bent for caricature bent here in the small figures of women with exaggerated bosoms and derrières strutting on ultra-thin legs. He also conveys the lively, gregarious nature of African American community life, with many figures crowded on the lower porch and more on the upper porch, looking on among lines of drying laundry.
**Polly Knipp Hill (1900-1990)
June Flood in Arcadia, n.d.
Polly Knipp Hill and her husband met as students at Syracuse University and subsequently studied in Paris. In 1930, they moved to St. Petersburg, Florida, where some of her genre scenes were set. Hill is at her best creating a traditional, communal world showing a group of people, often women, interacting with some humorous effect. Here, she shows children taking advantage of a minor disaster in a flooded yard by using it a a lake or pond for various forms of sport and play. Bystanders look on and some neighborliness is displayed by a woman advancing on a primitive bridge formed by a strip of lumber to aid the woman of the house, who hovers in the doorway. The scene is set in Arcadia, Florida, not far from St. Petersburg, but there may be a touch of irony in the title as "Arcadia" also means a place of rustic contentment and simplicity.
*John McCrady (1911-1968)
Steamboat Round the Bend, 1945
The son of an Episcopal minister, McCrady moved with his family from one parish to another in Mississippi and Louisiana until they finally settled in Oxford, Mississippi. Steamboat Round the Bend is the title of a popular novel about life on the Mississippi River by Ben Lucien Burman, first published in 1933, and a movie in which Will Rogers starred several years later. The movie is notable for a steamboat race which McCrady is probably showing in the lithograph. Only three figures in the scene recognize the steam boats as they hail them from the buff. Other male figures are too preoccupied with a hedonistic life of sportive play to be concerned with what is happening in the river. With a high panoramic viewpoint that encompasses an the bend of land and river, the lithograph makes the two steamboats seem less significant than their emissions of black smoke, which wend upward and outward to threaten serene cloud cover
* Julius John Lankes (1884-1960)
(Swinging), 1915-28
This woodcut was used in Lankes's book Virginia Scenes, which he published in 1929 shortly after he settled in the Tidewater area of Virginia. The image of an adult woman swinging with obvious delight evokes the joys found in reverting occasionally to childhood play with the freedom of country life. Formally the branches of the tree limb echo the curve of the woman's outstretched body and lead through a line defining clouds in the sky to her swinging form and laundry on the line. The laundry blowing in the wind visually echoes the blowing of the woman's skirt, suggesting freedom and a degree of exhilaration Lanke's woodcut technique is somewhat crude to reflect the crude simplicity of country life.
** William Kay "Kent" Hagerman (1893-1978)
Florida Tusker, ca. 1945
Florida Tusker is the eighth in a series titled Florida sports etchings Hagerman made as Christmas presents for Florida Electric Supply company to be given to customers. A card that accompanied Florida Tusker noted that wild hogs were legal game in three areas of the state, and any hunter who could snag these "mean, cantankerous devils" could be "justifiably proud." Hagerman deeply etches the wild boar and the dogs in the foreground in a dramatic standoff. A diagonal form leads from the boar to the hunters in the background whose guns are also deeply etched, creating a dramatic moment before they pull the triggers. All other areas of the picture space are subservient to this tension laden standoff.
William Kay "Kent" Hagerman (1893­-1978)
Bowl Action-Florida, ca. 1958
Bowl Action-Florida is a scene taken from the 1946 Orange Bowl, a football game played each New Year's Day in Miami. It is the ninth in a series of Florida sports etchings, and Hagerman wrote on the card that accompanied the etching, "There have been many thrilling moments during these games, but one of the all-time tops was the interception of a Holy Cross pass by a Miami half-back who ran 89 yards for a touchdown, enabling Miami to defeat the Crusaders 13 to 6." He captures the halfback in his moment of triumph, standing with the ball in hand, his opponents on the ground.
** John McCrady (1911-1968)
Carnival in New Orleans, 1947
Lithograph, edition: 250
After studying in New York at the Art Students League, John McCrady returned to New Orleans in 1934, where he remained for the rest of his life. Around the time he made this lithograph, he was working on drawings for the book Mardi Gras Day on which he collaborated with Caroline Durieux (1896-1989) and Ralph Wickiser (1910-1998), although a drawing corresponding to this lithograph of Mardi Gras was not included. In his lithographs McCrady often represented people having fun in demonstrative group interaction, a tendency we see here in crowds gathered to greet a float that appears to the upper right with hooded flambeau or torch carriers alongside. Some figures look at and reach toward those on the float who respond with gestures of recognition. The three figures yoked together in the lower left, who appear to be yanked along by the one on the far left, offer McCrady a chance to indulge in a bit of satire. The satirical touch is particularly evident in the old, buxom woman, both masked and with a hat, running in an awkward, crouched manner to keep up with the two other figures, a reminder of the human folly that such an occasion engenders.
Howard Cook (1901-1980)
(Fiddlers Contest), 1935
On their 1934 trip through the South, Howard Cook and Barbara Latham stayed for seven weeks in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, where they lodged with Latham's sister and her husband. From that base they made short trips to points in western Alabama where they viewed the local population at work and play. This lithograph is based this on a colored drawing Cook did of a country fiddlers' contest in Brookwood, Alabama, according to his catalogue raisonné. Compared to the drawing, where the color in the clothing of the central figure stands out in blue against the browns of the other two figures and the background, the lithograph, in black and white, makes the three musicians appear remarkably in balance with one another, somber, and somewhat subdued, especially with their less than jovial facial expressions. Rhythm runs through white lines in the clothing on their legs and up through their arms to the string instruments they play, suggesting the rhythm of the music.
* Polly Knipp Hill (1900-1990)
Old Timey Mountain Music, n.d.
Hand-colored etching
Polly Knipp Hill and her husband had a summer home in Highlands, North Carolina, which apparently inspired her to portray a number of subjects connected to mountain life. Here, she captures a scene of homegrown country music with a group of various ages sitting in a circle in a living room responding to the sounds of a few musicians among them. The children add a touch of humor as they are obviously bored with the community music making of their elders. The subdued coloration emphasizes the rather tepid response to the communal activity as the elders too appear less than enthusiastic as if they whiling away the time to overcome boredom. Hill's slightly awkward etching line suggests the rawness and crudeness of the country setting.
Jackson Lee Nesbitt (b. 1913)
Calhoun Street, 1990
Lithograph, edition: 104/250
Jackson Lee Nesbitt studied at the Kansas City Art Institute with John DeMartelly and Thomas Hart Benton in the 1930s, but he gave up printmaking in the 1950s when realistic art went out of fashion. He moved to Atlanta in 1957 on a contract with Lockheed and then went into advertising sales. When interest in realistic artistic styles resumed, he took up lithography again and contracted with Rolling Stone Press of Atlanta, located on Calhoun Street, to print his work. One day, he spied the scene pictured here from a window. In the catalogue raisonné of his prints, Nesbitt commented, "The fellow with the bass violin and his stool add a whimsical touch but it's the cloud that makes this picture. I don't put any old cloud in there; I always try to make the cloud work for the picture." Alternating diagonal tones of black and white in the clouds and the transient nature of the subject, who lugs a heavy instrument with chair, suggest that achievement comes with the price of bearing some burden.
** Palmer Schoppe (1912-2001)
Grapevine Twist, 1935
Lithograph, edition: 16/25
Born in Utah, Palmer Schoppe moved with his family to Santa Monica, California, when he was eight years old, and it remained his home. After studying at the Art Students League, he decided to travel through the South on his way back to California, more because of the cold gloomy weather in the Northeast than out of a desire to depict the South. He traveled to Charleston and fell in love with the city. A woman he met there invited him to visit her cabbage farm on Wadmalaw Island, where Schoppe encountered a Gullah community that he sketched. Back in California, he made a portfolio of lithographs from these sketches. Grapevine Twist depicts a Gullah community dance with figures who are bony and muscular, vigorous and animated. Schoppe sometimes exaggerates their limbs and facial expressions to emphasize their physical and spiritual energy.
** Frank Besedick (1913-1987)
Eatonville on Sunday, ca. 1941
Etching, edition: 4/12
Frank Besedick was from Cincinnati, but from 1940 to 1941 he was a resident artist at the Maitland Art Center in Orlando, Florida. He visited Eatonville, Florida, the oldest African American community in the United States at that time, and made a number of etchings of the town and its inhabitants. Eatonville on Sunday is a churchyard scene that emphasizes the sociability that the church fosters rather than the parishioners' religious fervor. Various groups in conversation or other forms of social interaction can be seen in the foreground, with the church in the background.
** Frank Hartley Anderson (1890-1947)
Church Supper, ca. 1935
Wood engraving, edition: 49/60
Frank Hartley Anderson came to Birmingham to help plan the industrial suburb of Fairfield in 1909 and remained to work as a landscape architect. He married Martha Fort, and the two combined their artistic talents on many projects, particularly when the Depression hit and Anderson was out of work. Church Supper was one of a number of relief prints Anderson signed for which Martha created the design and he crafted the engraving. Viewing the church community around a white tabletop from above, the composition almost silhouettes the preacher, who spars in conversation with the woman next to him, both with the aid of eating utensils. Martha Anderson used an African American preacher she saw on a streetcar as her model for the figure. The wood engraving is Frank Anderson's best-known print, as it was used as the first presentation print for the Southern Printmakers Society, which he founded at the end of 1935.
** Carroll Cloar (1913-1993)
The Preacher, 1939
Carroll Cloar grew up on a farm in the community of Gibson Bayou in rural Arkansas. After graduating from Southwestern College (now Rhodes University) in Memphis, he entered the Art Students League, where he studied lithography. For subject matter, he sent home for family photographs and drew upon memories of his early experiences. The Preacher was modeled on Brother Ed, his community's visiting preacher, who, according to Cloar (in an interview he gave for an article in Life magazine in 1948), "declared a foot washing once a year, preached at camp meetings and brought sinners flocking to the altar with his pleading." The forthright stare and the dark shadows above the eyes of the central figure of the preacher suggest an undaunted, somewhat demonic spirit, and his hands clenched together evoke closure and control. Segments of the religious experience over which he predominates, his torso firmly and centrally planted in a triangular shape among them, appear in a montage-like composition.
* * Prentiss Taylor (1907-1991)
"__ In Whom I Am Well Pleased," 1940
Lithograph, edition: 35
Prentiss Taylor's interest in African American culture originated in his early experiences with his black nanny and her friends in Washington, D.C. Later in life, Taylor attended the MacDowell Art Colony in 1928 and again in 1932, where he developed a friendship with the author Josephine Pickney. He accepted her invitation to visit her hometown of Charleston, arriving in May 1933 and staying through August. Taylor made this lithograph of a Southern baptism well after his visit to Charleston, reconstructing the scene from thematic elements he observed in the South. The title is from Mark 1:11, in which a voice from heaven proclaims, "Thou art my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased," and a "Spirit like a dove" descended on Christ. In Taylor's composition, light streams from the upper right and a dove appears headed down toward the figure to be baptized, a sign of divine approval. The gestures of the figures in the foreground show communal support in the black church congregation.


* Maltby Sykes (1911-1992)
Samson, 1947
Lithograph, edition: 36
A Mississippi native who moved to Birmingham early in his life, Maltby Sykes established the printmaking program at Alabama Polytechnic Institute (now Auburn University), where he first took a position in 1941. He learned lithography from the master printer for artists in New York, George Miller, while studying with Wayman Adams in the mid-1930s. By the late 1940s Sykes began to veer from his earlier realistic style in some biblical themes, including this example. The masculine upper body that takes up most of the picture space is all muscle and hair as it stretches mightily to break a tree trunk with head turned sideways at such an extreme angle so it lies almost flat on the torso. The image suggests that Samson did not have much of a head on him or he might have avoided his problems with women detailed in the Biblical narrative.


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