Flor­ida Women

D.wig­more’s lat­est ex­hi­bi­tion fo­cuses on 20th-cen­tury women in Flor­ida

American Fine Art Magazine - - Museum Preview: Doylestown, Pa - By Deedee Wig­more

D. Wig­more’s lat­est ex­hi­bi­tion fo­cuses on 20th-cen­tury women in Flor­ida

This ex­hi­bi­tion presents im­ages of Flor­ida by some of the women artists who vis­ited Flor­ida and recorded their im­pres­sions in the 20th cen­tury. The artists were at­tracted to Flor­ida’s pro­found beauty and idyl­lic weather.the gallery’s fo­cused ex­hi­bi­tion on women artists’ con­tri­bu­tions is just a taste of the larger ef­forts of cu­ra­tor Jen­nifer Hardin who is re­vis­it­ing and re­viv­ing 20th-cen­tury Flor­ida art in the up­com­ing ex­hi­bi­tion Imag­in­ing Flor­ida: His­tory and Myth in the Sun­shine State to be held at the Boca Ra­ton Mu­seum of Art, Novem­ber 13 to

March 24, 2019.

One of the artists in our ex­hi­bi­tion, Sally Michel (1902-2003), spent the win­ters of

1949 to ’50 and 1950 to ’51 in Flor­ida at the Re­search Stu­dio in Mait­land. Her hus­band, Mil­ton Avery, was re­cov­er­ing from a ma­jor heart at­tack and his physi­cian sug­gested that Mil­ton spend the win­ter in a warmer cli­mate. Michel ar­ranged for Avery to re­ceive a Bok Fel­low­ship at the Re­search Stu­dio, where he joined fel­low artists-in-res­i­dence Minna Citron (1896-1991), Doris Lee (1905-1983) and her hus­band,arnold Blanch (1896-1968). While Avery fo­cused on mono­prints, Michel painted scenes of the ex­otic flora and fauna she en­coun­tered in the Mait­land area.a charm­ing ex­am­ple is Cows in Marsh, circa 1951, where Michel has dot­ted the wa­ter­ways of the area’s lakes with fa­mil­iar Hol­steins.

Many artists from the Wood­stock, New York, art colony were in­flu­enced by the glow­ing de­scrip­tions of fel­low artists to visit Flor­ida. Zulma Steele (1881-1979) was the first woman artist to live at Byrd­cliffe, the arts and crafts colony lo­cated in Wood­stock. There she de­signed oak fur­ni­ture and painted land­scapes from 1903 to 1909 when the colony was most ac­tive, then con­tin­ued to teach art classes on the Byrd­cliffe cam­pus each sum­mer through the early ’20s.the three-

panel Flor­ida Land­scape with orig­i­nal artist made frame was ex­e­cuted in the 1920s and hung in Steele’s Wood­stock home.

Lee first went to Flor­ida in 1934 and re­turned ev­ery win­ter. Each year af­ter Thanks­giv­ing, Lee would leave Wood­stock and drive to Flor­ida with her hus­band, arnold Blanch, who taught art across Flor­ida while

Lee painted. Lee was a char­ter mem­ber of the Clear­wa­ter Art Club, formed in Fe­bru­ary of 1935. Com­mit­ted to the area, Lee re­ceived a solo ex­hi­bi­tion in 1951 at the Flor­ida Gulf Coast Art Cen­ter, formed in 1948 when the Clear­wa­ter Art Mu­seum, the Mu­seum Art School and other nearby art or­ga­ni­za­tions joined to­gether. while Lee re­mained con­nected to Clear­wa­ter, even­tu­ally re­tir­ing there in the 1960s, she and Blanch trav­eled through­out Flor­ida.the two ex­hib­ited in Wpa-spon­sored art ex­hi­bi­tions in Key West in the 1930s. the pro­grams was a suc­cess, and Key West be­came a draw for many artists by the 1940s. ac­cord­ing to Ten­nessee Wil­liams’ me­moir, Lee and Blanch were joined by Wil­liams, Grant Wood and Ya­suo Ku­niyoshi in the win­ter of 1941 to 1942. Our ex­hi­bi­tion of­fers sev­eral Key West scenes by Lee ex­e­cuted in gouache. He­li­copter over Key West, Seashell Ven­dors and Sou­venirs, Key West were all ex­hib­ited in Lee’s ex­hi­bi­tions at As­so­ci­ated Amer­i­can Artists in Newyork through the 1940s and 1950s. while in South Flor­ida, Lee of­ten vis­ited the Ever­glades and was in­ter­ested in the re­main­ing Semi­nole tribes that lived along its edge. Semi­nole artis­tic tra­di­tions of em­broi­der­ing bead­work and hand­wo­ven patch­work on cloth­ing are noted by Lee in her Semi­nole In­di­ans in the Ever­glades, a paint­ing of two Semi­nole women in tra­di­tional dress re­turn­ing from mar­ket in their ca­noe. a 1945 Life Mag­a­zine com­mis­sion led Lee to travel around the Gulf of Mex­ico by car to cre­ate im­ages of the area for an ar­ti­cle on the Panamer­i­can High­way, pub­lished in May of 1947. One of the paint­ings for that com­mis­sion ti­tled Sail­ing off the Gulf of Mex­ico is in our ex­hi­bi­tion. In the paint­ing Lee con­veys Flor­ida’s unique land shape as the only penin­sula and sub­trop­i­cal area in the con­ti­nen­tal United States.

Jane Peter­son (1876-1965) first vis­ited Flor­ida in 1918 when she or­ga­nized the Palm

Beach Coun­try Art Club, which later be­came the Palm Beach Art League. In 1925 then near­ing her 50th birth­day, Peter­son mar­ried a suc­cess­ful cor­po­rate lawyer, Bernard Philipp. Dur­ing this mar­riage Peter­son be­gan to paint flow­ers both as por­traits and still life com­po­si­tions. Philipp died in 1929 leav­ing Peter­son a rich woman. this al­lowed her to travel; spend­ing sum­mers in Europe or Ip­swich, Mas­sachusetts, spring in Newyork and win­ters on the Riviera or in Palm Beach.the paint­ing in our ex­hi­bi­tion Red Hi­bis­cus de­picts a flower com­monly seen in Flor­ida land­scapes.

Vir­ginia Ber­res­ford (1904-1995) first vis­ited Flor­ida in 1932 with her hus­band, Ben Thie­len. Her first win­ter in Flor­ida re­sulted in an oil paint­ing Tropic Is­land, 1934, which was in­cluded in Ber­res­ford’s 1936 solo ex­hi­bi­tion at New York’s Walker Art Gallery, as well as in our ex­hi­bi­tion. Ber­res­ford wrote in her jour­nal, “in Key West I got the idea of break­ing loose from my usual se­vere paint­ing style, partly Ozen­fant in­spired; I loos­ened up, went into wa­ter­color, used dar­ing free strokes and bright colors.” [Vir­ginia’s Jour­nal, an Au­to­bi­og­ra­phy of an Artist, p. 41]. Ber­res­ford’s first solo ex­hi­bi­tion of wa­ter­col­ors was held in Newyork at the Marie Sterner Gallery in 1938. Some of the other no­table Newyork gal­leries that ex­hib­ited Ber­res­ford’s art were Mor­timer Le­vitt, Bon­stell Gallery, Bod­ley Gallery and Jac­ques Selig­mann Gallery. Our ex­hi­bi­tion in­cludes nine of these Flor­ida wa­ter­col­ors. win­ters in Key West be­came a reg­u­lar thing. Ber­res­ford’s jour­nal records her bone fish­ing and sail­ing to Sand Key and driv­ing to Palm Beach for lunch at the Ever­glades Club. In 1943 Ber­res­ford’s hus­band Bernard Thie­len was com­mis­sioned a lieu­tenant com­man­der in the Navy and sta­tioned in Mi­ami. The cou­ple rented a house in Co­conut Grove, a roomy Span­ish-style house in trop­i­cal gar­den scenery .there

Ber­res­ford used her bed­room as a stu­dio and taught wa­ter­color tech­niques to sol­diers at Mi­ami Hos­pi­tal for the Red Cross. when the war ended in 1945,Thie­len was dis­missed from the Navy and the cou­ple re­turned to Key West for the win­ter of 1946. In 1948 Ber­res­ford ended her mar­riage to Thie­len and her time in Flor­ida.

Top left: Sally Michel (1902-2003), Cows in Marsh, ca. 1951. Oil on board, 14 x 18 in., signed lower right. Left: Vir­ginia Ber­res­ford (1904-1995), Morn­ing Glory and Lily Pads, 1943. Wa­ter­color on pa­per, 22 x 15 in., signed and dated lower right.

Sally Michel (1902-2003), White Palm, ca. 1951. Oil on board, 24 x 18 in., signed lower cen­ter.

Doris Lee (1905-1983), Seashell Ven­dor, Key West, 1941. Gouache on board, 15 x 20 in., signed lower right.

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