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Alexander, Larry Dell

Larry Dell Alexander is a visual artist, writer, and Bible teacher best known for his elaborate pen-and-ink drawings and crosshatching technique. He painted Clinton Family Portrait, an oil painting that he gave to President Bill Clinton in 1995. He has also written several Bible study commentary books on the New Testament. Larry D. Alexander was born on May 30, 1953, in Dermott (Chicot County), the second son of Robert and Janie Alexander. His father was a truck driver and his mother a hairdresser. He has eight siblings. Alexander began drawing at age four and never received any formal art training while growing up. After graduating from Dermott High School in May 1971, Alexander moved to Pine Bluff (Jefferson County), where …

Allen, Al

aka: Alvin Lee Allen Jr.
Alvin Lee (Al) Allen Jr. was a painter whose contributions to Arkansas culture were his artwork, his teaching, his development of the Department of Art at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock (UALR), and two autobiographical books. His mature work was of idealized man-made structures, often with windows, bathed in bright light. His style presents realistic subjects in a classical and abstract way. Al Allen was born on November 29, 1925, the only child of Carrie Allen and Alvin Lee Allen in Steele, Missouri. His father was an automobile dealer in nearby Caruthersville; his mother was a seamstress who later worked for Goldsmith’s department store in Memphis, Tennessee. The Missouri Bootheel landscape was an environment of vast space, emptiness, …

Altvater, Catherine Tharp

Catherine Tharp Altvater was a nationally known watercolorist whose works were shown in numerous museums, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Today, her paintings are found in many private collections and museums in the United States, Canada, Europe, and Japan. Catherine Tharp was born in Little Rock (Pulaski County) on July 26, 1907, to William J. Tharp and Catherine Collins Tharp. Her maternal grandparents were early settlers of Little Rock, and her paternal grandfather, originally from Tennessee, had a private academy in Little Rock with R. C. Hall. Altvater’s interest in art began at an early age and continued throughout her school years, when she spent many hours in art classes. At the age of eighteen, …

Anderson, Bruce Roy

Bruce Roy Anderson was a prominent Arkansas architect and watercolorist in the mid-twentieth century. Bruce Anderson was born on October 7, 1907, in Newport (Jackson County), the son of George Roy Anderson and Amelia Frei Anderson. He had an older brother, Maxwell, and sister, Bernice. Anderson attended Little Rock (Pulaski County) public schools and graduated from Castle Heights Military Academy in Tennessee. He received a bachelor’s degree in architecture from Auburn University in Alabama in 1929. In 1936, Anderson earned a Master of Architecture degree from the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Anderson married Helen Venus McClain on December 25, 1931. They had one son, Bruce R. Anderson Jr. Anderson began his architectural career in …

Anderson, Frederick Tanqueray

Frederick Tanqueray Anderson was an early twentieth-century Arkansas watercolorist. Categorized as a romantic American Landscape artist, Anderson is known for his steamboat and landscape paintings. Anderson’s paintings were inspired by his boyhood memories of traveling down the Mississippi River with his grandfather on steamboats to New Orleans, Louisiana. According to a Memphis Commercial Appeal article dated May 20, 1945, many regarded Anderson as the leading river scenes painter in America. Frederick T. Anderson was born on July 1, 1846, on his grandfather’s Arkansas River plantation near New Gascony (Jefferson County). His parents were Richard Cuthbert Anderson, who was a physician, and Hortense Barraque Anderson. Anderson had one older sister, Julia. His grandfather, Antoine Barraque, was one of Arkansas’s more prominent …

Audubon, John James

John James Audubon, a frontier naturalist and artist, is famous for illustrating and writing The Birds of America. He visited Arkansas Territory in 1820 and 1822 and documented Arkansas’s birds, including the Traill’s flycatcher, also known as the willow flycatcher, which is the only bird originally discovered in Arkansas. John Audubon was born Jean Rabin on April 26, 1785, in Saint-Domingue (Haiti). He was the illegitimate child of Jean Audubon, a ship’s captain, and Jeanne Rabin, a French chambermaid. His mother died in 1785 or 1786, and Jean Audubon and his children returned to France after a slave revolt. Along with his sister, he was adopted by his father and stepmother in 1794. Audubon stayed with his father and stepmother …

Benton, Thomas Hart

Thomas Hart Benton—painter, muralist, and writer from Missouri—developed, along with artists Grant Wood and John Steuart Curry, a style of painting in the 1920s that became known as regionalism. Benton was influenced early in his career by a sketching trip he took through northwest Arkansas in 1926. He returned to Arkansas to sketch and paint periodically, primarily in the Buffalo River area. Benton also enjoyed floating and fishing on the Buffalo River and opposed efforts to dam it during the 1960s. Tom Benton was born on April 15, 1889, in Neosho, Missouri. He was the oldest of four children born to Maecenus Eason (M. E.) and Elizabeth (Wise) Benton. M. E. was a lawyer and served as a congressman from …

Betts, Louis L.

Louis L. Betts was a painter active in the first half of the twentieth century in the United States, especially noted for his portraits. His handling of paint and the subjects he chose gave his work a grand and conservative quality, recalling Old Master paintings from the Baroque era as well as styles popular in late nineteenth-century European art centers. Louis Betts was born in Little Rock (Pulaski County) on October 5, 1873, the son of Edwin Daniel Betts Sr., a landscape painter and his son’s first teacher. Young Louis’s mother died soon after his birth, and his father married one of her sisters. They did not remain in Little Rock long, however, for Betts’s three younger siblings (who all …

Bittick, Helen Long

Helen Marie Long Bittick was an artist of the “primitive folk style,” meaning that she had no academic art training but developed her own unschooled, unique patterns of portraying her subjects. Helen Long was born on June 24, 1918, to Bette Ann Mangum and William Monroe Long on the Judge Level Farm between Washington (Hempstead County) and Hope (Hempstead County); she had three siblings. Her father ran a restaurant in Hope and farmed in McCaskill (Hempstead County). Long attended Brookwood School in Hope, the three-room schoolhouse in Friendship, and schools in McCaskill and Blevins (all in Hempstead County). She did not graduate from high school. She married Cloid Sykes Bittick on November 12, 1933, in Bingen (Hempstead County). They had …

Bond, Barbara Ann Higgins

aka: Barbara Higgins Bond
Barbara Ann Higgins Bond—whose professional name is Higgins Bond—is a nationally recognized illustrator and commercial artist whose most important works have concerned the history and struggles of African Americans. A pioneer freelance artist since the early 1970s, she has designed and illustrated cultural heritage stamps published by the U.S. Postal Service and the United Nations. Her art has been exhibited by the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the DuSable Museum of African American History, and she is a member of the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame. Barbara Ann Higgins was born in Little Rock (Pulaski County) on December 14, 1951, the daughter of Henry Drew Higgins and Edna Washington Higgins. She grew up in Little Rock in a home on …

Brewer, Adrian Louis

Adrian Louis Brewer, a native of Minnesota, is known in Arkansas primarily for his portraits of prominent citizens, but his artistic genius lay in pastoral landscape paintings of the Southwest and rural scenes of Arkansas, his adopted state. Brewer’s work was influenced by the American Impressionists and reflected the restlessness of modern artists. David Durst, a professor of art at the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County), credited him with contributing to the “healthy stature” of art and art activities in Arkansas and keeping “the spark of aesthetic sensibility alive during the difficult years of cultural neglect.” Adrian Brewer, born on October 2, 1891, in St. Paul, Minnesota, was one of six sons of artist Nicholas Richard (N. R.) …

Brewer, Edwin Cook

Edwin Cook Brewer was a founding member of the Arkansas-based Mid-Southern Watercolorists in 1970 and helped his father, artist Adrian Brewer, organize the Arkansas Art League in the early 1950s. Edwin Brewer and his twin brother, Adrian, were born on January 9, 1927, in Little Rock (Pulaski County) to Adrian Brewer and Edwina Cook Brewer. The twins had one sister. Brewer received his early art instruction in the studios of his father and his grandfather, Nicholas Richard Brewer, both renowned artists. His grandfather was known as a portrait painter and was represented in multiple exhibitions of the National Academy of Design in New York City beginning in 1885. Brewer attended Little Rock public schools and Wentworth Military Academy in Lexington, …

Brown, Benjamin Chambers

Benjamin Chambers Brown was among the first Arkansas artists to attain national and international recognition as a painter, lithographer, and etcher. He is best known for his plein-air impressionist landscapes of California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains and expanses of brilliantly colored poppy fields. His works are in major museums in the United States and Europe, including the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington DC and the British Museum in London, England. Benjamin Brown was born in Marion (Crittenden County) on July 14, 1865, one of five children born to Judge Benjamin Chambers Brown and Mary Booker Brown. He spent much of his boyhood in Little Rock (Pulaski County). Brown’s parents wanted him to become an attorney, but he wanted to be …

Byrd, Henry

Henry Byrd was one of Arkansas’s most prolific antebellum portrait painters. His portraits present Arkansas’s merchants, planters, and professional gentlemen, along with their wives and children, as they wished posterity to see them. Henry Byrd was born in Ireland in 1805, one of seven children born to William Byrd and Anne Garrett of Belmount Hall, County Tiperary. He immigrated to America and was naturalized through the port of New York City in November 1835. He established himself as a painter and resided at 164 Delancy Street in New York City. During his years in New York, Byrd married Sarah J. Updike, and they had two children while still in New York. Sometime during the late 1830s, the family migrated south, …

Cloar, Carroll James

Carroll James Cloar was a painter who earned national acclaim as a realist and surrealist. The majority of his works had conceptual ideas based on his memories from his childhood in east Arkansas. His paintings are characterized by flattened figures in landscapes formed of decorative patterning. One of his paintings was chosen to be among six paintings by American artists commemorating President Bill Clinton’s inauguration in 1993. Carroll Cloar was born on January 18, 1913, on a farm approximately ten miles north of Earle (Crittenden County). The son of Charles Wesley Cloar and Julia Eva Cloar, he had three brothers and one sister. He spent his childhood on his parents’ cotton farm. At the age of seventeen, Cloar moved to …

Cole, Kevin Earlee

Kevin Earlee Cole, a Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) native, is one of the most renowned mid-career artists in Atlanta, Georgia; his works are widely collected, with Bill Cosby and Michael Jordan being notable collectors. Cole’s combinations of pastels mixed with primary, vibrant acrylics applied to twisting and curling canvases are a divergence in contemporary visual arts. His well-known “necktie” pieces are thematically linked to the history of African Americans in Pine Bluff, Tarry (Lincoln County), and Star City (Lincoln County)—areas that saw much racial violence during the early and middle 1900s. In 2018, he was inducted into the Arkansas Black Hall of Fame. Kevin Cole was born on January 19, 1960, to Jessie Mae (McGlounce), a cafeteria manager for Pine …

Curtis, Dorris Lafferty

Dorris Lafferty Curtis was a nationally recognized folk art painter, author, and songwriter. Compared to folk art painter Grandma Moses (who started painting at age seventy-five) by herself and others, Curtis began painting at age sixty-five just before she retired from teaching. She produced hundreds of paintings, many of which are on display at the Torreyson Library at the University of Central Arkansas (UCA) in Conway (Faulkner County). Dorris Lafferty was born on March 4, 1908, in Rogers County, Oklahoma, near Foyil, to Roy Lafferty, a farmer, and Nan Lafferty. She was the third of four children. She grew up on the family farm, and much of her folk art is based on memories of her early years. Her mother …

Dombek, George David

The visual artist George Dombek is a nationally recognized master of watercolor. His work has been acquired by major museums and corporate collections, including two paintings and a sculpture in the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville (Benton County). George Dombek was born on June 18, 1944, in Paris (Logan County), an economically depressed mining town of about 3,000 at the time. He always had an extremely strained relationship with his father, Stanley Dombek, a coal miner who lost his job when Dombek was in high school and eventually died of black-lung disease. Any encouragement he received came from his mother, Lillian Shirley Dombek, who supported the family of six after her husband became unable to work by …

Donaldson, Jeffrey Richardson (Jeff)

Jeffrey Richardson Donaldson was an important and influential African-American artist and art educator during the second half of the twentieth century. Working within the context of the Black Arts Movement of the 1960s and beyond, Donaldson pioneered a distinctively Afrocentric—or, using the term he coined, “TransAfrican”—aesthetic that championed the societal contributions of African Americans and, as an artistic counterpart to the Black Power Movement, challenged white hegemony. Jeff Donaldson was born in Pine Bluff (Jefferson County) on December 15, 1932, the youngest of four siblings. His parents were Sidney Frank Donaldson Sr. and Clementine Frances Richardson Donaldson. Donaldson’s father, a laborer and World War I veteran, died early in Donaldson’s youth. His widowed mother supported the family by working first as a …

Freund, Elsie Mari Bates

Elsie Mari Bates Freund was a studio art jeweler, watercolorist, and textile artist. In 1941, she and her husband, Louis Freund, established an art school in Eureka Springs (Carroll County) and were major players in preserving and making that town a haven for writers and artists. Elsie Bates was born on January 12, 1912, on a 1,500-acre game preserve in Taney County, Missouri, near the small community of Mincy. She had two sisters. Her father, Ralph C. Bates, who was the superintendent of the game preserve, was of Irish and Cherokee descent. Bates was proud of her Cherokee heritage and claimed that Indian lore kept her close to nature. Bates proclaimed she wanted to be an artist at age five. …

Freund, Harry Louis

Harry Louis Freund was a muralist who became famous for his depictions of life in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas during the 1930s. His artwork is identified with the American scene painters and muralists, such as John Stuart Curry, Grant Wood, and Thomas Hart Benton. He was instrumental in establishing art departments at two Arkansas institutions, Hendrix College and Little Rock Junior College (now University of Arkansas at Little Rock), as well as Stetson University in De Land, Florida. He and his wife, Elsie Bates Freund, founded the Summer Art School in Eureka Springs (Carroll County) and helped shape that resort town as a year-round community for artists and writers. Louis Freund was born on September 16, 1905, in Clinton, …

Gant, Glenn Rowlett

Glenn Gant was an important figure in the art history of Eureka Springs (Carroll County). He is best remembered for his paintings and pen-and-ink drawings that captured the unique essence of the architecture and culture of Eureka Springs during the last half of the twentieth century. Glenn Rowlett Gant was born in Kansas City, Missouri, on September 25, 1911, the son of Joseph Rowlett Gant and Phillippa Gant. His parents divorced shortly after his birth. Phillippa, a musician, relocated alone to Chicago, Illinois, while Joseph, a bank president, remained in Kansas City and married Mildred Stites. They had two more children: Elizabeth Lee and John (Jack) E. Gant. After his father’s death in 1925, Glenn lived with his aunt, Emma …

Graham, Josephine Hutson

Josephine Hutson Graham was a prolific artist, educator, author, and folklorist of Arkansas’s White River culture and cuisine. She won many local, regional, and national art awards and held more than twenty one-woman shows throughout the South and Southwest, as well as shows in New York, Washington DC, and Dallas, Texas. Josephine Hutson was born in Newport (Jackson County) on April 12, 1915, to Thomas Hutson (a cotton broker) and Mary Bailey Hutson; she had one younger brother. After high school graduation in Newport, Graham attended the University of Texas for three years before transferring to the University of Arkansas (UA) in Fayetteville (Washington County). She earned a bachelor’s degree in English. She married Thomas Nathan Graham, a farmer and …

Hancock, James Carl

James Carl Hancock was a twentieth-century American etcher, designer, painter, and commercial artist active in Arkansas and Louisiana. His art depicted many landscapes and historic buildings in and around Little Rock (Pulaski County). The Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington DC holds Hancock’s engraving St. Andrew’s Cathedral, Little Rock, Arkansas, a mezzotint on paper produced around 1935. Carl Hancock was born on May 10, 1898, in Springville, Tennessee, the oldest of ten children of Ernest Maralle (Ernie) and Myrtle Blanche Nash Hancock. The family moved to Arkansas in 1901, first settling in Stuttgart (Arkansas County) and later moving to Brinkley (Monroe County), where Hancock completed school through the seventh grade. He moved to the Little Rock area in 1917 and …

Hatfield, Lester Gene

Lester Gene Hatfield was an artist and teacher closely associated with the University of Central Arkansas (UCA) and Conway (Faulkner County). He made paintings in watercolor, oil, acrylic, and sculpture. His best-known work was the transformation of the yard of his Conway home into an art environment, the result of more than forty years of working with junk and recycled objects. His sculpture combined aesthetic values from art movements such as surrealism with qualities of folk art, while his paintings and watercolors were done in the tradition of late-nineteenth-century artists such as Paul Cézanne. His long tenure as an art teacher at UCA was an important contribution to Arkansas’s art culture. Gene Hatfield was born on November 23, 1925, in …

Heerwagen, Paul Martin

Paul Martin Heerwagen was an interior decorator who worked out of his Arkansas studios from 1891 to 1931. His work includes hotels, office and government buildings, churches, Masonic temples, and theaters throughout the South and Southwest. Some of his noteworthy projects include the Donaghey and Lafayette buildings and the Arkansas State Capitol in Little Rock (Pulaski County); the Peabody Hotel in Memphis, Tennessee; and the Strand Theatre in Shreveport, Louisiana. Fred Goza, an art critic for the Shreveport Times, was amazed at Heerwagen’s work when he toured the restored Strand in 1984; he wrote, “I was amazed that an American firm was responsible [for the interior decoration] because so much of the plaster work is so ornate that you feel …

Henry, Natalie Smith

An artist of national significance, Natalie Smith Henry made her reputation as an easel painter and muralist during the Depression era. At the height of her career in 1939, the U.S. Treasury Department commissioned her to paint a mural for the Springdale (Washington County) post office. In later years, Henry combined her interest in art with her business acumen, managing the Art Institute of Chicago School Store for twenty-three years. Natalie Henry was born on January 4, 1907, in Malvern (Hot Spring County). She was the eldest of five children born to Samuel Ewell Henry, circuit clerk and Hot Spring County judge, and homemaker Natalie Smith. After his wife died, Samuel Henry married Minerva Ann Harrison. They had two children. …

Hinton, Thomas Melvin

Thomas Melvin Hinton was a classically trained artist who produced many realistic and impressionistic oil paintings, watercolors, and drawings. His paintings won many awards in Arkansas and nationally and are on permanent exhibit at museums and other public and private venues. Thomas Hinton was born on October 4, 1906, to a prominent Texarkana (Miller County) couple, Thomas Jonathan Hinton, who was a plantation owner and businessman, and Mina Kinser Hinton. He had two sisters. As a toddler, he was stricken with polio and became crippled in one leg, though his father made sure that his son learned to ride horses and manage the plantation. Commuting from the city to the farm on Red River became increasingly difficult, so Hinton’s mother’s …

Holt, Maud Spiller

Maud Spiller Holt was an avid traveler and painter who painted in every American state and throughout much of Europe. The Works Progress Administration (WPA) guide to 1930s Arkansas cited Holt as one of the state’s most accomplished women artists. Today, her paintings are on display at the Arkansas State Capitol, Historic Arkansas Museum, and in various other public and private collections. Maud Spiller was born in Carbondale, Illinois, on November 1, 1866, the daughter of James W. Spiller and Sarah Patrick Spiller. On December 22, 1886, Spiller married Winfield Scott Holt at Albion, Illinois, and moved to Little Rock (Pulaski County). Winfield Holt became one of the most progressive businessmen of Little Rock and served many years as postmaster under …

Howard, John Miller

John Miller Howard was an African-American artist and arts educator who founded the Art Department and taught at Arkansas AM&N—now the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB)—from 1939 until his death in 1980. At AM&N, he worked to provide a top-quality arts education to his students, many of whom came from rural backgrounds and lacked exposure to art. Howard was recognized as a gifted painter and teacher. His life and work form an important chapter in the history of art in Arkansas. John Miller Howard was born in Alcorn, Mississippi, on September 22, 1908, to Lillie Howard, a young single mother who nurtured his early talent for drawing. He grew up in Brookhaven, Mississippi, attending segregated schools. He graduated …

Kendrick, Eddie Lee

Eddie Lee Kendrick was a self-taught artist who was inspired by the Arkansas landscape, his dreams, gospel music, and his Christian faith. Though Kendrick had drawn and painted all his life, his art was not well known until 1993, when three works were included in Passionate Visions of the American South: Self-Taught Artists from 1940 to the Present, an exhibition organized by the New Orleans Museum of Art and curated by Alice Rae Yelen. Eddie Kendrick was born on September 20, 1928, on a farm near Stephens (Ouachita County), and he lived in Arkansas most of his life. He was the first of fifteen children born to farmers John Henry and Rutha Mae Kendrick. Kendrick helped in the annual slaughter …

Linton, Henri

Henri Linton has been recognized as one of the most talented artists working in the state of Arkansas. He has also served as chair of the art department at the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff (UAPB). Henri Linton was born in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, in 1944. After discovering his artistic talents early, he soon began painting and visiting museums. To buy art supplies, he took on odd jobs such as painting signs and shining shoes. After entering a national art contest as a teenager, he won a four-year scholarship to the Columbus College of Art and Design in Ohio. Linton earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Boston University and a master’s degree in art from the University of Cincinnati …

Lockhart, James Leland

James Leland Lockhart was one of America’s foremost nature and wildlife artists and a notable illustrator during the second half of the twentieth century. His paintings are in many museums, including the Smithsonian Institution, and his commercial works were printed in leading national publications for clients such as Wrigley, Coca-Cola, and General Electric. James Lockhart was born on September 26, 1912, in Sedalia, Missouri, to Leland Lockhart and Nell Cockrill Lockhart. The family returned to its home in McGehee (Desha County), where Leland Lockhart worked as a Missouri Pacific Railroad engineer. James Lockhart’s parents divorced in 1920, and his mother moved to Little Rock (Pulaski County), while James remained in McGehee with his father. An only child in the backcountry …

Mapes, Doris Genevieve Williamson

Doris Genevieve Williamson Mapes became one of Arkansas’s leading mid-twentieth-century artists. Adept in a variety of paint media, she was best known as a watercolorist who used bold, bright colors with strong patterns and abstract designs. Mapes’s style was described as imaginative realism. Memphis’s Commercial Appeal art critic Guy Northrop wrote that Mapes had a loose and airy flair. “There is a freshness to her world,” Northrop said, “and an expression of joy.” Doris Williamson was born on June 25, 1920, in Russellville (Pope County), the only child of Floyd Henry Williamson, who was a farmer, and Ruby Harvill Williamson. Her interest in art began at an early age with her father’s regular purchase of the Denver Post at the local …

McMath, Betty Dortch Russell

aka: Betty Dortch Russell
aka: Betty Russell
Betty Dortch Russell McMath became Arkansas’s most prominent portrait artist during the second half of the twentieth century. Her commissions included governors, judges, literary figures, and numerous business, civic, and social leaders. Beyond portraiture, her paintings seized the everyday moments of small-town life in Arkansas and chronicled its plantation culture. She produced portraits of five Arkansas governors, including Sid McMath, who was her second husband. Betty Ruth Dortch was born on July 14, 1920, in Little Rock (Pulaski County), the daughter of Steele Dortch and Mabel Wittenberg Dortch. She had one sister, Judith. The family lived on 1,200 acres near Scott (Pulaski and Lonoke counties) in a home her father built. The house was situated on Bearskin Lake about one …

Mickel, Lillian Estes Eichenberger

Lillian Estes Eichenberger Mickel pioneered women’s roles in multiple fields. She served as a professional photographer, founded a nursing home, established a unique facility for handicapped children, was an accomplished portrait painter, and served as Johnson County’s historian. Lillian Eichenberger was born in Clarksville (Johnson County) on June 14, 1909, to Lafayette Eichenberger and Martha Louisa Black Eichenberger. She had seven siblings. Her father, a house painter, died in 1912. Her mother was an extremely talented seamstress. At the age of twelve, Eichenberger went to work in M. E. Anderson’s photography studio in order to give financial help to her widowed mother. She learned the photography business, becoming the first woman photographer in the state to make and distribute colored …

Post Office Art

Arkansas has nineteen Depression-era works of art created for U.S. post office buildings. Two are sculpture bas-reliefs, and seventeen are paintings. In addition, another painting was destroyed in a post office fire, and one was never installed and was lost during World War II. The art was part of President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal and was created to reflect life in the United States at the time and to honor hard work. During a time of national economic crisis and with the specter of World War II on the horizon, images of strong workers, productive farmers, and determined pioneers were intended by Roosevelt to reassure and motivate Americans. The goal was to remind Americans of their history at a time …

Ragon, Imogene McConnell

Imogene McConnell Ragon was a well-known twentieth-century Arkansas educator and plein air (outdoor) artist. Her paintings have been exhibited throughout Arkansas and nationally. Today, she is best remembered for her watercolors of native wildflowers and landscapes, and her architectural renderings of historic buildings all around Arkansas and the Ozark Mountains. The dogwood and the magnolia are among her most popular subjects. Imogene McConnell was born on May 21, 1887, in Clarksville (Johnson County) into the pioneer family of Edward Taylor McConnell and Alice Adele Porter McConnell. She was the third of four children. In 1894, when she was six years old, her father was appointed superintendent of the Arkansas prison by Governor William Meade Fishback. The family moved to Little …

Rice, Jenny Eakin Delony

aka: Jenny Delony
aka: Jenny Meyrowitz
Jenny Eakin Delony Rice was the first woman artist from Arkansas to rise to national and international prominence as a painter and the founder of collegiate art education in Arkansas. Though Delony specialized in portraiture, her subject matter included miniatures, landscape, wildlife, still life, and genre (scenes of everyday life). Jenny Delony was born in Washington (Hempstead County) on May 13, 1866, to Alchyny Turner Delony, a capitalist, lawyer, and educator, and Elizabeth Lawson Pearson Delony, a teacher. She had four siblings. The Delony family lived in Washington until 1885, when they moved to Nashville (Howard County). In 1890, the Delonys moved to Little Rock (Pulaski County). After finishing elementary schooling in Washington, Delony attended Wesleyan Female Institute (Stuart Hall) …

Robertson, Thomas Arthur

Thomas Arthur Robertson is a painter known for portraits, abstract paintings, and screen prints whose works are included in numerous public and private collections. Three of his pieces—the watercolor Anthurium and the serigraphs The Orange Point and Flight—are in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian American Art Museum in Washington DC. Thomas Arthur Robertson was born in Little Rock (Pulaski County) on July 19, 1911. Robertson’s father, Thomas N. Robertson, was an attorney and secretary of the Arkansas Law School. Following graduation from Little Rock High School, young Robertson enrolled in the law school and began studying contract and real estate law. Soon, however, with his father’s blessing, Robertson decided against legal study in favor of a career in art. …

Scott, James Powell

James Powell Scott was a prominent mid-twentieth-century American artist and art educator. He began studying, producing, and teaching art in Arkansas. Now best remembered for his lithographs, watercolors, and oil paintings on canvas, Scott has works in the collections of major regional and national art museums, including the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC. James Powell Scott, the second of three sons, was born to Wellington Friend Scott and Sarah Powell Scott on April 22, 1909, in Lexington, Kentucky. He attended public schools in Kentucky and in Arkansas after his family moved to Little Rock (Pulaski County). In 1928, Scott graduated from Little Rock High School. Scott studied art fundamentals with Adrian Brewer, a popular Little Rock artist and …

Sentinel of Freedom

The most famous painting by Arkansas artist Adrian Louis Brewer (1891–1956), the 1941 “Sentinel of Freedom” has been reproduced millions of times and has received wide distribution in America and abroad. Several million reproductions of the painting were distributed to schools, churches, and individuals during World War II, and the painting has become a staple of modern culture. The painting was commissioned by Little Rock (Pulaski County) insurance executive Clyde E. Lowry. Lowry was acquainted with Brewer’s work as a combat artist who painted wartime posters and more during World War I. Lowry wanted a painting depicting “the beauty of the flag when the wind had died down and the gentle folds took their natural place.” At the time, Brewer was …

Simon, Howard Jacob

During the 1920s and 1930s, Howard Jacob Simon was a nationally celebrated painter in oils and watercolors and an illustrator in sketches and woodcut prints. In Arkansas, he was best known for his drawings and woodcuts that illustrated Charlie May Simon’s books and the book Back Yonder, An Ozark Chronicle by Wayman Hogue, Charlie May Simon’s father. Howard Simon was born on July 22, 1902, in New York City to Samuel Simon, a salesman of general merchandise, and Bertha Simon. He had one brother. Before he was fifteen, Simon knew that he wanted to be an artist. He went daily to the National Academy of Design. He then spent two years at the New York Academy of Arts and drawing …

Smith, Effie Anderson

Effie Anderson Smith was an Arkansas-born landscape painter and pioneer settler of Arizona. She began painting in southwestern Arkansas, in the style of the Hudson River School. Her mature style, exemplified by her Grand Canyon paintings, emerged after studies with California Impressionists. Born near Nashville (Howard County), on September 29, 1869, Effie Anderson grew up in Hope (Hempstead County). Her mother, Martha Adelia Coulter Anderson, came from a family of planters near Lockesburg (Sevier County). Her father, Major Adolphus Anderson, whose family members were planters in South Carolina, came to southwestern Arkansas in the 1850s as a surveyor and civil engineer. Her parents married in March 1861, before her father joined ten of his brothers in the South Carolina forces …

Spruce, Everett Franklin

Everett Franklin Spruce was an artist and teacher who grew up in Arkansas and worked in the state periodically in the 1920s and 1930s. Spruce is considered the most prominent painter to emerge from a group of Texas regionalists in the 1930s. He was highly influenced by his boyhood in the Ozarks, and his paintings always reflected his love of the land and of nature. Everett Spruce was born in Holland (Faulkner County), near Conway (Faulkner County), on December 25, 1907 (some references list 1908). He was the first of six children born to William Everett Spruce and Fanny May (McCarty) Spruce. His father, who was of Irish descent, was a farmer. In 1911, the Spruce family moved to Adams …

Stern, Howard Seymour

Howard Seymour Stern was a physician, a noted photographer, and an award-winning painter. Although he had no professional training in art, his paintings and photographs continue to be displayed in various collections in Arkansas and around the world. Howard Stern was born on June 14, 1910, in Charlotte, North Carolina, the eldest of four children born to Eugene John Stern and Frances Burger Stern. His father was an architect, half the partnership of Mann and Stern, which designed Little Rock Central High School, the Albert Pike Hotel, the Arkansas Consistory, the Arlington Hotel, and the Fordyce Bath House. The family moved to Little Rock (Pulaski County) in 1913 so Stern’s father could work with George R. Mann on designing the …

Struggle in the South [Mural]

The Struggle in the South is a 44′ x 9′ mural by Joe Jones that includes dramatic scenes of striking miners and a lynching attempt. Completed in 1935, this painting is an example of Jones’s protest art during the years of the Great Depression. Joseph John (Joe) Jones was eulogized upon his death in 1963 as a corporate artist, with commissions from Fortune magazine and Standard Oil; this characterization overshadowed any mention of his beginnings as a Communist house painter. At the beginning of his career and during the height of the Great Depression, however, Jones was known as one of America’s notable social protest artists. Jones came from a working-class family. His immigrant Welsh father, Frank J. Jones, and …

Sugimoto, Henry Yuzuru

Henry Yuzuru Sugimoto was a noted artist whose paintings chronicled the immigrant experience, including the time he and his family spent in internment camps in southern Arkansas during World War II. Henry Sugimoto was born as Yuzuru Sugimoto on March 12, 1900, in Wakayama Prefecture, Japan. When he was a baby, his father moved to California to seek employment. Nine years later, his mother joined his father in California, leaving Sugimoto and a younger brother in the care of her parents. Sugimoto’s maternal grandfather had been a samurai and still owned many artworks, which Sugimoto copied with his grandfather’s encouragement. In 1919, Sugimoto’s parents finally could afford to bring him to America. He joined his parents in Hanford, California, and …

Swedlun, Frederick Ernest

aka: Ernest Fredericks
Frederick Ernest Swedlun, best known pseudonymously as Ernest Fredericks, was a prolific early twentieth-century artist active in Arkansas and Illinois and throughout the Ozarks region. His colorful woodland landscape paintings captured the rustic beauty of the area during every season of the year. One example, Autumn in the Ozarks, painted of a scene near Rogers (Benton County), was exhibited at the Chicago Art Institute in June 1940. Frederick Swedlun was born of Swedish parents, Olof Swedlun and Christine M. Sandahl, on a farm near McPherson, Kansas, on February 8, 1877. According to Swedlun’s autobiographical sketch, the farm life was not appealing to him. He moved to Chicago, Illinois, and began study at the Chicago Academy of Fine Arts. It was there …

Swedlun, Glenn C.

Glenn C. Swedlun was a popular twentieth-century regional artist active in Arkansas and Illinois. For almost forty years, Swedlun lived and worked in Eureka Springs (Carroll County). Glenn Swedlun was born in Illinois (either Cairo or Elgin, depending upon the source) on May 11, 1902, the first child of Frederick Ernest Swedlun and Cordella Florence Cayle Swedlun. He had one sister. Swedlun grew up in the Chicago area, where he completed one year of high school. For five years while a young man, Swedlun played professional baseball. At age twenty-seven, he gave up baseball to become an artist like his father. His father, a well-known Illinois landscape painter who worked under the pseudonym Ernest Fredericks, taught Swedlun the fundamentals of …