Visual Arts

Entry Category: Visual Arts - Starting with M

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 …

Maxwell, Paul E.

Paul E. Maxwell was a modern artist and sculptor who developed a technique for using stencils to create thickly textured and layered surfaces, as well as objects he patented as “stencil casting” but that later became known as “Maxwell Pochoir.” He was also known for creating the “Max Wall” in the West Atrium of the Dallas Apparel Mart; though demolished in 2006, it can be seen as a backdrop in the science-fiction movie Logan’s Run. His work is highly abstract and often consists of some kind of grid—a form that is non-hierarchical and illustrates a major theme of his work. Paul Maxwell was born in Frost Prairie (Ashley County) on September 17, 1925, to the farm family of Willie F. …

McDonald, Thomas Newton (Tom)

Photographer Thomas Newton McDonald, a resident of Jonesboro (Craighead County), accumulated many honors in his lifetime, including the United Nations award for service to humanity, Gerard Bakker Award for teaching, and National Award for Service from both the Arkansas Professional Photographers and Southwestern Professional Photographers. His primary work focused on portrait photography, but he also took scenic and artistic photographs. In 1996, McDonald wrote The Business of Portrait Photography: A Professional’s Guide to Marketing and Managing a Successful Studio, with Profiles of 30 Top Portrait Photographers. The book, published by Amphoto Books of New York, was later published in a second edition and translated into Mandarin for publication in China. Born in Lake City (Craighead County) on July 2, 1933, …

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 …

Miller, Harry Lewis

Harry Lewis Miller was a photographer active in Arkansas at the turn of the twentieth century. His White River landscapes and scenes of daily life throughout the north-central region of the state form an important aesthetic and social history legacy. While some of Miller’s images were familiar, they were generally unattributed until staff at the Museum of Discovery in Little Rock (Pulaski County) and Old Independence Regional Museum in Batesville (Independence County) researched his work and mounted exhibits in 1998 and 2003, respectively. The oldest of nine children, Harry Miller was born on April 1, 1870, in Dodge County, Minnesota, to Anton and Mary (Lewis) Miller, who were farmers. By 1880, they had moved their growing family to North Dakota, …

Miller, Nick

The artistry of stone carver Nick Miller is found in cemeteries throughout northwest Arkansas. The tombstones he made—crisp and legible well over a century later—employ the mourning symbols of his time: clasping hands, weeping willows, lambs, doves. Yet Miller’s bas-relief motifs and deeply incised lettering exhibit a level of skill and detail not generally found among contemporary carvers. All that is known about Nick Miller’s origins is that he was born in Germany. He never married, had no relatives in America, and is listed on the 1880 census as an “old batch” at age thirty-six. In addition to his distinctive carvings, Miller’s tablet-style tombstones are recognizable by his “Nick Miller,” “N. Miller,” or “N. M.” signature at the base. He …

Monument to Confederate Women

With the rise of memorial groups in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, commemorating the sacrifice of those who fought in the Civil War became a major theme of popular remembrance. Recognizing women’s sacrifices during the war was a large part of this. On May 1, 1913, Little Rock (Pulaski County) became home to the South’s second monument to the women of the Confederacy (the first being erected in South Carolina the previous year). The monument is cast in bronze upon a marble, concrete, and granite base. It depicts a woman seated, a young boy to her right holding a military-style drum, and a young girl to her left, all bidding farewell to a standing husband and father departing …