THE PRESCOTT ART COMMUNITY IN THE 1930s
In 1937, an Arizona Writers' Project writer spoke semi-seriously of Prescott's "little colony of artists," naming only a few people. It is useful to consider the artists known to have lived in the town in the 1930s and to what extent they were part of a community.
Of course, Kate Cory was the senior artist having come to town as an experienced artist in 1912. The the 1930s she was active in painting the Boulder Dam area for the Bureau of Reclamation, advising on the design and decoration of the Smoki Museum, and even illustrating pottery designs for an archaeological report.
Mabel Lawrence moved to Prescott when she was four, received training in California, and then spent the rest of her life back in Prescott.
Ada E. Rigden showed artistic talent when she attended college in Michigan and came to Arizona when she was 19 and was able to continue her artistic training while raising a family. As noted above, Claire Dooner came to Prescott in the early 1920s and worked with both Lawrence and Rigden.
Emma Andres, a nationally renowned quilter, was also an active self-taught painter who sold art out of her father's cigar store on Cortez Street.
Just down the street from Andres, self-trained landscape painter Ethel M. (Pokey) Young had a studio until she died in 1934. Except for the drawings of pottery designs done for a local archaeologist and a newspaper article by Sharlot M. Hall praising her landscapes, little is known about her art.
Perhaps Arizona's most famous artist, Frederick Sommer, moved to Prescott in 1935, with a specialty in watercolor, but he soon expanded his artistic expression to photography, collage, and other areas. Over the years Sommer attracted prominent artists to visit Prescott, including Edward Weston, Max Ernst, and Aaron Siskind, but his largest impact in the area were his years teaching a Prescott College (1966-1971).
Charles Garfield Tracy is a little known artist, actor, and poet who was in Prescott in the late 1930s as was Rose Jones who specialized in magazine illustration, but also painted.
This is a small group, and except for Lawrence and Rigden they arrived in the area as mature artists. What kind of interaction did these artists have and what efforts were made to expand the size of the artistic community? The Monday Club, Arizona's oldest women's club, had an active education program that included art (it was one of only three organizations in Arizona that was a member of The American Federation of Arts). Claire Phillips was a member as sometimes was Mabel Lawrence. In 1927, Claire had a joint exhibition with Kate Cory (who in the 1930s was an honorary club member). In 1935, she had a number of paintings of local scenes on display at one of the club programs and in 1938 had etchings, block prints, and paintings on display. This is the earliest mention of her making etchings.
Kate Cory, oil,
Mirror Lake, Yosemite, n.d.
Emma Andres, watercolor, Thumb Butte, n.d.
Claire Dooner Phillips