THE PRESCOTT ART COMMUNITY IN THE 1930s (continued)
What must have been an exceptional experience at the club was an exhibit of watercolors by Frederick Sommer in early 1936, about a year after he arrived in Prescott. This must have been quite an experience for the Prescott group as his work fell into the abstract category while most of what they produced or would have been exposed to was realism. He extended an invitation to interested individuals to visit him in his home. Charles Tracy also gave a presentation at that same meeting.
Of great significance in expanding opportunities to learn art in the community were Claire Phillips’ classes in art taught at night school. Block prints from that class were exhibited at the Monday Club in December 1938 and Mrs. I. (Ellen) Eastvold gave a talk on block printing. Perhaps this class sparked the creation of some of the locally-made Christmas cards that are in Dooner’s collection, including one by Eastvold.
Other local artists represented in her collection for whome we have some information are Ada Rigden (4 cards), Margaret Hays (1 card), and Helon Hendrix (3 cards). As noted above Margaret Hays received training from her future mother-in-law Ada Ridgen and was later the mother of artist Cynthia Rigden. Helon Hendrix became Town librarian in the late 1940s and promoted art exhibits in the library.
Linoleum block printing was an easily accessible artform and when used to create greeting cards could be shared with a wide audience. Although specific information is absent, Mary-Russell Ferrell Colton organized two Christmas card exhibits at the Museum of Northern Arizona in 1930-1931. It is unclear if there were any displays like this in Prescott, before the one mentioned above in 1938, which might have sparked an interest in learning the technique.
Moving forward in time, the artistic community after World War II grew sufficiently that in 1949 a group of artists formed the Prescott Art League, later the Mountain Artists’ Guild. Familiar names of early members included Mabel Lawrence, Helon Hendrix, Claire Phillips, Ada Rigden, and Margaret Rigden. Phillips played an important role in leading sketching trips for the group.
It seems likely that it may not have been until this time that a true artistic community existed in the town, in other words, a group of people with artistic interests who interacted regularly.
Sources for this Section
Ensign, A. E.
1937 Art. Yavapai County, County Guide. Copy ?
Gilmore, Jann Haynes
2007 Greetings from Delaware and Other Artist Communities: The Jann Haynes Gilmore and B. Joyce Puckett Collection of Artist Greeting Cards. Biggs Museum of American Art, Dover, DE.
Yount, Florence et al.
1982 The History of the Mountain Artists’ Guild. Prescott.
Helon T. Hendrix, block print, Boy and Dog, n.d.
Detail from etching, Thumb Butte, 1954
CDP etched in copper.
Claire Dooner Phillips