“George Griffiths” Added to Mary E. Hutchinson Site

February 25, 2013 § Leave a comment

George Griffiths

I’ve recently added a portrait of “George Griffiths” to the Artworks of Mary E. Hutchinson, a digital archiving work-in-progress site.  Hutchinson painted a series of paintings in 1936-37 featuring Griffiths who was described in one news article as a young friend of the artist.  Most likely, Hutchinson encountered Griffiths at the Harlem Community Art Center while working for the New York Federal Art Project.

The location of the portrait is currently unknown, but Hutchinson retained a professionally produced portfolio photograph that documents the painting.

Griffiths is also the subject of “George Sleeping” which is currently featured at http://meh.omeka.net.


“George Sleeping” Featured on Mary E. Hutchinson Site

January 22, 2013 § Leave a comment

George SleepingCheck out Mary E. Hutchinson’s painting “George Sleeping” (ca. 1937) currently featured on my digital catalog site The Artworks of Mary E. Hutchinson at http://meh.omeka.net

Hutchinson painted several portraits of George Griffiths between 1934 and 1943.  Griffiths worked as a shoeshine boy and probably crossed paths with the white woman artist from Atlanta at the Harlem Community Art Center in New York.  Hutchinson, who was a supervisor of teachers for the New York Federal Art Project (one of many WPA art projects), worked out of the Art Center.

I am currently thinking through issues associated with trans-racial representation, particularly during the mid-twentieth century.  I would love to hear from others who are working on or have written about similar questions.

Mary E. Hutchinson’s “Hilda” Sold at Auction!

November 27, 2012 § 4 Comments


I just learned that Mary E. Hutchinson’s portrait of “Hilda” (ca. 1934) recently sold at Swann Auction Galleries!  For more details about the painting and its exhibition history, see my digital archiving “work in progress” site – Artworks of Mary E. Hutchinson – at http://meh.omeka.net.

Needless to say, I would love to hear from the lucky collector who managed to scoop it up!

Mary E. Hutchinson’s “Don Sheldon”

October 27, 2012 § 1 Comment

Don Sheldon Mary E. Hutchinson’s portrait of her friend “Don Sheldon” (1950) is currently featured on my digital catalogue site at http://meh.omeka.net.  Hutchinson and Sheldon became friends after she moved away from New York and back to her home town, Atlanta, in 1945.  I believe that Sheldon was a window dresser for Rich’s Department Store who later attempted a career as a stand-up comedian.

Hutchinson exhibited the painting in 1953 at a New York exhibition of Georgia artists sponsored by the National Association of Women Artists which she had been a member of since 1934.

However, she painted the work in 1950 – and it is one of the few paintings with direct documentation for exactly when she painted it.  A series of snapshot photos dated 1950 show Hutchinson working at her easel.

Don Sheldon 1

Don Sheldon 2

Don Sheldon 3

Mary E. Hutchinson’s “Greenhouse”

October 20, 2012 § Leave a comment

GreenhouseI’ve just added “Greenhouse” to my digital catalogue “work in progress” site Artworks of Mary E. Hutchinson.  It was one of a series of boat paintings Hutchinson produced in 1931-1932 in an attempt to break into New York’s speculative art market.  It worked with “Greenhouse” which sold to California collector Chauncey Goodrich on the first day of exhibition at an unknown New York gallery in 1932.  I have not been able to track down the current location of the painting.  For more information on “Greenhouse” and Hutchinson, check out http://meh.omeka.net.  See also, last week’s post on “Wanderer.”

I would love to hear from anyone who has information on Chauncey Goodrich and/or the location of this painting!

Wanderer Featured on Mary E. Hutchinson site

October 14, 2012 § 2 Comments

This painting with an unknown title that I informally call “Wanderer” (ca. 1931) is currently featured on Artworks of Mary E. Hutchinson, my digital catalogue “work in progress” at http://meh.omeka.net.title unknown [Wanderer]  It is one of a series of boat paintings she produced as landscapes in response to advice from New York galleries to make her work more commercially viable.  The Opportunity Gallery, which was associated with high profile artists including Walter Pach, John Sloan, Georgia O’Keeffe, Rockwell Kent, Robert Henri, and Charles Demuth who acted as exhibition “Czar”, specifically advised Hutchinson to paint landscapes to break into the speculative New York art market.  The strategy worked, and though she never exhibited at the Opportunity Gallery, she did begin to sell work and draw media attention at exhibitions such as the Washington Square sidewalk show.

Here’s an excerpt from a letter to her mother, Minnie Belle Hutchinson, describing her hikes to sketch and paint boats:

Circa November 24, 1931 – “I was over the river all day, painting.  I made my paint box as light as possible.  The children of the neighborhood just swarmed around me like bees…. I always enjoy the ferry ride over and back…. Two more days out, and more painting at home, and I hope to finish this one.  I have a smaller sketch ready for another painting.  It is of a single boat with barges on the side.”

Hutchinson in Feminist Studies

September 14, 2012 § 1 Comment

My first scholarly article on Mary E. Hutchinson is forthcoming in the journal Feminist Studies (summer 2012) which should be out any day now.  The essay is titled “Mary E. Hutchinson, Intelligibility, and the Historical Limits of Agency.”  The essay, which will include several color images of Hutchinson’s work, provides an introduction to the artist and her work particularly in light of the recent exhibition of Two of Them (ca. 1933) in Coming Home: American Paintings 1930-1950, From the Schoen Collection sponsored by the Georgia Museum of Art and the Mobile Museum of Art.

Dissertation Completed!

March 20, 2012 § Leave a comment

I successfully defended my dissertation titled “Mary E. Hutchinson: The Absence of an Oeuvre” yesterday!  For more about Hutchinson, see my digital catalog of her work at http://meh.omeka.net.

Mary E. Hutchinson’s “Young Girl in Blue”

March 9, 2012 § Leave a comment

The owner of Mary E. Hutchinson’s “Young Girl in Blue” contacted me over the weekend through this blog.  Hutchinson exhibited the painting as an emerging young artist in a 1933 group show at the Midtown Galleries.  It was her first work to really grab the attention of New York art critics.

Thanks to the current owner, we now also know that it is a portrait of a young Evelyn Manacher Draper (1911-1999).  She was an operatic soprano who pursued a teaching career (10 years at Julliard followed by 27 years teaching voice and related courses at Stanford University).  I have also learned that Draper wrote the libretto (or words) to a 1950s comic opera, “A Game of Chance.”

To see the painting visit my digital catalog of Hutchinson’s work at http://meh.omeka.net.

Text-Mining the “Needy Artist”

February 26, 2012 § 1 Comment

The phrase “needy artist” popped up in my research on Mary E. Hutchinson’s early career.  I first noticed it in historic (1932) New York Times articles reporting on new open-air art marts such as the Washington Square Sidewalk Show sponsored by an association of needy artists.  By text-mining the New York Times from 1910-1943 via ProQuest, I found that the “needy artist” spiked dramatically in 1932-1933 and then receded into the background of the New Deal art programs it helped to create.

Mary E. Hutchinson (1934)For Hutchinson, the figure of the “needy artist” opened up new forums such as the Washington Square Sidewalk Show and cooperative galleries run by artists themselves in a destabilized art market before FDR initiated the New Deal.

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