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.

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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.

Recently Located – Hutchinson Paintings

February 3, 2012 § Leave a comment

This past week the owner of two portraits of Joanna by Mary E. Hutchinson contacted me through this blog.  To see the paintings visit my digital catalog of Hutchinson’s work at http://meh.omeka.net .

Mary E. Hutchinson (1934)I knew about the existence of one of the paintings from this photograph of Hutchinson exhibiting at the 1934 Washington Square Sidewalk show in New York.  The portrait of Joanna [in checkered shirt] is shown immediately above Hutchinson.  However, the second portrait of Joanna [with pillow] is a completely new find!

The model is Joanna Lanza who shared her life with Hutchinson from 1931-1935.  Hutchinson painted multiple portraits of Joanna and her many sisters during this time.

Mary E. Hutchinson’s “The Student”

December 12, 2011 § 1 Comment

I recently added “The Student” (c.1937) to my digital catalogue of Mary E. Hutchinson’s work.

The painting portrays an adolescent African-American girl seated at a student desk.  Her pen is poised just above the paper filled with text she is composing – a gesture of reflection and thought within the action of writing which fits Hutchinson’s expressed idea of communication as a “controlled process. . . .  caring enough to weigh each word. . .”  The globe before the student is not centered on the western world, and the bookshelf to her side bears evidence of practical use with book spines unevenly aligned as though volumes have been pulled from the shelves, read, and returned.

Hutchinson likely painted “The Student” while working out of the Harlem Community Art Center as a supervisor of teachers for the New York Federal Art Project.  She first exhibited the painting in 1937 at the Midtown Galleries in New York.  She also included it in what proved to be her final solo exhibition held in 1950 at the West Hunter Street Library, the Carnegie Library which served Atlanta’s African-American community.  After the exhibition, Hutchinson gave “The Student” to the library.  It is now in the collection of the Auburn Avenue Research Library.

For more info on Hutchinson and to see “The Student” go to http://meh.omeka.net

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