New Acquisition

Romero, Frank (b.1941, U.S.)
Arrest of the Paleteros, 2010
32 color serigraph, 77 x 117 cm.
Art Intern Purchase, Friends of Houghton-Paula Kalenik ’71
ARTH 204 Art Collection Internship: Acquisition
The students in this course have selected a work to add to the Hobart and William Smith Art Collection. Thank you to Dylan Bennett ’19, Sarah MacKechnie ’19, Tiffani Pan ’19, and Xin Xu ’18.

The premise was “In the time since the beginning of the 2016 American presidential election, Donald Trump has continued to shift America’s focus towards his exclusionary, violent, and nationalistic view for a “Greater America.” He has targeted many marginalized groups in America from Muslim-Americans to the LGBTQ+ community, but one of his earliest and most frequent victims is Latinx-Americans whom he chooses to label as “rapists, murderers, criminals,” and distinctly “un-American.” With the recent act to end the DACA agreement, Donald Trump has shown that his view for America excludes the rich history and foundational influence of Latinx-Americans and those seeking to become Latinx-Americans. We choose to focus on acquiring art of Latinx-American perspectives to emphasize the allyship of Americans of all decent and of Latinx immigrants who seek to become American citizens. Latinx-American perspectives cannot and will not be silenced by a demagogic president or those who support his violent policies or worldview. We choose to stand with Latinx-Americans here at HWS, around the United States, and around the world by making their perspectives and stories a fundamental part of the Davis Gallery Collection.”

Frank Romero grew up in the Hispanic, Asian, and Jewish communities of East Los Angeles. He began painting when he was five years old and as a teenager attended LA’s Otis Art Institute, one of the best art schools in the nation. Romero did not think of himself as a Chicano until he began to work with three other artists in an informal group known as Los Four. Los Four and other Hispanic artists throughout the West used wall murals, graffiti, and street theater to protest America’s involvement in Vietnam and Southeast Asia. The police response to antiwar demonstrations in Los Angeles was part of a larger pattern of violence against the minority communities that Romero experienced throughout his life. It takes years for the artist to think through and to paint these episodes in the life of his community, because, he says, “That stuff is hard for me to do, it hurts, it’s frightening” (Los Angeles Times, July 28, 2002 [online]). Romero’s brightly colored paintings celebrate the Los Angeles culture of lowriders and “rascuache,” the art of making something beautiful out of the ordinary.

Romero’s print Arrest of the Paleteros is a serigraph reproduction of his 1996 painting depicting the ice-cream men, being arrested in Echo Park for not having vendor permits. The print was complete at Modern Multiples in Los Angeles under the guidance of Richard Duardo. In Frank Romero’s 1996 painting The Arrest of the Paleteros, towering palm trees reach into an evening sky streaked with pink and reflect off the placid surface of Echo Park Lake, a sight that cuts to the core of Los Angeles’ awe-inspiring beauty. But in the foreground, there’s chaos. Framed in a cop car’s headlights, four ice cream vendors reach into the air — echoing the palm trees in the background — as police officers train their weapons on them and two small children holding paletas in their tiny fists. Off to the left, a balloon vendor is pursued on foot by a cop with his billy club drawn. The balloon man is wearing an almost cartoonish outfit and his mouth is agape, which seems to further emphasize the absurdity of LAPD’s excessively zealous crackdown on unlicensed vendors in the early ’90s.

A Conversation with Frank Romero. / interview By: Chattopadhyay, Collette. Artweek, September 3 1992, Vol. 23, p23-25, 3p

Art with a Chicano accent. / Historical and contemporary Chicano Art in Los Angeles By: Durland, Steven; Burnham, Linda Frye; MacAdams, Lewis. High Performance, 1986, Vol. 9 Issue 3, p40-57, 16p

East Side Stories: Freeways and Their Portraits in Chicano Los Angeles. By: Avila, Eric. Landscape Journal, 2007, Vol. 26 Issue 1, p83-97, 15p; DOI: 10.3368/lj.26.1.83

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Today is the birth anniversary of Mark Tobey

In our collections, you will find:

Mark Tobey (1890-1976)
Vibrating Surface, 1974
Etching on BFK Rives paper, 66 x 50 cm.
Gift of Kenneth Halsband ‘88

Mark Tobey (1890-1976)
Grand Parade, 1974
Lithograph on Arches paper, 66 x 50 cm.
Gift of Kenneth Halsband ‘88

The American painter, poet and composer Mark Tobey was born in Centerville, Wisconsin on December 11, 1890. As of 1906 he studies watercolor and oil painting at the Art Institute in Chicago. Afterwards he works as a model drawer in Chicago and as of 1911 in New York. In 1918 Mark Tobey converts to Bahaism, this Persian belief seems to have a great impact on both his life and his art.
From 1922 to 1925 he works as an art teacher at the Cornish School in Seattle. He is very interested in European Cubism and East Asian painting and calligraphy, he collects the art of the Tlinkit and Haida Indians, especially textiles and wooden sculptures.
In 1925 Mark Tobey travels to Europe and stays in Paris for some time, he also visits Barcelona, Athens, Istanbul and Beirut, goes onto a pilgrimage to the holy site Bahá’í in Haifa, and also visits Akka to learn more about Persian and Arabian calligraphy. 
His first one-man show takes places in Chicago in 1928. From 1930 to 1937 he teaches at the Dartington Hall School in Devonshire, England. His journeys play an important role in Tobey’s life. In 1932 he goes to Mexico and in 1934 to China and Japan – where he deals with the teachings and paintings of Zen, the Hai-Ku poetry and also calligraphy in a monastery in Kyoto.
The effects of these journeys can be observed in his works. The artist returns to the USA in 1937 because of the changing political situation in Europe. He lives in Seattle until 1960. He makes first music compositions as of 1938. In 1944 the Willard Gallery in New York shows his “White Writings” pictures for the first time, this exhibition marks his artistic breakthrough. Tobey covers the image carrier with many layers of white or a similarly light color – this is the beginning of the “all over” painting, a style that is also applied by other artists such as Jackson Pollock. Mark Tobey’s works become more and more abstract and comply with the artist’s meditative and contemplative lifestyle.
Mark Tobey’s works are shown in the 1959 and 1964 documenta exhibitions in Kassel and in numerous other exhibitions all over the world. He belongs to the most important precursors of the American “Abstract Expressionism”. The Smithsonian Institution in Washington shows the first retrospective in 1974.
Mark Tobey moves to Basel in 1960 where he dies on April 24, 1976.

Tobey produced most of his prints in the years just before his death, from 1973-1975. These include a number of lithographs and etchings.

Seitz, William Chapin. Mark Tobey. New York, Museum of Modern Art in
collaboration with The Cleveland Museum of Art and The Art Institute of

  • Chicago; distributed by Doubleday, Garden City, N.Y. [1962] ND237 .T56 S4
    • Tobey, Mark. Tribute to Mark Tobey. Washington : Published for the National Collection of Fine Arts by the Smithsonian Institution Press: [For sale by the Supt. of Docs., U.S. Govt. Print. Off.], 1974. ND237 .T56 S58 1974

Art of the Week

Eliphalet M. Brown, Jr. (1816-86, U.S.)
View of Geneva, Ontario County, N. Y., Taken from the Foot of Seneca Lake in July 1836, 1800-99. After Henry Walton.
Lithograph, 34 x 53 cm.
Gift of Eugenie Havemeyer in memory of Horace Havemeyer III ‘64

Brown was an accomplished daguerreotypist, lithographer and artist. In 1846, he was listed in business with James Sydney Brown, a portrait painter in New York City. In 1851, Brown worked with Charles Severyn, a lithographer, and then with Currier and Ives starting in 1852. While working as a lithographer for Currier and Ives, he was chosen as the daguerreotypist to accompany Commodore Perry’s expedition to Japan. Brown was personally selected by Perry. Apparently, his skills as an artist overcame his rather weak experience as a daguerreotypist. Brown reportedly took more than 400 photographic images during the two-year expedition. After the trip to Japan, Brown remained in the Navy. He served during the Civil War and earned an ensign’s commission. He retired from the navy in 1875 and died in 1886 in Manhattan.

This lithograph was obviously a later rendition of an earlier work by Henry Walton who practiced in the area.

Henry Walton worked for the lithography firm of Stone & Clark in Ithaca, New York beginning in 1936. He is known primarily for his lithographs of upstate New York towns made between 1836 and 1850. Walton was also a portrait and miniature painter most often working in watercolor. In 1849 he joined the Gold Rush to California. There is some discrepancy on Walton’s birth and death dates. Falk’s “Who Was Who in American Art” has the dates 1804-1865 though it does note many different possible dates and sources. According to Falk, Walton left California and settled in Michigan in 1857. Hughes’ “Artist’s in California” has the dates 1821-1873 and states that Walton resided in San Francisco until his death.

The Colleges also have:
Henry Walton (fl.1836-1850)
Hobart Free College, Geneva, N.Y., 1836-37
Lithograph, 18 x 28 cm

http://www.baxleystamps.com/litho/brown.shtml
Jones, Leigh Rehner. Artist of Ithaca : Henry Walton and his odyssey / [Ithaca, N.Y.] : Office of Publications Services, Cornell University, c1988. N6537.W25 A4 1988
Henry Walton, American artist. By: REHNER, Leigh. Antiques (1952), March 1970, Vol. 97, p414-417, 4p

New Gift

We are pleased to announce an anonymous gift of significant Inuit art from a collector. The gift includes three prints and sixty-five carvings by modern Inuit artists. The majority are signed and certified by the Government of Canada. The artworks include animals, drummers, hunters, Sednas and transformations. Malaya Akulukjuk, Ohito Ashoona, Robert Davidson, Davidee Itulu, Arnold Kayutak, Tukiki Manomie, Norval Morrisseau, Mary Okheena, Levi Oumaluk, Nuna Parr, and Mosesie Pootoogook are among the artists.

The early works of Inuit art were small and essentially narrative: illustrations of family life, often based upon the intimacy of living in the close quarters of igloos and tents; depictions of hunting on the land that reflected their deep respect and understanding for the animal world, recognizing them a s companions, foes and equals; representations that offered insights into their spiritual beliefs, a complex and often dark world with fantastic beings. Above all, the fact that Inuit live in a harsh environment they make easier with a well-developed sense of humor is immediately apparent in their work.

The variety and quality of Inuit art showcases to the world that Inuit are passionate about sharing their love of their culture and the land that has given them so much.   Inuit art comes in so many forms and styles vary from community to community and artist to artist.  Getting deep into Inuit art is beyond the scope of this site but we’ll take a look at the various forms and offer you further resources to further your interest.

The most well-known form of Inuit art is likely Inuit sculptures, but Inuit art offers, lithographs and printmaking, soft sculptures and dolls, tapestries, embroidery and beading, drawings and painting and so on.  Sculptures are carved from bone, antlers, tusks or ivory, and different types of stone.  Over fifty years ago Inuit printmaking was introduced and spread to different communities but some of the most noted came from the Cape Dorset co-operative. Intricate beadwork is another beautiful form of art that takes a great deal of time and skill along with the talent to create beautiful wearable art.  Dolls started from scraps of fur designed to pass the time and entertain children has grown into an art form of its own.

Pictured are a few selections from the collection.

Aboriginal voices: Amerindian, Inuit, and Sami theater. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, c1992.
Inuit women artists: voices from Cape Dorset. Vancouver: Douglas & McIntyre ; Hull, Quebec : Canadian Museum of Civilization ; Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1994.
Things made by Inuit. Québec: Fédération des coopératives du Nouveau-Québec, c1980.
Arctic vision: art of the Canadian Inuit. / Dayton Museum of Natural History, Ohio; traveling exhibit By: Lipton, Barbara. Archaeology, January/February 1985, Vol. 38, p54-57, 4p
Beauty from a cold world. By: Companiotte, John. Art & Antiques, November 2000, Vol. 23 Issue 11, p104-109, 6p
Inuit Art and the Limits of Authenticity. By: Root, Deborah. Inuit Art Quarterly, Summer2008, Vol. 23 Issue 2, p18-26, 9p
Inuit Art: Markers of Cultural Resilience. By: Igloliorte, Heather. Inuit Art Quarterly, Spring/Summer2010, Vol. 25 Issue 1/2, p4-11, 8p
New Artists, New Media, New Techniques. By: Mitchell, Marybelle. Inuit Art Quarterly, Spring2011, Vol. 26 Issue 1, p19-23, 5p
Our Land: Contemporary Art from the Arctic. By: Kramer, Karen. American Indian Art Magazine, Autumn2006, Vol. 31 Issue 4, p84-93, 10p
Sharing Power. By: Mitchell, Marybelle. Inuit Art Quarterly, Spring2011, Vol. 26 Issue 1, p27-31, 5p
State Support of the Art. By: Mitchell, Marybelle. Inuit Art Quarterly, Spring2011, Vol. 26 Issue 1, p33-36, 4p
Tools, Training, Quarrying. By: Mitchell, Marybelle. Inuit Art Quarterly, Spring2011, Vol. 26 Issue 1, p38-43, 6p

Today is the birth anniversary of James Brooks

James Brooks was born on October 18, 1906, in Saint Louis, Missouri, and moved with his family to Dallas in 1916. He studied art at Southern Methodist University, Dallas, and, after moving to New York in 1926, took night classes at the Art Students League. Like many other Abstract Expressionists, Brooks painted murals for the Works Progress Administration (WPA) Federal Art Project in the late 1930s and early 1940s. His best-known project was a mural titled Flight (1940–42) at the International Marine Terminal building at LaGuardia Airport. This vibrant, monumental work—the largest of the WPA murals—measures 12 feet high and 237 feet long and depicts the history of flying, from early mythology to the latest innovations, in a clean, Social Realist style.

From 1942 to 1945, Brooks served as a combat artist with the U.S. Army in the Middle East and returned to New York in 1946, at the height of what would later be termed the Abstract Expressionist movement. An inveterate risk taker, he soon abandoned figuration for abstraction. He reconnected with Jackson Pollock, a friend from the WPA days. Brooks not only took over their Eighth Street studio when Pollock and his wife, artist Lee Krasner, moved to Long Island, but also credited Pollock with encouraging him to try a more gestural style.

During the late 1940s, Brooks’s aesthetic evolved from a loose derivation of Cubism to a moodier, more atmospheric style. In the summer of 1947, Brooks had a breakthrough. He was painting on paper, and glued the paper onto heavy cloth for archival purposes. He noticed that the paste he used to attach the paper to the cloth bled through to the side he was painting on. From then on he would start by working on the cloth and then switch to the front of the painting, combining accidents with deliberate choices in an approach that he used for several years. In the 1960s, Brooks shifted styles again, building compositions out of larger, bolder, and simpler forms.

Formally considered an Abstract Expressionist, James Brooks produced bright, dense works marked by their vibrating tension between spontaneous form and controlled gesture. “My painting starts with a complication on the canvas surface, done with as much spontaneity and as little memory as possible. This then exists as the subject…At some undetermined point the subject becomes the object, existing independently as a painting.”

In the Collections, we have:
James Brooks (1906-92)
Eastern, 1982
Lithograph on Somerset paper, 77 x 57 cm.
Gift of Kenneth L. Halsband ‘88

Hunter, Sam. James Brooks. Praeger, 1963

Today is the birth annivesary of Childe Hassam

Childe Hassam was born in Dorchester, Massachusetts, on October 17, 1855. His father was a successful Boston businessman who was ruined financially in the great fire of 1872. Hassam left high school without graduating and ended up working for a Boston wood engraver. As an artist, his formal studies were begun at the Boston Art Club (1878) and later continued at the Academie Julian in Paris (1886-1889). He was greatly influenced by Louis Boulanger and Jules Joseph Lefebvre. He attended drawing classes at the Lowell Institute, a division of MIT, and was a member of the Boston Art Club. The early portion of his artistic career were devoted to illustrations and watercolors. At the age of 23 Hassam was exhibiting publicly and had his first solo exhibition, of watercolors, at the Williams and Everett Gallery in Boston, Massachusetts in 1892. From this time forward, Hassam was committed to the life of a professional painter. Recognition came early in both the U.S. and abroad. Hassam was extremely active in the social and technical areas of the artistic community. In 1890, he, and several others, founded the New York Water Color Club. He also joined the American Water Color Society and shortly thereafter joined the Players Club and the Society of American Artists. The fruition of this entrepreneurial fervor came about in 1897 when he helped establish the Ten American Painters, an exhibiting group that included many of the finest painters of the day: Frank W. Bensen, William Merritt Chase, Thomas Dewing, John Twachtman and J. Alden Weir.

Childe Hassam (1859-1935)
Church at Old Lyme, 1924
Etching, 35 x 31 cm.
Gift of Robert North in memory of Marion de Mauriac North ‘32

Childe Hassam (1859-1935)
The Writing Desk, 1915
Etching, 32 x 24 cm.
Gift of Robert North in memory of Marion de Mauriac North ‘32

This is a portrait of Mrs. Hassam at Holley House, Cos Cob Connecticut. Hassam worked as a wood engraver early in his career, before his critical second trip to Europe in 1885. But it was well after establishing himself as America’s pre-eminent Impressionist painter that he turned to etching, in 1915 at the age of 56. This was the year he created The Writing Desk. This impression of The Writing Desk has a light airy quality. The movement provided by the flowery surroundings and fine strokes of etching provides a fascinating counterpoint to Mrs. Hassam’s thoughtful, contemplative mood.

Weinberg, H. Barbara (Helene Barbara), Childe Hassam, American impressionist / New York : Metropolitan Museum of Art ; New Haven : Yale University Press, c2004
“Childe Hassam, American Impressionist.” By: Weinberg, H. Barbara. American Art Review, Jul/Aug2004, Vol. 16 Issue 4, p118-176
“The Prints of Childe Hassam.” / Exhibit By: Denker, Eric; Cooper, Herbert L.. American Art Review, May/June 2003, Vol. 15 Issue 3, p92-95

Art of the Week

Kara Walker (b.1969)
Boo-Hoo, 2000
Linocut on Arches paper, 102 x 52 cm.
Gallery purchase, The Friends of Houghton House-Paula Kalenik ’71

Kara Walker is best known for her room-size tableaux of black cut-paper silhouettes that examine the underbelly of America’s racial and gender tensions. Her works often address such highly charged themes as power, repression, history, race, and sexuality.

Born in Stockton, California, Walker moved to the South at age 13 when her father, artist Larry Walker, accepted a position at Georgia State University and her family relocated to Stone Mountain, a suburb of Atlanta. Focusing on painting and printmaking in college, she received her BFA from the Atlanta College of Art in 1991 and her MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1994. Walker was included in the 1997 Biennial exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Later that year, at the age of 27, she became the youngest recipient of the prestigious John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s “genius” grant, which launched a public controversy around her work. In 2002 she was chosen to represent the United States in the São Paulo Biennial in Brazil. Her work has been exhibited nationally and internationally and is included in the collections of major museums worldwide. The 2007 Walker Art Center–organized exhibition Kara Walker: My Complement, My Oppressor, My Enemy, My Love is the artist’s first full-scale U.S. museum survey. Walker currently lives in New York, where she is a professor of visual arts in the MFA program at Columbia University.

“Walker’s unwieldy imagination is fixated with race in the starkest and most American of terms, black and white, as they were forged in the ante-bellum South, a time not so long ago in a galaxy called here.”

Boo-Hoo is a print in which we see a woman with an Afro, hoop earrings, and a full skirt, whose lips and eyes resemble blackface, weeping copiously as she gingerly holds a whip and snake, both turned in towards herself. Why is the woman crying? Not so much because of the torture she undergoes, which takes on a humorous and cartoonish tone, not least because she inflicts it on herself. Following Butler, I suggest that we read this print as an attempt to picture a subject for whom melancholia has been structural.

In this reading, the whip and the snake that the woman holds can be read not just as objects which she uses to effect her own torture, or mementos of the time when slavery was taking place, but as metaphors for the stereotypical images of blackness that Walker uses in her work. For the black subject who sees the way that society sees her in these images, they are weapons that continue to sting long after whips have ceased to do so. The deep cultural ambivalence about these images, whose display is considered unequivocally problematic by some, and encouraged by others because it reveals America ‘s true racism, means that they come up again and again, remaining painful but never being publicly mourned. Though their historical origin dates back to the time of slavery, they cannot render that history knowable today, and hence bring a kind of pain that can only indicate the unrecoverability of its origin. As Reid-Pharr writes about Walker’s autofiction and her approach to memory. Instead of attempting to access the historical period from which racist images originate, Boo Hoo brings the blackface image to the surface yet again to address its unmournable quality, and to reveal how the use of such images in art that deals with Black identity fundamentally fails to recoup the history it addresses, creating a specific type of pain that is about the consequences that the citation of that history in the present has for the subject.

Walker, Kara Elizabeth. Kara Walker : narratives of a negress / New York : Rizzoli, 2007.
“Missus Kara E. Walker: Emancipated, and On Tour / Exhibition review and review article” By: Pinder, Kimberly N. Art Bulletin, December 2008, Vol. 90 Issue 4, p640-648
“Transgression, Excess, and the Violence of Looking in the Art of Kara Walker.” By: Wall, David. Oxford Art Journal, Oct2010, Vol. 33 Issue 3, p277-299