Kenneth Stubbs
(American artist, 1907-1967)

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Artists' Guild Show Found Stimulating

Serious Purpose Evident in Exhibit of Varied Works, Critic Declares

The first birthday of the Artists' Guild of Washington, which took place on Wednesday, was an auspicious event. This first exhibition of the group is stimulating and provocative of things to come. It is composed of artists who have a serious purpose and who seek to unite all qualified Washington artists of progressive, esthetic tendencies into a vital organization to further the artistic integrity of Washington art. This initial purpose is all to the good and consequently one looks for something special in their work. One is not disappointed. There are several new names in the exhibition and their work is out of the ordinary. It is expected that the group will strike a new note and it is hoped that this will be the call to an inspiring quality to meet the requirements of the time when the artist at his best is so needed and at his worst is mere froth to be cast aside for something of enduring value.

Two by Jamieson

The names of Mitchell Jamieson and Oka G. Nordgren are sought out first of all, as both these men have been called into the service. Mr. Jamieson will be assigned to the special service in the Navy to be aboard ship when there is actual fighting so that the artist may record the encounters.

Two paintings by Jamieson, "Brother" and "Log Sawyers," are of serious intent. "Easter Parade" and "Summer Storm" are by Nordgren, the first an observation of the passing show, the latter a strong canvas depicting a storm in full ferocity painted in blues and greens--effective and impressive. sarah Baker has a brilliant flower piece and an expressive self-portrait simply and sincerely done. A large "Harlequinesque" by Tony Carnelli is painted in a high key in a somewhat abstract manner, but capably and cleverly. "Washing, Tialpam," by Olin Downs, is a colorful genre painting which is well presented and "Arroyo" by Margaret Gates is simply and clearly painted.

Richard Lahey, director of the Corcoran Gallery of Art, is represented by "Delores," a head of a girl painted with subtlety and delicate charm. "Circus Rings" by John Gernard gives the light and color inside the big tent with individuality and keen perception. There are many other excellent paintings, notably the flower painting "Midsummer" by Nan Watson, "Nostalgia" by Kenneth Stubbs, "Mary Page Browning" portrait by Eugen Weisz, "Barbara" by Lois Mailou Jones, "In an Alley" by Richard Kenah, "Going to the Circus" by Zerega and others.

Sculpture by Steppat

The sculpture is particularly effective, led off by the remarkable bas relief by Leo Steppat called "Intermezzo," which is a gruesome theme executed with power and conviction. It is done in red sandstone and depicts a body being fought over by a vulture and a wolf. It grew out of the war and came from the deep conviction of the artist who went through the horrors of being in a prison of war. The war has touched the artist with poignant reality and it is no longer possible to paint pretty or charming themes. This is, of course, the province of art--to arouse the emotions and nature of man to throw off the yoke of oppression, whether it be tyranny or aggression. The white marble nude by William Calfee is strongly chiseled, showing a figure of a woman from the living rock and named "Deity," referring to the creation made by the "Finger of God" bringing forth humanity. "Witch Doctor," a carving in wood by Isabel Blai, is highly imaginative and fantastic, but well conceived. The large "Skaters" by Lenore Thomas Straus is primitive in form and rather lacking in modeling. This also applies to the large female figure by Dorothea Greenbaum, which is simply modeled, but also lacking in modulation. The head by Lazzari is an experiment in colored concrete and is interesting as such.

Sincerity Prevails

But the general impression carried away from the show is the sincerity and integrity of this newly formed group of artists who have proclaimed their purpose, which is to make available to war agencies the services of the members. This is to assist the public to a fuller appreciation of the functions of art in the cultural life of this community, to stimulate and foster new artistic values, to support all efforts directed toward maintaining favorable conditions for the artist and his work, and to cooperate with other organizations so minded. Finally, it is intended to encourage and support Government recognition of the arts, to advocate a program calculated to insure to the arts a permanent place in the national educational scheme and to insist on the inclusion of art in larger measure in civic planning. The group is important for its purpose, if for nothing else. The exhibition, which is at the Corcoran Gallery, will continue through December 6.

Ada Rainey, Washington Post, November 15, 1942, page 5L