Kenneth Stubbs
(American artist, 1907-1967)

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Art Notes
First Exhibition of Local Artists' Guild Members Here

The first members' exhibition of the Artists' Guild of Washington, now on view at the Corcoran Gallery of Art, is a spirited and varied display. Thirty-five artists, composing the guild, have contributed about 90 works in oil, water color, sculpture and graphic media. Each artist was permitted to enter four works, from which two paintings or sculpture were chosen by the jury. Prints, drawings and small water colors are extra. Oil paintings constitute the major part of the show, which ranges from conservative through various progressive expressions, which ought to be an advantage, providing works to appeal to many different tastes. There is as much variety in subject matter as in techniques and viewpoints.

The idea of a guild of artists is inextricably bound up with the history of art. Guilds of merchants for mutual protection and benefits date from ancient history, and arts and crafts guilds flourished in Europe from the 13th to the 16th centuries. It was the artists themselves who determined who was and who was not a master. The Artists' Guild of Washington, however, undertook membership association for the double purpose of meeting the war situation and offering co-operation to governmental and private agencies. The organization started 10 days after Pearl Harbor with an informal meeting of 15 artists at the studio of William Calfee, who is president of the guild. A statement of the guild's objectives, contributions to the war effort, and its present membership was published in the Star on October 30.

There are admirable paintings in all the subject categories, as well as works which appear to be experimental in character, sketchy in technique or dedicated to esthetic objectives completely obscure to the observer. Such work suffers when placed beside paintings that embody good craftsmanship and clean color.

An excellent group of portraits includes C. Law Watkins' reticent presentation of Dr. Stahr, president of Hood College, Frederick, Md., which was unveiled there last June; Sheffield Kagy's "Virginia," in green and red, which carries conviction as a likeness; Eugen Weisz's truthful interpretation of a young Washingtonian, Mary Page Browning; "Betty," a lively, colorful portrait of a little girl by Carl Nyquist, and Lois Mailou Jones' "Barbara," involving a subtle harmony of greens. Among the figure paintings, Robert Gates' "Nude Bathing," delicate and reserved in handling and color scheme, is in striking contrast to his other contribution to the show, a dark, forbidding scene entitled "Coal Mine"; they offer convincing proof of Mr. Gates' versatility. Mitchell Jamieson's "Log Sawyers" (in egg tempera) is a forthright statement of solid forms and muscular action.

Evanescent Gypsies

"Gypsies at the Farm," by Richard Lahey, one of the larger landscapes, provides contrast between the solid, permanent appearance of the farm buildings and their environment, and the evanescent character of the gypsies, who have the casual appearance of being here today and gone tomorrow. Oke Nordgren's "Summer Storm," another large landscape with figures, is painted in his characteristic astringent greens and blues, and is vibrant with wind and movement. Mr. Nordgren also shows "Easter Parade," of soldiers, sailors and their girls strolling under the cherry blossoms; it has a marked sense of volume as well as rich warmth of atmosphere. Alice Acheson's cool little sketch entitled "In the Park," has a single romantic couple quite oblivious to their surroundings.

A surrealistic quality pervades Kenneth Stubbs' "Nostalgia," an imaginative scene, sunny but cheerless, with melancholy figures. A satirical conception of figures in a landscape is embodied in William Calfee's "Limbo," the "figures" being classic architectural sculpture removed from a demolished building. Olin Dows shows one of his stylized little paintings made in Mexico some years ago; native women washing clothes make an attractive pattern. Margaret Gates' serene "Arroyo" and Andrea Zerega's study in browns and brays, "First Snow" are landscapes without figures. Prentice Taylor's animated "May Day in Zocalo" is the only large watercolor, hung with the oil and tempera paintings.

Paintings of interiors include a few subjects of unusual character. Carl Nyquist's "Burlesque" for example, is concerned with a garish tier of boxes, the occupants of which are intent but well behaved; they do not seem to be whistling or shouting.

There is much pictorial charm in the still life paintings, among them Nan Watson's "Compote and Asters" and "Midsummer," a colorful garden bouquet; "Basket of Blue Grapes" by Marjorie Phillips, set off with a peach against a gray and warm tan background; William Thompson's "Laurel" and Alexander Clayton's "Still Life with Rubber Plant," both beautifully executed; Sarah Baker's gay yellow and red flowers in a rococo vase; and John Gernand's poetic little "Bouquet." Henrietta Hoopes, in one of her still life arrangements, entitled "Having," comments indirectly on rationing.

Washington Star, November 15, 1942, page E-5