Friday, January 11, 2013

Pre-WW Two Taos depicted in words and drawings.

More siftings from my warehouse. A travelogue by Esther C. Mullowney with illustrations by Mary Ellen Mahan. The typescript indicates that they submitted or intended to submit the material to Coronet Magazine in the summer of 1940. The two young women departed Philadelphia on July 18th 1939 (or 38). They took along a hand-made mini-mobile home as housing to save money along the way. They arrived in Taos on July 31st and departed for their return trip on August 30th. They had ambitions as artists and writers that sadly don't seem to have been fulfilled in any big way. Mullowney had one poem published in Poetry Magazine in 1940. There is no record of Mahan as an artist. The journal has the charm of youth and the drawings have some commercial flair.

 An illustration of their car "Nip." Them trailer they named "Tuck."

Outdoor bathing with some salacious looks from the livestock

Interior view of Tuck.

A view of the automotive trek up around Pike's Peak.

 These three boys and their struggle with this Burro are mentioned in the travelogue.

The artist at work in Pueblo, Colorado.

Mud plastering the Adobes.

Taos Plaza back in the day.


An effort to show the wind and dust of the place.

These young women took care of themselves: here shown dealing with their laundry.

While in Taos Mullowney and Mahan met Dorothy Brett and spent time with her over a few days. Brett was a painter and a member of the Bloomsbury circle. She followed D.H. Lawrence to Taos and remained on after his departure. She was a reclusive celebrity in Taos so her invitations to the young women into her home was a (un-suspected) coup for them.
They were also invited into the home of the prominent Western artist Bert Geer Phillips. Phillips was a leading Western artist. His art was conservative and representational in style. It was radical only in its insistence on the value of the West as a subject.
However, their closest local associate was a Navajo named Red Dancer who took the young women into his home in the Pueblo. He showed them Navajo dancing and, from Mullowney's account, seemed interested only in sharing his own joy in life.He does appear to have been patient with their naivete.
These words and images aren't great writing or great art. However, they do deserve a home with someone who cares about Taos. We'll see what happens.

Sifting through the boxes. Traces of the Japanese-American experience during the Second World War and shortly after.

Sorting through my warehouse some interesting things turn up. One file folder contained four pages of pencil sketches, two watercolors and a sepia-tone photo of the artist who did the drawings. The artist's name is Seb Yoshizawa.  Yoshizawa was very likely one of the interned Japanese-Americans. This is supported by a receipt from the City of Oakland, Police Department for some bows and arrows dated Feb. 17, 1942. He appears to have volunteered to serve in the US armed forces. One of the drawings includes an address at Camp Atterbury dated June 4, 1945. At that time Camp Atterbury was a prisoner of war camp housing German and Italian prisoners-of-war. 

The image above includes two images from Yoshizawa's time in Antelope Valley in Northern Arizona near the Utah border. There were a couple of Isolation Centers not that far away and the nearest Concentration Camp was Topaz in central Utah. Antelope Valley is on Navajo land. I'm not sure whether Yoshizawa was on vacation or had been removed there for some reason.

A cartoony survey of the artist's day.

Drawings from Yoshizawa's time at Camp Atterbury.

The artist at work on some sort of copying device (I think).

I don't know what the artist had in mind with this, but it is dated and signed by the artist on the rear.

Two drawings from a train ride the artist took to Washington, D.C.

The file also includes some papers related to Miss Sachi Yoshizawa's efforts to get a job as a social worker in Saint Paul, Minnesota in 1946. I couldn't find any traces of this family online though the information may be buried deep. A little lost chapter in American history. A little light and a little mystery.