Before WWII, the resident art community of Arizona was comprised mostly of women, and this talk explores these independent spirits. Kate Cory, one of the first to arrive in 1905, chronicled the Hopi mesas. Marjorie Thomas was Scottsdale’s the first resident artist. Lillian Wilhelm Smith came to the state to illustrate the works of Zane Grey. Impressionist Jessie Benton Evans’s Scottsdale villa became a social center for local artists. Mary-Russell Ferrell Colton and her husband Harold founded the Museum of Northern Arizona in 1928. The Grand Canyon parkitecture of Mary Jane Colter is also an important part of the story.
Betsy Fahlman is Professor of Art History at Arizona State University. An authority on the art history of Arizona, her books include New Deal Art in Arizona (2009) and The Cowboy’s Dream: The Mythic Life and Art of Lon Megargee (2002). She is the author of two essays in catalogues published in 2012 by the Museum of Northern Arizona in Flagstaff: “New Women, Southwest Culture: Arizona’s Early Art Community” (in Mary-Russell Ferrell Colton: Artist and Advocate in Early Arizona) and “Making the Cultural Desert Bloom: Arizona’s Early Women Artists” (in Arizona’s Pioneering Women Artists: Impressions of the Grand Canyon State).