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From 1909 until the late 1930's, the Wetherill and Colville Guest Ranch in Kayenta, Arizona was the primary stopover for writers, geologists, archeologists, adventurers and tourists visiting Monument Valley and the ruins of Tsegi Canyon. Prominent visitors included Theodore Roosevelt, John D. Rockefeller Jr. and Zane Grey.
The list of artists who came to Kayenta during the early twentieth century includes some of the most well known names in the American Southwest: Maynard Dixon, William Robinson Leigh, James Swinnerton, Carl Oscar Borg, and Gunnar Widforss are just a few of the many who painted full page entries in the lodge's guest book on at least one occasion. The Kayenta Trading Post was a popular destination for many well known cartoon artists as well. George Herriman (Krazy Kat), Frank King (Gasoline Alley), Rudolph Dirks (Katzenjammer Kids), and well known Disney animator Ward Kimball were all counted among the hardy individuals who ventured to the place that Maynard Dixon once described as "a damn long ways in any direction, from anywhere."
Shadows on the Mesa explores the similarities and differences in the lives, artistic styles, and beliefs of the men and women who considered northern Arizona their favorite region.
There are some traits the artists all shared. All were attracted to the state for the geographic or cultural subject matter. None were part of any major colonies or schools. In the case of most, this was by choice rather than lack of opportunity. They chose to be defined solely by their work instead of their associations or adherence to the latest "isms" or trends in the art world. From a commercial standpoint, their reluctance to do so was more often than not a detriment. But the result in nearly every case was the cultivation of a signature style and a reputation for being fiercely independent that has served their legacies well. To the end, they remained true to themselves and their visions.
Size: 12" x 9"
Hardcover, 240 pages, 273 color & 118 black and white photos
Publisher: Schiffer Books
"One can get lost in this stunning volume and imagine being at the John and Louisa Wetherill’s dinner table in their Kayenta Trading Post and guest ranch any time between 1906 and 1943. One’s dinner companions could be Zane Grey, Oliver LaFarge, Maynard Dixon, Director, John Huston, Theodore Roosevelt, Ernie Pyle, Barry Goldwater and many, many more. The huge treat is to learn about the visitors and then be transported into the southwest for hours of enjoyment of spectacular views rendered by the artists. Many of the artists were also cartoonists and George Herriman’s Krazy Kat is here as well as James Swinnerton’s delightful Canyon Kiddies. This book is special."
- Patricia Etter
Etter is a member of Arizona State University’s Emeritus College Council and serves on the Advisory Board for ASU’s University Club.
"Don’t open this book if you have a bus to catch, for you’ll be late. It is an enthralling and sumptuous look at the art of artists who stayed at a remote red-rock lodge run by the Wetherills on the Colorado Plateau between 1909 and 1943. The names paint a who’s who of Southwestern art: Maynard Dixon, James Swinnerton, William Robinson Leigh, Carl Oscar Borg, Mary-Russell Ferrell Colton, Marjorie Thomas, Gunnar Widforss, Buck Weaver, Adee Dodge, and dozens more. Not only are the copious paintings and drawings splendidly reproduced, they are accompanied by wonderful stories and anecdotes about the artists and their Navajo and Hopi subjects. It is a grand tour for any reader."
Broyles is a retired teacher and a ready writer.
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